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Cigar Tip: A Cigar Guide to Paris

5 Aug 2014

There’s little question Paris is one of the finest destinations for fine dining and shopping, but it’s also a fine city for cigars. I recently spent a week there (though I’ve been a few times before) and put together a few notes for enjoying cigars in the City of Light.

A Rich Tradition of Cigars

SEITA, the French tobacco giant, is part of what is likely the largest cigar company in the world, since it merged with the Spanish tobacco monopoly to form Altadis. Altadis owns a 50% share in the Cuban cigar distributor Habanos and is also the parent company for Altadis USA, which makes the non-Cuban versions of Montecristo, H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta, and many others.

SEITA also created (along with Habanos) the Quai d’Orsay cigar line, which is named after the street where the SEITA headquarters are. The line was blended to French tastes and calls for a milder blend. Quai d’Orsay can be hard to find outside of France, but within Paris shops you’ll find it regularly.


Where to Buy Cigars?

Tabacs are everywhere in Paris, though most have only a few premium cigars, if any. (All the “Tabac” designation denotes is the store is licensed to sell tobacco.) Those that do carry cigars stock their shelves with mostly Cubans, though there are some other brands you’ll see regularly like Davidoff and Flor de Selva. Prices are tightly controlled so there is little variation in cost from shop to shop.

One of the things I’ve found in Paris cigar shops (though not the two listed below) is that cigars are often kept at a slightly too high humidity. It isn’t so high that the cigars develop mold, but it does mean you’ll often run into burn issues if you immediately smoke a cigar after purchasing.

À la Civette is the oldest cigar shop in Paris (founded in 1716) and a place I always visit. The walk-in humidor doesn’t have a huge selection by American cigar shop standards, but it has a nice selection of Cubans including all the recent French Regional Edition cigars and quite a few Limited Edition Cubans. Located just a block from the Louvre and across the street from the entrance to the Palais-Royal, the shop’s customers over the years have included Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, Voltaire, Churchill, and Micheal Jordan. (After you buy a cigar here, head over to the interior garden at Palais-Royal and light up under the trees on a park bench or at one of the outdoor cafes.)

Publicis Drugstore is a small, high-end department store on the famous Champs-Élysées just down the street from the Arc de Triomphe. I visited it for the first time in a previous visit on the recommendation of Tatuaje owner Pete Johnson, and it didn’t disappoint. In addition to an excellent selection within their recently renovated , you can eat at one of the finest restaurants in the city (L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon) and check out a superior selection of wines and luxury goods.

Where to Smoke Cigars?

Like so many places, Paris has been hit with a smoking ban that limits the indoor spaces where you can enjoy your cigar. There was a time not long ago when a cigar cart was a staple in the city’s fine restaurants. Now, sadly, you’re limited to a few indoor spaces specifically designated as cigar bars. The Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Carlton is currently being renovated, but it should return to being a great locale when it is completed. (Speaking of Hemingway, Paris Walks offers a two-hour English tour of Hemingway’s Paris that has an interesting glimpse, for just 12 euros, into the famous cigar smoker’s time in the city.)

Despite the limited indoor smoking locales, as long as the weather is nice there are plenty of places to enjoy a cigar outside. And unlike in the U.S., Parisiens aren’t likely to shoot you a dirty look for enjoying a fine cigar in their vicinity. The city’s plentiful cafes practically all have outdoor seating where smoking a cigar with a cup of coffee or an adult beverage is not out of place at all (just let them know your plan so they can seat you accordingly). In addition, there are lots of great outdoor public spaces, like the Luxembourg Gardens, Tuileries Gardens, or the previously mentioned Palais-Royal where you can grab a chair (the recliners that are in many public parks are actually quite comfortable) and do some good people watching.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

10 Responses to “Cigar Tip: A Cigar Guide to Paris”

  1. Stefan H Singer Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    You should've gone to Davé's restaurant. I won't spell it out for you, but he's very… liberal.

    Also, is it just me or are some of the prices at A La Civette very low? I went i april and Cuaba Divinos was just 3,80 if I remember correctly, and Zino Platinum Ten Salomones a ridiculous 22 euro!

    • Patrick Semmens Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      I hear Davé's is the hot spot, but I'm not going to eat Chinese food in Paris. I went for classic French cuisine: Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy and La Coupole while I was there.

      As for A La Civette, I remember noting how high pices on non-Cubans were (but that's not unique to there). For Cubans, I paid closest attention the the LEs and REs, which seemed standard or maybe even a little under what I thought they would be.

      • Stefan H Singer Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 1:40 am #

        The food isn't why you should go there. The food was good, but that's not at all why I recommend going to Davé's, especially here, on a cigar blog. Just saying. 🙂

      • Stefan H Singer Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 1:41 am #

        And, well, cubans are expensive everywhere. But Cuaba Divinos are Cubans and they are usually around 6-7 euro per stick, not 3,80. And the regular price for a Zino Platinum Ten Salomones is around 30-35 euro.

  2. Mike Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Does France have legal "cigar bars" where indoor smoking is permitted? My understanding was they do not.

    • Patrick Semmens Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

      You know, while I was there and since I got back I tried to get a straight answer on this, but I'm not 100% certain. I think the following from Cigar Aficionado (circa 2010) is still accurate: "
      French law no longer allows smoking in restaurants and cafés. But that is unless there's a special, enclosed room."

      • Mike Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 10:30 am #

        I had read that the requirements for the the enclosed room were so onerous, few restaurant and bar owners bother to erect them.

  3. The Stogie Guys Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    For those who are interested, we’ve also published locale-specific tips on the following places (there may be more, but these are the ones I could find):

    St. Thomas –
    Tokyo –
    Italy –

    If these articles are helpful/interesting, please let us know; we can start writing them on American cities we’ve visited, as well as other countries.

  4. Buddy Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    I am in Paris once or twice a year. Always stop by A la Civettte on Rue St. Honore. There use to be a Habanos store on the left bank down the street from Deux Magots—but I couldn't find it last year. You also have very good taste in restaurants. Publicis Drugstore use to be just plain Le Drugstore which I pass through every Paris visit for 50 years; however haven't eaten there since it was just a plain drugstore with soda fountain—its far more upscale now.

  5. ccibif90 Monday, October 27, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    My wife and I just returned. There Tabac shops all over the place in Paris. I found the prices to be reasonable for premium cigars. I do not like paying 8- 10. per stick, I was able to find on a regular basis Partagas coronas (Cuban) for 3.90 euro….@5.00 per. I never seen so many, and thereby so many Tabac shops….and all of there carry cigars. They seemed properly humidified either by designed or accident because of climate. I like Dominican Partagas, so it was easy to stay with Cuban Partagas.