We had good connection in Paris last time in McDonalds in the center of the city, so I didn't expect there to be a problem. McDonalds can be a fantastic place to get free wifi, but as we found out in London ( after going to three different McDonalds in the center) , Paris this time and other places, they are not always reliable and can vary quite a bit.
Some are great on some days, some are never working and some are so slow and will not accept VPN's so are all but useless. ( We do not open email or do anything important without ours). We did find a McDonalds that worked great one day, but it was far out of town in the 11th arrondissement ( district) near Oberkamf, so would never suffice as our travel office. We even tried Starbucks and a cafe in the center, but neither would work for us.
It didn't help that neither our Paris or London campgrounds had free wifi, nor that we had high expectations in both places that we would be able to get a little work done between touring. We loved our site right on the banks of the Seine at our popular Maison-Lafitte campsite and the good access to central Paris via RER, but they charged two euros for half an hour of wifi which was too insulting to even consider. Truly shameful as it is very common now to have free or very low cost wifi available in most campgrounds in Europe. ( NPR says the same about camping wifi in the US).
We tried three cafes in Maison Lafitte that were recommended by the local tourist board, but none of them worked, so I bought coffee at each ( which I do not drink) all for naught. The tourist lady then sent me to the Ibis hotel which was very kind to let me use their free wifi and lounge ( even gave me a ride home at night as the taxi's had stopped running) but that was too far away to be practical.
The campsite in Versailles ( which we stayed at and some visit Paris from there using the RER trains) did have excellent cheap wifi, but we did not like that campsite ( primitive, very sloped site) or the very rude young people who ran it. We considered going back to the ever popular Bois du Boulogne campsite where we stayed the first time that we visited Paris on our world tour, but when we called them, we found out that they still do not have any wifi. Absurd in 2010!
Paris does have a lot of free wifi in place which is terrific. I found many lists of places that have free wifi and once worked a bit from the park near Notre Dame which is one of their many free wifi zones. Alas, trying to do anything on a laptop even in a shaded bench is an eye wrenching impossibility, plus two of our now old laptops do not work well on batteries, so we much prefer a plug-in point and decent place to sit with a desk or table.We like to keep our touring/exploring times separate from our internet time and do it in comfort.
After a few days of this frustration, I asked for help on Twitter and Facebook as "crowd sourcing" often works great for us. Several people gave us good suggestions ( many said McDonalds) and thankfully our friend Parisbuff gave us a tip that allowed us to get very limited, free access from our campground which was a huge help. We couldn't check email from there, but we could at least tweet a bit and browse for information about Paris, etc.
We were aware that some libraries in Paris offer free wifi, but we had tried the library in Maison Lafette, and of course, they had no wifi at all. On one of the lists that I gathered online that showed free wifi in Paris, the Louvre museum library was mentioned. It is a central area that would work well for us, so we asked about it in the Louvre, but they said none existed. I decided to hunt down the address listed for the Louvre museum library myself.
Yes!! There is indeed a Louvre museum library at 7 Rue Rivoli, just across from the Louvre and next to the beautiful St. Germain l'Axerrois church. It is a tiny space, but perfect for a travel office. One can sit in a decent chair at a decent desk and plug in. One can work as long as one wants ( during opening hours) in a pleasant and quiet atmosphere for free. There are two computers available for those who do not have a laptop. There is a clean, bright, big bathroom right around the corner hallway from it.
There is a metro station very close by, two lovely cafes and a little park with benches if you like to bring a lunch like we do and feed some pigeons with your kid on a break while listening to church bells and people watching. Due to mobility challenges, I can't walk as much as DaVinci and Mozart, plus since I have been to Paris so many times, I've seen a ton, so sometimes they would go off exploring, while I worked a bit.
Or meet up with a dear friend who lives in Paris, to share a coffee and conversation outdoors at one of the cafes nearby ( I had met awesome translator Nadine Touzet online years ago through social media and it turns out we have much in common as she also has traveled greatly since childhood, is a mom and she is even more amazing in person) .The photo of us shows more of the library which was a good central location to meet at. Sometimes we even enjoyed a tea ourselves for a rest and treat at the cafe pictured above which is also a lovely place and some do use the free wifi there, but it didn't work for us.