The first thing I do when arriving to Paris after an overnight flight is head straight to a café for a crème. It is my choice of ways to order coffee in France. There are many options and they can seem overwhelming at times so here is a simple way to break it down by size and with milk or without milk.
Typically a shot of expresso. It can be very bitter.
A café with a drop of milk. The color turns a hazelnut color because of the milk hence where it gets the name.
An expresso with extra hot water to dilute it.
Filtré or Café Américain
Filtered coffee and if you are looking for the american equivalent to a cup of coffee this would be it.
My go to in Paris. Its an expresso with warm milk. It is what some people would think is a café au lait. Don't be confused they do not use creme in the coffee it is milk and its typically whole. You won't find skim or low fat at the bar like you would in the United States.
More Tips for Ordering
The price of coffee at the bar vs the table will vary. Parisians will stand at the bar for a quick café before work or in the middle of the day.
Sugar will be offered on the bar labeled sucre. Feel free to take one and add it to your coffee of choice.
Croissants are also available for purchase with your coffee and are typically placed on the bar. Just ask the gentleman behind the bar for "un croissant si vous plait" Please do not help yourself.
After noon Parisians typically do not order milk in their coffee. They keep to café (expresso) for the rest of the day. Ordering a crème after noon will have you looking like a tourist.