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Finding the Perfect Little Neighborhood Bar – Paris Style

 

Paris, the city
of super chic and super sleek, has plenty of bars but it can be
difficult finding the perfect cool spot for sitting and relaxing with a
drink. As you stroll the neighborhood streets at night you pass plenty
of brasseries with harsh fluorescent lights illuminating a drab
interior and haggard-looking men scrunched over the bar. In more
upscale neighborhoods you’ll find a different type of place; brightly
lit, with lots of mirrors and shiny fixtures, that caters to the
well-heeled who enjoy eating a late night meal. Then, in the most
fashionable districts where lines of trendily clad young things with
attitude are waiting to enter the spot of the moment, there are guys in
black standing behind the velvet ropes with the sole purpose of
elevating a simple night out into a beauty contest. Not at all what I
have in mind.

I’m looking for a
cozy sort of place where I can talk to my friends, meet some nice
people, have a good drink that doesn’t cost a week’s pay and listen to
funky music – but not so loud that I have to shout. Oh, and I want to
feel as though I am in Paris. Does such a place exist?? Luckily, I live
in a neighborhood where there are plenty of bars to chose from. Donning
my very worn but fit-me-like-a-glove jeans, my oh-so-Parisian pointy
stilettos, a little t-shirt from a little boutique and my leather,
don’t-mess-with-me jacket, I head out in search of the perfect bar.
Goldilocks I’m not but I feel like trying a little porridge, so to
speak.

I head to rue Montmartre,
which has become a happening little strip over the past few years. The
first bar in my neighborhood forest is the très hip Café Noir, sitting
jauntily on a corner. A bright neon light that runs along the outside
adds a warm glow to the place, and floor-to-ceiling windows on both
street sides tell you at a glance what the night might have in store.
It’s sort of a fishbowl effect but once you open the door, the loud
music and buzz of voices makes you forget about all the poor souls in
the outside world. This is the type of place that always has a crowd.
On a quiet weeknight you will find plenty of people nursing a beer, and
even a few loners settled down over a paper from the magazine rack by
the door. During the weekend, it’s 2 or 3 deep at the bar, and not much
more than elbow room elsewhere. The décor is minimal (except for the
floating mannequin over the bar) and the ambience low key and only
slightly pretentious. Overall I would say it’s a bit like Friends in
Paris. The music is too loud to hold any sort of real conversation and
the lighting is to bright for it to feel romantic but overall this
porridge isn’t too bad. I almost don’t want to continue my search. But
a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

Back
out in the crisp night, I peak around the corner down rue D’Argout and
spot two other bars. I venture forth. The first is aptly named The
Jungle, with wood and leopard décor, exotic drinks, African snacks and
super cool world music. This small and smoky spot could be just the
thing, but not tonight. Still I will have to leave a few breadcrumbs so
I can find my way back another time. The next bar makes me a little
afraid. It isn’t so much the eerie glow coming from the mix of white
neon lights against and orange and purple interior. No, it’s more the
name, The Love Connection Bar, that has me concerned. As I walk in,
heads crane in my direction. Not exactly big ferocious bears, but
still… I wasn’t planning on finding Prince Charming on this trip. So I
grab a few snacks at the bar and hit the road again. In all fairness
the place might be a good pick-up spot for those looking for some fun,
and the bar does have several theme evenings organized so you can drop
by on the night that suits your needs. As for me, I head down the road
a little further.

Back on rue
Montmartre, I spy another little place, Le Cœur Fou. I can’t see inside
because the windows are covered in steam, so I open the door, not
really sure what to expect. Immediately I am ensconced in a crowded
room with a light din of conversation. Music is playing but not to loud
and I can see plenty of people, slightly better dressed and coifed than
at Café Noir, immersed in conversation against an austere background.
We’re talking about a basic mirrored bar with wood shelves, a long
counter and bare white walls, except for the tree roots descending from
the ceiling. Hmm, this could be my kind of forest.

Just
to be sure though, I give up my cozy place at the corner of the bar and
continue my search. I walk past Le Tambour, which is definitely a spot
worth noting, if simply for the fact that it serves food and drinks
until 6:30 in the morning. A little bit further down the road, I come
to the last place on the trail, the Papou Lounge. This turns out to be
a very good spot if you are looking for a quiet, candlelit place to
talk. Another place to note but not exactly a neighborhood spot.

I go back up the street where the neon glow of Café Noir and snug interior of Le Cœur Fou are calling. Decisions, decisions…

Details:
All the bars are within walking distance of each other and of the same
metro stations, Sentier on line 3, or a short walk from Les Halles and
Étienne Marcel on line 4.

* Le Café Noir: 01-40-39-07-36. 65, rue Montmartre, 75002

* Le Cœur Fou: 55, rue Montmartre, 75002,

* La Jungle: 01-40-41-03-45. 56, rue d’Argout, 75002. Website: www.la-jungle.com [1].
Most of the information on this site refers to their sister restaurant
and bar a few blocks away. It’s not the easiest site in the world to
navigate but it will give you some idea of the atmosphere that you’ll
find at this cozy world bar. Open from 10am to 2am during the week and
from 4pm to 2am on weekends.

* Love Connection: 46, rue d’Argout, 75002. Website: www.loveconnectioncafe.com [2].
Site didn’t work at all when I visited it. But give it a try if for no
other reason than to check out their l-o-v-e-ly color scheme and to try
to get updates on their upcoming schedule of events. Open Tuesdays to
Thursdays from 10:30 to 12:30am, Fridays from 10:30 to 2am, Saturdays
from 4 to 12:30 and on Mondays during lunchtime from 10:30 to 3pm.

Upcoming soirees by age grous (Dinners for men only)
March 20
March 27 for 50 – 60
April 3 for 25 – 35
April 10
April 17 for 35 – 45

* Le Tambour: 01-42-33-06-90. 41, rue Montmartre, 75002. Open from 6pm to 6:30am.

*
Papou Lounge: 01-44-76-00-03. 74 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau 75001. This
bar is one block down from the others and on the other side of Etienne
Marcel. So it’s technically not in the 2nd but close enough. Open every
day from 10:00 to 2am.