The first Saturday of October each year is Nuit Blanche. Over the years we’ve seen some stunning installations – dotted about around the city. Always a good weekend to go.
Here’s a roll call of good Frenchy stuff though this is very much in draft – there is MUCH more to add.
L’Insitut du Monde Arabe. Don’t think I could ever tire of Nouvel’s aperture carpet wall.
Vagenende, 142 Blvd St Germain. Gorgeous place. Artichoke carpaccio, tick! Pouilly Fume, tick! On that strip of classic St Germain brasseries.
Gaite Lyrique – new digital art gallery in an old theatre. Good.
Drinks at Le Baron Rouge, 1 Rue Théophile Roussel. Time to get busy!
Dinner at La Gazzetta, 29 Rue de Cotte – slightly experimental, but underplayed. Delicate dishes, glamourously retro interior. Resort ambience.
Le Bistro Paul Bert, 16 rue de Paul Bert, 1lth – great street for lurking about when hungry. Unless you haven’t booked in anywhere in which case you’ll be lurking, hungrily all night.
The Pause Cafe near-ish Bastille – nice spot, kept thinking of swimming pools – was it the tiles? Why can’t we have lovely deep terraces outside like the French? Methinks its because we Brits get within a sniff of alcohol, get overexcited and ruin it for ourselves.
Ile Sequin, Pont de Sevres
Went to the end of the line to a restaurant on an island for Saturday lunch. Nice modern park – it had grass! Grass in a French park! Curious architecture.
Margiela Hotel – La Maison Champs Elysees
Hmm – we wanted a posh drink in a posh new hotel. It was a toss up between the Margiela one and the Royal Monceau, perhaps we made the wrong decision. I think you could soak up a little more ambience if you went to a Margiela boutique. Nice exploded tiles on the floor. Little bit of play on scale here and there. We wanted obscure Japanese fashion and strange glassware but no, nothing.
The classic, the cosy and the wild. It’s very difficult to choose one best bar in Paris – we’re so in love with our bistrots here: they’re beautiful, either très chic or casual & popular. You can eat, have tea or a glass or wine. But bistrots are really for the daytime, so where do you go for great cocktails and hedonism when you’ve draped on your ermine scarf and diamante?
The Classic: Harry’s Bar
Sounds American? It is. In 1911 a former US jockey convinced an acquaintance and proprietor of NY’s Harry’s to dismantle it and to shift it rue Daunou in Paris. The decoration, cocktails, service and snacks (delicious hot dogs served all night) rate high. It’s easy to mingle with customers at the bar or you can choose a quiet table if you wish to be on your own. You can often spot a celebrity trying to slip under the radar which makes it feel quietly glamorous.
Harry’s Bar, 5 rue Daunu
The cosy: Le Bubar
Feel like sipping wine? Packed with old friends and locals in-the-know, the simple bar has a casual, inviting allure about it. Find a spot at the long generous bar and have your glass filled endlessly by the owner’s selection of fabulous Chilean wines (hum, he does French wines too!). The owner is barbu (bearded). French slang is bubar hence the name. But to up the natty quotient, the phrase “bu bar” means “drink bar”. So come, drink and feel clever knowing the play on words.
3 rue des Tournelles
The wild: Le Fanfaron
Alternative crowd with Cramps and Russ Meyer posters on the walls, the Runaways pumping out the speakers. There’s nothing fancy about this bar Once you get to know Xav the owner, you can help him behind the bar…or clamber up top and throw a few moves.
6 rue de la Main d’Or
The local: Le Progrès
A traditional french bar and bistrot frequented by locals. The large terrasse is packed all year round. Good service, not too expensive.
1 rue Bretagne 75003 Paris
Quartiers: Marais Nord, Marais, 3ème
The hip: Chez Jeannette
If you want to get stuck into the thick of it in the French capital head to the 10th to plug straight into the cool crowd. Rue du Faubourg St Denis was well known as the old red light district and has a firm old Paris vibe. Chez Jeannette was the first of the 1900s cafe to open up to a creative crowd and the street has now fallen like dominos, filled with similar late night haunts. People are receptive and open to chatting until the music is cranked up later into the night.
47 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis – 75010 Paris
The central: Le Fumoir
Refined, cosy, old school, a terrace with a panoramic view on Le Louvre and a library inside. Also a restaurant.
6 Rue de l’Amiral de Coligny 75001 Paris
And now for OOH LA LA PARIS!
Prestige and Champagnes. To kick the night off, most of the Paris palace hotels – Le Meurice, Le Crillon, Ritz et al will set the scene for a fine and fancy evening out. But lay plans to move on after because they don’t get too wild.
Le Bar du Bristol
A recently refurbished manifestation of a traditional English club. Exotic wood panelling, Versailles oak parquet floor and 19th-century marble fireplace from Sienna. Each evening a huge mirror transforms into a screen and shows a selection of contemporary art videos. If weather permits, explore the hotel’s Jardin Français.
112 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
Le Bar de L’Hôtel du Louvre
Central and cosy with live jazz on Thursdays and Fridays 9pm to midnight.
Place André Malraux
Le Bar du Raphaël, 7ème ciel
Just two minutes walk from l’Arc de Thriomphe, L’Hotel Raphaël is a secret retreat for many politicians and actors (Serge Gainsbourg took up residence for a year and it has been John Malkovich’s favourite haunt for the last 25 years). It offers a low-key luxury without showing off. The bar is cosy and sophisticated with comfy deep red sofas. In the summer, the 7th floor terrace is a must though it can err a little on the quiet side.
17 Avenue Kléber
Bar 228 – Le Bar du Meurice
Bar 228 is named after the hotel’s address on 228 rue de Rivoli. It provides the warmth of an English club with a Philippe Stark skew. The live pianist helps the wide selection of malts slip down. Whilst Yannick Alléno Club sandwiches mop up any excess at lunch times.
228 rue de Rivoli