If Henry Miller was alive, these are the bars where you would find him ; grandpa-esque dives invaded by lesbos sporting asymmetric haircuts…bars throbbing with anxious actresses and disgruntled poets sweating regrets over a Bière Picon. But since Henry Miller is gone, you’ve got me to show you the #ParisAF bars to go have a beer and not smile. Okay, maybe smile on the inside, but don’t reveal yourself as an outsider. If there are no hand towels (dear God, if you are listening, it’s me, Kat Walker, Editor-in-Mischief of this here unholy publication…I don’t ask for much but never have we wanted ~less~ a Communal Hand Towel in any public establishment. Lord, hear my prayers. I just dried my hands on my own hair for the not-first time this week.…)
Le Gourbi Palace
Behind the bar reigns Alexis (hi, Alexis). When you walk into le Gourbi, you never know what you will encounter. Lately:
- Clusters of hot straight guys from North Africa (we all have our types, ok? Nourouddine, call me, baby)
- All the other dive bar owners not in the mood to see their own regulars (Hi Mouss)
- Sports-match guys
This is a very masculine bar, come to think of it. While I still haven’t gone home with the barman (there’s only one, and when he doesn’t feel like working, the bar isn’t open) it’s probably the easiest place for a straight gal to *not* go home alone (besides, uh, the entirety of planet Earth).
The name means something akin to ‘rat palace’ according to a French person. When at le Gourbi, order their special Moscow Mule. If America runs on Dunkin’, Paris runs on Moscow Mules, butter, and cigarettes , also known as the Parisian Food Pyramid.
If you succeed in seducing the barman, please let us know in the comments how it went. Or not, because privacy something or other.
«Paris is always a good idea»…
«A beer in the hand is worth two in the keg,»
«Good things come in small packages» …
Like all things written in books, we couldn’t agree more. It just so happens that all of the wise old biblical sayings above also apply to bar hopping in Paris. Not only is it always a good idea, but you can get the «small package» prophecy part of your night out of the way by visiting Pili-Pili — one of our most beloved micro-bars. Perhaps then the night’s catch won’t be too «petit» for your standards. «Are you in?» will only be texted to friends stuck outside.
Au Petit Garage
After you’ve wiped off the vaseline necessary to get in and out of Pili-Pili, head across the street to Au Petit Garage. Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, former hub of Parisian counterculture, is now a hub for cheap beer and hot-tattooed-people-watching. My favorite missed connection occurred here as a tattoo artist rebuffed my maneuvers after I had acted like an 8th grader and enlisted her friend to introduce us. The sleeve tats made me temporarily lose my game. Then I sat with some regulars and met Anne-Sophie. We exchanged numbers, made plans to meet, and my iPhone broke a few days later. The prior 24+ months of skimming the froth from bar encounters all lost to the ethers. Au revoir, 0101100101. So, whilst I love this bar, I have a 0% success rate with amour here. Be forewarned! Friendly bartenders though, not that it helped.
After work, the terrasse is packed to the gills with red lipstick, cigarettes, and normcore jeans everywhere. When night falls, the crowd moves inside to dance and SING OUT LOUD TO CELINE DION. And fear ye not, ye high-libido’ed readers, you’ll never go without petting a pussy at la Carillon because they have a cat. It’s the most DGAF cat ever, totally passed out on top of the radiator while Celine Dion and all the other Celines in the room belt out ‘Pour que tu m’aimes encore’; two of the more bizarre Parisian phenomena yet to be decrypted by scientists.
Au Dernier Métro
Near the Eiffel Tower, whatever the hell arrondissement that is, we try not to think about it
I used to send people here for a late-night bite after a tour, but I’ve since started sending people for other reasons. It’s a place where you can be very authentically ignored by the staff. In my case, they were really busy with talking so no need to, you know, get food or something for us, customers. So for an authentic Parisian experience of being resented because of the need to perform services in exchange for money (Sacre Bleu!), come on down and (try) to get a glass of wine. UPDATE: ok that was just one time, since then they have been really cool
It’s cheap, dive‑y, authentic and all very near the Eiffel Tower; that tall metal thing that lights up. So if you are rekt from a day of looking at all the old n’ gold stuff and it’s almost midnight but you haven’t eaten, head here and chat it up with a plethora (see! I went to university) of locals ; guys in suits, guys not in suits, and whatever other types of humans there are that are also too lazy to go to a more interesting neighborhood, or a more interesting bar.
19th arrondissement, aka, you’re not in Kansas anymore
The drinks aren’t the best, but the cave (that’s French for basement, just sounds better) will make you believe gentrification never happened, ever, anywhere. If there was a way to capture today what we imagine New York City in 1982 must have felt like, here it is. Le 9b is located in the Belleville quarter, aka, one of the many neighborhoods relentlessly called the «Brooklyn of Paris» on the internet. PS: There’s not even a trace of Brooklyn left in the actual Brooklyn, much less anywhere in Paris. I mean, everybody here has a health insurance for chrissakes.
Café Chérie aka le Booty Shaker
While we’re in Belleville, let’s test the veracity of Café Chérie’s claim to have been causing booties to vibrate since 2002.
I finally field-tested this strapline as I never spotted anything shaking from the street . All I observed on my way home from the grocery store was more of the typical Parisian terrasse activity ; cigarettes, mom jeans, makeup applied to look like no-makeup save for red lipstick, a general sense of being cooler than all surroundings, and, «Ouais, oauis, ouais,» muttered all around.
So, proper science-major dropout that I am, I gathered my lab equipment and set out to measure that which had been heretofore unobserved in a laboratory setting ; the experiment whether booties do, in fact, regularly shake here on Boulevard de la Villette ‘since 2002’ as the sign boldly claims.
I hung around, smoked a few cigs (even though I don’t smoke, I simply didn’t want to disrupt the natural fauna), and I was ready to pack up my instruments, declare their claims of supremacy in bottoms an artifact of different, more bootylicious times and go home to eat tomme bleu de chèvre on my sofa.
But when darkness fell, the petri dishes began to glow and booties did in fact begin to quake and tremble. My perfectly calibrated instruments detected two rooms of distinct booty movement. I put on my fluorescent glow glasses for the occasion and someone took them from my face and walked away. I was okay with this. Verdict: booty does, in fact, shake.
The Auld Alliance
I refuse to go here because I don’t like beer. I’m more of a cocktails/wine kind of girl , and let’s be honest, how do you think it goes with cocktails in a Scottish pub? I shudder to even think of the wine. But, as the ad-hoc «Anglophone Embassy» aka, «the place where all the English-speaking foreigners congregate and/or work in winter,» I do end up here every now and then.
If the Notre Dame is at a ‘kilometer zero’ point in France, then this is basically the least French place in all of France ; a zero point of French-ness. The only Parisians you’ll encounter here are moving to Vancouver next week, so they gather with hopes of sharpening their English-speaking skills with the Australian bartenders pulling pints of Guinness. But if you need a taste of home, here ya go.
Bar Le 17
17 Rue de la Folie Méricourt, 11th arrondissement*
*Beware, someone opened another bar with the same name for some reason, and it’s not this one. Above is the address of the real deal.
I’ve only found one bar in Paris where one can go «all the way»– Bar le17. A former tabac or tobacco shop/refuge for grumpy old men to down cheap espressos and read the paper all day unbothered, Le17 was invaded by wily homos of all stripes and never looked back.
As for me and my continued overshare, I nearly lost my bar-bathroom virginity here one epic night. It started like (you wish) all bar stories began: a ~fine as hell~ chica locked eyes with me from across the room in an undeniable come-on. Si! (Ladies and gentlebitches, in the realm of gayness, I am forever a newborn foal, wobbling towards any type of love that can possibly manifest — my game is skittish and non-existent: therefore, please note that a legit, unmistakable come-on is well appreciated. With guys it’s easy, I just stand still…)
After a brief convo wherein I flexed my ability to speak Italian so hard that I must have appeared to have hair of flowing spaghetti or something (note: insert better Italian joke), we very nearly headed for the door when I recalled suddenly that I had a French Boyfriend. I remembered because he had rematerialized and was standing next to us, 110% aware of what was happening. And he was There. For It. So I mentioned something about Care Bears and Sharing and she, uh, wasn’t into the psychosexual tapas menu.
She said she preferred to « forget men» that night. Le sigh. I made some vague but hopefully clever assurances that French Boyfriend would make a perfect addition to any possible social activity the night may present but she was not having it. Ergo, neither was I…It’s simply poor taste to leave one’s boyfriend at the bar for a shiny new thing, no matter how Italian she is.
Maybe you’ll do better? Be Best? But don’t skip this spot — Le17 positively oozes insoumise, sexual energy, as any good bar should (and like almost none actually do). Another, less frustrating night, at one of the several a NYE parties I’ve passed there, le17 had a techno dj and it was packed, so we all decided to dance until our dresses fell apart. It was so crowded that you couldn’t see we were in our undies, safety pins long failed, dancing on top of our own former party dresses. It’s a «safe space» for that kind of horseplay.
That’s why Le17 is #1 Best «Worst» Bar in Paris. Bonus is the crazy neighbor lady across the street that answers what she thinks is too much noise (due to a said tendency for unsubmissive connerie) by banging pots and pans together from her balcon overlooking the scene. Yes, Marine, that’ll teach ’em not to make noise. I wonder who the neighbors hate more, techno-lesbo dance party attendees or Marine de le 2 a.m. saute pan.
The bartenders are all bffs of the owner which leads to some interesting professional dynamics such as all the bartenders ceasing to mix drinks when they want to dance to a song they like. It’s a perfect metaphor for Paris : dance first, then work after. Living life comes before shucking it for The Man.
This is the place in town to truly become Parisian.
Indecorous Culturevore and Polychrome Chow Virtuosa Kat Walker likes nice things.
She once went to a job interview for that was supposed to be for sales but was actually for prostitution (the high-class version, she hopes lol) at a fancy hotel in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower (article coming soon) and, another time interviewed for a position as a phone psychic.
She passed both with flying colors. However she declined the human trafficking position but stuck around longer than she should have to be able to write about it. (Are you not entertained?)
As for the telephone psychic gig, she only lasted one day, even though the pay was excellent. Wooooooo…..She sees you subscribing to our weekly PARIS RIGHT NOW dispatch and also our Patreon. There is also a man in your future.
Now she is settled in as your Editor-in-Mischief here, leading the charge to not take Paris so damn seriously…let’s frolic a bit, non?
When she’s not writing about croissants, love, culture, and lovable, sexy croissants, she is a gonzo performance artist whipping up a (usually) political ruckus. Her rabble rousing has provoked the attention of various public forums, like the time she appeared in the movie The Yes Men Fix the World as Russian journalist Laika Gagarina or was featured in RollCall’s Heard on the Hill for her mockery of the U.S. senate. Other efforts have landed her in the Le Nouvel Observateur, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Reader.
In other places and other lives, the actual live guy who played Ross on Friends came to see her show at a NYC gallery.
She has never had a weirder lunch than that one when an FBI informant offered to kill her business partner for her.
She declined (phew) and that’s why she’s here, freely- and un-jailed-ly writing about croissants and perverts and the Eiffel Tower (in that order, usually) for PARIS > DEFINED MAGAZINE.
Her perfectly impossible dinner in Paris would be at Pierre Sang on Gambey (the waiter chooses the wine) with Genesis P. Orridge, Napoleon Bonaparte (he picks up the tab and the waiter knows this in advance when picking wines), Christopher Hitchens, Anais Nin, and Ketamine in attendance. Drinks after at le17 but back in time, like 2017.
Her favorite French word is ‘bruit’ but only when a hot girl says it slowly.
In a bid for your attention and approval she writes things here and manages this unruly tribe of Parisians endeavoring to bring you what Parising is really about.
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If you are mashing out a message to warn her of her crimes against grammar and punctuation save your time because she knows, she knows.