The Worst Bars in Paris Are Actually the Best

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

gourbi palace

10th arrondisse­ment

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.

Gour­bi Palace (hot guys)

Pili-Pili

pili pili

11th arrondisse­ment

«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.

Pili-Pili (in the pock­et of Paris)

Au Petit Garage

au petit garage

11th Arrondisse­ment

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.

Au Petit Garage (grunge lives)

Le Carillon

le carillon

10th arrondisse­ment

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.

Le Car­il­lon (Celine Dion wor­ship zone)

Au Dernier Métro

au dernier metro

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.

Au Dernier Métro (la France insoumise)

le 9b

le 9b

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. 

Le 9b (time warp)

Café Chérie aka le Booty Shaker

café chérie 
Booty shaker

19th arrondisse­ment

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.

Café Chérie (booties do shake)

The Auld Alliance

auld alliance

4th arrondisse­ment

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.

Auld Alliance (the unfrench­ness of being)

Bar Le 17

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. 

Le 17 (hot girls and cigarettes)

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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.

Sub­scribe HERE to the P > D newslet­ter for a week­ly dose of her, and the rest of the ram­bunc­tious and per­fect­ly depraved gals’ tren­chant and thought-pro­vok­ing opin­ions. Or tune in to their antics on Twitch or youtube LIVE (start­ing in March 2023) .

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.

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