Paris is divided into different arrondissements that radiate out in circles from the centre. Each of these arrondissements is sub-divided into quartiers, each with its own distinct buzz. I don’t know Paris well enough to tell you definitively where “the best” bars are for an evening out, or “the best” cafes for a mid-morning coffee stop or an afternoon cake, but I can share with you the little gems that we’ve found during our weekend trips.
Canal Saint Martin
Le verre volé – Wine and small plates – I must confess I haven’t been here as the place was closed when we swung by at the weekend, but my husband has been previously and can vouch for its credentials.
Chez Prune – For casual weekend summer evenings facing the canal. If you’re here after dinner why not try a caipiriniha for 7.50 Euro, strong and thoughtfully served with a little spoon for muddling up the lime and sugar to get the best of the flavours.
Le Sardine – For apéretif in the Place Saint Marthe.
Rue Vielle du Temple and around (3rd Arrondissement)
In the heart of Le Marais, this street really comes to life in the evenings. This is just a tiny selection of the shopfront bars that abound in this district.
We actually ate here as well as having drinks. Whilst I wouldn’t rate the food sadly, this place is still a great spot for drinks, both pre-dinner or nightcap. Huge terrace facing out onto Rue Vielle du Temple ideal for watching the world go by. Real Parisian feel without the pretension.
Le petit fer à cheval
As the name suggests, a tiny room with a marble horseshoe-shaped bar to sit up to. Wines start at 3.50 Euro a glass (and are significantly more economical than water at 8 Euro a 330ml bottle, so don’t hold back!)
La Belle Hortense – Opposite the petit fer à cheval and equally as tiny. It looks like a bookshop from the front, but appears to be a cross between a wine bar and a library!
La Trinquette – Wine bar in La Rue des Gravilliers next door to Andy Wahloo (and a much easier bet for entrance on a weekend). Atmospheric, it was heaving the night we went with people spilling out onto the street. Zinc top bar and economical wines by the glass.
Andy Wahloo – Painfully cool, put on your best French accent and strike a pose to pass the door staff on a saturday night. As an aside “wahloo” means “I have nothing” in Arabic.
Ile de la cité
Au vieux Paris d’Arcole
For an afternoon pitchet de Rosé mere seconds from Notre Dame, but under the quiet creepers and hanging flower baskets out the front of this cute little place, it feels like a whole world away.
Saint Germain des Prés
Pères et Filles
On the Rue de Seine, a quiet side street away from the bustling heart of cafe culture in Saint Germain. Another place where we whiled away a pleasant hour with a verre du vin blanc in the sunshine. This bistro also serves food and gives off a typical Parisian vibe with its wooden exterior doors that roll back, chequered floors and ornate mirrors and chandeliers.
Les Deux Magots
In Place Saint Germain des Prés and famed for its illustrious clientele (such as Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Satre) and in every guide book going, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a real Parisian experience. Wonderful for a morning coffee or sinful hot chocolate (served in a pouring jug). Expect eye-watering prices.
Louvre and around the Rue de Rivoli (1st Arrondissement)
Le Fumoir (Rue de L’Amiral de Coligny)
A good place to catch you breadth after a trip around the Louvre. Serves food (I can recommend brunch on the weekends).
Angelina (226 Rue de Rivoli)
Tea room in the belle époque style under the arches on Rue de Rivoli, amazing for hot chocolate on a cold winter’s afternoon.
Ladurée (Rue Royale)
Always a line out the front of this famous French tea room to get a table, but this branch tends to be significantly quieter (though it may not seem it) than the one on the Champs Elysées. If you’re a first timer to Paris, tea and macarons or an exquistely decorated tarte or gateâu is a quintessential Parisian experience. If you just want to buy macarons, pretty much every chocolate shop/bakery in Paris makes them and outlets that don’t have the Laduée branding are usually cheaper.
Chez Jeanette (47 Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis)
In between Gare du Nord and Gare du L’est in the 10th, this is our pit-stop before we head up to Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar home. Faded grandeur and a little rough around the edges, this place serves up awesome charcuterie and cheese sharing platters together with reasonably priced pitchets of wine. Perfect for the last frenchie fix away from the frenetic tourist traps around the station.
Paris is an epicurean dream – a city where there is a bakery on every corner and a cheese shop on every second corner, not to mention huge open air food markets (Bastille has a great one on sundays 9am -2.30pm). I love nothing better than buying a bottle of wine, a couple of cheeses and a baguette and heading to Jardin du Luxembourg to watch the children’s sailboats on the boating lake and tuck in.