You’re in Paris for fashion week. Picture the scene: you’ll wander down Avenue Montaigne in your dancing shoes, listening to your Paris playlist, and swing into a rooftop bar for a cocktail (or four) served by a charming bartender. With high spirits, you’ll move on to a classy yet low-key speakeasy and into the night…
Not so fast. While one of the most magical things about the French capital is its enthralling concept bars and their ability to surprise, you’ve got to do some digging to find them. Unless you know exactly where you’re going, it’s easy to cave for one of the myriad brasseries and settle for a sub-standard croque monsieur. Parisian concept bars are in abundance, but invariably well hidden and never located on the famous boulevards. Head to the backstreets and you’ll be rewarded with cutting-edge concept bars and creative crowds. Knowing where they are is unlocking a whole new layer of Parisian magic.
Here are five 0f the coolest concept bars that will blow your Parisian daydreams out of the water:
This Moroccan-meets-pop-art bar is a surreal mix of brilliance. Brought to Paris by the Algerian Mazouz brothers, famous in London for their fashion-forward restaurant and art space, Andy Wahloo nods to Warhol’s eccentric life. When you visit you’ll find a bunch of low key chic creatives, artists, musicians and writers. The bohemian glamour is made up of golden, blue and pink-tinged colors, bold prints and North African artefacts with hanging art pieces, while the cocktails are influenced by North America. In the summertime, the hidden courtyard opens up, so while reservations are not usually needed, it’s advisable to make one if you want to sit with your crew outdoors. In essence, Andy Wahloo was simply conceived for city cool cats to come and relax in a comfortable setting. It’s a small space, which gets busy in the late hours and is perfect for socializing.
Bringing the forest to Paris, this Saint-Germain bar takes the term “urban jungle” very seriously. Marble floor tiles contrast pink neon lights and lush green plants burst from every angle. The Balcon Bar on the first floor looks down onto the restaurant, but it’s where the party’s at. From Wednesday to Saturday at 10PM, live DJ sets ensue and in-the-know Parisians come to dance, chat and hang out with a quirky cocktail. Come slightly earlier to make the most of their reduced price bar menu, which includes a drink and a main dish for 27€. And yes, the kitchen is Michelin Guide approved.
If you’ve never sipped your cocktail in a pirate ship before, it’s time to get acquainted with Le Comptoir Général. Walk down Canal Saint-Martin and keep an eye out for a large, industrial green gate and a black-clad man wearing large headphones. That’s the bouncer; he’ll stare you down and, hopefully, step aside to let you in. The premise includes a restaurant, bar, hairdresser and shop, all decorated with bright, beautifully aged colonial style furniture. Make your way straight for the bar, located inside a great big pirate ship. Their signature drink? The punch. Bartenders pour huge amounts of rum into different punch bowls, which they then serve Caribbean style. With bright, vintage artwork on the walls, rum barrels and palm trees aplenty, it sets you back to a different time.
When night falls, Ober Mamma glows gold like a beacon. Having opened in June 2015, this aperitivo cocktail bar and trattoria populare is eternally popular. Designed by Londonian interiors guru, Alexander Waterworth, the space is warm, fun and joyfully eclectic, from enviable tiling to artful cocktails, all bathed in low-lit glamour. There’s always a long line for the restaurant – the sourdough pizza is cheap and delicious – but slip straight onto one of the blue barstools instead for cocktails, cold meats and cheese. Pinched from one of London’s hottest establishments, Chiltern Firehouse, Nicola Battafarano headed up Ober Mamma’s cocktail bar at launch, meaning the list and staff are world class (don’t miss house specials like Safran, an Italian gin-based cocktail with absinthe and six-month aged saffron). While service is five-star, there’s none of the stiffness that all too often plagues the upmarket. This is a buzzing local hangout, where concept, design and vibe are all on point.
In Paris, summer happens at Le Perchoir, the rooftop bar of all rooftop bars. With panoramic views over the city and a curated calendar of DJ sets chosen by Karl de Radioooo, the buzz here is constant. Add to that extra nuggets of goodness like this summer’s pop ups, Yoga by Lytiom, gardening classes with Pépins Productions and a Line Up sportswear boutique and it’s hard to see how you’d ever get tired of this place. Book in for lunchtime on Saturday or Sunday and free up your diary for the rest of the day (and the following morning). You’ll want to dedicate every ounce of energy you’ve got to zingy dishes of ocean fresh tuna, too much wine and expert cocktails on repeat. When you’re on a rooftop with Paris’ party crowd, you don’t leave.