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Bars in Bastille

Charlie

Critics' choice

Two euros don't get you far in the capital: they'll stretch to the cheapest sandwich in Franprix, or one métro trip plus a couple of carambars, but no further. Unless you're hanging out at Charlie, whose owner Charlotte has struck upon the novel idea of selling half pints for the unheard-of price of €2 (or pints for €4). All night long. Music and conversation flow as freely as the brown stuff in this affable joint, where the sofas are comfy and acoustic guitars are laid out for customer use. Beerophobes can opt for a cocktail (€5 during happy hour) – classics are served alongside more elaborate creations courtesy of Charlotte and the chefs at her restaurant Miel et Paprika, situated across the road.

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Paris

Le Réservoir - Mary De Vivo

Critics' choice

Le Reservoir restaurant, bar and club in Paris is found in the city's nightlife quarter between Nation and Bastille and find it you should. This exciting place is an energetic, warm and welcoming place to dine well, dance and hear some pretty fabulous music ranging from jazz and reggae to rock and house. The decor is not cold minimalism, but neo-baroque with wrought iron lighting, gilt furniture, mirrors and candles everywhere and hung with an excellent standard of original art. The menu -- philosophy 'fresh produce, respectful cuisine, passion, love and hard work -- features a generous, global mix of, say, lobster in chartreuse with pear, rice and passion fruit vinaigrette, mountain hay-cooked canon of lamb with juniper gravy and dried fruit pancake. The ambience is superb. Service goes on until 5 am at weekends and the Sunday brunch is famous among clubbers as the best way to recharge for the week ahead.

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Bastille

Le Red House

Critics' choice

Le Red House, dominated by a majestic bull’s skull hanging over the bar, has the air of a Texan saloon in the middle of Bastille. The clientele are neither uber-trendy nor cattle herders: the crowd is colourful, young, lively, loud and out for a good time. There’s a good live DJ almost every day, spinning rock, punk, funk and electro, and the place never seems to be empty – luckily the venue is huge, with two connected rooms with exposed beams, each equipped with their own bars.The main attraction at Red House is the happy hour from 5pm-8pm – €5 a pint, €6 for house cocktails, prepared with quality liquors. Some of them are over-sweetened, but the good ones are great: we tip our Stetsons to the Wild West Side (tequila, chilli, cucumber and lime), the Red House Flambeau (bourbon, apricot brandy, spicy syrup, lemon and ginger). Also look out for the menu of off the wall seasonal cocktails – in winter 2012, they include the Fucking Legend (Mezcal, Chartreuse, falernum syrup, lime and mint).

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Bastille

Twenty One Sound Bar

Critics' choice

A hip-hop bar in Paris? The novel Twenty One Sound near Bastille is a temple to American hip-hop – both East and West coasts – but also of dance hall tunes and French rap. Numerous DJs take to the decks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, mixing old school sets and brand new tracks on the powerful sound system. Beautiful girls from the banlieues sway their hips on the dance floor, surrounded by equally beautiful men in an exotic, always friendly atmosphere. Sometimes, big names like Joey Starr play here. The bar offers free or cheap entry, and drinks (including a range of flavoured rums) at affordable prices. The décor is sober, all polished concrete and brushed steel, and the dance floor long and narrow.

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12th arrondissement

L'Entre Potes

Critics' choice

A play on the word ‘l’entrepôt’, ‘warehouse’, L’Entre Potes (‘between friends’) is a discreet bar full of surprises, from the huge vintage Ripolin paint company sign on the ground floor and the collection of tools that reference the building’s history as an upholstery factory, to the basement, which friendly owner Ali has cleverly decorated with mosaics and panels from an abandoned Métro station.Drinks-wise, L'Entre Potes offers a good selection of affordable cocktails and whiskeys. As well as the classics (Bloody Mary, Long Island Ice Tea), try the Kamikaze (triple sec and lemon), the Sidecar (cognac, Cointreau and lemon) or the Mont Julep (bourbon, mint and sugar), and enjoy them on one of the basement’s comfortable armchairs.

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Bastille

Le Zéro Zéro

Critics' choice

The human body really packs down: if you don’t believe us, just check out Zéro Zéro of a weekend. It’s a battle even to open the door to the bar, which squeezes an immoderate number of people into a few square metres. The only solution is to dance along with everybody else, while spilling as little as possible of one’s drink. But if things do go bottoms up and you soak a few shirts, there’s no reason to fear: everyone quickly lets go in this highly charged and celebratory atmosphere.The reason for all this roaring success? The music, to start with – every day, the vinyl is expertly managed by house, minimal and hip-hop/funk DJs. The style, too: a tapestry of 70s orange flowers, disappearing behind layers of graffiti that stretch from floor to ceiling. Such an easy-going attitude to space is a novelty in in Paris. But most of all it’s the staff that make it great: the enthusiastic young owners are there every evening keeping things alive. The cocktails too: strawberry Daiquiris and other flavourful creations at great prices (€6.5-€7.5). But the secret weapon of the venue is the Zéro Zéro, a drink with a rum-ginger base with a jealously guarded recipe, whose price has risen from €2.80 to €3 in 15 years.

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Bastille

Ateliers de Charonne

Critics' choice

This spanking new jazz club is the place to see the rising stars of gypsy jazz (jazz manouche). If you want to grab a good spot near the front of the stage, reserve for dinner and the show.

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11th arrondissement

China

Critics' choice

The China is a chic Asian bar-restaurant and gig venue whose exotic décor seems inspired by a 1930s Shanghai colonial club. With padded leather Chesterfield sofas, red walls, dark wood panelling and a black and white checkerboard floor, the shadowy warmth of this lounge is in the best tradition of a British gentleman’s club. Behind a splendid chrome counter, discreet staff prepare distinguished cocktails, like the Hemingway (a visionary alchemy of brown Cuban rum, Cointreau, lime and grapefruit) – we recommend you take advantage of the happy hour (5pm ‘til 8pm) to sample them for €6 instead of €12. For those who prefer a good vintage, the wine list is enormous. If you’re not afraid to splash out on your credit card, head to the dining area to taste their Asian fusion cuisine, like a tender medallion of chicken gently scented with shiitake mushrooms and Thai lemon. Fancy an after-dinner tipple? Head upstairs for a good cognac in the cigar lounge, which sports a fireplace and a library of old books. You’ll also find a ‘genuine smoking room’ outside, in a winter garden livened up with bamboo plants. In the basement, there are two free concerts every evening, mostly jazz, soul, pop and world music (detailed program on the website).  As the venue is well known for its good gigs, the comfortable leather sofas soon fill up, so arrive early or reserve a table if you don’t want to finish propping up the

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Eastern Paris

Les Disquaires

Critics' choice

In its newly-renovated, shiny red interior, Les Disquaires’s little stage directly faces the dancefloor and the decks, and temporary exhibitions by Parisian artists decorate the walls around the bar. The venue is a good Bastille quarter bet for enjoying a quality gig over a cocktail or a beer during happy hour, and even music novices will always find something to enjoy in the programme of live jazz, funk, hip-hop and soul. For those who want to press on until the early hours (2am), the organisers always have a DJ set or two up their sleeve. It’s always a good idea to look in here to get an idea of what’s setting Parisian pulses racing – for the programme details, take a look at their website (French only).

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Bastille

Pop In

Critics' choice

The temple to indie pop in Paris, Pop In is like a little island of London style in the lively Rue Amelot. Wedging a hip crowd of well-coiffed youth in checked shirts and leather jackets into its cramped space, the bar plays pop-rock from the Beatles to cutting-edge indie groups. On the first floor, there’s an idealised British salon with a piano and old second hand sofas, which is a lovely place for a beer. Illogically, you have to take the stairs from here to reach the underground performance space, where every evening little groups come and do their thing. The music is free, and the quality can be a little uneven, but it’s always a pleasure to discover an international and unpretentious alternative Parisian music scene. Come early on the weekends, as it’s full to bursting during happy hour.

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Bastille
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