A Belleville drinker’s institution, never empty of local youth imbibing black coffee with their afternoon papers or kicking off the evening with an aperitif or five. The Folies is named after an 18th-century watering hole at the gates of Paris, in then then-rural quarter of Courtille, famous for the annual debauches of the city carnival. Today, the outlook is a little less bucolic – the rows of vines have been replaced by winding streets, but the area still packs a distinct buzz.
The packed terrace is the place to be winter and summer, as it’s heated and lit until the last rays of the sun have died away. Finding a chair and a spot to wedge it into is a challenge, but the satisfaction is worth it – and at €2.50 for a beer and €4.50 for a cocktail, it’s no trial to settle down and get in several rounds before closing time. In the evening, red lights go on beneath the bar, and the friendly, efficient staff remain cheerful despite the throng. In summer, the terrace crowds spill out on to the narrow Rue Dénoyez, and on weekends on the semi-pedestrianised street the art galleries set out stalls, bands strike up, and graffiti artists start tending to their frescoes.