Best bars in Paris: tried, tested and ranked by us
What’s the deal? World-class mixology with a bleu, blanc, rouge focus in the heart of the coolest neighbourhood in town.
What to drink: The Nevez Old Fashioned.
A cocktail bar like Le Syndicat is hard to come by. It may look scrappy from the outside but once you’re in, you couldn’t imagine anywhere more hospitable. The excellent cocktail list hits the fashionable vintage spot, with little-known French liquors (cognacs, Armagnacs, eaux de vie and more) combined in ace contemporary concoctions by faultlessly attentive staff. Sit back and soak up the casual speakeasy atmosphere and hip-hop soundtrack.
What’s the deal? An understated wine bar run by the same folk as top-rated bistro Les Arlots.
What to drink: A glass of the white Aurièges 2016 (Domaine du Clovallon).
With its central bar and huge bay windows overlooking the street, Billili certainly looks simple. But from grub to plonk, the menu belies initial impressions. The house terrine is smooth and indulgent yet punchily flavourful, the chocolate mousse gloriously dense and textured. Best of all is the wine list, cannily curated by sommelier Tristan, whose out-there tastes shine through – and quite frequently dazzle. No reservations; it’s first come, first served.
What’s the deal? Cocktails just metres from the best views in the city (atop the Parc de Belleville).
What to drink: A Bérégovoy with 30 & 40 calvados, Ferrand cognac, Madeira Verdelho, Dry Ferrand curaçao and Scrappy’s orange bitters.
The whitewashed walls and private green alcove make Combat feel super-welcoming and peaceful. Elena Schmitt, Margot Lecarpentier and barmaid Elise Drouet (all of whom are ex-Experimental Cocktail Club) serve mightily fragrant and well-balanced cocktails. Don’t miss the snacks, such as terrine with gherkins and Thierry Breton’s pain de campagne.
What’s the deal? Yves Camdeborde’s latest opening serves porky small plates paired with local wines.
What to drink: A glass of Nord-Aveyron red.
In the kingdom of chefs, pig is king – or so goes the slogan of our favourite southwestern French chef, Yves Camdeborde, who’s just opened this much-hyped bar-restaurant (hot on the heels of L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer and Le Comptoir du Relais). A love letter to pork, the gourmet small plates are best washed down with one of the superb wines from independent producers, such as a 2014 Montrieux from the Loire.
What’s the deal? Whether you’re more in the mood for coffee or a cocktail, you’ll get a good taste of old Paris here.
What to drink: The Tunnel, the house twist on the negroni.
The main reason drinkers come here isn’t for the booze, but the surroundings – a listed Art Nouveau building that recalls a bygone age when the city was synonymous with cutting-edge artistry and lots and lots of drinking. There’s a handful of good speakeasies in this city, but to get a real sense of vieux Paris (where, uh, Prohibition wasn’t a thing), this is where to head.
What’s the deal? A sumptuous art deco bar, named after a New Orleans brothel procuress.
What to drink: The speciality here is absinthe-laced cocktails.
Nestled on Rue Frochot with a discreet windowless façade, Lulu White’s only marker is a small brass engraving of its namesake taken from a 1920s mug shot. Caught between two very different worlds (the sex shops of the Boulevard de Clichy and South Pigalle’s gourmet restaurants), Lulu White belongs to neither; indeed, with its all-English staff and turn-of-the century décor, the bar is truly a world apart. Like its lush interior, Lulu White’s cocktail menu is both extravagant and select. Go for anything with absinthe.
What’s the deal? One for oenophiles (and anyone with time to spare before a meal at Septime next door).
What to drink: A glass of Fleur Sauvage Jouret.
A superb selection of wines, delectable smoked meats on toast and a cosy environment: all are yours at Septime’s annex bar. La Cave is just as glamorous as its big sister, but the prices aren’t as prohibitive. Sample the rotating selection of five whites and five reds by the glass (between €4.50 and €8).
What’s the deal? Think you know your craft beer? Think again.
What to drink: Any of the rotating beers on draught.
Les Trois 8 opened after a renovation in 2013 with a new remit to match its fresh look: instead of cheap lager on tap, its clientele would henceforth sip craft beers and organic wine. Choose between around eight brews, ranging from the moderately bitter Northmaen Blonde (€4.50 a pint) to the dark and stormy Kernel Export India Porter (€9.50). If beer feels like religion at Les Trois 8, heretics are tolerated – a decent range of wines are also available.
What’s the deal? Watch a mixology master improv at a bar where sustainability comes first.
What to drink: Name your favourite spices, herbs and flavours, and let the bartenders design away.
A few strides from the bustling Rue Oberkampf, on Boulevard du Temple, sits the eye-catching Bisou. There’s no menu, but behind the sublime marble bar is mixologist Nicolas who, with just a word in the right direction, will shake up a concoction to suit your fancies. The cocktails are high-flying, and even better, Bisou takes a sustainable approach by only using produce that’s locally sourced and 100 percent organic.
What’s the deal? Mexico-sur-Seine.
What to drink: A Hot Mexican (mezcal infused with tarragon, spicy Suze, Spanish Bitter and lemon).
Mezcal is slowly becoming the drink du jour in Paris – helped in no small part by La Mezcaleria, a clandestine bar hidden behind the kitchen of Hotel 1K’s Peruvian restaurant. Sneak your way inside and you’ll find a bright, buzzing space with a glass ceiling and Mexican-inspired décor. The drinks menu offers an assortment of heady mezcal shots, cocktails and snacks like homemade guacamole and chips.
What’s the deal? A British-themed gastropub thronging with a young Parisian crowd.
What to drink: The punchy Funk Attack (€13), with fermented milk, lemon and kombu seaweed infused with Citadelle gin.
Its obscure paintings, quaint curtains, green lampshades and the piano in the corner certainly give off a homey atmosphere, and the Cambridge’s friendly staff in workers’ overalls will make you feel even more at ease. Happily, the three Brits behind this ‘London-style’ gastropub only work with local producers and sustainable spirit brands – so you can also feel good while you drink.
What’s the deal? Eat well, drink well, go away happy.
What to drink: A natural wine like the easy-going Hanami de Bobinet (€26 a bottle), or the rare orange Steinert 2016 by Pierre Frick.
They’re only 25 and 30 respectively, but Pierre Touitou and Arnaud Lacombe’s second address (after the brilliant Vivant, two doors down) has already gained a reputation that defies their age and experience. Here, everything is stripped back to basics: there are no chairs, no tables, not even a proper entrance. A bar and kitchen really are all you need when the drinks and dishes are this good.
What’s the deal? Cocktails paired with Motown and reggae.
What to drink: The smoky, acidic Fernando Sancho (€12).
If you’re a music fan and don’t mind a drink, there are few better places than this. The sound here is excellent, the bar’s lined with perusable soul and reggae vinyls, and come the evening dancing feels almost obligatory. Gregory Isaacs deep cuts and smoky mezcal make for an intoxicating mix.
What to drink: The Plymouth (€14), with gin, capers, lemon zest and tonic.
Even if it does skirt the Marais’s chicest shopping areas, Martin has remained grounded. With its exposed beams, stone walls and low-lit main space, the only trend this Boulevard Beaumarchais hangout follows is design comme à la maison – and that makes it all the cosier. It’s run by the exuberant Loïc Martin, formerly a bartender at top restaurant Au Passage.
What’s the deal? Come summer, the terrace is the funnest (and liveliest) in the capital.
What to drink: A glass of rosé.
Bucolic delights reign at Rosa Bonheur, a bar set in a former guinguette in the heart of the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. The bar is managed by Michelle Cassaro, aka Mimi, who used to run lesbian club Pulp – and the bar is a popular among the lesbian crowd, especially on Sundays. But the Bonheur is relaxed in every sense, and for Parisians of all persuasions, its terrace is the place to see and be seen in summer.
What’s the deal? An old-school wine cellar with a huge personality.
What to drink: A glass of Cheverny (Clé de sol, 2014).
Simple and rustic, the Cave à Michel wine cellar oozes charm. Portuguese azulejos tiles brighten the wooden countertop and tables, and outside you’ll find a small courtyard. Welcoming and chatty, manager Fabrice is a crucial part of the package, inviting passers-by in with gusto.
What’s the deal? Go back in time to Prohibition-era America (and dance to R‘n’B while you’re at it).
What to drink: The Turkish Delight or Chirac ’95.
Castor Club’s discreet frontage, elegant old lampshades and wealth of log-cabin wooden panelling create an aesthetic reminiscent of the speakeasy bars of Prohibition-era America. Often busy, the bar plays a mix of Nashville pop and country from the ’50s and ’60s while customers try out the eclectic range of house cocktails. Downstairs, a funkier R‘n’B playlist gets a cheery crowd writhing in a dance-friendly bar space, while others chat away in the cosy candlelight.
What’s the deal? A bar and microbrewery that’s ideal for a group drink.
What to drink: Any of the beers brewed in-house.
Blending bar, bistro and microbrewery, Les Cuves de Fauve is worth going to simply to sample its 16 draught beers. The setting, too, is light and pleasant, with its brick and concrete walls, neon signs and ample shrubbery. The bartenders are helpful. And just to top it all off, young chef Oscar Verlant (formerly of Frenchie and Apicius) serves up 15 or so exquisite dishes that slip down really rather easily.
What’s the deal? Creative cocktails near the dramatic covered passages in the centre.
What to drink: The Kota Ternate.
Hidden behind the temple to pizza that is Daroco lurks Danico, a trendy Brooklyn-style bar complete with high ceilings, green velvet armchairs, a black-and-white marble bar and ’80s soundtrack. The mixology team, led by Nico de Soto (formerly of Experimental Club, but with training at New York’s Mace too), pushes conventional cocktail boundaries. From matcha to marshmallow to bacon, this menu will leave you totally baffled (but delighted all the same).
What’s the deal? A site of pilgrimage for self-respecting beer-ficionados.
What to drink: The house Murica IPA.
This collaboration between beer bar Trois 8 (further up this list) and Parisian micro-brewery Outland is a match made in hoppy heaven. The beer is great, of course, but they get bonus points for the appealing décor, too. The immense central bar recalls an old-school American taproom.
What’s the deal? Feels like an old-school Parisian café; tastes like the future.
What to drink: A Deck & Donohue craft beer.
Going on looks, this could be any old-style Parisian café, but the Fontaine de Belleville’s founders have switched things up. No more crap beer, bitter coffee or sub-par sandwiches; these are ethical, artisanal products at their best. There are craft beers from the surrounding area, including Deck & Donohue in Montreuil and Outland in Fontenay-sous-Bois, and, of course, coffee from the Belleville Brûlerie itself.
What’s the deal? Sociable, elbow-to-elbow drinking on Paris’s trendiest drinking drag.
What to drink: Any of the natural wines chosen by David Vincent-Loyola, formerly of Le Chateaubriand.
At this Rue Oberkampf hangout, you can (read: have to) chat with your neighbours while good-naturedly knocking into each other, wine and beers in hand. Food-wise, you can’t miss the melting ‘Tortilla de Janine’, but then again the princely acorn-fed ham with grilled almonds and the brilliant house mozzarella are also tempting. The setting for all this? Tiled walls and floors, ’70s neon lighting, a chic clientele and plenty of wine, all 100 percent natural.
What’s the deal? Classy cocktails and decent-value oysters.
What to drink: A Rain Dog with oysters on the side.
It would be easy to walk straight past the latest venture from the team behind Candelaria and Le Glass – with its nondescript front door and simple neon sign, the Mary Céleste oyster bar looks more like a neighbourhood pizzeria than one of the buzziest destinations in the Marais. If you fancy a slice of class with your aperitifs, this is where to come.
What’s the deal? A gourmet destination that doubles up as a tip-top wine bar.
What to drink: A glass of white with a yellow pollock ceviche.
Another hit for Yves Camdeborde, this follows in the footsteps of his extremely popular Avant Comptoir, but this time focuses on seafood. Like its older sibling, here you eat standing up, and everything happens at the bar – from ordering to getting stuck into quality wines and tapas-style dishes. The barman will give you expert wine recommendations.
What’s the deal? A Mexican-themed speakeasy with effortlessly cool staff.
What to drink: The Guêpe Verte (tequila, cucumber, coriander, agave, lime and pepper).
Head to 52 Rue Saintonge, push the small door and walk through the taco joint to a thick curtain at the back. Peer behind it and we challenge you not to be drawn in by surely the Marais’s sleekest cocktail den. The room is large, the light soft and the atmosphere as cosy as it gets. The aproned bartenders are adept multitaskers – smiling, taking orders, making jokes and occasionally busting dance moves.
What’s the deal? First-rate cocktails admired by those in the know.
What to drink: A Modernismo, with Beefeater gin, nutmeg, champagne, lemon and oxalis.
It’s impossible to miss the Little Red Door’s… little red door, located on Rue Charlot and lit up by slightly gaudy lights in Paris’s uber-chic Marais. It came 11th in the 2017 list of the World’s Best Bars and frankly, we can’t argue. Get comfortable in the intoxicating speakeasy atmosphere and browse the cocktail menu themed around architectural trends.
What’s the deal? Quite simply the best rooftop bar in Paris.
What to drink: The cocktail of the day.
This enormously popular bar in Ménilmontant has a huge rooftop with a 360-degree view of the capital. It’s a vast space surrounding a handsome bar, with comfortable sofas strewn with cushions, colourful plants and scented herbs planted in pots around the seats or hung from railings. Watching the sun set over the Sacré-Coeur, glass in hand, under garlands of coloured lights, really is something special.
What’s the deal? A temple to wine where you can fill up your carafe yourself.
What to drink: Wine, by the litre(s) of course.
In a room decorated au naturel, several tables face a massive counter, alongside stainless steel tanks filled with delicious drinks. Arbois le Guinguet, Côtes-du-Rhône from Gramenon and wines from the Rochebin area make up a consistently top-quality list. Bring a group of mates, fill your bottle from one of these fountains of joy and settle in for a session.
What’s the deal? A maritime-themed cocktail bar decked out in wood panelling and ropes.
What to drink: The classic Tom Collins.
The nautical-themed Le CopperBay is a sophisticated and elegant cocktail bar hidden down the quiet Rue Bouchardon. Experienced cocktail crafters Elfi, Julien and Aurélie can serve you a sailor-friendly rum on the rocks, or something a little more adventurous from their mixology menu.
What’s the deal? An 18th arrondissement local where you’re guaranteed a hearty welcome.
What to drink: A pint.
The bar of Le Grand Hôtel de Clermont has become known as ‘Chez Ammad’, after its proprietor, who has run it for more than 50 years. Ammad and his son lavish a warm welcome on the local clientele of cheery, cheeky, eccentric old regulars from the neighbourhood. You never get bored here, as the locals strike up animated conversation, often while dancing to a jazz and Brazilian funk soundtrack.
What’s the deal? A speakeasy that’s not insufferably quirky.
What to drink: The Nutty By Nature, with peanut-infused rum, spiced maple syrup and Japanese Genmaicha tea.
It’s easy to think you’ve made a wrong turn somewhere when you arrive at cocktail bar Mabel – on the outside, all you can see is a ‘grilled cheese’ café. But slink through to the back room and you’ll find a relaxed, pretence-free speakeasy. The drinks menu here is extensive and shrewdly curated, placing an accent on rums like Botran 15 Reserva, Bristol Caribbean, Barbancourt 3 Star and Chairman’s Reserve, while also offering a healthy selection of whiskys, mezcal and cachaça.
What’s the deal? Cocktail masters whip up dazzling concoctions in unintimidating surrounds.
What to drink: A Shimbashi, with Japanese whisky, Fino sherry and bitters.
This is a welcome compromise between Saint-Germain’s pullulating cocktail bars and the ultra-cool hangouts around Bastille. Behind a discreet façade on a little Marais side street, Sherry Butt (whose young owners Amaury and Cathleen previously have worked at Prescription Cocktail Club and Curio Parlour) contains two spacious rooms filled with studded leather couches, huge mirrors and dim lighting. Come here for top cocktails mixed by experts, and a distinguished selection of whiskies from all over the world.
What’s the deal? Basically a jazz club – but with craft beer.
What to drink: A Saison Dupont beer.
La Fine Mousse is run by a team of ‘bièreologues’ who man the 20 or so taps, offering a plethora of artisanal beers from France, Belgium, Norway and England. There are tasting notes on the menu, or you can leave yourself in the capable hands of the staff to help choose from the range that stretches from 5 to 10 percent strength. A major plus is the quality jazz programme: double bass/guitar and piano duos provide an unobtrusive backdrop to the hum of the eclectic clientele.
What’s the deal? The sister address of our favourite bar in Paris, Le Syndicat. Enough said.
What to drink: The giant bowl of easy-drinking punch.
Slap bang in the heart of Belleville, La Commune is always bursting with punters clamouring for a taste of their amber rum. The famed team behind Le Syndicat have kept to their winning formula: a clandestine shopfront and a hip-hop soundtrack. For about €11 per person, you get your share of a giant silver punch bowl, filled with dangerously drinkable concoctions.
What’s the deal? Think the Grand Budapest Hotel.
What to drink: The Separate But Together, an extravagant mix that’s best sipped in the jacuzzi.
If Wes Anderson ever passed through Paris – hi Wes, if you’re reading – we’d recommend he go straight to Serpent à Plume. Tucked away beneath the Place des Vosges arcades, this hybrid cocktail bar, book shop, art gallery and pyjama shop (don’t ask) is a winning combination of quirky, kitsch and elegant, just like Anderson’s films. The bar’s downstairs.
What’s the deal? If showy SoPi (South Pigalle) were a bar.
What to drink: A pint (but it could cost as much as €8).
With its large terrace and the small army of young, mustachioed men wearing lumberjack shirts that fill it, Le Mansart wears its hipster credentials proudly – not surprising given its location in the heart of trendy SoPi. Inside it’s packed, with people elbowing each other to get to the bar, and the table football is always a hit. Come early to enjoy the beautiful décor over a quiet glass of wine before it gets busy.
What’s the deal? A speakeasy with an exemplary drinks selection.
What to drink: The Smokey Island, comprising three-year-old Havana rum, vodka, Beefeater gin and a host of heady aromas.
Make your way through the Pizza Da Vito restaurant and push the metal door of the walk-in fridge. Once inside, peruse Moonshiner’s list of cocktails and whiskies (there are only 83, so shouldn’t take long), as well as the ace selection of bottled and draught beers. Then sit back and settle in for the night.
What’s the deal? The swish wine bar that, for better or worse, kickstarted the gentrification of the Rue de Belleville.
What to drink: A bottle of white shared between friends.
With its midnight blue façade, smiling service, elegant windows, hams and sausages suspended from the ceiling and well-ordered shelves of bottles, wine bar and deli La Cave de Belleville is a seriously classy outfit. The staff will help with pairings, and while not a cut-price dégustation, the experience is well worth it.
What’s the deal? Part New York loft, part jazz club.
What to drink: A Psilo with tequila, mezcal, salt and lemon, garnished with wild coriander.
Look through the façade of greenery and you’ll see a discreet sign that reads, ‘L’Entree des Artistes’. Inside is an art deco duplex that’s somewhere between a loft and jazz club. Cocktails are all mixed with homemade syrups and infusions and wines are well chosen from small natural producers. On weekends, you can dance to American pop until almost sunrise as the bar stays open until 5am.
What’s the deal? An elegant bar with unusually low prices.
What to drink: The Grand Ours, with Chartreuse, rosehip vodka, rosehip syrup and ginger beer.
Of the many venues between Strasbourg Saint-Denis and the Gare de l’Est currently pulling in stylish young drinkers, L’Ours Bar is a standout. If nothing else, it’s good enough to keep its prices down – pints are €5 all day and cocktails €6 at happy hour (5pm-9pm). As well as all the classic mixes you’d expect, there are excellent original cocktails that are worth splashing out for.
What’s the deal? Tip-top tapas and natural wine just beyond the ringroad.
What to drink: A Cheveau beaujolais that’s fruity, well-rounded and only €6 a glass.
Sure, we’ve got a decent handful of bars within the boulevard périphérique, but Bonne Aventure shows that sometimes it’s worth venturing 300 metres en banlieue for your aperitifs. Top-quality charcuterie, cheese and other tapas-like dishes are served from 5pm, while Mathias Tenret’s wine list tends towards the natural and biodynamic. Try and bag a spot on the terrace.
What’s the deal? A hostess bar-turned-kitsch ‘tiki’ joint.
What to drink: A cocktail featuring one of 55 different rums.
Once a hostess bar (they’ve kept the name, evidently), the Dirty Dick’s only phallic elements these days are the Polynesian totems scattered throughout the bar, which has a kitsch ‘tiki’ vibe. Think luxuriant plants, bamboo furniture, coloured lights, a fumoir full of stuffed animal heads – and lots of free-flowing rum.
What’s the deal? The funnest launderette you’ve ever been to.
What to drink: A Drunk in Love, with fruit purée, Maras des Bois strawberries and coriander.
Hidden at the back of a real-life launderette, Le Lavomatic is a classic American-style speakeasy. But there’s no need to hide your drinks here – just kick back with a cocktail and enjoy the cosy, one-of-a-kind setting near République.
What’s the deal? This exclusive bar garden is where to go if you want to feel like a VIP.
What to drink: The Égoïste, with thyme and lemon-infused gin, homemade chamomile syrup, pineapple, lemon bitters and smoked tea.
Tucked away behind Montmartre, with rooms priced at €400 a night, the luxurious Hôtel Particulier Montmartre bar is a favourite with in-the-know Parisians. Drinks at this intimate lounge are fresh, handmade and daring without being faddy. In this exclusive garden, it’s hard to believe you’re drinking in central Paris.
What’s the deal? Excellent French microbrews and cocktails to enjoy en couple or en groupe.
What to drink: A Red Sunset with vodka, brut champagne, peach and grapefruit bitters, peach liqueur, lime and fresh mint.
A large heated terrace, an immense, sociable bar space and a cosy backroom make Sunset a buzzing and versatile hangout, perfect for a date or birthday party. Behind the bar, friendly staff put together a wide range of original cocktails and a short, carefully curated wine list. Beers mostly come from up-and-coming Italian, German and French micro-breweries, like the Myrha Pale Ale from the nearby Goutte d’Or.
What’s the deal? First-rate Argentinian tapas and cocktails.
What to drink: An olé pisco with lemon and coriander.
After Pulperia and Biondi, ebullient French-Argentinian chef Fernando de Tommaso has a new address in his arsenal: Bar de Biondi, right next to the eponymous restaurant. There’s stellar seafood tapas like ceviche and marinated sardines, plus French and Argentinian natural wines and South American cocktails mixed by expert bartender Alexandre (formerly of 1K).
What’s the deal? An eccentric drinking den and shrine to honorary Parisian Hem.
What to drink: The Picasso Martini (a badass dry martini with a frozen cube of vermouth).
Tucked away at the back of the world-famous Hotel Ritz, is Bar Hemingway, opened by British bartender Colin Field in 1994. This wood-panelled watering hole is a shrine to the author – walls are adorned with photos of authors he admired, boxes of fly-tying paraphernalia and a framed pack of his Lucky Strike cigarettes. Even the menu is printed like a newspaper, the aptly named Hemingway Star, which lists more than 20 original cocktails.
What’s the deal? A Belleville institution where Edith Piaf is thought to have performed as a youngster.
What to drink: Who’d say no to a €2.50 pint?
A Belleville staple, never empty of local youth imbibing black coffee after college or kicking off the evening with an aperitif or five. The packed terrace is the place to be in both summer and winter, as it’s heated until the last rays of sun have died away. Finding a chair and a spot to wedge it in 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.
What’s the deal? No-frills southwestern French food and good-value wines (in the 1st arrondissement!)
What to drink: Rouge, naturally.
Covet this address and avoid recommending it to everyone you know. Be warned, they don’t take reservations, but diners are always ready to shuffle up and fit you in. Rue du Roule’s L’Express bar has a southwestern French feel and does a stunningly good-value €15 three-course menu, both at lunchtime and dinner. Don’t expect anything fussy – fresh, homemade egg mayonnaise, delicious steak tartare and, to finish, a faultless mousse au chocolat. It goes without saying the whole affair should be washed down with some red.
What’s the deal? A cool but unpretentious spot on your way up to Montmartre.
What to drink: Go straight in for a pint.
This old-school Pigalle watering hole is always packed, and sits somewhere between a run-down PMU (old-fashioned zinc bar) and the sort of trendy spot you’d see written about on this here website (the DJs spin rock and electro until late). It’s often still going at 2am when the bouncer has to kick everyone out.