Paris's drinking scene is one of the best and most diverse in the world, with speciality wine bars, craft beer bars and cocktail clubs constantly cropping up across the city. Here's a selection of the best places in Paris to go to get tipsy, tried and tested by Time Out experts. Cheers — or as the French would say — Tchin tchin!
Al fresco bars
Le Bistrot des Dames
The ideal place to bring your friends on a sunny Sunday morning and affirm that life in Paris isn’t just about tarmac and pollution
One evening on the terrace of this bar and you too will be singing ‘Ô Paris, c'est beau Paris!’
After hours bar
Le Bonnie and Clyde
The Rue Frochot used to be known for its hostess bars, and has only been improved by its move in favour of venues like Bonnie and Clyde. Even the neighbourhood’s old crowd, usually conservative where change is concerned, have been making their way down the stairs leading to the cellar bar. It's a simple, friendly spot that goes well with the area’s late-night, rough-around-the-edges vibe, and which is one of the rare places to have a licence until 6am – a welcome exception to the nowadays more usual 2am. With its shadowed corners, twinkling orange fairy lights behind the bar and an impeccable music selection, Bonnie and Clyde is a perfect late night bolt hole in Pigalle, easy-going and good value.
A little Parisian bistro in the middle of Belleville that opens very, very early. From 5am, it attracts revellers seeking to squeeze in just one more drink, and local merchants on the way to open their shops. As the day wears on, neighbourhood pensioners gather to discuss the latest gossip, elbow to elbow with youthful drinkers who value the place’s local colour – Le Zorba’s down to earth sense of humour survives through good quality alcohol sold at rock bottom prices. The atmosphere might be a little dubious – whiffs of stale alcohol and battered Formica table tops – but is always cheerful, thanks to a team of irrepressibly good-humoured barmen and the slightly eccentric regulars, who enjoy hanging out with young newcomers. You can always down a little local Calvados without completely emptying a wallet already drained by a night on the tiles. On some evenings, DJs spin upstairs or in the vaulted underground bar.
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.
This little Montmartre restaurant-bar is a well-concealed gem at the head of Rue Trois Frères. With not more than a dozen tables, a relaxed and friendly team and quality background music and a bar always ready to burst, La Famille also offers top-notch fusion cuisine, with innovative flavours and presentation at reasonable prices. Try the marinated salmon rolled in sunflower and poppy seeds with a piperade ice cream on the side, followed by an exceptional sweet and sour boeuf bourguignon with After Eights, and a lemon tart in three savoury segments. The wine list is good quality, but the bottles are pretty pricey. As you wait (which can take a while), try out a molecular cocktail as run through the shaker of Houcine, the barmaid. Your drink, built on a base of Caipirinha or Caipiroska and infused with strawberry and Espelette pepper, basil and mango or pear and tarragon, arrives at the table iced and smoking, garnished with wacky decorations like a boiled sweet eyeball or a syringe of peach liqueur. At the weekend, the tiny room is packed (reservation is essential) and noisy, so come in the week if you want to be able to hear yourself think. For those on a budget, a 10 Euro menu is available on the first Sunday of the month.
Live music bars
In a quiet street a stone’s throw from the Parc de la Villette, l’Espace B – or Berbère [Berber] – is a funny little place, somewhere between a neighbourhood bar, an Italian restaurant and a concert hall. If the warmth of the welcome leaves something to be desired, the big room hidden behind the bar is full of happy surprises. The program, which gives priority to new French and international acts produced by independent labels, is knowledgeable and well thought out, attracting avid fans of new music and underground novelties. The bill is varied, including synth-pop, electro-rock, hip-hop, indie, shoegaze, grunge, folktronica, noise, chillwave and more. On some evenings, you can even find burlesque evenings or bits of avant-garde theatre. The programme is available [online] (in French).
Eclectic and eccentric bars
The Barbershop is a thirsty art-lovers’ landmark. Recalling Brooklyn’s trendy gallery-bars, it’s always worth the visit. Temporary exhibitions of street art decorate the walls, and canvases by young painters are for sale at affordable prices, offering great opportunities for the hard up but style-conscious looking to re-do their apartments. Visitors can even consult piles of art and design coffee table books, while comfortably installed in padded Chesterfield armchairs or in shabby chic second hand sofas.DJs mix hip-hop, funk and soul every weekend, and often for private views of the exhibitions. There’s also an affordable menu of good food, a typical menu will take in organic poached eggs en cocotte with creamed mushrooms, followed by the house cheeseburger or a tender faux-filet of Angus beef in a Roquefort sauce. For dessert, we recommend the sinfully good tiramisu with a cinnamon biscuit base. The midday menu is really very reasonably priced – €13 on weekdays – or €22 for brunch. Outside, there’s a lovely terrace, heated in winter.
The Green Goose
Swap accordionists and wine for some Celtic musicians and craft beers at The Green Goose, one of few Irish pubs in Paris with an authentic vibe. Hidden away down the rue des Boulets in the 11th, this pub is true to traditional Irish hospitality and offers high quality food and drink. The menu's vibe is more gastropub than Galway, with dishes like duck breast with braised red cabbage and dauphinoise potatoes or carrot cake with cinnamon, raisins and cream cheese. We tried the winter menu of sophisticated Scotch eggs (€6.50), and scallops with a fine hazelnut crust, artichokes and roasted beetroot (€9). There's a carefully chosen selection of Irish craft beers (€7 pints on tap) suited to each of the meals on offer. The bar is noisy and sociable with French, English and even Gaelic speakers. Whether or not you know your Joyce from your Jameson’s, The Green Goose is a quality left bank hangout.
La Prune folle
Proprietors Sol and Victor welcome their customers with broad smiles at La Prune Folle [the crazy plum]. Opened in April 2012, this café-bar elegantly encapsulates the trend for vintage twee...
A former barman at Au Passage, Loïc Martin opened his eponymous tapas bar and bistro with an emphasis on local and organic produce. Everything here is homemade, and the space is cosy and simple: exposed stone walls, a carpeted veranda, massive (but discreet) heaters, and jars of silverware on every table...