Paris is fabulous in the winter, when it shivers, but it can only be more fabulous with a warming hearth to return to after a hard day's wandering the freezing streets (a comforting hot chocolate or snifter of something special wouldn't go amiss, either). The bars and restaurants below will all welcome you around a cosy, flickering flame – and feed and water you to boot. So grab a good book or a good friend and get ready to go from 'brrr' to 'aahh'...
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A deservedly popular and admired boutique hotel, the Hôtel Jules et Jim’s secret weapon is its bar with outdoor fireplace. Set in one side of the inner courtyard, surrounded by the architecture’s cool grey structures and smooth lines, it is both a modern and a comforting space. The large wood-burning fireplace set in an outside wall warms an area with a clear covering to keep off the rain, like a glamorous campsite. Unlike some of the glitzier hotel bars in this list, the hot drinks and cocktails are affordable, in keeping with the trendy Marais location.
Located in the 8th arrondissement, Gentlemen 1919 is perhaps the archetype of French/ Anglo-Saxon masculine elegance. Head through to the back of the plush barbershop to find the speakeasy’s discrete bar, bedecked entirely in wood and complete with a huge smoking area. All furniture, like a 1963 Belmont leather armchair, has been carefully sourced and selected, with certain objects available for sale in the catalogue. Enjoy a beautifully bitter Negroni and a cigar in front of their roaring fire.
The smell of wood smoke hits when you step in past the gingham curtains at Robert et Louise. Devoted to hearty, carnivorous cooking, this cosy restaurant does things the old-fashioned way: see the chef slice and pound meats in the open kitchen before tossing them on a grill over the open flames of a fireplace. With beamed ceilings, tiled floors and brick walls, a vintage bike, an old wooden ladder, and a coffee mill turned pepper shake, the décor matches the cuisine.
The imposing exterior of the Maison Champs Elysées retains the classicism of the building and the neighbourhood, but inside is a different story – the site’s huge proportions have allowed fashion designer Martin Margiela free rein with his theatrical imagination, from the mirrored cube that houses reception to the all-black and all-white salons. It’s not the sort of place you’d expect to find a fireplace to snuggle around, but the bar does indeed sport a gas version. In the evenings they dim the lights and turn on the flames, creating a surprisingly cosy atmosphere.
The ivy-covered façade hides the small wooden entrance door of Le Coupe Chou, just next to the Collège de France, which serves up classic dishes under atmospheric wooden beams (parts of the building date from the 18th century). There's a series of rooms inside, adding to the charm of the stone-clad walls in a restaurant where you feel a bit like you're visiting your grandparents. They don't skimp on comfort here – there are stuffed chairs, squishy sofas warm colours and even a fireplace – the kind of place where you forget what time it is, and if it's cold outside.
You could easily miss the dignified entrance to the Hôtel d’Aubusson just off the Pont Neuf, but once inside the grand old building you’ll find that it unfolds like an elegant Rubik’s cube of timbered ceilings, chandeliers and heavy drapes. The cream, gold and red of the Grand Salon manages to be both luxurious and understated – there’s nothing ‘contemporary’ or ‘design’ here – right down to the huge stone fireplace, which is lit from 5pm in winter. Non-guests are welcome to pull up a chair and enjoy the hushed atmosphere, fresh flowers, extensive bar menu and free Wi-Fi.
Lovers of barbecues and long-braised meats, Le Flamboire is for you. Located on Pigalle’s Rue Blanche, it’s no New-York-style trendy new opening, but a straightforward meat lover’s paradise with a flaming hearth and a no-nonsense carnivorous menu that really delivers. If for some reason you’re not there for the top quality Aubrac meat, they also do a good fish selection – sea bass, bream or giant prawns in handfuls of five. Either way, you'll feel fully warmed by the food and the fire.
You reach the bar of the Hôtel de l’Abbaye through a gracious archway and across a cobbled courtyard, set with twinkling lights; inside, all is warmth and light and colour, from the bold striped carpeting to the elegantly mismatched fabrics of the comfortable chairs in the conservatory overlooking the garden. Often busy with well-heeled guests, it’s a cheerful, quietly sophisticated place to spend an evening warming by the fire – just make sure you check ahead, as they don’t guarantee it will be lit every evening in winter.
The hot chocolate at La Cheminée might cost €15, but it’s well worth splashing out on a cup of liquid molten luxury while cosying up to the elegant open (gas) hearth for which the bar is named. All expensive thick pile carpets, muted hues, contemporary lines and fresh flowers, this hushed and expensive space is a sumptuous place to retreat from Christmas shopping at neighbouring boutiques like Louis Vuitton or Van Cleef and Arpels – or a slightly cheaper sojourn in the Tuileries, but what the hell, you deserve it anyway.
Book ahead and request a table by the fire for an exceptionally atmospheric meal at Guy Savoy’s Atelier Maître Albert. Sure, the venue’s uniform dark grey exterior and the garish paintings on the walls inside smack slightly of a hotel lobby, but you can’t fault the bottle-lined front bar, the cute private dining room, and the long main salon with vast stone wood-burning fireplace at one end and open grill at the other, which together fill the space with delicious smoky scents.