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.
Squirreled away in an alleyway near the Bastille, Le Motel is the ideal hangout for fans of hip electro-pop-rock. Find a seat on one of the semi-circle of second hand sofas arranged around the bar, and as the evening progresses, DJs perform electrifying sets that ensure a packed dance floor on weekends. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and alternate Sundays there’s a pop quiz that attracts many regulars, with their impressive musical knowledge.
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.
It’s been a long wait for a venue dedicated to new acts in Paris, but now l’International has filled the void. There are two or three sets an evening, mostly rock, pop, folk, French singers, hip-hop and electro, all playing to an enthusiastic crowd – and it’s all for free. Not far from the lively Rue Oberkampf, l’International is distinguished by its friendly aura, a sort of best mates’ hangout that also doubles as a gig venue.
Today, this huge art deco building with its vast glass façades includes a beautiful 250-seater underground concert hall and an upstairs bar/restaurant, and is the place to discover the latest trends in French music, in all its variety. Popular song, rock, electro, rap – anything goes, as long as it’s sung in the language of Gainsbourg. The programming is audacious and eclectic, and the concerts are either free or at a symbolic price. On weekends, there are occasional hip-hop or electro nights. Visit the website for more details (French only).
Evenings at ALG are warm, colourful, ultra festive and always affordable – entrance is usually around €5 to €10 with a drink. The concrete room, furnished with big convivial wooden tables and a table football set, also includes a crammed dance floor, allowing revellers to get up close and personal with the acts. At weekends, enormously varied DJ nights (funk, hip-hop, electro, tropical electro) are the meeting point of a young and very friendly cosmopolitan crowd.
The Bastille area is well known as a haunt of rock fans, and La Mécanique Ondulatoire [the wave machine] is a fantastic bazaar of retro souvenirs and vintage furniture spread over two floors. On the ground floor, a stunning wall of every imaginable alcohol gives you an idea of the well-priced cocktails concocted here. Downstairs, there are DJs and rock, ska, punk and metal gigs (even on Sundays, sometimes), inviting you to hum along, tap your feet or, if you’re feeling really brave, to get down and mosh.
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).
A little boho bar that’s just the way we like them, Le Onze seethes with people day and night. Very hip and popular right now, its been done up in (very) shabby chic – the stuffing of the big sofas is oozing out, witness to many wild parties. Daily concerts range from Balkan folk to rock’n’roll, via via jazz, blues, funk or afrobeat (see the program on the (French) website here), and the music never fails to produce a fantastic atmosphere, with people getting up to dance wherever they can find room between the tables and chairs.