A visit to Paris is incomplete without exploring the social scene. But don’t limit yourself to traditional brasseries and mediocre coffees on busy boulevards: the real charm of Paris requires a sharp eye and some local knowledge. How about sipping a glass of wine on a terrace tucked away from prying eyes? Or sampling the finest bellinis at an exclusive VIP hotel? Perhaps a whisky at a secret underground bar is more your style. Either way, we’ve put together our top ten list of hidden bars only frequented by those in-the-know...
1. You can’t get much further away from the madd(en)ing crowd of Montmartre than at the beautiful Hôtel Particulier. Press the buzzer on the large iron gates, enter the quiet cobbled courtyard, turn left and press a second buzzer. A waiter will open the door and lead you into a charming garden with a recently-renovated outside bar (Le Très Particulier) at the end. Inside, you’ll feel as if you’ve just entered a private club, with plush leather chairs, thick velvet curtains and, of course, the obligatory stag’s head...
23, av. Junot, 75018
2. After an afternoon’s wander up the Canal Saint Martin, head towards the Gare de l’Est (which has significantly less charm) and stop at the Maison de l’Architecture. Step up and under the white pillars, turn right at the end of the walkway, push through the heavy doors and you’ll find yourself at the hipster-heavy Cafe A. Walk through the large indsutrial indoor space and out into the tranquil garden, complete with deckchairs for catching a few afternoon rays. You’ll feel a million miles away from the city, and you might even get a tan.
148 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010
3. The area around Pigalle is known for its sex shops and cabaret evenings, but there is a more romantic side to it. Down the hill in South Pigalle (or “SoPi”), just off the rue des Martyrs, is the charming (but easily missable) Hôtel Amour. Squeezing around tables and through to the back of the restaurant will take you our into their small-but-perfectly-formed outside terrace, snuggled under leafy trees. #loversparadise
8 Rue Navarin, 75009
4. If you prefer your Paris from a higher floor, Le Perchoir is your go-to place. This rooftop bar was an immediate success among hipsters, young professionals and bohemians alike. Go early to get a seat and watch the sun go down, and the party come up, over Paris. Yes, the entrance and lift feel like you’re breaking into someone’s residence (and a shady one at that) but that’s all part of its word-of-mouth charm.
14 Rue Crespin du Gast, 75011
When in Paris… opt for luxury. The City of Light has numerous “palaces” (haute gamme hotels) which also contain some of Paris’ most sumptuous bars, frequented mostly by the clientele - but anyone is allowed in for a drink.
5. The bar at Le Bristol is a case in point. Indulge in a “couture cocktail” mixed by the award-winning barman Maxime Hoerth, or stay up until the early hours with a DJ every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Le Bar du Bristol
112 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008
6. One of the relatively new luxury hotels in Paris, the Mandarin Oriental knows it has stiff competition, with no place for error. And, while the butterfly, beige and lavender interior design style might not be to your taste, the outside garden area and bar will most certainly be. Invisible from the outside road, this hidden gem is peaceful and picturesque. In-house gardeners and landscape designers are constantly changing the shapes and species to suit the season.
Bar 8, Hôtel Mandarin Oriental
251 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001
7. The Shangri-La has been the go-to hotel for socialites and celebrity artists for years now, and the history can definitely be felt in its walls. The bar area and garden outside are magnificent - more than enough to make you feel like a king or queen, at least for the duration of your drink.
Shangri-La Hotel Paris
10, avenue d'Iena, 75116
Behind closed doors
8. Speaking of artists, if you are interested in the cultural scene - specifically poetry - in Paris, you can’t miss out on the Club des Poetes. Hidden behind a tall wooden door is a small, intimate restaurant/bar that also hosts poetry evenings. Anyone is welcome to get up and recite. The one condition: it has to be by heart!
Le Club des Poetes
30 rue de Bourgogne, 75007
9. If poetry isn’t your scene, but secret addresses are, make a visit to la Mezcaleria - if you can! This Mexican-themed bar isn’t something you’ll stumble across: first-time visitors are led through the Hotel K’s bar, then through the kitchens (!) into a secret “clandestine” cocktail lounge.
13 Boulevard du Temple, 75003
10. A little easier to find, but still with the same secret nature, Le Syndicat is a new bar on the bustling rue du faubourg saint Denis. Here, their philosophy is French Only. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that foreigners aren’t welcome - it’s their drinks list that contains only French alcohols, designed to help you rediscover relatively unknown beverages “fabriqués en France”. The facade is a boarded-up shop front, but the bouncer gives it away…
51 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010