Located just east of Bastille in the heart of the 11th Arrondissement, Ledru-Rollin belongs to a network of once plebeian neighbors turned trendy on the eastern side of Paris. Unlike the wave of gentrification that brought the haut monde bobos to ’hoods like the Marais, the hipster inhabitants of the Ledru-Rollin quartier typically resemble their American counterparts: more bohemian than bourgeois. Resentment for the mainstream serves as the rallying cry for this young, grungy folk with an intense hunger for edgy art and underground culture. Their bohemian ways manifest themselves in the quartier’s nightlife, which showcases an array of dive-ish bars exhibiting pronounced, even refined, musical tendencies. These locales also host a variety of events ranging from film screenings to indie karaoke nights. Reasonable drink prices—which plummet during happy hour—count among the benefits for a pauperized hipster clientele. We’ve selected a sample of Ledru-Rollin’s best bars to give you a taste of nightlife in Paris through the eyes of a young, edgy hipster.
8, passage Josset, in the 11th Arrondissement. 01 58 30 84 68.
Open Tues–Sun, 6 p.m.–1:45 a.m.
Every bit as welcoming as the name implies, le Motel boasts one of the friendliest track records in the city. Rather than snubbing patrons at the doorway, the bouncers receive just about everyone with a polite bonsoir and usually let natural selection do the filtering. While this watering hole shows a clear preference for indie rock, the open-minded lineup includes regular hip-hop apéros. Also on the menu: indie karaoke, Sunday trivia and bento for the hungry bar hoppers. A handful of flea market couches provide for a space to lounge with friends, while a large, round bar spirals the crowd’s attention into the center of this cheerful space.
The Bottle Shop
5, rue Trousseau, in the 11th Arrondissement. 01 43 14 28 04.
Open daily, noon–2 a.m.
This dive bar with an artsy touch might well be a Brooklyn warehouse masquerading as a Parisian bar (albeit a shabby one). At the Bottle Shop, nightlife in Paris gets a funky makeover to say the least. With a program that includes indie film screenings and some of the boldest DJs around, it’s no surprise that the neighborhood’s hipsters flock to this hangout for one of the raddest happy hours in the area, lasting a lofty three hours (5 p.m.–8 p.m.) and proposing the entire cocktail menu for only 4.80 euros.
La Planète Mars
21, rue Keller, in the 11th Arrondissement. 01 43 14 24 44.
Open Mon–Sun, 6:30 p.m.–2 a.m.
Even if there were life on Mars, it would certainly not be as eccentric as the nightlife in Paris encountered at Planète Mars. Alone, the kitschy, red decor in this bar packs enough humor to shoot a spaceship to Pluto. Of course the quirkiness doesn’t stop there, as this psychedelic launch pad celebrates the outlandish with events ranging from electro soul parties to Scandinavian apéros. With beers starting at 2.50 euros and happy hour cocktails at 4.50 euros, the prices are certainly out of this world if nothing else.
The Bottle Shop
La Planète Mars
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