Contrary to common belief, the neighborhoods that converge at les Halles hardly resemble the dodgy wastelands of times past. Over the past decade or two, the most central areas of the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements have consistently lured fresh bars and clubs like bees to honey. While the press has drowned the newcomers in attention, some of the local staples of nightlife in Paris have led a cool and clandestine existence for a number of years. Below, we present you a rundown of the top four bars of the area: a composition of the oldest, trendiest and most elegant fundamentals to a night out around the hip side of les Halles.
Le Café Noir
65, rue Montmartre, in the 2nd Arrondissement.
01 40 39 07 36. Open Mon–Sat.
This nightlife legend may have seen its prime in the late 1990s, but it’s still light-years away from being over the hill. On the contrary, the owner’s pair of 20-something offspring, alongside a young, hip crowd of bartenders ranging from downright music nerds to chronic partiers, have revamped the Café Noir’s new and improved mojo. During happy hour, patrons can enjoy some acid jazz and house caïpis on the lofty terrace. On Thursday and Friday, live DJs set up among the vintage knickknacks cluttering the quirky interior—a leopard-print bike dangling from the ceiling, for example—for a night of house and electro jams.
30, rue Coquillière, in the 1st Arrondissement.
01 40 26 55 36. Open Mon–Sat.
How many scruffy, skinny jean–wearing Parisians can you stuff into a 100-square-foot hole in the wall? You’ll have to ask the Coquille’s owner for the exact number, but the nightly overflow of hipsters at this watering hole suggests—pas mal! A crew of the neighborhood’s high-fashion employees regularly squeezes in for an after-work drink, with another sprinkling of beautiful bobos later on. While red velour walls and mounted deer heads have become a played-out concept for the decor at Paris nightlife spots, something about the bearded owner’s aura tells you that he has been doing this since way before it became cool—if he doesn’t win you over, the 2.5 euro beer will!
Le Ballroom du Beef Club
58, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in the 1st Arrondissement.
09 52 52 89 34. Open Mon–Sat, 7 p.m.–2 a.m.
A new arrival to nightlife in Paris, this underground annex of the buzz-worthy Beef Club Restaurant merits a round of applause for importing mixology to Paris. As the term implies, every single cocktail on the menu results from a meticulous, even scientific, process of pouring, crushing, mixing and shaking before it reaches your taste buds. A happy mix of cocktail-wielding Anglos and Parisians idle on the sumptuous sofas while an enlightened lineup of hip-hop beats flutters through the basement. If you get the munchies and don’t mind the hefty price tag, you can always grab an all-local, grass-fed burger upstairs.
142, rue Montmartre, in the 2nd Arrondissement. 01 40 13 12 33.
Open Tues–Sun, 6 p.m.–6 a.m.; accessible to members and their guests until midnight.
Just up the street from the Ballroom, David Lynch’s high-fashion hangout is where the haut monde heads for an evening underground. Patrons pass a not-so-pearly gate on rue Montmartre and travel down four flights of stairs before reaching a lustrous labyrinth replete with sexy patrons and designer furniture. Even if the genius of David Lynch leaves you cold, the amazing (if pricey) cocktails, refined atmosphere and clever jams beguile even the most jaded bobos. After midnight, nonmembers can try their luck with the doorman, who grants access to those who make a polished impression.
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