Bored of grabbing drinks in typical Parisian cafés? Then delve right into the list of my Top 5 favourite hidden bars in Paris.
Before getting tipsy, a bit of history; speakeasy bars appeared during Prohibition in the United States in the 1920s. At that time, the production and sale of alcohol were strictly forbidden. So speakeasy bars were born, called “speakeasy” because owners asked customers to speak softly when talking about them in public and not reveal their locations.
Often, there was just a slot in the door through which the proprietor would make sure you weren’t a cop, often demanding a password to let you in.
So shhh … don’t go around telling everyone about my list!
I’m sure you’ve heard of Big Mamma restaurants – if not, you have to go tonight. I am NOT joking, they live up to their reputation – but have you ever heard about their speakeasy, the hidden bar downstairs at the Pink Mamma restaurant?
I bet you haven’t, and for a good reason. You need to go to the restroom, and you open a door on which is written “No Entry.” Once opened, you will have to go through their meat freezer, before finally accessing the stunningly decorated hidden bar, where more than 3,000 litres of alcohol ferments in beautiful vials adorned with flowers. Cocktail prices vary from 10 euros to 15 euros, and some drinks even have macarons that come with it.
20bis, Rue de Douai, 75009 Paris
It is open every day from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Corner shops can sometimes be full of surprises, and so is this one. This one looks like a genuine convenience store until you reach out for a pack of couscous that opens a Moroccan version of the Narnia door.
The bar is decorated in Moroccan style and exudes oriental smells. The cocktail prices vary from 10 euros to 15 euros, and on top of this, they serve delicious sharing platters of labneh, vegetable buns or even msemens. The food is fresh and homemade. My favourite cocktail is the Tété du Bled, which bounces off the Moroccan mint tea by mixing it with rum, absinthe, lime and fresh mint; they serve it in a teapot!
L’Épicier is open from Tuesday to Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., and from Thursday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
24 Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth 75003 Paris 3
Behind the very ordinary door of an anonymous building, a musical night bar with a sulphurous past is remaining incognito. Indeed, it used to be a libertine sauna, and before that, it used to be Jean Cocteau’s and Jean Marais’ bachelor pad.
However, this hidden bar became a very respectable cocktail bar in 2011, albeit hidden. Don’t bring a first date here unless they are really laid back, because the cocktail names might throw them off – we’re talking “The Spank”, “Erotica”, “The Naughty Girl” – I think you get the gist.
Prices vary between 12 euros to 16 euros.
It is open from Tuesdays to Thursdays from 8.30 pm to 2 am, and from Fridays to Saturdays from 8.30 pm to 4 am
7 Rue Pierre Fontaine, 75009 Paris, France
This seems to be a pattern for speakeasies; entering a pizzeria, getting through their walk-in fridge to finally end up in a hidden bar. They serve amazingly thought-through and original cocktails, such as the Mamaterezzi which include parmesan-flavoured vodka, tomato oil and shrub eggplant. A parmigiana in a glass! Prices vary from 11 euros to 16 euros; their menu is not long, but I always find that to be a very good sign as it means that they fully master the cocktails they make.
It is open every day from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.
5 rue Sedaine, 75011 Paris
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard this flight to Zanzibar, please fasten your seatbelts and put your seat in the upright position because this speakeasy has gone the extra mile; you need a password to access it!
In addition to offering a selection of cocktails whose flavours will transport you to Zanzibar, they also organise Afro House DJ sets every evening, and invite an Afro Funk live band every Wednesday and Thursday! So, tempted yet? Go find out the password on their Instagram page.
It is open from Wednesdays to Saturdays from 7 p.m. until 4 a.m.
40 avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75 008 Paris
See more of Pauline’s clubbing and entertainment tips here.
Pauline Lemaire is a Digital Anthropology Masters student at University College London (UCL) and is thus currently based in London. She grew up in Singapore and Morocco, but her family has now relocated to Paris.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in French Literature and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.