The Oberkampf Bar Crawl

Sink a swift bière or a tangy mojito on the 'strip'...

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© Olivia Rutherford

© Olivia Rutherford

The Oberkampf 'strip' is not a secret initiation ritual performed by newcomers to the 11th arrondissement. Nor does it relate to the strips of fabric made by Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf, Louis XVI’s textile genius, after whom the area is named. It actually refers to the bar laden pavements on and around rue Oberkampf - home to the cheapest Happy Hours in the capital and the perfect destination for an all night bar crawl.

Au P'tit Garage

  • Rated as: 5/5

As sweetly tuned as Chuck Berry's cherry-red '53, this quite marvellous rock 'n' roll bar is the pick of the bunch on rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud. Not that the owners have fitted it with Americana or waitresses on rollerskates; the L'il Garage is as basic as the real car-fit business a few doors down the road. Stuffing bursts out of the bar stools and skip-salvage chairs accompany wobbly tables of

  1. 63 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11e, Paris, France
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Café Charbon

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

The bar contained within this beautifully restored belle époque building sparked the Oberkampf nightlife boom. Its booths, mirrors and adventurous music policy put trendy locals at ease, capturing the essence of café culture spanning each end of the 20th century. After more than 15 years, the formula still works - and is copied by nearby bars.

  1. 109 rue Oberkampf, 11e, Paris, France
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La Mercerie

  • Rated as: 3/5

Opposite the landmark Charbon the spacious Mercerie has cleaned up its act: after years of full-on grunge it has succumbed to the draw of shabby chic - or, to put it another way, a fashionable level of dishevelment. This was probably wise, as the novelty of sticky tables was beginning to wear thin, and the move has been appreciated by the party freaks who still cross town for its loud, eclectic

  1. 98 rue Oberkampf, 11e, Paris, France
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Ave Maria

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Unlike some places that eschew good food for alcohol and a funky interior, colourful Ave Maria scores highly for all three. The kitsch interior is decked out in a canopy of chinoiserie parasols and a vast collection of Hindu gods. Music, a combination of reggae, funk, soul and dub, is cool but unobtrusive. Strangers sharing wooden benches devour exotic dishes from the Brazilian-inspired menu,

  1. 1 rue Jacquard, 11e, Paris, France
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La Gouttière

  • Rated as: 3/5

Far enough (five minutes) from rue Oberkampf to feel off the beaten track, the Gutter is not out-and-out libertine, but you're on the right lines. Certainly, a come-what-may approach to music, drinking and eye contact abounds in the crowded venue. Decor, assuming you can see it, consists of a few LP covers and the kind of colour scheme often put to good use in adventure playgrounds. Reasonably

  1. 96 avenue Parmentier, 11e, Paris, France
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L'Alimentation Générale

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

The 'Grocery Store' is rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud's answer to La Mercerie: a big old space filled with junk. Cupboards of kitsch china and lampshades made from kitchen sponges are an inspired touch. The beer is equally well chosen - Flag, Sagres, Picon and Orval by the bottle - and the unusual €8 house cocktail involves basil and figs. DJs rock the joint: expect a €5 cover price for big names or

  1. 64 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11e, Paris, France
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