This rowdy neighbourhood bar is like an idealised outpost of Berlin, with its trendy minimal electro soundtrack, easy-going atmosphere, imported beers and, of course, currywurst. Wash it all down generously with the beers on tap – two light and fruity Paulaners, Früh Kolsch and Kölschkranz. There’s also a great range of well-regarded German beers like Triple Cauwe, Rohaus and Jever. And of course there’s always room for a shot of Jägermeister or a Moscow Mule – or rhubarb vodka, if you want to remind yourself of school dinners while drinking. At busy times it can get difficult to make your way between the mismatched tables, or even to find a place to dance – but we like bobbing around in close communion with our neighbours, noisily clinking glasses.
Opened in 2011, this pub sells only the divine Belgian beverage. Drinkers here will struggle to choose between around a hundred bottled beers, or can opt for one of the ten beers on tap. Fruity, dry, light, strong, blond, amber, brown… all tastes are catered for in the international selection, though naturally Belgian breweries get above-average representation. The young staff are full of enthusiasm for their wares, helping it along with low prices (all draught beers at maximum €3.50), quiz nights and tastings. You might think that the bar would be full to bursting with all the casks, but thanks to ingenious design the basement stays free for chanson Française, folk, rock and pop gigs. And to go with the drinks? Paper cones full of chips as served back home in Belgium, on clever stands that leave your hands free for your pint. Other snacks and dishes are also on offer, like carbonade flamande (a traditional Belgian beef casserole cooked with beer and spiced bread), mixed salads, burgers and pastas.
Don’t know what to do on Paddy’s day in Paris? Stolly’s is a good bet, a full throttle Irish pub in the middle of the Marais. Here, foreigners and the French mix freely, with plenty of laughter and clinking of glasses in a cheerful, if pretty raucous atmosphere. ‘Hangovers installed here!’ is the catchphrase, they do their best to deliver: beer is served in enormous 1.5 litre pitchers, setting the room spinning from a fairly early hour. If you’re off beer, there are cocktails or whisky, with a good menu of ten-year-old Scotches. The soundtrack is rock, and the delightful micro terrace gets a special mention, as good (heated) in winter as it is in summer.
The oldest Irish pub on the left bank, and one of the three oldest in Paris. Unlike many of its blander contemporaries, Connolly’s Corner could almost be mistaken for an authentic Dublin tavern. It’s squirrelled away on the Rue Mouffetard, an area that counts plenty of soulless pubs, so happy are those who find it, for it’s said to serve the best Guinness in Paris. There are also innumerable excellent whiskies decorating the shelf behind the bar.No one wears their Sunday best here. It’s just the regulars, a few passing students, and connoisseurs who know that the venue hosts darts tournaments and concerts and, what’s more, a magnificent collection of ties. This is thanks to the tradition (now abandoned) requiring anyone wearing a tie to cut it off and offer it up to the proprietor. Happy hour runs from 4pm to 8pm, which gives you time for multiple pints of Guinness, thoroughly testing that ‘best in town’ claim.
Bars often show gregarious instincts, clustering together on one street. Exhibit A, the Rue Mouffetard, which seethes with Sorbonne students, college kids and tourists who pounce on anything beer-shaped after or between classes. Among the many bars strewn around here, we particularly like Teddy’s for its choice of beers and cocktails, its interminable happy hours (from 3.30pm til 8pm) and for its welcoming, low-key atmosphere. It’s good to curl up in the sofas and have one’s back tickled by the leopard-skin-covered walls while sipping the beer of the month, be it a cold Bavaroise or a Trappist Belgian variety. While you’re doing that, the student regulars will be seeking out the pub cat, René, who’s possessed of his own Facebook page, René Miaou, with 230 friends. René used to hang out at the bar next door, the Descartes, but he moved to Teddy’s and we know why – it’s hard to beat as a venue for being caressed and pampered by pretty girls. You could always try and give him a run for his money.
‘Requin Chagrin’, or the ‘narked shark’, actually comes from Réunion creole slang, meaning ‘old prostitute’. At the Requin Chagrin, broke students laugh with pleasure as, unlike at the other bars in the area, having a few drinks here won’t break the bank. The cosy wooden bar is filled with tall round tables where students sip on pints of Guinness, Hoegaarden or Grimberger from a wide selection – a ‘tasting platter’ of a dozen beers is only €12. One could also opt for a whiskey, house cocktail, or rum punch (another nod to the West Indies?). On game nights, large screens are set up throughout the bar, and the atmosphere instantly changes, hoots and hollers filling the air. A second room in the basement houses a U-shaped bar, which encourages spontaneous conversation and making new friends. The décor is constantly changing based on the night’s festivities, such as sports games, parties, etc. On weekends, the Requin Chagrin welcomes after-hours drinkers with a 4am closing time. In the summer, there’s a small, pleasant terrace that overlooks the charming pedestrian square, Place de la Contrescarpe, and its bubbling fountain.
Now there’s another reason to head to Montreuil apart from the Marché aux Puces, in the form of great new neighbourhood bar Le Mange Disc. One major draw is the sun terrace, while the main attraction is the old-fashioned and charming rock’n’roll ambiance that harks back to the 1980s rockabilly revival. At the bar, a record player blasts out doo-wop, teen rock and rhythm and blues, while a bartender with slicked-back hair asks warmly, ‘What can I serve you, pet?’ (or rather, ‘mon p’tit loup’, ‘my little wolf’). You can enjoy cheap, original beers (Rince-cochon or Montreuilloise, for example) but watch out – they pack quite an alcoholic punch. A few too many of those and you might end up making a tit of yourself in a table football match against the practiced regulars. There’s also a calendar of exhibitions, DJ sets and concerts, despite the grumbles of the neighbours.
Having fallen in love with Germany during a holiday to Berlin, the owners of this café began to import German products and traditions, creating a nice Franco-German ambiance. The success was immediate, attracting devotees of both classic Croque Monsieurs and traditional German currywurst, a German sausage in a curry sauce with crisps. During Oktoberfest, Café Titon becomes a fully-fledged biergarten. German beer aficionados will be ecstatic to find Paulaner, Erdinger, and even Franziskaner Dunkel. Outside of currywurst and bratwurst, the menu is mostly centred on French cuisine with tartares, large salads, steaks, and sandwiches.
Oh Belgium, with its crisps shacks and its beers! The Troll Café, hidden in a small road near the Bastille in front of Nul Bar Ailleurs, is a pub that honours the glory of barley malt and hops, well worth the stop for those weary of Amstel. The menu has 120 Belgian beer options, in all their forms: on tap, bottle, brown, white and amber. The choice is so vast that your best bet is to ask the bartenders for advice on choosing between, for example, bottles from Duvel, Chimay, Orval, Westmalle, Chouffe and even Ch’ti. For a really exceptional taste, the bartender can help you pick one of seven beers meticulously made by Trappist monks using centuries-old recipes. On tap, there are artisanal beers like Troll or Delirium Tremens. In terms of décor, vintage beer posters for Krieg, Mort Subite, and others cover the walls. The ambiance is fun without being crazy, and even on football nights you can still chill and sip your beer.
Located at a famous address in the Stock Market quarter, The Lions is a traditional English pub where bankers love to come and de-stress with an after-work drink. But they’re not the only ones who frequent this pub, which welcomes amateur beer lovers, Brits and sports fans with a blue façade and distinguished interior that set it apart from the competition. Once comfortably installed (come early to get a seat!) you’ll be well placed for football matches, rugby matches or just a bite of your burger – a burger that will be impossible to resist, what with all the amazing smells wafting under your nose all night. Experts know that The Lions is one of the best places in Paris to watch the match, even though some nights are given over to quiz nights (Mondays) and shots nights (Wednesdays).