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Last updated on the 20th June 2022 by Lena
Did you hear about speakeasy bars already? There are a few of those hidden bars in Paris and I love the concept. So, I went on a mission. But let’s start at the beginning.
What’s a speakeasy bar?
Prohibition was the time when it was illegal to manufacture, sell or transport booze. That – of course – did not mean that folks stayed sober, they just had to do it in secret. And that’s when secret bars were booming, a so-called speakeasy. Bars are hidden behind an innocent-looking door, in private apartments, behind camouflaged walls, or in cellars. Invisible and discrete from the outside, and often only accessible with a password.
So far, prohibition in the US in the 1920s and 30s. Europe was – despite some attempts here and there – never really into that. Not into the not-drinking, at least. Because since a few years, speakeasies bars became super popular in Paris.
Speakeasy in Paris
Prohibition-style bars as a concept. Usually, a concept on the more exclusive side of things. Speakeasies are – unless you’re very fortunate concerning funds – not the place for a quick pint after job (you likely won’t get a pint there anyway) or if you are going out on a super tight budget in Paris. It’s not craaaazy expensive. Prices may be above average. However, you certainly won’t get fobbed off with an average Caipirinha.
A speakeasy bar is not an average bar anyway, but rather a pretty cool experience! And: A great activity if you are looking for things to do in Paris at night.
Speakeasies in Paris typically mean high-quality spirits and cocktails. They are among the best cocktail bars in Paris. The bartenders know what they are doing: homemade bitters, best liquors, fancy and eccentric creations. Or did you ever try a cocktail where bell-pepper or a smoked infusion made an appearance?
Anyway, I went on a speakeasy tour through Paris the other day and visited 4 hidden bars that I will present to you in this article.
PS: if you are up to knowing more about secret tips and hidden gems in Paris – Check out this massive collection of unusual things to do in Paris!
The Moonshiner was my first stop for the evening. From the Bastille Metro station, it’s a 5-minute walk, or 7 if you walk past the bar without realizing it.
Well, I took that as a good sign. After double-checking the address, I found myself in front of a Pizzeria, and -as expected – without even a hint of a bar. Just a brown door at the back of the shop. It felt a bit awkward to just walk through, and I was worried to end up in their warehouse, with an angry employee following and asking what the heck I think I was doing.. And then I would have to buy a Pizza just to cover my embarrassment.
Anyway. Behind the brown door was of course no storage, but a very decent bar.
Greeted by the barman, I took a seat at the bar. To be honest, it’s always been my favorite place. I love to see how they mix drinks, and I am all awed by how smooth it goes! The bar looks pretty much like you would imagine a prohibition-style bar: dim light, comfortable armchairs, vintage wallpapers, and I was right back to New Orleans in 1930.
By the way, Moonshine is actually the name of the illicitly distilled booze – often whisky – back in the days! Not surprising then that the Moonshiner has a lot of different whisky’s on its menu and cocktail names are also inspired by the epoch.
5 Rue Sedaine, 75011 Paris – daily 18h – 02h
Next stop: Mexico. When I reached the address where La Mezcaleria was supposed to be, I did find a Mexican Taquería (El Vecino) and a Peruvian restaurant but, as expected, no sign of the Mezcaleria. But I love Tacos, so I took the occasion to get a bite. The Tacos were good, not outstanding but decent and I enjoyed it.
While eating outside on their patio, I could see quite some people folks entering the Hotel next door, and eventually, I decided just to tag along.
I crossed the lobby of the hotel, the bar of the hotel, the Peruvian Restaurant, and the kitchen of the Peruvian Restaurant until I finally stood in front of the door of the Mezcaleria.
As the name hints, this Parisian speakeasy is specialized on Mezcal and even though I am not overly fond of it, the cocktails were remarkable. I wouldn’t have imagined it, but the smoky flavor of Mezcal was the cherry on the cake of the 2 cocktails I tasted.
13 Bd du Temple, 75003 Paris, daily 18h – 02h
After a stroll through the nightly Paris and crossing Place de la République, I arrived at my 3rd stop for the night. I found the Lavomatic on the first try – maybe because it was the only launderette around, but probably also because it’s the only Laundry I’ve ever seen with a bouncer.
Quickened by my confident walk-up to the Moonshiner, I headed straight into the Launderette. But surprise, I got held back by the bouncer. He spoke something in his walkie-talkie and only after quick confirmation I could step in.
Completely unrelated fun fact: the French call a walkie-talkie a talkie-walkie, it cracks me up every time.
When stepping in, it became a bit awkward. Obviously, I had no laundry to wash, yet I was standing in a Launderette, all dressed up and with nowhere to go.
I won’t share how to open the door to the secret passage, but I eventually got it. I walked up a very narrow and pitch-black staircase and arrived in something like a small apartment living room, with framed pictures, books, and pillows.
Folks were sitting on swings and detergent boxes, sipping cocktails, and wine. Even though it’s a tiny place, they do have a balcony for smokers, and they also serve food! (everything at quite reasonable prices!)
30 Rue René Boulanger – Tuesday to Saturday, 18h – 2h (Tuesday & Wednesday until 1h)
After laundry, it’s time for groceries! The 4th bar is called L’Épicier and is… hidden behind a grocery store! (That makes more sense if you’d know that épicierie means actually grocery store in French).
It follows more or less the same principle as the lavomatic – not surprising, both are run by the same founders. L’Épicier seems to be a normal late-night grocery store. Just like that kind of store you find on every 2nd street in Paris.
However, if you know the password, or better – if you know which item in the store you have to move – a secret door opens .. et voilà!
A nice detail is, that most Épiceries in Paris are run by folks with northern African origins and the bar hidden behind the store is just reflecting those oriental roots. Colorful Moroccan lanterns, tapestry and carpets, pillows, and signature cocktails based on mint tea and oriental spices.
The interior is very cozy and the atmosphere warm – we were again greeted by very friendly staff and allocated a seat. En par with the oriental flair, you sit on low tables, but they as well have a few swings and armchairs. And they serve food – Mezze obviously!
24 Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth – Tuesday to Saturday, 18h – 2h (Tuesday and Wednesday until 1h)
Where to find the secret bars in Paris?
The secret bars are a bit scattered over Paris, but the 4 bars from this article can be easily done in one evening without taking public transport. Big plus: you see a bit of Paris.
If you need any clarification about Paris or need some advice and how to plan your trip, don’t hesitate to reach out! I created a Facebook group for this matter, and I am available to help you out! Click here to join the Salut from Paris Facebook group!
Keep this post for future trips and weekends! Pin it! (Also check our bar and restaurant guides!)
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost to you – I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. I am independent, and the opinions expressed here are -if not stated otherwise – my own.
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