Secret bars in Paris – discover Paris’ speakeasies !
Did you hear about speak easy bars already? There are a few of those hidden bars in Paris (maybe you read my post about Mabel) and I love the concept.. so I went on a mission. But let’s start at the beginning.
What’s a speak easy bar?
Prohibition … 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 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 1920’s and 30’s. Europe was – despite some attempts here and there – never really into that. Not into the not-drinking at least. Because since a few years, speak easies bars became super popular in Paris.
Speak easy 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 in terms of funds – not the place for a quick pint after job (you likely won’t get a pint there anyways) or if you are going out on a super tight budget. It’s not craaaazy expensive. Prices may be a bit above average, however, you certainly won’t get fobbed off with an average Caipi.
A speak easy bar is not an average bar anyway, rather a pretty cool experience!
Speak easy in Paris means usually high quality spirits and cocktails. The barmen (and women!) know what they are doing – home made bitters, best liquors, fancy and eccentric creations. Or did you ever try a cocktail where bell-pepper or a smoked infusion made an appearance?
A few days ago, I went on a mission to try some hidden bars in Paris, I made it to 3 and found that already not bad. If you’re up for the same tour, the itinerary is below this post 🙂
PS: if you are up to know more about secret tips and hidden gems in Paris – Check out this huge 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 minutes walk, or 7 if you walk past the bar without realising. 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 seat at the bar. To be honest, it’s always my favourite place. I love to see how they mix drinks and I am all in awe of 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 of 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 their menu and cocktail names are also inspired by the epoch.
5 Rue Sedaine, 75011 Paris – daily 18h – 02h
After a stroll through the nightly Paris and crossing Place de la République, I arrived at my 2nd stop for the night. I found the Lavomatic at 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 in the Moonshiner, I headed straight in the Launderette. But surprise, I got hold 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 – And then it became a bit awkward. Obviously I had no laundry to wash, yet I was standing in a Laundrette, all dressed up and 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 like living room, with framed pictures, books and pillows. Folks where sitting on swings and washing powder boxes, sipping cocktails and wine. Even though it’s a really small 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 3rd 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 in every 2nd street in Paris. However, if you know the password, or better – if you know which item in the store you need 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. Colourful Moroccan lanterns, tapestry and carpets, pillows and signature cocktails based on mint tea and oriental spices.
The interior is very cozy and the atmosphere friendly – 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 3 bars I’ve visited can be easily done in one evening without taking public transport. Big plus: you see a bit of Paris.
If you check the map below, you’ll notice that I added 4 bars to the itinerary. La Mezcaleria Paris was on my agenda for the evening, but this speakeasy was unfortunately closed that night. It was august after all and generally many things are closed during holiday time. However, normally it’s open Tuesday through Sunday, 6PM – 2AM.
I definitely will come back and give it a try, if you’ve been there, how was it?
If you have any questions 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!
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