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Closings and Survivors

Bars open and close all the time in Paris, that’s just the reality of the big city. Which is probably why places like Harry’s New York Bar and Closerie des Lilas do do well…they’ve been around long enough that tourists can revisit them on return trips to Paris. 

A few notable closings in 2008 so far:

  • the Bar Fleurs in the Marais (rue des Tournelles) which was a cool vodka and Champagne bar that also happened to be an exotic floral shop as well…I guess it confused people though. 
  • the Sept Lézards, also in the Marais (Rue des Rosiers), which is supposedly looking for a new location.
  • and sadly, I noticed yesterday that the only royalist bar in Paris (which I wrote about in my Adventure Guide years ago), Aux Templiers (35 rue de Rivoli) is now a contemporary cocktail lounge called (did they do this on purpose?): Majesty. I miss the old dusty PMU bar full of Fleur-de-Lis, images of young Louis XVII, and a statue of Jeanne d’Arc. You just don’t find places like that anymore in Paris!

When I was a student back in 1995 I used to hang out a lot around the bars of Beaubourg because my best friends lived on the Rue des Lombards. A funky little bar opened that year on the Rue de Quincampoix, L’Imprévu. That’s where I spent long afternoons doing my homework (well, sorta) and nursing an 8 franc café because I couldn’t afford to buy more than one cocktail a week back in those days, LOL! Amazingly, this little bar is still open,  one of the few from that time period still surviving.

On Saturday night it was totally packed, so I went to “Aux 3 Escales,” across the street at #12, a Taj Mahal type bar, cozy and colorful, smelling like someone was smoking a hookah pipe (or more likely burning apple incense). It was completely empty at Happy Hour (6pm), but by 8pm all of the cushioned corners were full. They serve cocktails, sangria, mint tea, etc. They used to serve food, have regular soirées and apparently downstairs there is a hammam, but I didn’t see any trace of these offerings on my visit, which makes me wonder if perhaps it’s under new ownership. 

One of the older Seine-side péniche bar-clubs that has also been around since my student days is the Guinguette du Pirate (on the Quai Françpis Mauriac, foot of the Bibliothèque Nationale, 13th), now called La Dame de Canton. It’s actually celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, so check out their packed program.

Up in the Latin Quarter near Place de la Contrescarpe, my old student stomping grounds, Earl of the Shebeen (rue Pot de Fer) tells me he has sold the bar (it will be closed as of March 14) and may be moving back to South Africa for other opportunities. Earl and I used to work together lifetimes ago at a (now closed) Irish bar at Châtelet called the Cruiscin Lan. Before opening his own place, Earl worked at the sister bar around the corner, The Fifth (at 62 rue Mouffetard), which is still going strong after all these years — a decade now?! — with the international expat crowd.

On the other side of the planet, the Bar Fontainebleau at the Hôtel Meurice is now Le 228 (that being the address on the Rue de Rivoli), completely redone by Philippe Starck in late 2007 (yet it pretty much looks as cozy as it always did, which I unfortunately can’t say about the Winter Garden’s surrealist makeover…ugh). The bar is hosting “Nocturnes”, a degustation of fine wine with sommalier Nicolas Rebut, accompanied by canapés from the hotel’s star chef Yannick Alléno for €90/person. The next ones are March 13 (Champagnes), April 3 (White Burgundies) and June 5 (Rhône Valley Reds), at 7pm sharp. To sign up call 01 44 58 10 66.



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  • I used to drink regularly at the 5th Bar back in 1998. I remember Peter the Liverpuddlian standing out on Rue Mouffetard enticing people to come in. Earl was a legend and kept me going through a fruitless search for work in the August shutdown. I went back to the 5th Bar to see if he was still around this Easter only to be told he’d stopped working there. The next day he practically knocked me over, riding a bike around Les Invalides – I was too shocked by the coincidence to shout after him though. If you’re in contact with him, pass on my regards to him and ask him to get in touch

  • I’m so sorry to hear that Bar Fleurs closed! I visited Paris last year and had a wonderful time there; it was a fun atmosphere and the owner was charming. Well, at least we’ll have our memories, thanks to your recommendation.

  • Because i use to spent a lot of time @ l’imprevu since 1996 until now…And since last year, there are 2 new US owners. Some little changes, some time too busy 4 me now.I hope to see you there next time !!!