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La Bellevilloise: Music, Art, Food and a Huge Terrace in Paris’ Trendy Menilmontant

La Bellevilloise – Terrace (Jerome Seillier)

A typical Parisian night out can mean any number of things. Some people like the club scene, while others prefer a quiet drink along the Seine. Some can knock back shots at the bar, and others look for a cultural infusions via acoustic guitar sets or art gallery openings. To accomplish all of these things in one night would, at the very least, tax your Navigo pass as you zig zag across town. Most likely, it would drive you crazy.

However, Hip Paris readers, I recently visited a place that is so all-encompassing, so varied in its vibe, décor and mission, that you and any number of your difficult-to-please friends can enjoy yourself, no matter what you’re looking for that night — or even that moment.

Entrance to La Halle Aux Oliviers (Kygp)

La Bellevilloise is an expansive, multi-tiered space in the hills of Belleville that, with seeming ease, incorporates every type of good time to be had under one roof. It is a jack-of-all-trades, where bar meets restaurant meets dance floor meets performance space meets brunch spot. Walking into each different area of the space brings a new experience, and I was drawn from doorway to doorway in a pleasant yet mildly schizophrenic frenzy of entertainment.


Le Forum

Entering from the street into the Forum drops you into a cavern-like club, dark and inviting. It’s like an Art Deco museum with a pulse. It’s a casual setting, and the various, mostly acoustic sets trade places up on the center stage for a packed room. Multiple floors of seating on both sides of the room allow patrons to watch the staff move with symphonic rhythm through the space, delivering tapas (the salmon wraps caught my eye more than once) and strong mojitos out from behind the imposing bar. The mood, despite the low lighting, is vibrant, cheery and unpretentious. On my last visit, I saw trenchcoats mixing with Nikes and flannels and fitted caps bumping hips with mom jeans…


La Terrasse (Jason Whittaker)

La Terrassee

After the cavernous Forum, emerging onto the Terrace, with its relaxed atmosphere among the Belleville rooftops, is a breath of fresh air. Gorgeous evening light is the setting for another bar, a partially covered deck, abundant greenery and wheelbarrow tables. Reminiscent of a Brooklyn beer garden, this space offers a reprieve from the energy and intensity of the other rooms. The rumblings of upright bass from the Forum are just a whisper out here. Everything about this cozy balcony says: take your time, have a drink. So I did. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Food, Restaurant Reviews | 3 Comments »

La Rotisserie: Dining for a Good Cause in Paris

It’s not often that good deeds and good eats collide. Think about it: when was the last time you went out to dinner in Paris and accomplished anything other than making yourself ridiculously happy? Come on people, this selfishness has got to stop!

Fortunately, La Rotisserie Sainte Marthe cooperative is here to help Parisians eat well and contribute to a worthy cause at the same time. Rue Sainte-Marthe, with its vibrant, colorful restaurants, is a cobblestone road that seems to have flown from Old San Juan and landed in the 10th arrondissement. La Rotisserie is the standout eatery on the block for its dedication to supporting charitable causes, be they hungry locals or global relief funds.

I visited La Rotisserie for dinner and was able to snag a seat before the rush. The food comes out in waves and the neighborhood regulars soon packed the house, arriving moments before the first plates hit the table. The restaurant has a summer camp feel: patrons pile onto wooden benches, squeezing into the limited space next to friend and stranger alike, pouring their drinks into green plastic cups while waiting to be served.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 4 Comments »

Paris Dining With the Locals: Mon Oncle le Vigneron

I’ll admit: when I first heard of the cave à manger concept, I was skeptical. “The restaurant is a wine store? That looks like someone’s kitchen? And you still need a reservation?” In a city filled with countless decadent, exquisite options, this sounded rather pedestrian and misguided, like a basketball player deciding to transfer his skills over to the golf course.

Call me what you will—ignorant, pessimist, hater—but I promise to be none of those any longer: Mon Oncle Le Vigneron has me sold on the trend, with this small, family-owned place as the current apex.

Tucked away in the 19th, MOLV only recently expanded to its current food-serving capacity. The owners made their name selling wine, but seem to have shifted gracefully into this new phase, turning their home/wine store into a home/restaurant. Bottles of wine and jars of honey line the walls, flowers jut out of a severed plastic water jug, silverware is pulled out of the cupboards, and a glass-partitioned kitchen allows you to peruse the cooking process from your seat. The tables are simple, and few: only two were set during my visit, and when attempts were made by unsuspecting passersby to grab a seat, they were sadly turned away—if you don’t reserve ahead of time, they won’t have enough food for you. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 5 Comments »

Paris’ Best Bike Shops

Allen Skyy

As soon as I landed in Paris, I knew I wanted a bicycle. Though I love and support the idea of Velibs, I have to admit I feel a bit dorky on those bulky gray carbon copies—plus, each Velib ride inevitably leaves me with grease on my pants. But a more important factor in my decision was an image I had formed when I first booked my ticket to France: me, riding a cool French bicycle, baguette in tow, zooming down the streets of the city of love. And the fancy hybrid I left back in Brooklyn would not do: I needed something that this romantic, idealized version of me could distinctly call his own.

So where does one go to find the bike they always dreamed of riding in Paris? There are a few different options that satisfy a variety of urges, from casual biker to fixie-dedicated hipster to everything in between.

1) Velo Vintage

To answer my own question: this is where I went to find the bike I always dreamed of riding in Paris. A craigslist post brought me to this small, 80s-inspired shop in the 18th. Upon entering the shop I was struck by the quality of their vintage rides, which looked more like art with a seat on it than transportation device. Their bikes range from classic French Peugeot’s to Dutch cruisers. Few are built for the Tour de France; style, comfort and more style reign here.

Although it would be easy to stop at window shopping here, a purchase at VV can be a wise—and even cost-effective—investment. While some of their bikes are in the 600+ Euro range, my very comfortable, sleek, blue 5-speed with a rear rack only set me back 180 €. Before riding off, co-owner Eddy told me to send a picture from wherever the bike ends up taking me. And I’m sure I will: on this bike I feel very photogenic.

Velo Vintage, 58 Rue du Ruisseau, 75018

2) Bicycle Store Paris

Entering this store is like walking into a hipster’s wet dream. Or the wet dream of anyone who likes beautiful bicycles. If you can look past the demonic clown art on the walls, BSP offers up a fantastic array of bikes, from fixed-gear (a favorite of bicycle messengers everywhere) to French velos de ville, in a stunning array of colors and designs. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping | 17 Comments »