September 19, 2013
For decades, Pigalle was known mainly for its sex shops, seedy shows and working girls. During WWII, this sketchy section of Paris earned the nickname “Pig Alley” thanks to its bawdy rep. But these days, Pigalle has earned a few new monikers as well as a cleaner reputation. Now, in NYC fashion, trendy locals refer to it as either NoPi (North of Pigalle) or SoPi (South of Pigalle).
While both North and South have plenty to offer, it’s SoPi that’s become the latest neighborhood to watch. Moving beyond nighttime entertainment, SoPi is packed with plenty of destination restaurants, food shops, cafes and enough to make an itinerary that runs from morning until nighttime.
To get a day’s worth of enjoyment out of one the city’s hippest ‘hood, kick start things with some caffeine at Rocketship. Like many places in Paris, they don’t open until later in the morning, so make your way there leisurely. In keeping with the neighborhood’s NY-inspired nickname, this concept coffeeshop works a Brooklyn vibe and offers chai lattes alongside coffee from Coutume.
After coffee, take time to browse the boutique. Benoit, the owner, prides himself on finding unique treasures and includes a good number of pieces from SoPi-based artisans.
Le Rocketship, 13 bis rue Henri Monnier, Paris, 75009, +33 1 48 78 23 66
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Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews, Shopping | 11 Comments »
July 30, 2013
Beef bourguignon. Escargot. Bordeaux. Burgundy. France’s gastronomic culture stems from strong tradition. The French meal has even earned a place on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list. And while there’s nothing like a great classic, sometimes you just want to shake things up.
Fortunately, a formidable group of young food and drink folks have picked up on international culinary trends to create some new and vibrant options for Paris’ drinks and dining scene. The summer’s buzziest trend? Fresh fish with a South-American twist.
Just in time for Paris’ warmer summer months, these new hotspots are offering weather-appropriate fare like ceviche and lighter cocktails to go with the hot sunny days. Move over, tired old moules frites! There’s a new style of seafood in town and it’s being paired with some mighty fine drinks. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 2 Comments »
July 22, 2011
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.
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…
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, Food, Restaurant Reviews | 3 Comments »
July 11, 2011
In La Ville-Lumière, where the wine can be cheaper than the water, there are times when we forget that there is something other to drink than the humble grape: I refer you to the classic cocktail. Paris is full to the brim of kitsch cocktail bars popular with les bobos, über-cool joints where the process of whipping together a cocktail has more oomph than the finale of the Cirque du Soleil. But sometimes nothing beats going back to basics. And where better to enjoy the perfect Bloody Mary than under the very roof where it, along with other classic favorites, were invented and have been drunk for 100 years.
Harry’s New York Bar is the oldest cocktail bar in Europe, and first opened minus the ‘Harry’s’ prefix in 1911. It’s since become the darling of Parisians and expats alike, celebrated for its extensive cocktail list, beautifully prepared drinks and excellent service. It sits just five minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of Opéra and, in tribute to their loyal expat clientele, a sign outside reads ‘Sank roo doe noo’ – a phonetic transcription of the bar’s address to help lost and thirsty compatriots find there way there.
A warm greeting from the sweetly smiling hostess and a push through the swinging saloon doors, and I feel like I’ve tumbled into New York in the days before prohibition, when the men wore top hats and women feathers and fur. There’s not such stylish attire now, alas – more button down shirts and loosened ties, but the décor and atmosphere still shimmer of debonair early 20th Century days: smartly adorned bar staff, beautiful dark reddish oak panelling, walls plastered with triangular American state flags and rows upon rows of glittering bottles of all shapes and sizes — alcohols, mixers and syrups, all ready to be whipped up into a perfect cocktail creation. Even the old style hot dog stand on the bar counter pays tribute.
I’d missed lunch, which is the only time they serve anything other than New York style hot dogs; so instead, I sipped mojitos – I’m still une bobo at heart – in the piano bar downstairs and listened blissfully to the jazz pianist work his magic on an upright piano into the small hours. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 8 Comments »
August 27, 2010
French apéro cafe scene, Paris. Mecredis
If there’s something the French know how to do well, it’s give themselves a break (or rather, a pause). They see downtime as a preventative measure, a means to avoiding exasperation (as opposed to an emergency response to it). Whereas many of us wear ourselves so thin that we desperately need whatever it is (a break, a drink, a vacation), in France, it’s more about “we deserve this” than “we need this.”
L’heure de l’apéro (the French equivalent of cocktail hour) is the moment when the French consciously create some space between the workday and the dinner hour, demonstrating their talent for slowing down and, somehow, miraculously expanding time. On nice days, the apéro coincides with the moment when the city is suddenly bathed in that rosy, only-in-Paris light, and you suddenly feel like you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be in the world.
Non-traditional apéro settings are also appropriate: river banks, parks, benches… Boklm
Practically speaking, though, the idea of the apéro (a colloquial form of apéritif) is to whet the appetite for the meal to come. (The word comes from the latin aperire, which means to open). When at a café or bar, it’s typical to have glass of wine or champagne, a beer, or a kir (white wine with a splash of Crème de Cassis). Old-school traditionalists go for a pastis (an anise-flavored liqueur mixed with water and ice), and among my friends, Lillet (a sweet wine infused with citrus liqueur) has taken off of late. Take note: l’heure de l’apéro is not a time to pound American-style cocktails, which makes sense, considering a whiskey sour will do little to prep your palette for any kind of serious dégustation. And while cocktail culture is on the rise in France, mixed drinks have not historically been part of the French tradition. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 13 Comments »
October 19, 2009
Despite what Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald might have you believe, Paris has not historically been a cocktail-drinking town. Even today, the traditional pre-dinner drink—the apéritif or more familiar “apéro”—usually takes the form of a glass of champagne, a kir (white wine with a splash of cassis), or a pastis (an anise-flavored liqueur favored by pétanque-playing French gentlemen of a certain age). Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 6 Comments »