I recently met a friend in the 10ème late one glorious afternoon – not a cloud in sight. We picked up a bottle of wine, some cheese, and a baguette and headed directly for the Canal St-Martin to join the revellers at the popular waterside hangout.
However, after the chèvre had been demolished, and a buzz kicked in from our nearly empty bottle of wine, we felt the cool chill of the new autumn air pass over us. Not wanting to waste the energy of the evening, I asked my friend, “où peut-on aller?” The immediate area around the canal is bustling with obvious options, but I was eager to seek out somewhere new and exciting. Clearly my friend had come up with something, but the only response I got was, “j’ai une bonne idée – viens!”
He led me away from the canal, through the crowded streets, popping out onto Place de la République, all whilst repeatedly dodging my questions of “où va-t-on?” We finally reached a small street, leading off the place, and stopped in front of a tiny laverie, with a sign above reading “Lavomatic.” Apparently we had arrived, although clearly I was terribly confused. We stepped inside, where the inevitable fragrance of fabric softener wafted over, all whilst an elderly parisien man sat quietly folding his freshly laundered clothes.
Now I’m not going to give too much away, as I think figuring it out for yourself is half the experience. However, I watched as my friend approached one of the washing machines, pressed something (I’m still not sure exactly what) and, to my surprise, a door swung open, not to reveal the guts of a machine à laver, but a tiny dark staircase.
Speakeasy was clearly my initial thought, but in climbing the narrow staircase and arriving at the top, my expectations were overthrown. We emerged in a small but extremely luminous and colorful room, not much bigger than my studio apartment.
Lavomatic is the name of this well hidden cocktail bar, which functions on the 1920-30s American idea of a speakeasy, but looks nothing like one. A nod to pop art and the modernist design movements, the fit-out was conceived with a playful experience in mind. Mustard yellow banquettes with kilim cushions follow the boundary of unfinished cement walls. Brillo-branded soft stools scatter the space as a salute to Andy Warhol whilst Verner Panton rugs guide you to a swing set at the end of the room.
Gather up some friends and unpack into this cool space. Load up on the small seasonal plates, which focus on fresh market produce. Then wash the bites down with cocktails from the thoughtfully designed menu, which has just been updated to suit the fresher autumn months (think cozy ingredients, like pumpkin, hazelnut, honey, and cinnamon) or a glass of natural wine. And don’t forget to dry yourself off after, depending how many cocktails you’ve had!
Lavomatic – 30 rue René Boulanger, 75010. Métro: Republique. Tues & Wed 6pm-1am, Thurs-Sat 6pm-2am.
- For a cocktail overload, the Paris Cocktail Festival is coming November 25-27. Find out more about the event, and others happening this month, here.
- More of a beer fan? Just on the other side of Canal St-Martin is microbrewery, Le Triangle. Check out our review.
- INSIDR also spills some of their favorite hidden cocktail bars in Paris here.