Montorgueil Plays A Central Role in Paris' Craft Cocktail Movement

Perhaps because wine plays such an important role here in France's culture, the cocktail culture was a long time in coming. But when it arrived, in the late 2000s, it arrived with a bang. The outpost that garnered the majority of the spotlight at first was, of course, the Experimental Cocktail Club, opened in this neighborhood, on one of the tiny sidestreets that snake throughout the Montorgueil district. On the heels of its wild success, several more opened up nearby, namely Jefrey's Bar à Cocktail just down the street and more recently, the cult fave, Lockwood, which is located now on rue d'Aboukir, marking the fringes of the neighborhood. The relative new-comer on the scene, Club RaYé already draws a loyal following, especially for their Wednesday open Mic nights. So bring your singing voice when you stop by for a cocktail. 

In addition to the bars answering the call of the cocktail craze, any balmy evening that invites you to walk along the pedestrian only rue Montorgueil will also have you inadvertently participating in the sidewalk revelry of cafés, wine bars, and bistros whose patrons overflow onto the sidewalk seating in order to better enjoy the many street performers passing by. This is a very lively area full of boisterous good vibes. It's also a fairly young crowd but that's not to say that there are only students here. It's a residential district as well so lots of local color is to be found when you make your rounds here.


Sure there are a number of wine bars to choose from in Paris and each has its distinct character but you will have to try out a number of them before you find anything close to as charming and inviting as this one. The bar stools number less than a dozen and they give you a good view onto the bartendar/ small-plates cook as he whips up mouth-watering appetizer nibbles. Or, facing outward, you have that lovely view onto the Passage du Grand Cerf, one of the lovely covered passageways of Paris, with all its old-world regal charm. Here the wines you choose from will be overwhelmingly natural wines, or "vin nature" as the French call them. It's oh so tempting to unleash your appetite on these delicious small plates and with the upstairs seating it is easy enough to settle in and get comfy.

2éme Arrondissement

Harmony and happiness flows here. That is the motto of the young owner and wine lover, Martin P�lissier who opened this wine and tapas bar in an old 16th c. mansion in one of Paris' oldest quarters, known for centuries as the "Belly"of Paris. Located on a charming little street leading off from the boisterous and exuberantly lively rue Montorgeuil, here you will leave the nearby happy hour clamor behind as you sip your fine glass of wine from France, Argentina, Chile and many other regions of the world. The man who opened this wine bar did so after spending years abroad and his mission is to present wines by the glass or bottle from around the world in an unpretentious way. His chef pairs the small plates in a just-right way with your wine choices.

True to its name, this café and bar sits right in the middle as you walk the length of rue Montorgueil, the pedestrian only street. It stays open late so it's a good place to end the day, after dinner, with a digestive, an espresso or a glass of wine. This is the classic kind of French café-bar where the waiters wear their white apron tied around their black uniforms. Here is where you can order a pastis, kir or a pint of beer. There are snacks served here, such as the common café fare such as croque monsiuer (a grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and other light fare. It's the kind of place that Paris has been famous for for centuries. And this one here on rue Montorgueil doesn't get any more authentic.


Nightlife doesn't have to be all about boozing... it can also be all about working out and taking care of yourself. This exclusive, state-of-the-art gym, fitness center and spa will thicken your blood with all the right endorphins and adrenals that a good workout, followed by a sauna and steam bath, can give you. A high-end luxury gym with a spa and restaurant on premise, Le Klay is the sure-fire guarantee that says this neighborhood has now come of age. The only other gym of this high calibre, for years, was far off in the 16th arrondissement, where all the rich folk used to live. Now, the young professionals all want convenience, hence this state-of-the-art gym with weights, yoga classes, pilates and the works caters exactly to that demographic. What's more, once you're done serving your body, you can relax in the sauna and follow that with a steam bath.

This bar greets you as you enter the rue Montorgueil district from the Les Halles direction. It's not fancy and there's no need to get dressed up to come in and have a beer or a glass of house wine here. Unlike many of the other venues in the neighborhood, it is neither a café doubling as a bar nor a craft cocktail bar. This is one of those old-school, quasi hole-in-the-walls that is simply a place to stop in for a pint and listen to some loud music with a bunch of college buddies. Jeans, t's and leather jackets are the de facto dress code here. A mainstay here in the Montorgueil district, this bar stays open 'til 2am.

This café/bar is just as good in the afternoon as it is at night. In the evenings it draws a more rowdy crowd, naturally, who come for a cold beer or a soothing glass of wine after work. The location, perching on the fringes of Les Halles and just next to the imposing St. Eustache church means that it's achingly easy to find thus making it a great place for a meet-up or launch pad from which to discover the Montorgueil district. It's a pretty standard fare French café-bar which qualifiesit as a great choice for when you're in Paris.

When this opened several years ago, it was notable the location they chose: just across the street from another craft cocktail bar. What's nice is that the ambiance here is trés lounge so if you are looking for a quiet place to gather and sip a cocktail while listening to subdued music, this is it. The upstairs seating is the place where you can relax and the cocktails here get creative, but not overly so. The ground floor is where the bar is and if you enjoy watching the bartender (oops! Mixologist!) put together his concoctions, this is the place to hover.

In its few short years since opening, this place has become the cocktail institution. The founders, a group of buddies, have since gone on to open to several more clubs and even one in NYC. They are often credited (accurately or inaccurately) with bringing the modern day craft cocktail movement to Paris. Nonetheless, the cocktails here are creative and easily downable. The ambiance is more a rocker vibe and it's the kind of place where the music is so loud you can't hear what the person next to you is saying. Sometimes that can be a good thing. Of course, though, that's for you to decide.

Not missing a beat, this coffee house that serves craft coffees brewed from the Belleville coffee roasters by day, turns into a sort of basement speakeasy by night. It is a bit just-off the rue Montorgueil area meaning you have to cross a major street and turn a corner to find it, but it's worth it. The coffee house by day, serving pastries and light snacks, hints nothing at the expansive cellar-turned-cocktail speakeasy below. The cocktails here are all blended with fresh ingredients and a look through their menu is advised as you'll get some good ideas about what you can order here.


Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige