20-08-2013

The best bar in Paris

Photo by Vinologue

Going out for a drink in Paris is not for the light of wallet. A cocktail will be around 10€ and a glass of wine will start at 5€ in any basic café. For some, that may seem like a pittance to fire up the joie de vivre in a such a charming city. But for us, who don’t suffer from weighty billfolds nor the ability to call it a night after one drink, these prices pack far too much of a monetary punch for comfort. And it seems that we are not alone in this.

Any warm night in Paris will see the drinking hoards descent on what is easily one of the best “bars” in the city: Canal Saint Martin. Friends of ours have been telling us about it for years, but we’ve only recently gotten around to checking it out as we were staying in a (less than stellar) Airbnb apartment nearby. And no, it’s not some ironically named bar, it is actually the banks of Canal Saint Martin where it emerges from an underground stint off the Seine River and passes through a series of locks which are lined with lush, tree-filled sidewalks.

canal-st-martin

It’s here where all manner of Parisians from younger to older (well, mostly younger) and natives to expats roll up with a group of friends, something to eat and a selection of bottles. Some even go all out with incredibly fancy gourmet spreads of fine cheeses and other gourmet bites. There seem to be few codes of conduct beyond the basic, don’t be an asshole. Also, there is no definitive alcohol of choice. While this is France, the majority of canal-side personal pop-up bars will be comprised of some sort a wine selection. But, others bring beer and harder liquor as well.

Undoubtedly, it’s not terribly pleasant for the neighbors whose windows open on to the canal. Even though most stick to the non-asshole rule, it can get noisy at times, but is generally well-mannered and an incredibly easy way to pass an evening, especially if you manage to pick up a good deal on a Châteauneuf-du-Pape to enjoy like we did.

It is however a fleeting bar scene given that the Paris weather is inherently horrible. A drop below 20C will see Bar Canal Saint Martin quite empty and rain will shutter it completely. So, if you find yourself in Paris and the weather is nice, more than likely the bar will be open if you want to stop in.