The Hottest Spots for Apéro Hour in Paris

Of the traditions that the French uphold with near-religious obsession, carving time in their schedules for a late afternoon/early evening drink at happy hour is perhaps the most important. Unwind from your day and sidle up to the bar at one of these hot spots. No matter your preference - beer, wine or cocktails - they have a tipple for all tastes.

67 Rue de Lancry, 75010 Paris, France
The folks behind this bistro à vins and wine shop are part of the sincere network of people in our neighborhood who share the same values I have—they take risks, they’re curious, they care about the environment. This is where my husband and I buy our wine, and the food is delicious, too. —Matali Crasset 67 rue de Lancry, arr. 11, 33/(0) 1-48-03-17-34. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: Mari Bastashevski. Read more about Matali Crasset’s Belleville neighborhood.
45 Rue Oberkampf
When I first moved to the 11th arrondissement, rue Oberkampf hadn’t yet shaken off the vestiges of its grungy, working-class past and was lined mostly with dive bars, ethnic take-away joints and merchants (fishmongers, cheese-mongers, florists, etc.). Once a new bakery set up shop, the older one on the block underwent renovations to compete. From there, a chocolate shop settled in, then a couple of independent boutiques and wine shops. The area’s ascent from up-and-coming to wholly established and eminently cool was a rapid one. But my favorite transformation occurred at Aux Deux Amis, a dive bar that used to be a magnet for retired old men who camped out at the bar starting at 9 a.m. for a morning of drinking. Cigarette butts coated the tiled floor until the end of the day when the owner swept them into the trash. It has since been taken over by a young crew who maintained the throwback decor but evolved the concept into a natural wine bar with fresh small plates. My favorite time to go is around 6 p.m. for an apéro with a plate of whatever cheese they have on hand. Snag a spot out on the terrace if you can.
32 Rue Cler, 75007 Paris, France
Cafe L’Eclair is everything you expect when you think of the perfect French cafe: delicious cafe au lait, croissants and tartine and a bonus, this cafe turns into a cocktail bar after dark. Another benefit of this lovely cafe is its location on rue Cler. You can order a cafe to go and wander the pedestrian street market to your heart’s content!
34 Rue Duperré, 75009 Paris, France
Among its many, recent claims to fame, the South Pigalle (SoPi in anglophone parlance) neighborhood has become synonymous with cool cocktail bars and creative after-hours hangouts. The quirky spot that seemed to pioneer it all was Le Carmen, a boudoir style bar housed in George Bizet’s opulent former residence. Beyond their singular cocktails (eg. revisited varieties with absinthe or foie gras) keep this spot in mind on Sundays for their old school film projection series called Ciné Club Sunday Funday.
5 Rue Daunou, 75002 Paris, France
In 1911, American star jockey Tod Sloan took a bar in Manhattan, dismantled it, and shipped it to Paris. At the time, American tourists and members of the artistic and literary communities were beginning to visit the City of Light in ever-increasing numbers, and Sloan wanted to capitalize on his fame and make the place a spot where expats would feel at home. Over the years, Harry’s New York Bar has been frequented by a number of famous Americans and international celebrities, including Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Jack Dempsey, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart and the Duke of Windsor. Whether or not you have star status, you can still settle in on a stool with a drink and soak in the history.
73 Rue du Faubourg du Temple, 75010 Paris, France
Le Floréal initially made it onto my list of local places whose burgers and cocktails came highly recommended but began extensive renovations on the exterior and interior of the restaurant just as I was prepping my belly. Weeks later, the team that made hipster-dive bar Chez Jeanette a success opened the refurbished doors of Le Floréal. They ditched the old school bistro look and opted for a cross between 1970’s retro and Tom Cruise circa 1988 Cocktail theme which has noticeably brightened the rue Goncourt corner. Piet Mondrien-esque colored tiles line the façade and reflects the colorful wicker chairs on the raised street-level terrace, the ideal spot for apéro-hour people-watching.
5 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France
Frenchie (the restaurant) is nearly impossible to get into, but the wine bar across the street provides a taste of chef Gregory Marchand’s housemade charcuterie and pasta, as well as small plates such as homemade smoked trout and burrata cheese with pickled pear. And the prices are wallet-friendly too.
43 Rue des Petites Écuries, 75010 Paris, France
Now you can sample the cuisine of celebrated local chefs by visiting their walk-in wine bars. Braden Perkins eases his elegant culinary style at Verjus’s downstairs bar (47 Rue de Montpensier), where groups share small plates of succulent pork belly and veggie dumplings. This fall, chef Pierre Jancou, shown, reopens Vivant (43 Rue des Petites Écuries). Next door, Vivant Cave will serve charcuterie, daily specials such as rabbit and andouillette, and natural wines. This appeared in the October 2012 issue.
1 Rue Théophile Roussel, 75012 Paris, France
During oyster season from October through April (any month with an “r” in it), locals flock to Le Baron Rouge, a lowbrow wine bar in the 12th arrondissement. Customers use just about any available space (the tops of recycling bins, the roofs of parked cars, the shoulders of their friends) to balance plates of oysters, which they’ll flavor with a squeeze of lemon and wash down with a glass of chilly Sancerre wine. 1 rue Théophile Roussel, 33/(0) 1-4343-1432
52 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris, France
Prior to opening the amazing Verjus Restaurant and Verjus wine bar, Americans Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian owned the Hidden Supper Club, an Internet-access-only series of hosted meals in their Palais Royal apartment. Luckily for us, the moved to a publicly accessible spot because there is no better place in the city to get American fried chicken (it is divine!) or Southern hush puppies like the ones pictured above. There is a great atmosphere, good wine selection and more excellent menu items should you want a little taste of home while visiting Paris.
67 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011 Paris, France
There’s a new wave of wine bars in Paris, ones that champion natural wine (a step beyond organic) and serve artful small plates. Camille Fremont’s La Buvette (not to be confused with Buvette restaurant) is considered one of the best; the place has won lavish praise and an award from Le Fooding. Like a cozy annex to Camille’s own home, the bar benefits from the inherent cool factor that a slightly out-there location in the 11th confers. Despite the compact space, it never seems to be much trouble to pack in throngs of wine fans and curious passersby. Guests must consume a little snack (or casse-croûte in local parlance) to be able to drink but your experience will be better for it. Put your trust in Camille for the wine—mostly natural and only from wine producers she personally appreciates—and choose any of the stellar bites on offer (aged Gouda, dry sausage from Aubrac, sardines, butter beans). Bottles are available for purchase.
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