(And a list of nostalgic bars and restaurants in the Marais)
Outside of my hometown (Birmingham) and where I now call home (London), Paris is my most visited city.
I’m not quite sure how my love affair with Paris started, but I do remember it being the main reason why The Aristocats was, and still is, my favourite Disney film – and up until very recently, I held onto my VCR just so I could watch every year.
I get such a nostalgic joy from watching video. The slightly grainy images, that strange black and white fuzzy line that sometimes travels along the screen, and even the jump in audio once in a while. They are all little signifiers of time past.
That’s probably what I like about Paris too, it’s a beautiful trip down memory lane – albeit one that I never originally trod. It’s why, when I go, I’m drawn to the bars and restaurants where the walls could tell me the most amazing stories, and if I’m extremely lucky the staff might too.
In eating establishments, as I am in my own home, I’m not one for white walls, minimalist interiors and silent eating. For me, above and beyond the actual food – it’s the atmosphere that feeds my soul.
Here then are my favourite nostalgic bars and restaurants in the Marais, where I was staying – and one or two that I keep going back to (despite being a little more modern).
Till next year Paris, it’s au revoir not adieu.
Camille 24 rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 https://www.thefork.fr/restaurant/camille-r20024#booking
Homely and intimate. This is usually the first place I have dinner when I arrive and I always have the same: steak tartare avec frites, followed by creme brulee.
Les Bains 7 Rue du Bourg l’Abbé, 75003 https://lesbains-paris.com/en/
Old school glamour. The ceiling is a really intriguing, undulating, deep burgundy, modern art form. This now 5* hotel, used to be a nightclub and through the decor you can really feel that it would have been the sweaty, sexy French equivalent to Studio 54.
You can eat here, and judging by the ridiculously moreish free bar nuts it would be delicious, but I only had cocktails. I had one on menu – the Roxo house special and two off; a French 75 and perfect martini, all made with Mirabeau gin and all delicious.*
Le Mary Celeste 1 Rue Commines, 75003 https://www.lemaryceleste.com/
Trendy. This is as close to the minimalist wind as I like to sail, with its slightly nautically themed decor and white washed wooden ceilings. It does, however, redeem itself for me with its cobbled floor which makes it feel comfortingly wobbly.
Specialising in inventive, delicious small plates and oysters when in season, this place makes me feel like a one of the local cool crowd.
The Little Red Door 60 Rue Charlot, 75003 https://www.lrdparis.com/
The place to go for cocktails. Evoking speak-easy vibes, this bar is consistently ranked on the world best lists and is first come, first serve venue – no reservations. You’ll often see people lining down the street waiting to get in even on a cold, rainy night. Arrive at opening time to avoid disappointment.
Au Petit Fer a Cheval 30 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75004 Facebook page
Small and unpretentious. Never has a bar had such an appropriate name; the small horseshoe – referring to the U-shaped bar inside. It’s one of those places where smoking should still be allowed inside.
The wine I had here (the St Joseph) was the nicest bottle of the weekend. I could stay all night and watch the world go by.
*This was a PR invite on behalf of Mirabeau