As in the case of its rock credentials, you need to scratch the surface to find Paris’ best rock bars.
Paris was never home to rock’n’roll revolutions the way that London claimed the Swinging Sixties, or New York the birth of downtown punk.
France, ever patriotic, forged its own musical path in its native language, forever associated with Johnny Halliday, Serge Gainsbourg and Alain Bashung.
Though you won’t find Joey Ramone Place or ACDC Lane in France’s capital, the stories are there should you seek them.
Most famously, Paris is the place where Jim Morrison met his untimely death at the age of 27. Allegedly last seen at Le Mazet eating a Croque Monsieur, Morrison was confirmed dead at 17 rue Beautreillis 75004. Today he rests at Cimetière Père Lachaise.
More optimistically, The Rolling Stones recorded their 1977 LP Some Girls at Pathé Marconi Studios in Boulogne-Billancourt. ACDC followed their lead in 1981, laying the groundwork for what would become For Those About To Rock, We Salute You.
The point is that rock music flourishes on the streets of Paris, you just need to know where to focus your attention. Though the list is more extensive than our top 5, these are our absolute favourites…
Messy is how we can best describe this Ménilmontant institution. On the weekend it’s pandemonium of the best kind, lots of noise and dancing on tables. Here you can find everything from the Pixies to the Stones to Nirvana to the Sonics, everyone drunk on Jameson and high on life.
La Féline, 6 Rue Victor Letalle 75020
Tuesday – Saturday: 6.00pm – 2.00am
Less than a one minute walk from La Féline, Le Saint Sauveur is a different world all together. The sound here is much more Punk, Ska and Reggae, with the occasional blues or hip hop depending on the night. A real mix of locals, bikers, bobos & weirdos spill onto the street.
Le Saint Sauveur, 11 Rue des Panoyaux 75020
Open Everyday: 5.00pm – 2.00am
La Mécanique Ondulatoire
Mecca for lovers of good music, rum and whiskey. Their booze selection is just as good as any respectable cocktail bar in Paris, with the added bonus of DJs, an expansive lounge, downstairs cave/club and an upstairs fumoir. Go for the monthly 60’s soul night or catch a gig in the basement.
La Mécanique Ondulatoire, 8 Passage Thiéré 75011
Monday – Saturday 6.00pm – 2.00am
Whether or not you get the Dead Kennedys reference, this is a great bar by the same team as Le Saint Sauveur. More polished than its older sibling, the generous space houses a foozball table and sufficient walls for regular photography exhibitions.
There is an impressive / dangerous selection of Whisky, happy hour everyday from 5.00pm – 8.00pm and Arancini balls by Tonton Luigi.
TDTF, 43 rue Cavendish 75019
Metro: Jaurès, Stalingrad
Open Everyday, 5.00pm – 2.00am
Vinyl only, no credit cards and one toilet, Le Fanfaron is a renaissance rock’n’roll dive complete with candlelight. Your host Xavier is internet-famous for consumer-centric tantrums, barside fights with his amour and an amazing collection of records.
Le Fanfaron, 6 Rue de la Main d’Or 75011
Monday – Saturday, 6.00pm – 2.00am
- Houla Oups – the ultimate punk dive bar with the same hygeine code as CBGB’s in the 1970’s
4 Rue Basfroi 75011
- Les Furieux – an eclectic mix of goth, metal and rock, open until 5am Friday & Saturday nights
74 Rue de la Roquette 75011
- Le Motel – an institution for the Paris music scene by the same team as Le Trabendo
8 Passage Josset 75011 Paris
Metro: Ledru Rollin, Voltaire
- Tape – tattooed pretty young things listening to obscure new music
21 Rue de la Roquette 75011
- Pop In – another institution for the Paris music scene
105 Rue Amelot 75011
Metro: Saint-Sébastian Froissart
- Flèche d’Or – a great space for gigs in a converted railway station, with decent diner style snacks to match
102 bis Rue Bagnolet 75020
- Pigalle Country Club – cheaper beers, less bullshit & better music than surrounding ‘branché’ Pigalle institutions
59 Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 75009