Paris’ seedy Pigalle area has been
transformed into one of the hippest spots in the city.
Located on the border of the 9th
and 18th arrondissements, the capital’s red light district is dotted
with sex shops, topless cabarets (including the famous Moulin Rouge) and euphemistically named
“hostess” bars. But recently, its southern area, which some are dubbing SoPi
(South Pigalle), has seen an influx of trendy cocktail bars that are making
this neighbourhood one of the hottest nightlife destinations in Paris.
Carmen kick started this trend. Opened in November 2010 in the decadent Baroque
setting of composer Bizet’s former residence (and from whose famous opera it
gets its name), the bar comes complete with Neoclassical columns and sparkling
chandeliers – but with a rock and roll vibe. Its eclectic programme features music
ranging from 1960s to electro, and events such as fashion week parties and live tattooing draw in a boho clientele.
A newer addition to the neighbourhood is
Glass, founded in October 2012 by the team behind the much
lauded Marais cocktail bar Candelaria.
Located on a side street lined with hostess bars, Glass has blacked out windows
and a formidable looking doorman at the entrance. Inside however, the intimate
space reveals a buzzing dance floor that lights up and a menu of inventive
cocktails, imported beers and hotdogs for late night refuelling.
The latest addition to firmly put SoPi
on the Paris hipster map is new tiki bar Dirty Dick (10 rue Frochot; 01-48-78-74-58),
which opened in February. On the same street as Glass, and with a name that cheekily
references the seedy bars that surround it, Dirty Dick combines a retro
Polynesian vibe with an assortment of cocktails, including classics such as the
Mai-Tai and tropical punch bowls to share.
When 3 am rolls by and the bars begin to
close, energetic hipsters move on to L’Embuscade (47 rue de la Rochefoucault; 01-42-80-19-50),
a raucous and sweaty bar located behind an unmarked door. Owned by one of the
team members behind seminal Paris nightclub Le Baron, L’Embuscade is an afterhours party
with a West Indian ambiance: the potent rum cocktails and tropical beats are
turning up the heat in Paris in an entirely new way.
Kim Laidlaw is the
Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.