Le Petit Bar

I have officially been to the weirdest bar in all of Paris.

Last night Shaun insisted on gathering us at Le Petit Bar, an infamous watering hole near the hipster neighborhood of Oberkampf. The entire bar itself is about the size of your average college dorm room, and is run by a tiny old woman who has got to be pushing 100. The most prominent feature of the bar is her cat, a fat grey lump that I refused to touch. There was hardly enough room for all eight of us to sit/stand and drink our beers, and the hole-in-the-wall place reeked of old alcohol and cat.

The Old Lady only has two choices of beer, neither of which I recognized, but according to the Old Lady herself they charge about 7 Euro in trendy hipster bars for it (she charges 3). The choices of hard alcohol were, well, non-existent – no G&T’s for me! The three bottles mounted on the wall looked dried up and were coated in a layer of dust, and I’m almost sure I saw cobwebs strung between the Malibu and the gin. Behind the bar was cluttered with photos, trinkets, drawings, newspaper clippings, cat paraphernalia, empty bottles, dirty cups and dishes (Old Lady doesn’t like to do dishes, so I don’t recommend getting a mixed drink or beer from the tap), decaying Christmas decorations, and other odds and ends that seemed to span the entire century. In the corner, I saw a European Union flag that amused me if only because I’ll bet she put it up mid-century when the EU was established. Old Lady claims she stays open until 2 am every night, but when we left before midnight she was falling asleep behind the bar. She said she gets a lot of students, and I imagine many of them are transient residents like us, looking to discover the “local” places that are off the beaten path.

However “off the beaten path” this little bar is, it is not for me. Although the lack of music and intimate (too intimate) atmosphere made it easy to carry on conversation, it also made it really difficult to have a separate conversation without everyone else listening in or adding their thoughts. I need some music, a place to sit, a good G&T or a mojito, and some new people to meet (how am I supposed to meet sexy French men when there aren’t any?) I respect and admire Old Lady for her endeavor, but this hipster favorite is just not my style. It also felt oddly insincere: I’m sure the only crowds that hang there are those “cool” students who read about this “genuine” Parisian bar on the internet and want to check it out; personally, I’d rather go somewhere I found on my own, that has an atmosphere I just dig, and room for all of my friends.

*** Thanks to Shaun for letting me steal his photos. I wasn’t ballsy enough to take any when I was in there…apparently Old Lady isn’t too fond of photo-snapping.

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