Last Updated : 13/06/06
Paris June 2006 by Gazza.
his move wasn’t like our usual well-planned outings which are meticulously researched, booked, choreographed and executed (well, I can dream…) but came about after Sue discovered that during my trip to Buenos Aires I’d be in two cities hosting cow parade within two days and, as she’s extremely desperate to scoop in the plastic bovines, a trip to Paris was therefore required to offset my cow-scooping potential!
It was a mere couple of hours between me receiving the enquiry if the move were possible to us being in possession of flight, car parking and hotel bookings, a reminder to me that it can all be done without spending hours in front of a computer dithering about this or that hotel! To be honest most of the decisions were made for me; I couldn’t really get any more time off work when we would have to leave so it would be an out Saturday and back Sunday one-night trip which ruled out Thomsonfly (they don’t fly out Saturdays) leaving us with easyJet from Luton as the only realistic option. The fare wasn’t as bad as I’d expected – although more than the £40-odd we’re accustomed to nowadays – and we were soon booked on the 06:05 ex-Luton for £76 each return.
As for the car parking, we’d been so impressed with Central car storage at Luton the last time that was the parking decided, and the only thing remaining was the hotel which, as anyone who books hotels abroad over the internet will know, is the most difficult thing – first you need to find a decent one (using a rough guide is very useful) then locate the best price available which isn’t always on the hotel’s website! After a bit of searching the Hôtel Batignolles emerged as the front-runner (cheap, well recommended and in a decent location) so that was that – all booked and ready to go, and in record time too!
We packed the night before and, for the first time ever, we decided that we only required one bag between the two of us and even that looked a bit empty and forlorn with the meagre amount of contents we’d put inside it; this meant we’d not have to get to the hotel ASAP and therefore allow ourselves a good day’s sightseeing before we went to check in and head off to, hopefully, scoop some French beers into the big orange book.
Saturday 20th May 2006.
A bit grim.
The flight was so early we were out of the house by 01:00 which limited out doss quotient but would give us a full day in Paris – no pain no gain, as it’s often said – and, after all, there should be some decent coffee there, we hoped! The journey down was terrible with torrential rain absolutely bucketing it down all throughout the journey making driving considerably less fun than driving to Luton usually is… which isn’t a fat lot of fun in the middle of the night in any circumstances if the truth be told.
Eventually we arrived at the car park – to find the gates locked! Sue braved the still driving rain to ring the call bell but, suddenly, the big gate began to ponderously swing open and a guy in a rainhat gave us the thumbs-up from the portakabin so in we went. “Mr Prescott?” he enquired, snatching a quick look at the car. Now being a user of airport parking isn’t something that gives me a lot of pleasure as I don’t generally like car parks at the best of times, but being welcomed by name isn’t something that has happened too frequently (well, only once, and that was Coventry in 2005!) and it put me in a lot better mood after driving through biblical-like rain all the way there.
After a quick transfer over to the terminal we checked in quickly at the first empty desk, noticing the massive queue of council tenants on their way to “Tenant grief” each clad in shoddy sportswear and assorted Eng-er-land accessories with suitcases big enough to contain their entire kitchen never mind just the sink! Just what do they take with them…?
The flight was on-time and we lifted off straight into thick cloud although it petered out as we crossed the channel; maybe the weather would be OK after all, I wondered, as we passed over the Channel Islands bathed in sunshine… no such luck, as the clouds massed again as we approached Paris and during the twenty-minute descent we travelled through several nasty-looking layers of cumulus until, finally, we breached the final cloud layer about a thousand metres above Paris – and yes, it was still raining!
The cheap terminal.
We approached the runway with a gale blasting away at us and rain drumming on the windows and I felt myself tense into the seat – this might be a dodgy landing, I thought to myself – but, despite a moment just above the runway when the 737 swayed around most alarmingly, we touched down with a perfect landing and roared to a halt with spray obscuring everything outside.
After around five minutes of taxi-ing we passed a Concorde mounted at a rakish angle and still looking gorgeously pointy and modern, despite being deemed “life-expired”, before stopping in what seemed to be an aircraft parking lot and I watched the rain beat the tarmac relentlessly; Sue was looking too and we both must have thought that the whole day would be a washout and we’d be running from bar to bar all day and see nothing of the city!
We were de-planed onto a waiting bus and driven the short distance to the main terminal three which didn’t merit a mention on the CDG website so I’d assumed was a cheap arrival point for cheap airlines in the same vein as the new Etiuda terminal at Warsaw. The passport grip was quick and relaxed and so, within ten minutes, we were in the arrivals area and looking for signs to the rail station which turned out to be a bit of a trek along a covered walkway, across a busy road, and then along another walkway and finally into the cavernous – and crowded – station building itself.
I’d discovered through my internet research that a single to Gare du Nord would be €8 each way but we could get a two-day transport pass called “Paris Visite” for €26.65 each which, with the amount of trips on the metro we’d planned to make, would easily pay for itself – if we could work out where to get one! The queue for the ticket office was snaking a good fifty metres along the concourse so, after checking the tickets weren’t available in the little concourse shop, we went for the ticket machines with their much shorter queue – surely a regional travel pass would be available from them?
Yeah, right. After helping a hapless American who couldn’t get his credit cards to work (he was putting them in the wrong way, goddam it!) we searched through all menus on the machine to no avail; the only pass buyable from the machine was one that wasn’t even valid to the airport; work that one out! With no choice we joined the long queue for the ticket office but then I had an idea from a comment I’d read on the web – maybe the big posh hotel nearby would sell them? Leaving Sue guarding our place in the queue I scampered off on my errand but, predictably, I was met with a “Non” and shake of the head. Ah well, I tried, back to the queue…
The line shuffled along reasonably quickly and within a short while we were at the ticket office where, conveniently, a poster in the window explained the current prices and validity of the ticket. One short, painless transaction later (well, apart from the cost) we were each in possession of a Paris Visite wrapped in their natty little black wallets – right, that was finally it, the move was on over an hour after landing! As we descended the steps to the station I looked up and saw with amazement that the leaden clouds had parted and the sun had somehow battled through the rain; suddenly I felt a lot better about the day ahead!
A day in Paris.
We boarded the first train heading into the centre and alighted just south of the Seine at St Michel. There was no concrete plan for the day apart from Sue’s desire to see some cows and the aim to see as much of the city as we could; I wasn’t much help in recommending what to look at as, on my only visit 15 years previously, Big Feller and I had arrived on the overnight train from Spain after almost four weeks of sleeping on trains all around Europe and consequently didn’t soak up much of our surroundings; I seem to remember us having a quick look around, seeing that it was far too hot for us in the depths of August, and making a unanimous decision to cut our losses and head off to Belgium for some beer! I’d vowed this time would be different as we both wanted to take a close-up look at the Eiffel tower having seen it twice from 35,000 feet!
The first move was a short walk to the cathedral of Notre Dame because… well, it’s one of the sights of Paris and it was at the start of a wander we’d quickly drawn up which would take in most of the major sights. As we neared the cathedral, however, the skies darkened and some very nasty-looking clouds hurried in on the brisk wind… within a few minutes the rain was coming down like stair-rods and we took shelter under a convenient tree until it passed, luckily after only ten minutes, then continued our tourist wanderings.
We spent most of the day walking along, avoiding heavy showers, and gawping at the sights of Paris – Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Champs d’Elysses and various gardens, impressive buildings and, of course, some cow parade bovines although they seemed to be frustratingly difficult to locate, although I was distracted by an amusing incident which occurred when two young lasses parked up their car in front of us and one leant inside to get something out; her friend thought it would be hilarious to lift up her skirt revealing to everyone in the vicinity her skimpily-clad arse… and very nice it was too!
At around 15:00 we were flagging a bit having walked what seemed to have been about fifty miles so took a metro to the hotel to check in. I know the Paris metro has a reputation for running on rubber tyres giving a smooth ride but the truth is only a few lines use rubber with the majority having normal steel wheels (the rubber ones have steel train wheels behind them, it’s just you can’t see them) and the strange feeling of being on a train with tyres actually made me feel a bit strange… leave pneumatic tyres to cars please, they just make the train passengers feel travelsick!
The hotel was in a pleasant part of Northwest Paris with a superb bakery opposite where we stocked up on gorgeous cakes and pastries for the room (and breakfast the following morning) before preparing the gen for the evening’s scooping expedition; I’d compiled a fairly hefty list of bars serving French micro beer with the help of Chris Fudge but as we only had one night in town there was no way we were going to get to even a third of them so careful selection of our targets was necessary!
The obligatory public transport scooping.
We were soon heading back into the city centre but first we checked out a local supermarket where we discovered no beer but some very cheap wine and port that we could buy the next day. Back at the metro station (with very Gaudi-esque lamps) we decided – because we’re sad like that – that the Montmartre funicular needed scooping in before we commenced the evening’s beery matters so headed off the short distance to Anvers station on line 2 before a walk up the most crowded street we’d seen thus far, lined with tourist tat shops and filled with tourists, before reaching our target.
The Montmartre funicular is a bit of an oddity as it only travels 102.8 metres at 36% gradient gaining a height of 36 metres (if you wonder where the fuck I get all this sad gen from, look here and learn) and there’s a set of steps alongside rendering it pretty irrelevant, although being a desperate funicular scooper I’m not about to diss the thing as;
1) It was free with our ticket, and
2) Every funicular counts, no matter how small!
Unfortunately, only one car was working with the other parked out of use at the top so a total clearance of the facility wasn’t available but we decided to score the incline anyway and joined the hefty queue for the space age metal contraption that was rolling down the hill towards us. A couple of minutes later we were at the top and looking around to see what the attraction of the place was; OK, the views weren’t too bad and there was a half-decent beige church (apparently it’s the Basilica de Sacré Coeur) plonked on the hill, but I think this one definitely falls within the remit of what I call “guidebook blindness” whereby every tourist makes a bee-line for all the attractions mentioned in whichever guide book recommends such inane activities as going up a hill to see a beige church and some half-obscured views rather than thinking of activities for themselves and, as we were there purely to scoop the funicular and didn’t really give a toss about the beige church, I don’t think we can be lumped in with the walking dead which comprise the majority of tourists!
Within a minute we were bored with the attraction of Montmartre hill so took the next funicular back down again and returned down the bustling street lines with tat shops (including a shop called Tatti!) to Anvers metro station. Just a note of caution here – I’d watch your valuables around here as anywhere with throngs of tourists will attract shady characters and there were a few hanging around watching for likely victims, although it’s not a dodgy area by any means; those are nearby where the recent riots started!
With plenty of time we decided to make a quick trip over to the Eiffel tower as the weather was so nice (the heavy showers had long gone) so took the metro down to the Arc de Triomphe where we changed for line 6 that deposited us just over the river from the tower at Passy. On clumping down the unexpectedly large flight of steps to the Seine we were treated to a glorious view of the tower and, more interestingly for a sad public transport lover like myself, the metro as it crossed the river on a Victorian trestle bridge of considerable length and attractiveness - if bridges can be described thus?
After risking life and limb (if you lose your life I personally don’t see why losing any limbs would bother you any further) we perambulated along the river in a very English manner until we reached the tower where we made a discovery that may yet drag us back to Paris – the lifts in the legs of the tower are actually funiculars, not lifts, as they run on rails, or so it seemed from our vantage point below one of the colossal spidery legs. Standing under the tower gave a good impression of the thing’s physical bulk and just why it can be seen from a plane passing over Paris – it’s fecking huge! Ever one to pick up on random facts, however, I was more interested in the fact that it was painted a horrible shade of beige…
A patchy start.
Right, time for some beer! We took a train to up by the Isle and walked the short distance to Rue Dauphine where our first target, the Taverne de Nesle, was located. We soon found what seemed to be the correct place and, although it didn’t look the same as Fudge had described it, in we went and studied the menu. It soon became clear that it didn’t look right because it wasn’t right – what’s the chance of having two bars in the same street with the same name, eh? With nothing better than Heineken’s Pelforth on offer (and that being dud, more importantly) we made our excuses to the bemused barman and pressed on down the road, confused as to why we couldn’t find the right bar!
Predictably, around 100 metres further on we found the correct place and bagged two seats at the end of the bar. It was dark and cosy within, the barman was sociable and the music was unexpectedly good; most places in Europe seem to play cheesy 80’s middle-of-the-road pop but not the Tavern de Nesle; alternative industrial with a hint of gothic seemed to be their music of choice and we weren’t complaining! The only downside to the bar was that two of the rare Epi beers weren’t available but I still managed to score the brewery with Epi Blanc (brewed with oats) au pression which was a lot better than many white beers I’ve sampled although it still came with a slice of lemon which was quickly jettisoned. My second choice also being unavailable (Coreff) we therefore scored Pietra from Corsica which was fairly average albeit with a faint toffee character to give it some interest. The rest of the beer list contained some half-decent Belgian beers such as St Bernardus and a few French micros that, on reflection, maybe I should have scooped!
It was soon time to leave in search of more ticks so off we went, pausing to glance at the menu of a nearby curry house just on the off-chance they had Nargis kebabs (they didn’t), before calling in at the recommended bar Le Mazet (61, rue Saint-André-des-Arts) and immediately wondering why it was recommended by anyone with a liking for beer – big brands and high prices were it’s selling point by the looks of things so we made a quick exit stage left; all I can say is maybe it’s changed since it was recommended!
I poked my nose into Horse's Taverne at 16 Carrefour d'Odeon which was heaving with diners, most encouragingly drinking bottles of Belgian beer, but despite the list being pretty good with a number of quality brews gracing it’s pages we only had one night and, being after scoops above all else, would have to leave this place for our next visit so it was off to Le Pint, also on Carrefour d'Odeon, which came highly recommended. On entering I could see why with it’s cosy wood-panelled atmosphere and strange beer dispensers looking incongruously like latrines sunk into the wall behind the bar but, unfortunately, on that day they weren’t dispensing any micro beers only multinational dross. A request for artisanal beer in bottle brought forth some Hoegaarden Fruit Defendu and Lindeman’s kriek so I politely declined these delicious treats and off we went in search of something more micro.
Safe as Maisons.
It was time to visit the city centre’s brewpub, O’Neil, which meant a five-minute stroll along the Boulevard Saint Germain to reach our target. Despite the time only being 21:00 it was packed inside although we managed to find a table in the rear bar where we ordered a sample tray of the four house beers, a pint of Scotch (the beer, not the whisky!) and a brace of flammkuchen; these are a kind of pizza with an Alsace slant comprising a very thin pastry base, sour cream and your choice of toppings.
O’Neil is owned by a larger chain (I think), although they don’t really advertise this fact, and correspondingly the beers were very safe and clean; it makes you feel like giving the brewer a big sack of hops, a slap around the face and a good ranting to about making beers with a bit of character! Surprisingly, the blonde (5.2%) was deemed to be the best of a poor bunch with a smattering of citrussy hop character although you had to look for it; I’d anticipated the Scotch/Brune (it seemed to be called both names on different menus) would be the best brew but it turned out to possess a strange rubbery twang which rendered it very unusual, although I’m sure it’s not supposed to taste like this and may well be OK on another day.
With time marching on we made our way to the Tavern Saint Germain that promised a huge range of beers both on draught and in bottle. The waiter offered us a table but Sue had spotted a bar area which looked far more sociable so we politely declined the table and made ourselves at home up by the bar, which was totally obscured by a mammoth steel beer dispenser and I’m not talking any little taps here, I mean it was totally filled by it to the point we can hardly see the barstaff lurking behind it! Unfortunately it’s sheer bulk wasn’t paralleled by the hugeness of beers it dispensed and of the fifteen or so on offer we rejected all of them as being either multinational, crap or both! Ah well, bottles it was then…
Armed with the beer menu it soon became apparent that the beer list was the best we’d come across so far, and by some considerable margin, with around fifty French micros listed in region order alongside a huge swathe of Belgian and other random world beers. As soon as I could attract the barman’s attention past the hulking metal keg dispenser we were in possession of de la Soif Barbe Torte (5%) and La Chapelle Northmæn rousse (7%) which were banged onto the bar with what I thought was unnecessary enthusiasm, particularly as they were both bottle-conditioned! We tucked into the beers with gusto – until we found the Soif was two years out-of-date and had a nasty phenolic twang to it! The Northmæn, however, was a excellent candysugar and malt flavoured brew, soft mellow and tasty, which tasted vaguely Belgian and was very impressive but not trusting my French in arguing the toss about the Soif we left most of that in the glass!
By this time we were both pretty knackered after our early start and miles of walking so decided on one more bar to finish off, the decent-sounding Sous Bock just north of the Isle. When we got there, however, it resembled a nightclub with a mixture of flashing lights, dumph-dumph “music” and punters spilling out onto the terrace. A quick decision was made that it could wait until the next visit so it was back to the hotel for some much-needed doss with a much lower scoops tally than I’d have liked.
On the metro close to our station I was suddenly accosted by someone who insulted me in the worst possible way – he asked if I were American! Indignantly I denied this shameful accusation, although I let him off as I was wearing my anti-Bush t-shirt! The bloke was a reasonable likeness of “Cockney wanker” out of Viz although he got off before I could ask if he had a wife called Shirl!
Sunday 21st May 2006.
Better than expected.
After a small lie-in we emerged into a drizzly morning in search of trams. Paris is building a tram system but not your normal city-centre one, oh no - theirs runs around the outskirts connecting metro lines together! We soon reached the southern terminus of tram 2 at Issy Val de Seine and took the tram all the way to La Defense in the far west by way of what must be said was a fairly mundane journey. I’d read about the huge new concrete arch but wasn’t prepared for the sheer size and hideousness of the thing, especially when compared to the Arc de Triomphe that could be seen in the distance.
On closer inspection La Defense seemed to be a monument to capitalism and/or concrete being comprised of shopping centres and office blocks of very dubious architectural merit, although we did like the huge sculpture of a thumb placed by the tram station exit for some unknown reason! Our main reason for visiting, however, wasn’t to worship mammon but to scratch in some of the Cow parade bovines located in the area and, after a bit of searching, we managed to find all of them – including the ones lurking in shopping centres!
After scooping the cows and wandering around the concrete wasteland for a while we climbed the lengthy flight of stairs up to the concrete arch for a better vantage point to see the city beyond, but we were so far out of town all that could be seen with any degree of clarity was the Arc de Triomphe a mile away down it’s straight road and a multitude of baby sparrows which swooped and fluttered around the steps in search of food dropped by the steady stream of tourists trooping up the steps to pay over the odds for a ride in the lift up to the arch’s roof; I can’t remember how much it was but we said “How much!” and declined the ride, although we are notoriously stingy so you may think it worthwhile…
After a quick visit to the site of the Bastille it was time for dinner, and our best bet seemed to be the Frog & Rosbif on Rue St Denis. I wanted to visit this brewpub as it’s a legend in the UK and it’s the original one of a chain that now allegedly comprises six brewpubs in Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse; I say allegedly as I’m not convinced they all brew despite an assurance from the boss of the company via email! We were soon walking up an almost deserted Rue St Denis past the sex shops and takeaways, passing Hall’s beer tavern on the way (closed Sundays) before reaching the Frog, which seemed to be situated in a much more salubrious section of the road than the one we’d previously walked along!
The sun had just poked it’s nose out from behind the clouds so some very decent phots were taken before we trooped inside and both stopped and stared – it was like being transported back in time to the Firkin era! All the Firkin trademarks were there; the chandelier, blackboards, wood furniture and floor, even the bar looked as I remember them to be! Consumed with nostalgia for crappy 1990’s brewpubs we chose a table and surveyed the bar – two beers were on handpump (Inseine 4.4% and Parislytic 5.2%) whilst three more were unpasteurised on tap (Dark de Triomphe 5%, Froegaarden and Natural Blonde 4.2%) – which meant I required two beers, the others having been scooped at Hove beerfest in the mid-90’s! (Apart from the wheat beer, which I technically required but which was still flagged as neither of us like them!)
Having only had a couple of cakes for breakfast we were famished so ordered what seemed to be the only menu item; a plate of potato wedges and a toasted muffin loaded with poached eggs and our choice of extras. A pint of Dark de Triomphe (5%: very good, chocolatey brew) and half of Parislytic (5.4%, amber, surprisingly dry and drinkable) complemented the huge plates of food very well and we soon felt very contented with the pub, something that hardly ever happened in a Firkin if I remember correctly! We had another dark then sampled the blonde (pale, buttery and fairly hoppy/bitter) before it was time to pay the bill and head off back to the RER station at Châtelet-les-Halles for the train back to CDG airport.
The first train arrived just as we walked onto the platform so it was time to relax and look at the sights such as the huge Stade du France whilst enjoying the on-train entertainment; an African bloke in full robes was in possession of a bus ticket to Orly airport (I kid you not) but still managed to blag the conductor to let him stay on the train, although the guard did punch his ticket to death with unnecessary zeal to show his displeasure. I’m not sure if the chap was actually trying to evade the fare or if he was simply lost, but if he was trying to get the trip for free then he scores at least 9 out of ten for effort!
Back at the airport we hiked to terminal three where we managed to check-in early before walking yet more miles to the gate; we left on time and were soon back home feeling we’d done quite a lot in a short time although I was now looking forwards to my next trip – Argentina in two weeks – when I’d be back in Paris again for the connecting flight to Buenos Aires… Paris, eh? It’s like a bus… nothing for 15 years then two in a fortnight!
Paris isn’t a great city for scooping beer, that’s for certain, although there are plenty worse I could name – Limerick and Charleroi for just two examples! The main problem seems to be that Parisians associate decent beer with Belgium and ignore the home-grown brews from their own country, some of which are very good indeed - such as La Chapelle or St Sylvestre - whereas the other major issue, as anyone who has visited Paris will know, is price; whereas draught beer (Pression) is fairly cheap it’s almost always Pelforth (Heineken) or 1664 (S&N) leaving you with the bottles which start at around €5 and average €7 making a good night out a frightening affair for the wallet.
The Frog & Rosbif chain has outlets all over the city although it’s rumoured (but not confirmed by me) that the Princess, close to O’Neil, no longer brews for itself. Frog beers are in reality quite good but it’s the old Firkin dilemma all over again; is it worth chasing around to drink beers brewed to the same recipe in different locations? You decide! O’Neil is the only other brewpub and I think it’s part of a larger chain meaning the beers are never going to be particularly thrilling - and they certainly live up to expectations in that respect! The main scooping possibilities lie with the raft of bars that serve large ranges of bottled beers even though a lot tend to favour Belgian over French brewers for some reason, whilst some buck the trend and have decent home-grown beer lists.
With all the normal “touristy” attractions (Eiffel tower, Louvre etc) and enough bars to keep most scoopers happy for a few days Paris makes an attractive weekend trip away and you could theoretically take a non-scooper and still keep them happy! With it’s proximity to the UK and ease of access it’s certainly worth considering as a quick weekend break – just make sure the bank account is well topped up before you go!
How to get there (and around there).
Every man and his dog with a half-airworthy glider now flies to Paris so you should have no problems getting there by plane, although from SE England it’s probably quicker - by the time you’ve got to the airport, waited around for a couple of hours, been delayed, flown there and finally caught a train/bus into Paris - to go by Eurostar, and it’s certainly more sociable and downright easier as you arrive slap bang in the middle of it all at the Gare du Nord. Eurostar’s only problems are that if you live outside the Southeast it’s usually not worth bothering with due to the extra cost of getting into London and it’s fares can be high unless you book well in advance and choose quieter trains; saying that, you can get returns for £59 if you try which is as cheap as most airlines charge you on this notoriously expensive business-oriented route.
Outside the Southeast it’s probably easiest to fly; easyJet do the honours from Belfast, Liverpool, Luton and Newcastle, Thomsonfly go from Doncaster & Coventry, Jet2 from Leeds/Bradford, FlyBE from Exeter & Norwich and BMIBaby fly from East Midlands and Teesside. Beware Ryanair as they use “Paris” Beauvais (BVA) that is, in fact, a small town 69km north of the city although they kindly offer a bus into Paris itself for around €10. Paris has two airports, Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY) with the majority of budget flights arriving at CDG’s new terminal three, basically a new corrugated iron shed a fair hike from the other bits of the airport including the train stations – allow plenty of time to walk it when you return! CDG is a good way out of Paris, 24km to the Northeast, and the little electric train (line B3) takes around 30-40 minutes unless you catch the sporadic express ones. Orly is mainly used by flag carriers so probably won’t feature on many scooper’s itineraries but, just in case you come into money, it’s around 14km South of the centre on a bus route. As always, see the superb “To and from the airport” for more info.
A single on the train into Paris from CDG will set you back €8 – a quick lesson of how expensive Paris is – so if you’re going to be hopping around the city on the metro, tram or funicular then it’s probably cheaper to buy a “Paris Visite” travel card which is valid for travel out into zone 5 (where CDG is) on all methods of transport – metro, RER trains, funicular, trams and buses – in the city. It’s expensive but considering the single ticket prices is worth it and it comes in a natty little wallet-like folder that impressed us! (Well, it was black). See the excellent RATP website for more details where there’s a good interactive map and lots of other gen. There is also a city travel card but it isn’t valid as far as the airport so it’s not really worth bothering with unless you’re arriving on the Eurostar.
The metro operates a complex mesh of lines within the city and there aren’t many places too far from a station - including the scooping pubs - which makes life a lot easier; see the pub list for the nearest metro station to each bar, although you’d do well to get a decent map too. The trams and funicular are useless for getting anywhere practical apart from Defense’s concrete monstrosities or the beige church at Montmarte, but if you’re a sad crank like we are then I’m sure you’ll appreciate that they need to be scored despite the obvious futility of the exercise. Buses are plentiful and everywhere but you’ll probably not need to use them as all pubs seem to be within striking distance of a metro or RER station.
These are the establishments we visited, many thanks to Fudge for the tips...
O'Neil, 20 rue des Canettes (just N of St Sulpice church) 75006 Paris. Tucked away between rue du Four and place St Sulpice, O'Neil is an English-flavoured brewpub, despite its name. The beer (Blanche, Blonde, Ambree and Scotch) were all very clean and boring with, surprisingly, the Blonde being the best although not by much! It's about ¼ mile west of mtreo Odeon, nearer to metro Mabillon, and is apparently owned by a large chain which explains the mediocre beers.
Taverne de Nesle, 32, rue Dauphine 75006 Paris. opens at 18:00. Metro Dauphine / Odéon, about 300m N of Odéon metro. A cracking little bar with a decent selection of beer in bottle (including some French micros and Belgians like St Bernardus) and the rare l'Epi beers from La Compagnie des Trois Epis of Paris although only the Blanche was on during our visit. Don't confuse with a similarly named bar closer to the river which sells dross like Pelforth...
Le Mazet (61, rue Saint-André-des-Arts, tel 01 43 54 68 81, Métro Odéon), On the way from Odeon metro to Nesle, we looked in on the off chance and wished we'd not bothered. Boring beer selection at silly prices as per the norm in Paris.
The Frog & Rosbif , 116 rue St. Denis, Paris 75002 Metro - Etienne Marcel. An institution in Paris and very famous in the UK too, we felt we had to do it just as it's been around for so long! Two beers on cask (Inseine and Parislytic) and three on pressure (Froeegarden, Genuine Blonde and Dark de Triomphe) and all we tried were very good. Food is decent too.
Le Sous-Bock, 49-51, rue Saint-Honore, Metro: Chatelet-Les Halles or Louvre-Rivoli. Sounds pretty good with quite a few French Micros on bottle and is just N of Isle de la Cite close to Chapelle metro. We aimed to scoop this place but by the time we arrived (22:00 Saturday night) there was a full DJ set blasting away and the place was wedged... next time maybe! Opens at 15:00 on Sundays and until very late (03:00 type late!) at weekends.
Le Pint is on the south-easterly end of Carrefour L'Odeon. It is right at the road junction (of about 5 roads!) on the right, nearest Metros are Mabillon/Odéon. We had a look in but the impressive dispensers behind the bar (which disconcertingly resemble latrines) were only emitting multinational crap at the time... A nice little pub though and worthy of another look next time.
A big list of Pubs we didn't get time to visit...
Horse's Taverne, 16, Carrefour d'Odeon, 75006 Paris. 12 beers on tap and 180 bottles, very
close to Le Pint by sounds of things.
Hall's Beer Tavern, 68, rue St.-Denis, Metro: Chatelet-Les Halles. 200 beers. Not far from Sous-Bock – about ¼ mile; also close to Frog brewpub. Fudge reckons worth a quick look.
The Frog & Bercy Village, 25, cour St. Emilion, Paris 75012 Metro - Cours St. Emilion
The Frog & British Library, 114, Ave de France, Paris 75013. Metro – Bibliothèque
Restaurant Graindorge (15, rue de l'Arc de Triomphe, tel 01 47 64 33 47, Métro/RER Charles de Gaulle/Étoile). This place offers exceptional food, combined with outstanding Speciality Beers
Brasserie Munichoise, 5 rue Danielle Casanova, Metro: Opera or Pyramides. Bratkartoffeln, German beers and Lambic – surely not?!
Falstaff, 15, rue de Dunkerque (across from the Gare du Nord rail station). 100+ bottles.
Pinte du Nord, 38, rue de St.-Quentin (nr Gare du Nord)
La Taverne Republique, Place de la Republique, Metro: Republique. Good French list.
La Gueuze, 19, rue Soufflot, Metro: Cardinal Lemoine.
Biere Academy, 7, rue des Ecoles, Metro: Cardinal Lemoine. Decent range.
Au Trappiste, 4, rue St.-Denis Metro: Chatelet.
Le Academie de la Biere, 88bis, Blvd. de Port-Royal, Metro: Denfert Rochereau/Les Gobelins or RER Port Royale. Good range including Cantillon! S near Montparnasse.
La Pompe a Biere, 52, Avenue des Gobelins (half way along), Metro: Les Gobelins / Place d’Italie. Loads of bottles of beer. Not far from Frog & Library.
Bootlegger beer store, 82, rue de l’Ouest / 14, rue Croce-Spinelli, Metro - Pernety on line 13.
© 13/06/2006 by Gazza, V1.0.
|Taverne du Nesle, Paris||ONeils taster tray||Frog and Rosbif, Rue St Denis, Paris||The inside of the Frog and Rosbif Rue St Denis Paris - who remembers Firkins?!?!?||Just to prove that it is beige....|