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Café De La Paix (Paris, France)

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Address: 5 Place de l'Opéra / 75009 Paris / France

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      23.05.2012 17:45
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      Definitely worth visiting for a night cap

      This review is of the bar only.


      If you are looking for the quintessential Parisian bar experience you could do alot worse the Cafe de la Paix. This is the bar on the ground floor of the gargantuan Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel. It is situated next to the glorious opera house and 10 minutes walk north of the Louvre in a busy shopping district in Paris. The nearest metro is Opera and it's a short walk from the Grande Boulevards too if you'd rather the stroll.

      It is famed for it's ornate stucco ceiling and general opulence as much as it is for his famous former clientele - a roll call including the likes of Oscar Wilde, Josephine Baker and Bartholdi and the Franco-American Union (legend has it the statue of liberty was sketched out here).

      Despite it's grandeur, it isn't quite as stuffy as it may seem. We made an unplanned visit as we were in the area and were dressed casually to say the least but not an eyebrow was raised. The clientele are mixed ranging from the smartly attired to more casual, and often tourist, drinkers such as ourselves. I can imagine it can get pretty busy in the summer as it also boasts a beautiful balcony with great views and people watching but sadly, the day we went it was pouring with rain so had to make do with sitting inside.

      We entered into the large lobby with an air of confusion about where to go and were politely ushered the way of the bar. Service was largely immaculate, highly professional and unassuming... and available in English although I preferred to mutter some words of local dialect only to be responded to in English! Although service was largely excellent, my only grumble would be that given it was seemingly a quiet night (Monday), he would often disappear so getting the bill was perhaps a little more time consuming than it should have been.

      The interior lives up to the hype. The stucco ceiling was a marvel and the general decor had an air of decadence and ostentation. The carpeting was subtly decorative and fixtures were gold trimmed accompanying fine wooden panelling. Scattered magnificent spiralling pillars added to the regal feel. The bar itself was sleek and black topped with leather seated wooden high chairs. It was kept impeccably clean and tidy (despite the general mess I found myself making of the complimentary nuts!).

      We stayed for two drinks. We started with a Kir (White wine rather than the more pricey champagne version) at ten Euros a glass. The Kir was the right balance of dry, sweet and refreshingly cold. From here I move on to beer. I'm always slightly anxious ordering beer in these kinds of places as I assume I'll be frowned upon for being uncouth but not so here. I'm assuming similarly uncouth tourists such as myself visit frequently and do the same. Beer was comparatively dearer at around 5 Euros for a small glass and was on tap. Again, couldn't question the quality but then again, it's harder to get wrong!

      Aside from the time it took to get the bill there is little else faulting this bar. It is quite expensive but for where you are I think it's reasonably priced (just up the road is Harry's Bar at the Ritz and it's considerably more expensive). Our guidebook described a drink here as a once-in-a-holiday experience. I think had the weather not been dreadful and we could have utilized the balcony, perhaps it would have been. As was, I wouldn't go that far in my praise but would say it's certainly worth the visit for the experience.

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