3 Places for an Apéritif in Paris

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When Relationnel and I go for an apéritif in Paris, we like to do it in style. We’ll never stay in the Hôtel Meurice or the Hôtel du Louvre or the Lutétia (because we live here!), but we can have a taste of luxury in their beautiful bars and indoor gardens.

Nibbles on the word game table

The Hôtel du Louvre, just opposite the museum as you can imagine, has a very comfortable lounge bar, Le Defender, (but no indoor garden). The starting price for a glass of wine is 14 euros for a graves or a macon up to 23.50 for a chateauneuf du pape or 29.50 for a mersault 1er cru,  accompanied by a selection of nibbles including delicious cheese sticks that you dip in guacomole or toasted bread with olive tapenade and salmon rillettes. I love the four corner tables, which each have a different word puzzle in French.

Café gourmand at Le Defender, Hôtel du Louvre

They also serve an excellent café gourmand (coffee or tea with a selection of mini pastries) for 9.50 euros. There’s a jazz band four times a week as well.  Last time we went there with friends, the waiter gave us the wrong bill – for a pot of tea instead of a glass of chablis, a glass of champagne and two Americanos. We pointed out the error and when he came back with the second bill, told us that customers with our honesty were rare so one of the Americanos was on the house!

The Meurice is not far away, on Rue de Rivoli. The décor in Bar 228 is much more sophisticated and so is the wine list. Lots of cocktails, but I’m a wine drinker so I’ll tell you about that. There’s an excellent Laroche chablis, a Gitton sancerre, a haut medoc and a mercurey for 16 euros and a puligny monrachet and pessac léognan 2004 for 25 euros. Drinks are served with three sorts of nibbles. They also have a piano and bass player.

The Lutetia, on boulevard Raspail on the Left Bank, is legendary for its Belle Epoque Art Deco style. The prices are about the same as the Meurice and there are also interesting nibbles. Obviously one of the places to be seen. You’re supposed to see all sorts of famous people there but I’m afraid I never manage to recognise anyone! We went there recently with friends after seeing the somewhat disappointing Pompei exhibition at the Maillol Museum.

Have you got any to recommend?

Hôtel du Louvre, Bar Le Defendeur, Place André Malraux, 75001 Paris
Le Meurice, Bar 228, 228 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Hôtel Lutetia, 45, boulevard Raspail , 75006 Paris
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11 thoughts on “3 Places for an Apéritif in Paris”

  1. Merci Fraussie for the report on these places and their details. Interesting and useful. I have noted the details for my next trip.
    When I was staying in Rouen someone told me that is was “not the done thing” for a woman went to go to a bar by herself and just have a glass of wine. When I questionned this, it was not because it looked like she was looking to be picked up but rather that a woman only drinks alone like this if she is an alcoholic. It is not something that I had heard before. Would it be frowned upon to go to these lovely bars by myself for an apéro?

    1. Hi, I wonder if the person in Rouen was a man or a woman? I checked with Relationnel and he said you’ll have no problem in the big hotel bars. He also said that it’s a question of attitude. If you’re just sitting there with your glass of wine happily enjoying it, no one would imagine you were alcoholic. There are a lot of male prejudices around here still and sometimes you just have to do your own thing and ignore what people might think!

  2. Nice article! The aperitif is something important in France! I am French but I have never been in a particular place for an aperitif. Most of the time it happens at home with friends and/or family. Is the aperitif something that you do in Australia sometimes? I’m going to move to Australia in a few weeks, for the first time. I guess you have a lot of different habits and it’s going to be interesting! 🙂

    1. Hi Lucie. Thanks for stopping by! Having a drink with friends in a pub, often in a beer garden, is a big part of Australian life. It’s very much an outdoor country. Where will you be living?

  3. Last night I followed your suggestion for an aperitif at Bar 228 with an Australian friend. I had previously been by myself when I was last in Paris. We had a wonderful time enjoying the atmosphere and the music from the piano and double bass. Each of us has pledged to go back again with our respective partners and with other friends. If it wasn’t for your blogpost we would never have discovered this great spot. Thank you.

  4. Hi Rosemary
    Very late to this party. Just picked it up from F-book. many thanks, will definitely take note of your recommendations for our visit to Paris in June.
    Some years ago we stayed for three weeks at the Residence Eiffel (the old villa was once Gustave Eiffel’s holiday home) in Beaulieu sur Mer near the Villa Kerylos (it was fabulous, right on the water, and very reasonably priced, sadly was sold and don’t think it exists any more). Demi-pension, so we used to dine on the terrace every evening looking across the pool to the Med and watch the sun set. Nearly all French guests and intrigued by Aussies (apparently very rare in years there), many befriended us. A lovely older widow suggested we try out all the luxury hotels in the early evening by going to “prendre un verre”. She said she and her husband always enjoyed places this way and she still did it alone sometimes. We followed her advice, it’s a lovely way to appreciate the ambience without having to spend a fortune. Best wishes, Pamela

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