With its luxurious hotel bars and secret, hidden speakeasies, there are some excellent places for a drink on the Champs-Elysées. The famous boulevard and its surrounding area feature some of the most exclusive establishments in Paris.
Head to Ladurée Le Bar for the ultimate indulgence
Enjoy macarons with fresh, fruity cocktails at this well-guarded secret from the people behind the famed Ladurée salon du thé. The trendy Art Nouveau bar – the design of which was inspired by a butterfly’s chrysalis – is small and intimate, and once inside it’s easy to forget the traffic of the attached café. To accompany your drinks, the food menu features a constant rotation of luxe seasonal plates: think caesar salad with prawns and lobster gazpacho. And of course, save room for dessert.
L’Oiseau Blanc Bar sits within the Peninsula Hotel, and the rooftop bar-restaurant’s design celebrates the lives of two WWI pilots, Charles Nungesser and François Coli. The tragic disappearance of the airmen during the first attempted aerial Atlantic crossing from Paris to New York is remembered with aviation-related memorabilia, and a recreation of their biplane. Offering panoramic views of Paris, this is one of the best places to escape the frenetic city below. With a decent selection of impressive cocktails and a snacking menu designed to accompany them, L’Oiseau Blanc is the perfect place for a drink in the sun (open April–September only).
Part of the same establishment as L’Oiseau Blanc, Le Bar Kléber is ideal for those seeking a more private place to rendezvous. High ceilings, rich oak panelling and gold accents create a luxurious, intimate mood, while East Asian accents – found in the playful selection of Asian wines and gins, and in delicate touches on the menu – pay homage to the hotel owners’ Hong Kong heritage. The bar spills onto the terrace for those wanting to enjoy an al fresco tipple.
France did not experience the Temperance Movement or Prohibition, but the concept of the speakeasy has nevertheless been fully embraced in Paris. One such hidden bar can be found just off the Champs-Elysées. Not only will visitors need to find the big, black, nondescript door, but entry is only guaranteed if you can provide the password (check their Facebook page). Once in, the clandestine theme continues with live jazz, candlelight and a dedicated smoking room. The cocktail menu goes on for several pages, so you’re guaranteed to find something you like.
Amid Paris’s elegant concrete jungle is Verde, a tropical haven on the Avenue George V. The tapas bar and restaurant is designed with rainforest greens and golds, but it’s the original – and refreshing – cocktails that draw repeat customers. For example, the Paris is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, St Germain liqueur, lemon juice, home-made cherry syrup, home-made citrus tea and lavender. The Mediterranean-inspired food menu is by Thibault Sombardier, a Michelin-starred chef, and is designed to share among friends. More substantial plates are available in the basement restaurant; just follow the gold staircase.
Not far from the Arc de Triomphe, the Sir Winston is cosy and intimate; it’s a place where the conversation is louder than the music. The decor is inspired by England’s colonial era: think plush leather couches, wall-to-wall shelves full of old books, panther skins and low lighting; all of which combine to create an intimate atmosphere perfect for evening assignations. Once conversation starts to wrap up, head downstairs into the basement, where historic train carriages have been transformed into moody little boudoirs. The house specialises in Scotch whisky, and with over 50 types on the menu, its namesake would be proud.
Yet another speakeasy-type establishment near the Champs-Elysées is Gentlemen 1919, a cocktail bar hidden within a barbershop – the name comes from the 1919 ratification of Prohibition into the American constitution. The front-of-house barbershop, where clients can relax with a whisky and get a shave at the same time, is a cheeky cover for the main bar, which is tucked away behind a door in the back. The large cocktail and liquor bar is elegant, dark and moody with luxe copper details throughout. The establishment also houses le fumoir, a traditional smoking room complete with a cigar humidor.