Even in a city like Paris, it’s easy to fall into a bit of a going-out rut. While I love that we’ve established our regulars in close vicinity to the flat, I want to make the most out of all that Paris has to offer. So on the Saturday night of our last visit, we headed south of Pigalle (SoPi to those in-the-know), a neighbourhood known (if not exclusively) for its wide variety of interesting watering holes.
A cocktail bar with a past, Lulu White plays on the notorious history of the Pigalle area—famous as the one-time hangout of gamblers, drinkers, prostitutes and thieves. The building that houses this little drinking establishment used to be a brothel and Lulu White was an infamous hostess, renowned for her legendary hospitality. The website promises a haven for the late-night wanderers of Paris whose thirst for excess has not yet been quenched (although services these days are strictly of the legal kind).
I hesitated at the distinctly uninviting entrance but you needn’t worry. The wood-paneled interior is warm and welcoming – a chic combination of comfy leather chairs, tiled floors, mirrored ceilings and friendly staff. The upbeat New Orleans-style music plays at just the right volume to create an atmosphere, but not so loudly that you can’t have a cosy chat. There’s an international vibe at Lulu’s without being touristy—the New Orleans speak-easy theme appealing no-doubt to the Americans in Paris. I have a feeling that the late-night wanderers might have to queue outside for entrance into their promised haven. When we arrived at eight o’clock it was already busy, by half past nine the place was rammed.
The cocktails are named after famous ladies of the night. I decided to honour Lulu herself and chose her absinth-based namesake. This drink was right up my street – strong, with a hint of sweetness from the aniseed, without being sickly or sugary. I’m afraid I didn’t note down exactly what I had next but the second cocktail I tried was gin-based and looked utterly gorgeous – pink and foamy in a round glass. The drinks are good, a tad pricey but strong enough to stop you from feeling cheated.
I wasn’t too sure about going out at night in the Pigalle area, which hasn’t completely shaken off its tarnished reputation. During the day it feels downright seedy but in fact, the area comes to life at night. Shuttered by day, bars and restaurants pop up out of nowhere and with them, a cool, laid-back vibe. Lulu White is just one of many bars of a similar vein, although its history maybe gives it an edge when it comes to atmosphere.
Cocktails at Lulu White were definitely worth the foray outside of the Marais and left me wanting to experience what else Montmartre’s nightlife scene has to offer. What are your top tips? I’d love to hear them.