The best thing about a walk down (a hazy) memory lane for my favorite boozy walks in Paris is that they span some 30 years and, thankfully, show an upward trend in classiness. You can re-create these boozy walks if you like, and then enjoy the Euro lifestyle fact of no problems for driving: just best of luck finding a taxi. Don't get me started on the Taxi versus Uber thing.
1. "The First Time."
That first time was the early 1980s. The age was 16. The beverage was cheap red wine. In a cheap pizza restaurant off the busy, sort of tacky, drag that is le Boulevard St. Michel. I remember red tables and cheap paper placemats. I remember a pleasant numbness and a sense of my life being so awesome as my other rule-breaker friends (we had snuck out of our hotel) stumbled back. Tearing up a little just thinking about that first time.
You could re-create this boozy walk by an upgrade: maybe the goat cheese and cream pizza at Pizza Sant-Antonio (drizzle spicy olive oil on it too) on the picturesque Place du Bourg Tibourg in the Marais, accompanied by a much higher grade of house red in a nice half carafe.
2. "I Love Me a Good Wine Bar/JYF Year of Excess."
The year was 1985, the first part of my Sweet Briar Junior Year in France program. The place was Au Sauvignon. This lunch was a pivotal gastronomic moment. An upgrade in the red wine for sure -- this was a wine bar after all, but little did I know of such things as "wine bars" back then. I was just 20 years old and from San Angelo, Texas (San Angelo way cooler now). I happened to order a glass of "le St. Emilion," and this "tartine" thing on this bread called "Poilâne." The choice for a tartine was the chèvre.
Revelation: This tart delicious cheese and this fine wine thing all combined. One glass led to another. We must have purchased a bottle or two because Boozy Walk No. 2 involves a clear memory of clanging bottles in a bag as we held onto each other walking back for afternoon classes. Au Sauvignon is still there. Poilâne is still there. But for those Poilâne tartines the crowds tend to gravitate these days toward Cuisine de Bar. Amazing what those people can do with a toaster.
3. "I love you Serge!/Pamela Popo Part 1 (circa 2011) and Part 2 (2012))."
My Serge Gainsbourg thing derives mostly from the myth of the man and his embodiment of classic, iconic images of Paris. Smoky sultry bars, jazz, decadence.
When I first started meeting up with French friends Anne and Romain, who used to live across the street from me in Austin, we met up with their just as hip friends at Pamela Popo.
As reported in previous posts...when your friends know the owners of a cool place, nice things happen. You are introduced to wonderful things, such as the Panpan Cucul. We decided "spanky spanky" was the best translation in English for this mint-infused pale pink cocktail. I would revisit that boozy walk in April 2012 with The Girlfriends Trip To Paris.
(The Serge connection: "Pamela Popo" is the name of a Serge Gainsbourg song. Listener discretion advised.)
Enjoy your cocktail(s) in the quirky Mid-Century-esque decor in the comfy lounge downstairs with friends, or sit outside and sip alone, immersed in your social media.
4. "The $50 (each) Cocktail Buzz."
On one last night in Paris my new friend Maureen decided we should get out and have a nice cocktail. We started at the Ritz, my choice, because I thought it would be cool. Only the Hemingway Bar there was cool. Everything else, non. For such reasons it is closed for massive renovations. I did not realize the signature cocktail there was $50.
Then there was the piano bar at the George V. Then there was the Plaza Athénée bar (this hotel also closed now for renovations). As previous posts mention, Paris is so Paris because of this contrast: the high and the low(er) end: old, as in classic, and new and hipster and genuine. A boozy walk is just as delightful after an afternoon down in the 11th at natural wine bar La Buvette ... or sitting for hours at the bar at the Plaza Athénée. You can still check out La Buvette, or any other of the natural wine bars, and as these other luxury hotels are getting facelifts, maybe check out the W. Or Le Meurice.
5. "La Dernière Goutte/Down to the Last Drop."
Every time I am in Paris I try to fit in a food tour with Meg Zimbeck and Paris by Mouth. So should you.
Meg has perfect pitch in picking cheese/wine pairings with her friends at La Derniere Goutte. For that summer month in 2013, I was able to fit in only one Meg event: a "dégustation" of cheese and wine pairings in the back room at La Derniere Goutte. Our group from all over the world was so charming (one couple I met knew my rock star primary case physician at Austin Regional Clinic!). We got louder and louder. We "spit" or poured less and less into the giant blue pitcher on the table for that purpose.
Though there was plenty to eat ...
---I was very, uh, suffering the consequences the next day of a bit too much of the good thing (i.e., array of exquisitely delicious new red wines and cheese pairings). I was so caught up in the moment -- Paris, new friends, Paris, red wine, Paris -- that I bought a case of Côte-Rôtie and had it shipped home. Still waiting for the perfect client event to open the box.
I walked all the way home to the edgy 11th, up north of Bastille, because Paris was so heartbreakingly beautiful that afternoon -- if not a little hazy.
Actual picture taken on that walk home.