Cool Stuff in Paris. By Manning Leonard Krull.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Good bars/cafes to watch a rubgy match in Paris?

I received a message on Twitter from @sjhphotography asking the following:

"Hi Manning. I am in Paris this weekend & wonder if you could recommend a bar/cafe to watch the England v France rugby? Stuart."

The short answer is, I really don't know! Well, specifically, anyway. I've never been much of a sports fan, so I don't have a particular bar to recommend. Fortunately, I can tell you that practically every single bar and cafe in Paris will be showing the game -- some of the smaller ones even wheeling in a big ol' tv from home just for the occasion -- and I can suggest a few neighborhoods and streets with lots of lively bars and pubs, so you can bar-hop a bit and find something you like. Paris goes completely crazy during rugby and football season, and there are fun times to be had all over the city.

So, first of all, if any readers have any specific suggestions for bars/pubs/cafes that are great places to watch a game, please leave a comment! Thanks!

The first area that springs to mind for me is Pigalle, aka Paris' red light district. The main big street that runs through Pigalle, called the Boulevard de Clichy, is full of bars and cafes and pubs, which are somewhat touristy, but I don't see that as a bad thing when you're looking to watch a rugby game with a lot of fans, both local and from out of town. The area is a little seedy, and you'll want to keep an eye out for rowdy drunks (both domestic and imported), pickpockets, hash dealers, strip club employees aggressively trying to pull you into their clubs, etc, but none of this should be a big deal if you keep your eyes open. I lived in the heart of Pigalle for about a year, and I absolutely love the sleazy ambiance there; I never had any trouble there at all. So, if this all sounds good, I recommend taking the Metro to Place Blanche, right in front of the Moulin Rouge, and then walking up and down the Boulevard de Clichy from there until you find a bar that looks good; you'll be able to see the big-screen tvs from outside of most of them, and if the weather is okay a lot of them will have opened up their front walls/windows completely, so the party will be spilling out onto the street. I can think of at least two Irish pubs within a couple blocks of Metro Blanche, and all the French cafes and bars there are also big and loud and fun, and they all definitely have televisions. Anywhere on this street should be great.

Another bustling neighborhod that's definitely fun but less wild and sleazy is the area referred to as the Grands Boulevards, centered around the Metro station called Grands Boulevards. The big street there is called the Boulevard Poissonnière, which soon turns into the Boulevard de Bonne Nouvelle in one direction, or Boulevard Haussmann in the other. This whole boulevard is full of bars and pubs (as well as restaurants, shops, clubs, etc), which you'll see immediately. Again, you'll have the combination of French cafes with local French fans and lots of tourists, and a few Irish or English pubs with lots of out-of-towners, and some locals too. This area is a little classier and more expensive than Pigalle, but they're both a lot of fun. I like recommending this area to people just because it's a part of Paris that most short-term visitors never see, even though it's relatively central. There's nothing particularly famous there, but it's a fun area with a wonderful, very Parisian ambiance.

I hope some of that helps! Good luck,

- Manning
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