If I had just one picture to describe a happy moment in this city, it would be as follows: a café terrace, lit up by the evening sun, with its golden reflection in a glass of white wine, while you are totally relaxed, watching people passing by, and enjoying the end of the day. Unfortunately, you really have to be an old school sailor to know exactly where the sun is at what time and to include the shadows of the house façades in your calculation.
The open-air rooftop bars that are kissed by the sun till it disappears behind the horizon are a safe bet here. Not only do you come closer to the sky over Paris than anywhere else. The icing on the cake is that you get to enjoy a wonderful view and heavenly silence because you are leaving the noise of the street far below you. One of my favourite places for this is Communion (34 quai d’Austerlitz), right by the Seine. The roof of Cité de la Mode et du Design – the extravagant, green panelled building always reminds me of a crocodile – is not only perfect for sunbathing, watching the Bateaux Mouches on the Seine and snacking (I recommend the homemade guacamole and hummus), but you can also dance till sunrise. Softly curated DJ sounds are played all day long, and at night they really go wild.
What scarcely any shopping tourist is aware of, and something I only recently stumbled upon by chance, is the roof terrace of Galeries Lafayette (40 Boulevard Haussmann) – on the 7th floor of the department store, an almost park-like landscape stretches out, and is topped by the two transparent domes of the Cube Bar, which remind me of spaceships that have landed on it. Depending on the season, they serve oyster or foie gras, there is a rich variety of wines and a stunning view of the city. The most beautiful shopping break of all! Unfortunately, this hidden gem closes just before the shop closes (during the week at 7.30 pm, on Saturdays and Sundays at 6.00 pm).
© Pascal Montary
One other option is the Le 43 on the roof of the Holiday Inn. The 9th floor of the hotel (4 rue Danton) offers delicious cocktails and the best view of the city’s most famous monuments: You are sitting practically opposite the rooftop monsters and gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Eiffel Tower proudly reigns supreme in the distance. One downside: non-hotel guests can only ascend to these beautiful heights by reservation – simply email firstname.lastname@example.org. But the effort is worth it because you don’t have to wait in line like at my other two favourite addresses: The Le Perchoir (14 rue Crespin du Gast) – hidden in a side street near the hustle and bustle of Rue Oberkampf, on the 7th floor of a loft and office building. You can’t tell from the outside that this is one of the coolest and hippest rooftop bars of the city – apart from the lines of people in nice weather who are waiting for the lift to the top. At the top you can look forward to cushions and wooden crates in a sort of self-decorated hippie camp and the white street canyons by the houses of Belleville glow in the evening light like the limestone cliffs of the Calanques. The bar’s success so inspired its creators that they have meanwhile created a whole rooftop bar empire: One of these is on top of the BHV Marais store (37 rue de la Verrerie). This doesn’t open until the department store closes – from 8.15 pm. Here too, the following applies: come either really early or really late so that you don’t have to wait too long to partake in this heavenly enjoyment.