Paris: You'll Love What's Behind These Doors
Paris’ Secret Doors – The Rise of the Speakeasy
By Michelle Baun
Hidden passageways, secret entrances, intrigue, fun, and fabulousness. Must haves for the ultimate drinking club, also known as the Speakeasy. A term sought out back in the 1920’s during the prohibition of alcohol.
Fast forward to today, and gone are the days of flapper fashion. But the popularity of Speakeasies still remains, going strong in the city of lights.
These places make you feel sophisticated… part of a select club or secret society. Don’t fret, no membership needed. You'll only have to know where they’re located and how to get in!
So when you tire of the touristy spots, swing by these three stand out Speakeasies off the tourist track.
Open since 2015, Lavomatic is one of the first speakeasies in Paris. This secret entrance takes you through the turning vibrations of a laundry mat! Found near the trendy République, the perfect meeting spot on the northeastern side of Paris.
The Laundry Mat
The neon name sits above the laundry mat and in the window, with the fun starting as soon as you walk in. Inside you’ll see washing machines... functioning ones at that. Spot the right one, press the silver button, and snap! To your delight, a door will crack open. (Allow me to make this easy. Look for the washing machine across the glass door entrance. Voila! You’ve found the rabbit hole.)
Climbing the steps to your new adventure, you’ll enter what seems like your buddy’s cozy apartment. Banquets topped with fluffy pillows, carpets on the floor, and masterpieces on the wall. In the far end? Sets of swings to bring back your playful side.
The owners kept the design feeling fresh, light and airy throughout... with a French twist. I felt revived, bouncy! Like clean laundry. And who doesn’t like clean laundry?
Lavomatic uses fresh French products for their food and drink menu. Changing every season, making their own infusions and syrups for the cocktails!
The crowd? By not focusing on a specific group of clientele, all ages and groups were in the mix creating a wonderful melting pot. Go early as this place gets packed, but it's definitely worth the trip.
Dirty laundry? Throw in a load and head on up for a drink!
30 Rue René Boulanger 75010 Paris, France
Recently opening January 2017, this is the place of whiskey dreams. Found in central Paris (about 15-20 minute’s walk from the Louvre). This hidden gem displays only a small gold nameplate adorning the wall.
The actual establishment found at this location? Maison du Sake (Japanese Sake Bar and Restaurant). Upon entering Maison de Sake, we come across what seems like a reception bar. Asking for ‘Golden Promise’, the lady behind the bar bows her head, hand waving toward the stairs. We begin to descend… and once at the bottom, we reach a choice.
Go right? Or go left?
You can go right, and you’ll find yourself at the ‘crossed’ bar. Here you’ll have a choice of 30 different whiskey-based cocktails with snacks to pair.
If you go left… you’ll find a massive steel door with a tiny doorbell. Give it a ring, and “The Whisky Guy” with his fancy black apron and genuine smile invites you in.
Once past the steel door, you enter, ‘The Whiskey Gallery’. Here you can peruse the local to international brands of whiskeys to buy to take home or savor in one of their following rooms.
Entering the main room, “Le Salon” is like entering an arched cave. A highland cattle head hung high on one side. The walls are lined with bottles upon bottles of whiskey.
Carefully placed like figurine displays delicately polished. 900 different whiskey’s (including Scotch and whiskey’s bottled from the 60’s) available by the glass. The room contains a long community table. Our whiskey guy confirms it is set up to promote interaction. Sharing the passion of Whiskey!
Japanese Room and The Bottle Keep
Connected like some sweet tiny maze. The “Japanese Room” contains about 240 Japanese whiskeys The grand finale?
“The Bottle Keep” room… Here purchased bottles of whiskey from the Gallery are exhibited. Every single bottle individually glass cased. With each glass case given a custom-made iron lock.
In Paris and forgot your key?
Not to worry. The “Whiskey Guy” keeps a copy, so you’ll always be able to indulge.
Golden Promise is open to anyone who knows about it, especially the steel door. Ring the bell my friend. And let your senses start the party.
11 rue Tiquetonne 75002 Paris, France
+ 33 (0)1 80 36 90 10
This secret venue has a few hidden secrets behind its sleeve. Less than a minute walk (or 50 meters) to the famous Moulin Rouge, Maison Souquet, was a "pleasure house" from 1905-1907 owned by Madame Souquet.
From the outside, this now 5* boutique hotel can only be identified by two hanging red lanterns. Hung the same way since 1905 when Madame Souquet would inform her clients she was “open for business”.
Today, the discreet entrance remains open 24 hours since its grand reopening in 2015. Twenty rooms containing six junior-suites and two apartments.
Each room named after a famous courtesan. Everything in this entire place, EVERYTHING... is in the details.
Taking a step inside reveals exotic revival architecture and 19th-century style furnishings. Famous designer, Jacques Garcia, holds nothing back!
Pulling you by some unknown force, the sitting room adjoining the reception area, coax’s you into their plush velvet chairs.
We learned this room was reserved only for gentlemen back in the pleasure house days. Where they could read books and have discussions. A room named no other than, "101 Nights".
Through a small mysterious hallway you'll venture, but be careful not to lean on the wall. One side when pressed, opens to the hidden staircase and elevator! Stairs to all the floors and rooms still kept from the original days.
Salon des Petits Bonheurs’
Through a curtain, you’ll enter, into the ‘heart’ of the establishment. ‘Salon des Petits Bonheurs’ translates to Small Happiness lounge). Although small in size, it’s large in impact.
Immediately dark hardwood, magnificent paneling, and a monumental fireplace surround you. With waves of burgundy velvet, lush draping's, and more, I wanted to lie down and rub my face… anywhere.
We learned of 82 heads of gentleman, sculpted into the paneling.
All looking up towards the center of the room at the chandelier. On the chandelier? The courtesans of the house, gleaming with beauty…
Appropriate to the story behind this room where courtesans would wait. Guests choosing their courtesans, or courtesans choosing their guest.
Added to glorious opulence was the bar. Exquisite in every way, with a food and cocktail menu to match. Open every day, there is no doubt you will be romanticized. Recommended drinks? The Raspberry Pie or the Dita Von Teese.
Indulge in their menu after a long day of shopping, or in the hours of twilight. Their cocktail menu is meticulously reviewed, changing every 3-4 months. All syrups and infusions made in-house too, by the extremely talented and extraordinary barmen.
10 rue de Bruxelles 75009 Paris, France
+33 (0)1 48 78 55 55
Why are Speakeasies on the rise? All three venues have a resounding similar response. ‘People don’t want a regular bar. People want an experience. They want to go to these places, to know they exist!’
So now YOU know. Ready to go?
Michelle Baun was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Michelle and her chef husband sold their home and moved to the city of lights, the city of love, Paris, France. A writer & lifestyle designer extraordinaire, on a mission to create the best life she can. Follow her adventures at www.michellenouvelle.com.