Text and image: Nick Forrester
Café Bonnie, located just around the corner from Quay de Valmy on the Canal St Martin, is as 60s kitch as anywhere in Paris. Though the bar has more pink and baby blue than Lady Penelope’s bedroom, all is not as it seems. The blue awning is growing slightly moldy green and the plush interior has become like the regulars, slightly scruffy and charmingly gnarled.
The bar staff would look more at home in Hampstead than Paris, and not out of place in Fagins gang. With a fine taste in music you can expect to hear anything from a fantastic selection of current indie, emo, electro, to Led Zappelin and even some Jazz. To celebrate the weekend they normally have a slightly more raucous DJ night. Though there is scarcely room to swing a cat, the dance area has a pair of phonograph decks which are brought into use on special occasions.
The drinks menu is by no means cheap at 3 Euros for a demi and 7 for spirit+mixer but the cocktails at 7.50 make up for it. The particular favorite seems to be the mojito and the cheerfully grubby barmen certainly don’t scrimp on the booze and always use fresh ingredients.
This is certainly a bit more lively than most of the nearby arty cafe’s, and probably not one for sitting in for hours discussing Cartesian fallacies …or even the kitch decor for that matter. Friday’s and Saturday’s have a particularly good atmosphere, with the propriétaire moving between the groups outside, joining in the conversation, always asking people to quiet down a little.
I was lucky enough to encounter a fight outside, where one gentleman has his large, and no doubt expensive, glasses broken by another. Both then sat about crying afterwards, one because he has hurt his hand and the other because he has broken his glasses. When a fight ends with such a whimper it must reflect well on the safety of the place, and on the protection afforded by large glasses.
Though there will be many who prefer to line the banks of the canal this summer, it is also worth nipping into Café Bonnie, to try the excellent cocktails and sample its special Parisian atmosphere.
9, Rue des Récollets
Tel : 01 40 35 54 51