As the spiritual home of French flair and the one place in the world where you might just feel like you really have a little je ne sais quoi, the Left Bank, or Rive Gauche as its known locally, is an ideal place for any weekend traveller to spend an evening out in Paris. So where’s good for dining, drinking and dancing?
Of course, food comes first in France, so start the evening off in fine style in a chic brasserie or French restaurant. La Coupole (102 Boulevard du Montparnasse) is a standout option in Montparnasse, and one of the best restaurants in Paris. This grander than grand brassiere opened in the Roaring Twenties and is an Art Deco delight.
It boasts a dining room which is every bit as impressive as its celebrated list of former patrons. There is something quite thrilling about drinking coffee and being served crêpe Suzette in the same place that Picasso dreamt up his visions and Jean-Paul Sartre debated philosophy. Perhaps existentialism comes that bit easier when you’re sitting in a colossal 1000 square metre dining room decorated with 33 stylish pillars. If the interiors are too much to handle, then you can always sit out on the terrace to watch the locals and other weekend travellers.
Once you’ve had your fill of people-watching, it’s time to move on and find a bar. Fortunately the delightful Prescription Cocktail Club is only a 25-minute stroll away through the Luxembourg Gardens. This fine little venue is everything you want a Left Bank drinking den to be: innovative, quirky and hip. The vibe is not as aloof as you might imagine – and the clientele don’t take themselves so seriously. The droll Magritte light-fitting and the cool speakeasy mood show that the management have got the balance between Left Bank flair and metropolitan style just about right.
The really big draw here though is the inventive cocktail list. The bartenders are rightfully proud of their classic offerings and inspired creations and will indulge you if cocktails are your thing. They’re happy (very happy, in fact) to experiment, so don’t be afraid to embrace your inner artist and create something special during your time here.
Several Gin Gin Mules (the Prescription’s house cocktail par excellence) later and it’s time to hit a club. Less than ten minutes’ walk away on Rue Saint-Benoît is Le Montana, a legendary supper club that has long been the haunt of Paris’s glitterati and international fashion, music and film stars.
Get past the notoriously selective door staff and you’ll be whisked up to what appears to be the exclusive apartment of a Parisian dandy, with stunning black-and-white walls, hand-drawn botanical prints and a parlour bar with plush curving banquettes. Music-wise you’ll be treated to everything from French pop remixes to old-school hip-hop, with occasional live performances from A-list stars, which up the VIP stakes even higher.