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Friday, 6:35 p.m.: The fatigue from the workweek has just dissipated with the first call of evening. No, the suggestion is not to shut ourselves away in  the cinema. Rather, we shall set out to conquer Paris, and only return home to bed once victory has been declared. The office rapidly disappears in the rear-view mirror of my ŠKODA KODIAQ as my playlist pumps out clubbing tunes. Kanye West, The Weekend. The bass reverberates through the comfortable interior. First stop: the 9th arrondissement. Specifically, La rue des Martyrs – always lively, always flashing like a  call for the first drink. Paris is on parade, the city wants to go out this evening.

On La rue Blanche, I pass the theatres. Tickets in hand, play enthusiasts queue in front of the Le théâtre de Paris. I have a quick glance at the posters. This evening, one can laugh with the great Daniel Auteuil in Envers du décor, or applaud the actors of Husbands and Wives, written by the master of commotion Woody Allen. Tempting, but not for now. I move about the quarter a little. I'm obviously not the only one having had the thought to start in this area. Once parked, all the lively terraces of La rue des Martyrs are already packed. Alternative: Il Professore, a couple of steps away, on La rue Choron. Passing by the tables set up with colourful Tuscan plates, I meet up with friends already wedged into club chairs hidden behind the curtains of the speakeasy-style Bar-Bilbiothèque. Kisses all around, a furtive exchange of news, and the cocktails quickly arrive at the table. To start, I want something cold, easy… I take an Aperol Spritz, attempting to make the summer last just a little longer. The topic of conversation quickly changes to the plan for the evening. I love this excitement, this compulsion to move from one place to another, not staying put for any length of time. One single place is never enough, and the evening is only just beginning.

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Specifically, La rue des Martyrs – always lively, always flashing like a call for the first drink.

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Next stop: La rue Victor Massé, a little higher up. No luck, but one only needs to stroll on. My desire to drive and huddle into my KODIAQ will have to wait until later.
Somewhat later…

Going back up the road of the SoPi – South Pigalle – quarter, we pass the delightful Le Pantruche, before being swallowed up by the lobby lights of the Grand Pigalle Hotel, the leading hotel of the cosmopolitan trio known as the Experimental Group and who know no boundaries. They are the kings of the cocktail. The ambiance is quiet, the smiles chic. Our little group spots a small space at the bar affording an unobstructed and pleasant view of the lounge where the different nationalities mingle. The mixologist spills not a drop, always alert. After showing the list of Italian wines to a British couple (who opt for a Sicilian Cos), he treats us to his Aged Negroni, quite bitter, and garnished with a zest of orange. Without a doubt, Italy reigns supreme this evening… Moreover, the dishes that are paraded beneath our eyes reinforce our vague desire for Italian food. We order burrata, vitello tonnato and black mullet with bottarga taramasalata. Knowing that the menu includes the signature dishes of chef Giovanni Passerini (formerly of Rino in the 11th arrondissement), it’s as if the dishes choose us and not the other way round. Once satiated with food, it’s time to go and head further up the road.

We pass the Le Sans-soucis bar, always packed, with its crowd of happy night-time revellers enjoying the start of the evening. A few steps more and we are tempted to stop at the party triangle including the cool-bar tables of the Le Mansart, Le Dépanneur, and its little brother Le Dépanneur Terrasse. Paris is like that… What do you want, then?! Everywhere, the spots are magnetic! Here, the faces are familiar, handshakes follow, it’s good to feel at home. It’s true that Le Quartier Pigalle is welcoming and never disappoints. It has a place in the hearts of Parisians and visitors alike, with its architectural homogeneity, its community of regulars, whether for an evening or a lifetime. Here, the Paris of old resonates with the Paris of today: mysterious, dark, happy, driven… At Le Mansart bar, next to the table football, the ambiance takes hold of us there, as usual. In the hubbub of the hip bar, there is idle chatter – also in English – about film shoots, politics… In short, it feels like the weekend.

 

PARIS IS LIKE THAT, WHAT DO YOU WANT!

 

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As for me, that’s enough. My group of friends want to dance. But, it’s a little early for dancing in the elegant setting of Le Carmen, and way too early to try at Le Caroussel, the new club everyone is talking about. All of that is just a couple of steps away. A quick look at our smartphone: L’Elysées Montmartre, the legendary music venue where Patti Smith played and which burned down in 2011 has just reopened. Several glances pass among us, the urge to relive a part of our youth in this venue full of history crosses our minds. No, another time.

Pigalle will not get the better of us; our Parisian conquest is built on urban adventure, total freedom to move from one direction to another around the city, to sample its abundant party atmosphere. Sober – ah yes, this evening it’s me who’s driving. One spritz is enough. I start the KODIAQ, finally… Both in the back and front, I notice the satisfied smiles of my friends, happy to be taken around in a car where the cruising spirit is felt at once. 1 a.m.: We cruise quickly alongside the arcades of La rue de Rivoli, alongside the Tuileries Gardens, in childlike wonder before the historical splendour of our city. Concorde, the Seine, Rive-Gauche, we make our way without a hitch up to the Bercy quarter where on the docks La Cité de la mode et du design marks our final port of call. This building, designed by the architectural firm of Jakob & McFarlane, is home to the Wanderlust club, and recently Nuits Fauves. Facing the barges, we climb the flight of steps that leads to the dance floor. The bass of the electro music hits us, and we leave our coats in the cloakroom. Here, in the open, we look out over Paris, all four of us, and set out to dance until dawn.

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