19,21 rue Boyer
La Bellevilloise is a fun address – not necessarily for cocktails – but a fun address nonetheless. Originally founded as a cooperative in 1877, it offered educational and cultural opportunities to the masses until the mid-20th century. In 2005, it was reopened as an independent artistic venue (comprising 5 different spaces) with an extensive program of movies, exhibitions and other interesting activities. Their airy restaurant offers a reasonably priced menu and the terrace cafe is a sweet, secluded little find.
But we went to La Bellevilloise to experience the cocktail bar at “La Grand Prairie.” During the summer months, the loft – normally used for movie screenings, shows, etc – was transformed into an outdoor space indoors. Deck chairs, free-standing hammocks and plants were strewn about the plastic-grass covered floor giving the loft a beachy/picnic feel. The temporary bar, following this ambiance, was stocked with plastic cups and a very limited supply of booze. With no vermouth and no actual glassware, I skipped my usual first order of a martini and went straight for the daily special (strawberry caipirinha) from the menu written in magic marker on the window behind the bar. Nothing was fresh, nothing was top shelf, nothing was particularly interesting about the bar offerings.
The cocktails were fine. However, at 6 – 8 Euros, I could probably find something better elsewhere. La Bellevilloise seems to be more about the funky space, than decent drinks, and probably pulls in a youngish artsy-hipster crowd. While I wouldn’t go back there for a mixed drink, I’d definitely head back to check out a show or some of their other activities. Their current program which includes “A Night withQuestlove” and “Opero Aperos”, piques my interest, and a non-cocktail drink on the terrace would make for a nice evening.