Drink like a local: Paris with Aurélie Panhelleux

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The city of lights is home to a heady mix of traditional and contemporary hospitality. We met bar entrepreneur Aurélie Panhelleux for a crash course in the food and drink experiences only Paris can offer. Life’s too short to drink bad wine – or pastis, for that matter 

Spanning 20 arrondissements, Paris (also known as the Ville Lumière, City of Lights) is the ultimate destination for sightseeing, romantic getaways and gastronomic adventures. With so much to choose from, it’s easy to feel lost without the expert advice of an insider. Enter Aurélie Panhelleux: co-owner of acclaimed cocktail bar CopperBay, who has long been an authority on the local bar scene.

Home to five UNESCO World Heritage sites, Paris has some of the most beloved monuments and landmarks in the world, and if you are looking for something out of the ordinary, Panhelleux advises to wait for nightfall: “With a walk in the middle of the night from Place de la Concorde to Bastille, you’ll get to see Paris in a different way and all the monuments without crowds. And having the outside of the Louvre, the Opera Garnier just for you is pretty cool!”

Aurelie Pahelleux (@lephotographedudimanche)

Big picture

Whether you prefer a stroll down the breathtaking Champs-Elysées, a walk from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, a visit to Atelier des Lumières, or want to climb the stairs to Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre, Paris is full of spectacular views and unexpected experiences.

Regardless of where you start out, you never know where you’ll end up, says Panhelleux. “There are nights when you go out with friends for just an aperitif and you end up in a restaurant laughing and speaking really loudly,” she recalls fondly. There are Sundays playing petanque and then having a picnic on the canal too. “In Paris, most of the people live in small flats so we go out a lot. I guess what Parisians enjoy the most are long dinners with friends in simple places, with nice food and wine; or a coffee on a sunny terrace. We’re also very curious about new spots opening, though we all have a HQ we always go back to.”

L’Atelier des Lumières

If you’re a visiting bartender, there are a lot of opportunities for education too, like Distillerie de Paris in the 10th, fruit and veg producers on the roofs of the city like L’Arche végétale, or underground like La Caverne, suggests Panhelleux. “Go to Caves Bossetti in Le Marais, one of the biggest collections of Chartreuse, it’s so cool. Also, pay a visit to a Parisian brewery like Demory (in the suburbs), BapBap in the 11th, or go check out the kombucha brand Vivant in their atelier in the 18th. If you are looking for some creative inspiration, go to L’Atelier des Lumières, sit on the floor and just relax and watch.”

The food

“If there is one thing we cannot live without is food, it’s our DNA. From finger food to Michelin-star restaurants, we are very interested in it and we all like to cook and invite people home. If homes are not big, we go to simple restaurants all together.”

The French Bastards

According to Panhelleux, nothing beats a good egg mayonnaise, foie gras and beef bourguignon. Swing by the Belleville Market for a glimpse of street food from all over the world (but check the date online as it’s not every week), or indulge in some fine viennoiseries and bread at Mamiche, The French Bastards or Babka Zana.

The drinks

Few places in the world are more celebrated for their local drinking traditions, but Panhelleux has a soft spot for pastis: “It’s the spirit you find the most in any French house, even if it’s originally from the south [Marseille].”Most people drink it with water, but French also add some syrup to make Mauresque, made with pastis, orgeat syrup and water.

The Cambridge Public House

Any part of the city would do to enjoy a drink, but if you’re looking for uniqueness, stick to the 10th arrondissement, according to Panhelleux: “My heart belongs to my neighbourhood, as we have our bar here, but I also chose to live here. It’s a very vibrant quarter, popular and has the best offerings in terms of food and drinks, for any budget.” Plus the Canal Saint Martin is just next door.

The bar industry is very close in Paris too. “The local bar scene is very much like a family, most of the bars also recommend other bars. The scene is creative, we use a lot of local products and are very friendly and hospitable. We love for guests to enjoy our places, our food and drink with a very chill vibe.”

The big list


The Cambridge Public House

Sister’s Midnight


Little Red Door




Experimental Cocktail Club


Le Tambour

Le Comptoir


Le Mary Celeste

etsi l’ouzeria

Le Bouillon Republique

Les Résistants le Comptoir

La Cave à Michel


Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

Le Marché d’Aligre

Homer Lobster




Drinks and Co

La Maison du Whisky


La Cave le Verre Vole

Liquiderie Cave


L’Atelier des Lumières

La Bourse du Commerce

The Garnier Opera

A picnic in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont or Vincennes

A tour in the 13th for all the street art

Playing petanque and drinking pastis with friends along the Canal Saint Martin

Tips & phrases

Tipping:  In France tips are not mandatory but we all do, as the wages are not always very high. In restaurants and bars we mostly leave around 10% if the service is good. No one will complain if you don’t leave anything but it’s just polite and rerespectful. 

Getting around: I would say walking/cycling and public transportation are the fastest and with the first option you can see what Paris has to offer you in terms of architecture.  especially for tourists and price negotiation is a little bit tricky.

Drinking age: Depends where you are going or what you are doing. Of course, when it comes to drinking we have laws. We cannot serve alcohol to people under 18 years old. But if they are with an adult they can enter the bar and drink soft drinks.  

Where to stay: It’s always a matter of what you want to do and see but I would say 2nd, 10th and 11th as it’s very central and you can find affordable places (still Paris prices) and have a lot to see. 

Cheers: Santé (you wish good health) 

Thank you: Merci

Hi: Bonjour (or salut if you know the person)

Nice to meet you: Enchanté

Goodbye: Au revoir