Bonjour Paris and Bonjour Club Raye

There’s a very smart ‘art deco’ bar that stands on a street corner in Le Marais, a trendy and cool district of Paris.It is welcoming and friendly. If it was a human rather than a building it would lean over and say to you ‘Come on in’. Somehow it attracts nice people. In fact I half expect to see Woody Allen playing his saxophone in the corner.

Inside there are comfortable leather chairs and cute little tables. There is a magnificent and imposing bar that runs the whole length of the room. In the corner there is a set up for musicians and a grand piano. There’s always live music here. The owner is Kein Cross, a smiling, friendly and thoroughly affable American. He’s a brilliant host constantly circling the room making sure that guests are comfortable and being looked after. An interior designer by trade, Kein has a great eye for detail. The theme is black and white, the overall look is sensational ‘Casablanca’ the movie springs to mind. At Club Raye they specialise in cocktails and each one really is a master piece.  Every evening there’s a cocktail of the day. Or you can choose from a huge range of spirits, champagnes and wines. The house champagne is excellent, a ‘brut’ and really palatable.

My friend Kelley Black is launching her new book here this evening. The book is entitled ‘This Luscious Life’ and a cocktail has been whipped up to fit the occasion. In fact the setting is quite perfect, a cool, trendy and yet friendly bar, an international crowd and the lovely Kelley, dressed up and ready to introduce us to her book. Champagne glasses clink, cocktails are sipped, conversations develop, a piano starts to tinkle in the corner and is soon joined by the deep, throaty tones of the double bass. This is the life, a great little bar in Paris, interesting people and a glass of champagne in my hand.

The club and the atmosphere remind me of Paris in the 1930s, I can imagine Ernest Hemingway sitting at this very bar – he would have liked it here. But then he liked any bar. I’m more of a champagne drinker myself and I think of the wonderful Madame Lily Bollinger who took over the famous Bollinger Champagne House on the death of her husband. Madame Bollinger was quite a character, she cycled around her vines, inspecting the leaves and fruits as they grew on the sunny slopes of the Marne Valley. She travelled to London to promote her champagne. When asked in the early 1960s by a journalist if she herself drank champagne she replied,

  • ‘I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad.
  • Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone.
  • When I have company I consider it obligatory.
  • I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am.
  • Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.’

 

Lily Bollinger was passionate about her vineyards, her champagne, the quality of her production. It’s the same here at Club Raye, Kein and his team are passionate about the bar, the drinks, the food (which is delicious and quirky). It’s all about passion and dedication in life. We have to try as hard as we can and when we come across amazing owner-operated bars, restaurants, cafes we must support them and help to continue their dream. Kein, you’ve created something wonderful here – a warm, comfortable bar with live music – especially on a cold winter evening.  I’ll be back as soon as I can. For visitors to Paris hunt out Club Raye – you’ll love it here – it’s a real find.

Notes:

Enjoy Paris! At Club Raye…………………

 

 

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