Review: Le Gainsbarre, Paris

Review: Le Gainsbarre, Paris

Immerse yourself in the music and lifestyle of French singer Serge Gainsbourg in the recently opened Gainsbarre café and restaurant in Paris’ 7th arrondissement.

Le Gainsbarre, Maison Gainsbourg’s uber-chic café by day/piano-bar by night, invites you to leave the hectic world of today’s Paris and take a step back into a different time and place. Enter and you’ll be immediately seduced by the world of the legendary French chanteur Serge Gainsbourg. There is a sense of déja-vu as you are transported to a chill atmosphere evoking the 1960’s and 70’s.

Called le Gainsbarre in homage to the bad boy spirit of the iconic artist, the café/bar is nestled across from his graffiti-covered home, long a sacred place for legions of Gainsbourg fans. Now transformed into a museum, the Maison Gainsbourg complex hosts the bar, where guests can immerse themselves in the singer’s spirit.

The atmosphere is inspired by the early years of Gainsbourg’s musical career as a pianist in the bars and cabarets of Paris. Cozy and convivial, the décor is infused with the vibe he created at his home at 5 bis rue de Verneuil – the carpeting with water lily patterns, white door frames, English-style bow windows, black felt walls and black lacquered mashrabiya folding screens. As though time has forever stopped, there is a palpable air of Gainsbourg’s presence.

During the day, le Gainsbarre offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas. The tone is that of a salon/living room. The menu is inspired by the room service menus of the French and English palace hotels that Gainsbourg loved. Light, refined dishes include crunchy vegetables, croque-monsieur, lobster roll on brioche and gravlax salmon.

© Alexis Raimbault

As darkness descends, the lights dim and Le Gainsbarre evokes a captivating, intimate cabaret, transforming into a piano bar and cocktail lounge. The atmosphere is both mysterious and warm, the perfect place to sip a cocktail and enjoy a delicious dinner. I entered the bar to the sound of piano melodies, jazz and blues classics inspired by those played by Serge Gainsbourg back in the day, adding a sophisticated vibe to accompany the murmured conversations. I immediately noticed the attention to all details Gainsbourg. Dim lights reveal photos of original publicity posters for his albums, including the original version of “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus” sung with Brigitte Bardot. The aesthetic is captivating.

Gainsbourg’s passion for bar culture and fine cocktails is evident in the extensive menu of his favourite classic cocktails. Beginning with a section reserved for Signature Gainsbourg Cocktails, each one of them has a particular feature inspired by a specific song by Serge. The next section, Forgotten Cocktails, is inspired by Prohibition-era drinks and invites you to revisit that time.

The elegant dinner menu offers dishes like potato and caviar mashed potatoes, No.3 Cadoret oysters on ice and foie gras – all inspired by the bars that Serge frequented.   

Louis Devillechabrol, Director of the Gainsbarre, comments that, “the Gainsbarre is not just Serge, but all that inspired him. It succeeds in taking your imagination back to the 1960’s, now synthesized with a new touch.” At the Gainsbarre, the Gainsbourg mystique lives on.  

© Alexis Raimbault

Le Gainsbarre, 14 rue de Verneuil, 7th arrondissement, Paris

Closed Monday. No reservations required. The space is also available for private events. 

You can also visit the Maison Gainsbourg – the artist’s former home, partly transformed into a museum.

Lead photo credit : Le Gainsbarre, Paris © Alexis Raimbault

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A native of Los Angeles, Barbara is the France Today Ambassador for L.A. She graduated from UCLA with a BA degree in Political Science, and also received her JD degree from UCLA School of Law. While at UCLA, she spent her junior year in Grenoble, France. From that time on, she has been an avid and passionate Francophile. She has visited almost every region in France, and still pursues French language courses in Los Angeles. She has an apartment in Paris and continues to visit France every year.

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