Sunday 28 February 2010

Unearthing a Gem

I'm a firm believer in supporting local businesses, so I was delighted to see the renovations that had taken place in a neighbourhood café bar. 'Le Rubis' on the Rue Saint Maur looks like the kind of establishment that has been run by the same family for generations, but this atmosphere is actually the result of the hard work of the new owners.

In Paris it is fashionable to be retro, but most bars or restaurants buy their nostalgia from flea markets. At Le Rubis, the retro decor is completely original, but had to be dug out from behind more contemporary trimmings. It is the rebirth of a 1930s relic, and is now a wonderful art deco environment.

Finding a name for the bar was a simple job. 'Le Rubis' was the name of the original establishment and is still clearly visible, most notably on the door handles and on the magnificent lettering above the bar. It also gave the owners a theme to work on for the decoration, with the walls taking on the raspberry-red tones of the gemstone.

I'm delighted that the structure has at last found a resident who respects its history and design. The bar is the street-level entrance to a wonderfully atypical building which looks a little like a vintage cruise liner. Signed on the outside by its architect, the seemingly little-known J.A. Fouchet, it dates from 1936.

The inside is dominated by an island bar which echos the curve of the building and the road outside. The owners, three associates called Valérie, Marie-Caroline and Stéphane took the decision to cut off one end of the bar so that people could circulate around it. To one side, red bench seats add a slight American-diner feel to the place, a sentiment that is enhanced by rock-inspired decoration and music.

This love of music provides the only frustration for the new owners. The room is not soundproofed, meaning that live concerts would be impossible, 'except perhaps for some acoustic concerts from time to time' Marie-Caroline tells me.

I will come back regularly purely to drink in the atmosphere of the bar, but how do the owners hope to attract other regulars in difficult times and in a district where competition is legion? The choice has been to create a multi-functional space, with breakfasts in the morning, a limited but 100% homecooked lunch menu, goûters and tea in the afternoons, and a more traditional pub ambience in the evening.

"We really want to organise some regular activities" Valérie tells me, "perhaps some quizzes or even bingo!". The idea sounds like a good one to me, and somehow entirely appropriate. There is something a little out-of-sync about the bar, a slightly provincial feel that sets it apart from its noisier and more trendy neighbours on the Rue Oberkampf. This difference can also be summed up in one other word; it is authentic.

Le Rubis
140 Rue Saint Maur, M° Goncourt


Thérèse said...

Way to go!

Anonymous said...

From your pictures, it looks like Stéphane and Marie-Caroline have done a wonderful job.

Cergie said...

Ce rouge me rappelle notre cuisine que mon mari avait bricolée à l'époque où on ne parlait pas d'Ikéa : très énergisant, vitaminé. Nous avions aussi récupéré une table de bistrot avec plateau en pate de verre dont nous avions peint les pieds en rouge.
Je comprends que les voisins soient ennuyés par le bruit, une de mes amis ayant habité avec son bébé au dessus de ce type d'établissement, juste au dessus...
Une offre sur toute la journée, voilà qui est très commercial et les ouaouas comme on dit semble bien tenus.

Cergie said...

(Ont-ils de la Vittel et du vrai chocolat chaud ?)

Starman said...

Looks cool.

U.M.F. said...

Awesome. They have done a great job, I'm sure it will be the next "place to be"!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, you were right, it is a nice place. I'll be back for sure.

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