A few Tuesday nights ago it was off for a taste of Parisian nightlife. Now, many of the guidebooks for Paris talk about the odd contrast between the bustling cafe "joie de vivre" and its relatively stale late-night bar scene. And I can confirm that this is pretty much spot on. Ask any of your cafe neighbors what there is to do or what places are worth checking out post-dinner, and they are hard-pressed to come up with an answer.
Undaunted, and taking my own advice, I returned to a favorite place from a previous visit to Buddha Bar.
With 12 locations around the globe in places like London, Dubai, and New York, Buddha Bar is a marketing phenomenon as much as it is a really cool restaurant and lounge. Visitors can buy t-shirts and other branded gear at the front entrance, and their musical collection now sits at over 10 CDs. It's all a variation on the same theme - chillout/lounge music that speaks of exotic locations and hushed conversations.
Stepping into Buddha Bar Paris at about midnight on a Tuesday, one of those conversations may well have included the not-so-hushed phrase "29 Euros for 2 drinks?!?" Yes, it's that absurd - $45 Canadian dollars for a glass of red wine and a Ketel One vodka and lime. It's a neat marketing ploy actually - you need to drink more to ease the pain of what you are spending. It also explains the high degree of well-dressed sugar daddies and their much younger companions sprinkled around the place.
The setting and the music are tough to beat though, so you tell yourself that so long as you don't go every night (or every month), it's totally worth it. And it is. This is an absolutely cool place - perfect music (selon moi), perfect lighting, and a large restaurant below ringed by a lounge up top, with all kinds of dark corners to carry on those hushed conversations.
I can recall a dozen or so times in my travels throughout the years where I've suppressed the practical, rational money-saver in me with a full-throated "When am I going to be here again?"
And it has never failed me - the memories are almost always worth the gouging. And on those occasions when I've let frugality win the day, I've always regretted it afterwards (sitting in the nosebleeds at a Phoenix Suns game still smarts).