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.
140 Rue Saint Maur, M° Goncourt