|With good bars increasingly under threat from smokers and Starbucks, property developers and all sorts of shit, in this occasional series I will endeavour to feature a number of bars that have played an important part in my life and, with a bit of help, will continue to do so for some time to come.
I can’t remember the correct name for The Little Horseshoe in Le Marais (all good bars have an alternative name used by regular patrons), but when I lived in Paris, just around the corner from Le Beaubourg, it was the bar of choice.
It also had a small restaurant in the back, where a number of English embarrassed themselves one night by indulging in the English obsession with food throwing. When they returned the next day to apologise, they found the owner proudly showing the remains, which were still stuck to the walls and ceiling, to impressed natives.
The value of bars as centres of social interaction should not need explaining, nor the reason why such interruptions and distractions as mobile phones, laptops or any other alternative to ‘direct’ social interaction are unwelcome.
For those of you who also fail to understand why Parisian barmen and waiters appear so rude, it is a self-imposed discipline which they adopt so that they can gradually slacken off as an encouragement when you continue to return. Amateurs, who go to a different bar every night in desperate search of a welcome, remain terminally frustrated.
(For more of Hector McDonnell’s work, see:
'The Little Horseshoe', Paris, 1994, by Hector McDonnell