Caveau de la Huchette
5, rue de la Huchette
History: A home for live swing and jazz artists since 1946, the Caveau de la Huchette is a building rich in history and ambience, and is, quite simply, a unique treasure tucked away in the heart of the Latin Quarter. The performance area is literally an old cellar area accessed through a range of winding, strange and atmospheric corridors, whilst artists such as Al Copley, Pete Allen, Sacha Distel and Sidney Bechet have played there over the years. It hasn’t always been a jazz club, though. Oh no. In fact, the building dates back to the 1550s, and, still preserved in its original state, was once a secret meeting place for the Knights Templar, and was accessed via secret underground passages that still exist today, including a well in the level below the performance area. Sadly these areas are not accessible to visitors, though you can see some really amazing original artefacts, such as a musket and a chastity belt (!) in the bar area. During the French Revolution, the Caveau became a base of operations for leading revolutionaries such as Georges Danton and Jean-Paul Marat. They used the rooms as an impromptu court, jail and (gulp) execution area, disposing of ‘crimes’ in the well. Further secret underground passages lead to nearby buildings as a means of escape, making the Caveau one of the most macabre and fascinating sites in the whole of Paris!
Review: The vibe is worth the admission price alone! Every night, fun-seeking Parisians, many of whom are regulars, and tourists gather here to dance to an amazing selection of live swing and jazz performers – and when I say dance, I mean dance – the floor comes alive with a whirling cascade that is, in itself, a spectacular sight to see. If you can’t dance, you will find the speed, style and intensity of those brave enough to take the floor breath-taking. You may even be asked to grace the floor by a friendly Parisian – whilst it is not particularly rude to politely decline, it is considered very polite to acquiesce, even if you have two left feet! And you won’t believe the energy of some of the older Parisian gents – and they are gents – whilst serious dancers can be identified by their early arrival and choice of footwear. These guys will take to the floor early, and they will most likely be amongst the last to leave! No matter the artist, you are guaranteed an amazing night here. Even the resident band are tight, fun, and highly entertaining – you will be unable to stop your tapping feet!
Prices: Whilst the entry fee here is very reasonable, at 13,00 e Sun-Thurs, and 15,00 e Fri-Sat, the alcohol is fairly expensive, but not bad for a treat, and there are no requirements to purchase any beverages.
Directions: Adjacent to Ile-de-la-Cite on the left-bank of the Seine, turn onto the Blvd San Michel and take the first left onto Rue de la Huchette. Walk almost all the way down to the end of the street, past eateries and souvenir shops to the Caveau. It is small and almost missable on the right, and opens at 9.30pm most evenings. This is an excellent area in the Latin Quarter, full of life day and night, so be sure to take advantage of the fantastic selection of eateries and bars, many of which serve a range of set menus at various price levels, making this a great area to relax and get a good meal on an evening. Famous people regularly frequent the Caveau; I personally have seen both Scarlett Johannson and Woody Allen there on different occasions!
Website available in English and French here – including the current month’s performance schedule information.
Tel: 01 43 26 65 05
Fax: 01 40 51 71 70