Le Vieux Belleville — Non ! Je ne regrette rien

Saturday night we headed out to the edge of Paris, the 20th Arrondisement, to spend an evening at Le Vieux Belleville an intentionally old fashioned bistro decorated with pictures of Edith Piaf and a young Maurice Chevalier.  Le Vieux Belleville (The Old Belleville) promised classic chanson singing in a cozy bistro setting.We got there about 8:30 and started with aperitifs while waiting for things to heat up.

We assumed this would be a pretty touristy event but hoped that since it was so far out of central Paris that it wouldn’t feel that way.  And it didn’t.  The folks behind us in this picture are from Normandy.  Several of them live in Paris now and others were visiting. The people on our right were from Paris and next to them were a couple of Belgians. There were a couple of people from Oz and a couple of Germans, but most of the conversation in the room was French and we didn’t spot any other Americans.

Before the music started we ordered dinner and a carafe of wine;  I had souris d’agneau (lamb shanks, or to be literal  ‘mouse of lamb’) and Ed had a steak.  

At about 9:30 Minelle, the singer opened with a couple of well known (to most everyone there) songs and for those who didn’t know the words there were sheets of lyrics.

She soon had the place happily singing ‘La Java Bleue’ and moved through a vast repertoire ending with ‘Je ne regrette rien.’

Ed has of course sung French before — and discovered that the woman on my right had also sung Carmen; you can imagine the duet that ensued.  

It was a friendly inclusive crowd that put up with our horrible French and dredged up their school girl English and in some cases very fine English.  These folks were enthusiastically including shouts and hand gestures to punctuate an old French drinking song.

At 11:30 or so things started to break up; I am outside looking back in while Ed gets in that one last song.

The bistrot is steps from the edge of the hill overlooking Parc Belleville and one of the most stunning panoramas of Paris.  The cafe in this picture is across the street from the bistrot; I had stopped here for a drink and the view on my street art walk on our last trip.  (https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/graffitti-street-art-vandalism/) At 12, as we headed  through the rain towards the subway for the long ride home it felt like a moment from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

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8 Responses to Le Vieux Belleville — Non ! Je ne regrette rien

  1. Pingback: A Wander in the 20th and 19th — from Parc Belleville to Butte Chamount. | JANET TRAVELS

  2. Melissa says:

    Fantastic! Love your blog, have happened across it several times and want to thank you for your great photos and content.

  3. Bel says:

    Thanks for the info. We went last night and had a ball. On a Thursday night, we were the only tourists, everyone else was french!

  4. Hello

    I found your link on trip adviser. We will be in Paris later in the year and I have 2 questions. Do you think they would accept kids at the restaurant? Second do you know their phone number.

    Thanks any advice would be much appreciated.

    • Janet says:

      I think I may have answered in the TA forum — I hope and hope this catches you before your trip. I didn’t see kids there, but saw nothing to suggest they wouldn’t be welcome if they were old enough to be out this late and to join in.

  5. Dorothy says:

    Was so glad to find out about this restaurant from your blog and entry in the RS Traveler’s Helpline. Took my husband there as a surprise in September and we had a ball singing along with the wonderful man with the waxed white moustache playing the hurdy-gurdy! A very French experience – next time we’ll go to Edith Piaf night.Thank you!

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