Chez Georges: Greatest Bar in the World?

Chez Georges - the underground wine bar

Chez Georges – the underground wine bar

We met Lily outside an unassuming café/restaurant in the Saint-Germain area (the sixth) of Paris, the rest of the group not knowing the charms of the wine bar hiding below. I led them down the stairs into a stone arched cellar, cramped with people and lined on the walls with tables and chairs. At one of the room was a small counter where you could order wine by the bottle – I ordered the first one, their house white at €21.

Chez Georges has a charm unlike any other bar I’ve been to, and I can say with all honesty that it is my favorite place to grab a drink in the world. The music playlist is quirky and sweet, consisting mostly of oldies and a few modern songs that fit the oldie vibe like “Happy” and “Blurred Lines” and throwing in some Arabic music, lots of ABBA, the occasional French classic and crowd favorite “Hava Nagila.”

Nights at Chez Georges seem to have a standard progression from the two times I’ve visited (once before in 2012 with a friend studying in Paris). They start out slow – at a table if you’re lucky – and with casual glasses of wine and conversation. It’s definitely a conversation joint, although it’s a bit loud, and you’ll most definitely at points in the night have visitors to your table wanting to get to know you. Who says Paris isn’t friendly? The crowd consists of mostly French students and young people, with a few foreigners familiar with the area.

Conversations get interrupted with bits of sing-alongs, usually quite calm and intermittent at first, and by the second bottle of wine you’re much more relaxed into the environment. By the inevitable third, there’s someone in the room standing on a table or bench singing along. You laugh and smile at the guy (in our case) and comment on how good of a time he must be having. This is usually about the time the *first* play of “Hava Nagila” comes on and everyone stops talking to clap and sing along.

By the fourth bottle of wine (we did have four people!), you realize that you’re the one standing on a bench or table singing and dancing but that almost no one is really sitting down at that point and there’s not enough room to dance without using some of the place’s higher ground.

By the time you make it through the fifth bottle, it’s probably time to stumble over home and say goodbyes, and somehow we managed to make it without getting lost. You’ll wake up the next morning feeling not great but wondering how a cramped little wine bar creates such an amazing atmosphere. You’ll ask how you started talking to the five new French friends you made the night before. And most importantly, you’ll ponder when the next time you’ll make your way to Chez Georges will be and who you will bring to experience it.

Figuring out my boundaries

I’ve had my facebook for almost seven years now, and most of that time has been filled with some quiet fear of what it means to have a social profile. In high school, people who posted suggestive photos or foul comments were called to the principal’s office and suspended. We were told, “potential colleges are going to see what you post.” And now after getting there, it’s my future jobs and internships I have to worry about. But I’m not really even sure what it is I’m supposed to be censoring anymore.

At this point, I’m 21 years old. I’m not passing out drunk at parties or getting in arguments on Facebook. I do, however, indulge like any other college student. I go out, have drinks and dance. I can’t imagine that any average adult thinks there is anything wrong with this. So why is it that I have some ridiculous fear that my future employers are going to reject me at the sight or sound of alcohol? The idea that I might be doing what every other college student is doing?

I think the problem is that when we were younger, no one told us about when our boundaries end. They just told us that we had them. And now that we’re growing up, it’s hard to figure out what exactly is okay to do at the cusp of adulthood. We feel like these boundaries no longer exist, yet we still feel an innate need to keep them.

I think it’s time to move past these arbitrary boundaries. We are old enough to stop having to pretend we don’t like to have fun and old enough for everything not to seem so “bad.”

So here it is. Here’s an image that would have “ruined my chances at college” but is maybe, just maybe okay now. Here’s what I’ve been monitoring with acute detail all these years. Here’s my Friday night: