A museum, concept store, bar, cafe, hangout spot – the Comptoir Général is your awakening experience in Paris.
Despite its unassuming entryway (pictured above), its interior is as an adventure waiting to be uncovered. Walk through the doors into a red carpeted hallway with chandeliers, the startling transition into a different world. The Comptoir Général is a venerable institution exalting the hidden and marginal, and diversity in history and tradition, which you have to step into in order to see.
This famous spot right along the Canal Saint-Martin and Gare de l’Est is your most-talked-about “exotic” destination right in Paris. Dedicated to the varying representations of the “unknown” and the “faraway” (mostly of African countries), this anachronistic spot is filled with greenery, posters, curious objects, and first and foremost, a silent dialogue on the perception of this foreignness.
Its magic lies in the sharp distinction between the dark, lofty, and large atmosphere and the busy summer day by the canal outdoors, as well as its social commentary especially on the colonial era and its remnants.
Whether with friends or just simply curious, we recommend that you check out this place in the daytime, when it is not as crowded and you can enjoy a less pricey coffee or mate tea on its many cushion chairs, or in the tiny courtyard (rather than a 14 euro cocktail at night).
Moreover, along with the many curiosities out in the open, there is also a chance for you to do some secondhand shopping: clothes or trinkets with history are sold throughout the Comptoir, which doubles as a concept store during the day. Behind the bar counter, climb up the stairs to the Marché Noir, where you can find everything from overalls, coats, jean jackets, printed shirts and dresses, scarves, old leather wallets, bags and luggage, and shoes. On the first floor, find secondhand jerseys, VHS, jewellery, and random trinkets that can make any curious and memorable gift.
The Comptoir Général gets very crowded at night, often with lines that elongate around its outside walls. We duly recommend this as a daytime spot, not to miss if you’re around the Canal, to see all it is hiding and experience something completely new during your trip in Paris.
When? Open everyday, from 11AM to 2AM. The concept store is open from 11AM to 7PM.
Where: 80 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris, France
Metro: République (lines 3, 5, 8, 9, and 11)