“Drink heavily with locals whenever possible.” —- Anthony Boudrain
After playing Parisien 24/7, Mike was in need of a some good ol’ American football, so he scouted out the Pomme d’Eve, right around the corner, a bar that televises the NFL. Last Sunday, we headed down a long flight of stairs into this dark cellar bar and watched NFL Red Zone, a European broadcast that jumps around the league to show game coverage. Just the sound of American sportscasters was music to Mike’s ears, and the chili was fantastic. So, yesterday, Game Day, we returned.
This time we sat at the bar and watched the flat screen instead of sittingt a table in front of the projection screen, so we could shoot the breeze with George, the owner from South Africa, and Sylvan, a regular from Caen who loves the Buffalo Bills. Along with a lot of guy football talk, Mike began to ask questions about the bar itself.
The Pomme d’Eve isn’t just any old basement bar, we found out. Now underground, this space under gothic arches and columns was street level in the 1200’s, and was part of a monastery that surrounded the church of Ste. Genevieve-du-Mond. Below is another cellar that George uses for storage. According to George, the lower level goes back to Roman times, the 10th century.
The monastery once surrounded the church where the Pantheon now sits. When the Pantheon was built in the 1700’s, the church was rebuilt nearby, and all the construction meant that street levels were raised. At one time, monks scuttled from their monastery to the church through a passageway, but that’s been walled in. Some say that the cellar was once a dungeon for prisoners during the Revolution, and even if that’s not true, it makes for a good story.
The structure of the Pomme d’Eve predates the Notre Dame Cathedral, and George chose the name Pomme d’Eve straight out of Victor Hugo’s “Notre Dame de Paris.” The tavern in the novel featuring Esmeralda and Quasimodo is the Pomme d’Eve.
The bar has been home to a couple of restaurants, but when George bought it, it was in disrepair. Getting it up to snuff wasn’t easy. Paris has strict preservation laws, and only Les Compagnons tradesmen can do any needed updates or repairs, and nothing can be affixed to the floors or walls. The bar has been going strong since 2000, and during the winter, it’s alive with jazz music most nights until 5 a.m. Even Jason Mraz has performed here.
So, we ate our chili, drank our beer, kept track of the NFL wins and losses around the U.S., all the while under the gothic arches of centuries ago. In Paris, there is no escaping history.