Le Petit Chateau d'Eau is my favorite bar in all of Paris. There is the sweet owner, Jean-Robert, who will tutoie you as soon as you walk through the door, but it is Frieda who truly runs the place. Frieda is Jean-Robert's dog, and she presides over the bar to annoyance of some of the bartenders and a few of the patrons. She lounges in the doorway, forcing you to walk over her and only budging to bark at skateboarders; sprawls on the floor between tables, making life difficult for the servers; and of course if you are eating something she finds appealing she will jump right up on the bench, quite gracefully for her size, sit next to you and gaze at you with those deep brown eyes until you give in. Though one dog roaming free might be enough, in the late afternoon the bar often resembles a "colonie de chiens" (the words of a school-age patron) due to the regular presence of Taureau and Vanille, two terriers whose owners stop by daily, and of course my dog.
Later in the evening, however, most of the dogs have cleared out, Frieda snoozes quietly behind the bar, and Le Petit Chateau d'Eau is transformed into a typical bar in the 10th as it is filled with the bobos: typical offerings, typical prices, typical clients. I think it might have an identity crisis since during the day and at lunch it is filled with the neighborhood grossistes (clothing wholesalers, like the guy you see carting the boxes in the photo), but in the evenings the bobos take over. Though perhaps this could describe that entire corner of the 10th. Once we were talking to the owner and he showed us a good review from a few years back, wistfully explaining, "This is from when we were successful." But it always seems to be packed in the evenings as well, so I don't know why he seemed so nostalgic.
We go back because we like Frieda and the owner is always so nice, and it is usually our first stop on a night out or even just after a long day. But Le Petit Chateau d'Eau also has some unique touches that set it apart from your average corner bar: there are the original fixtures and tiles, slowly crumbling away, and there are always enormous, gorgeous, fresh vases of flowers, which are a strange touch in a dingy bar (but I'm not complaining!). Last summer a TV was added so you can go there to watch football games now as well, and they do have a small menu for lunch, though I have never eaten there. You should keep it in mind if you are ever in the area.
Le Petit Chateau d'Eau
at the intersection of Rue Chateau d'Eau and Rue Lucien Sampaix
M: Republique, Jacques Bonsergent
Closed on the weekends.