The live music scene in Paris is known to be legendary, and there are many clubs to be found. After researching our options, we decided to check out a jazz club in the Latin Quarter. Across from the Notre Dame, Le Caveau des Oubliettes is not modern or ritzy like one would think of when a jazz club comes to mind. Instead, this venue is housed in a 12th century dungeon, and the name suits it properly: cave of dungeon. This spot was once a torture chamber for prisoners, and this type of dungeon back then had a trap door at the top as its only opening. Portholes were used to drown the poor captives into the Seine. Now in modern times, it has been turned into a jazz club, where people dwell in the dim lighting and rock to music among old tortured souls.
When we entered, the bar up top is small. A large medieval ax hung on top of a wall next to the bathroom and before a door that leads down into the dungeon. Walking downstairs and to the bottom, we noticed the trap door and other passages that were closed off from guests. The air below, stagnant, musty and damp, could make someone who’s claustrophobic crazy. Because of its small size and tight spacing, it gets crowded. We sat in the back room, away from the band, as the stone walls provided some insulation to the blazing acoustic. Despite that, we heard and saw the band just fine.
That night turned out to be blues night. We had a great time, and the band was fantastic. They had the crowd tapping their feet and bopping their heads to the beat. It was a great show and we were glad we had gone out. Le Caveau des Oubliettes’ show starts at 11 p.m. and goes to 4 a.m. on Saturday nights. There is no cover charge most of the time, but they make up for it by overcharging the drinks. For example, a pint of beer will cost you 12 euros and mixed drinks will rake you about that price or more. I enjoyed a glass of red wine for 8.50 euros, which wasn’t horrible but is usually more expensive than what you can find in cafés.
I would definitely recommend Le Caveau des Oubliettes for those interested in a less swanky scene for jazz, blues, or rock. We went because of the dungeon and history of the place. Where else could you find this kind of spot in the states?