Cool Stuff in Paris. By Manning Leonard Krull.

Le Refuge des Fondues

17, Rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris (Map)
Phone: 01 42 55 22 65
Métro: Abbesses

Le Refuge des Fondues is a fun and rowdy fondue joint in Montmartre. Like most fondue restaurants, the menu isn't complicated: you can basically order a pot of molten cheese and a whole bunch of bread, or a pot of boiling oil and whole bunch of chunks of beef — or better yet, both! — and enjoy lots of cheap wine, which is served in baby bottles, since the place is so crowded and drinks tend to get knocked over all the time.

As you may have guessed, what makes Le Refuge des Fondues special is not the food but crazy atmosphere. The dining room is small and, let's say cozy — a diplomatic word usually meaning cramped, but in this case it really is both — with two long tables with benches along both walls. If the place is full and you're being seated somewhere in the middle, be ready to climb up onto the bench to step over the table to the other side! Don't worry, one of the extremely friendly and charming servers will give you a hand so you don't step into a post of molten cheese or kick another patron in the face. Now you can see why the wine is served in baby bottles!

The walls of Le Refuge des Fondues are covered with graffiti, which you're welcome to add to if you wish! Be ready to chat a bit with your neighbors on both sides of you, as the cramped dining room and festive atmosphere are conducive to pleasant smalltalk with strangers — a relative rarity in normal Parisian society, and a welcome change, in my opinion!