Chez Castel: hot boite or shameless brothel?

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The verdict is still out on Chez Castel, even after my scandalous experience this weekend.

With a history spanning 40 years, and a guest list that has included Brigitte Bardot, Chez Castel is a legendary hotspot on the Parisian nightlife scene. Owned by Phillippe Fatien, of Queen and Le Cab fame, the club is a wicked boudoir of sin on Thursday to Saturday nights.

Surrounded by the often raucous rugby and expat bars on Rue Princesse, Castel is as mysterious on the inside as it appears on the outside. The unmarked red facade gives way to a plush and intimate red velvet interior, where upstairs serves dinner and downstairs boasts one of the most sexy and intimate dance floors on the left bank. The DJ is above average, and the crowd consists of moneyed men and trophy women. Herein lies the probleme.

The club maintains its selectivity at the door, and the stone-cold doorman will sweep you off with a flick of the hand if you don’t have a reservation- regardless of looks! I’ve shown up with 2 topmodels and had the same results. The club is basically members-only, and a membership comes at around 600 euros a year, including 20% off drinks and food.

Of course, the 1200 members are mostly old men who don’t want to deal with the hassles of other clubs. This provides them with a sure entrance, a good table, and the freedom to be as freaky as they want without the threat of being kicked out. This can include bringing shady company and doing some not-so-discreet drugs. And my friends, this is precisely what happens at Castel!

Sitting at a table on Friday night, a girlfriend and I were enjoying a glass of champagne by ourselves, because we had arrived there early before the mean doorman could turn us away (there is a sweet woman who works the door before 11:30). Our goal for the night was merely to dance on one of the few dancefloors in the neighborhood. We were soon invited to have a drink with a neighboring table of 2 men, and I immediately sensed the fact that these guys probably thought we were… femmes de la nuit. I warned my friend but reluctantly followed her naive ass to the table.

When we started conversation, a flash of surprise crossed their eyes when we asked them what they did in Paris. Could it be that this is a classically taboo topic between patron and ho? Hmmm…. a glass of champagne later and we were out on the dance floor, still being chased by the men, who then proceeded to fondle my friend against her will. We hit the road soon thereafter.

That was my 4th experience at Castel, and each time I have endured a similar experience, from indecent proposals to random grabbing. Though you might see the occasional VIP (Adriana Karembeau, Patrick Bruel, Isabel Adjani, and Djamel Debbouze all frequent the place), the majority of the clientele are dirty old men accompanied by women of ill-repute.

The place has so much potential, and I must admit the company can be intriguing. But then again, thats coming from a girl who watches FTV (and the men at Castel probably do too!). Still, it is a great spot if you can bring a group and dominate a few tables; just be ready for some drama if you hit it with your girlfriends!

Castel, 15, rue Princesse, 75006 Paris. Tél. : 01 40 51 52 80

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