Chez Sylvain could possibly be the greatest and the saddest bar—at exactly the same time. This “petit bar Cabaret” at the corner of rue Milton and rue Manuel has definitely seen more glamorous times, much like its proprietor Sylvain, an aging transvestite. Inside dusty sparkling rafters slowly turn to the melancholy tunes of Edith Piaf, while Bruno, Sylvain’s old boxer, might snore next to the bar.
If you’re lucky, there’ll be an actual travesty show going on featuring the owner himself and some of his friends, invariably donning an ill-fitting wig and sequined attire. Other times, the bar is pretty much empty with a few scraggly regulars drinking away their last pennies. Service is also slow because Chez Sylvain is truly a one-man show—an act that consumes two glasses of wine himself before serving one. Still, it stands as a slice of something more magical and fun—a window into the true soul of old Pigalle.