Fodor's Paris - Fodor's (2016)
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Updated by Jennifer Ladonne
You haven’t seen the City of Light until you’ve seen the city at night. Throngs pour into popular streets, filling the air with the melody of engaged conversation and clinking glasses. This is when locals let down their hair and reveal their true bonhomie, laughing and dancing, flirting and talking. Parisians love to savor life together: they dine out, drink endless espressos, offer innumerable toasts, and are often so reluctant to separate that they party all night.
Parisians go out weekends and weeknights, late and early. They tend to frequent the same places once they’ve found spots they like: it could be a wine bar, corner café, or hip music club, and you can often find a welcoming “the gang’s all here” atmosphere. A wise way to spend an evening is to pick an area in a neighborhood that interests you, then give yourself time to browse. Parisians also love to bar-hop, and the energy shifts throughout the evening, so be prepared to follow the crowds.
GETTING PAST THE BOUNCER
It shouldn’t surprise any nightlife lover that the more branché (literally, “plugged-in” or trendy) the spot, the knottier the door-entry issue will be. Most bars aren’t a problem, but when it comes to clubbing, don’t assume you’re going to get in just because you show up. This is particularly true at the hot spots near the Champs-Élysées. Although a limo at your disposal and global fame aren’t essential to pass muster, you absolutely must have a cocky yet somehow simultaneously polite attitude and look fabulous. Having a high female quotient in your party definitely helps (models are a particular plus). Solo men—or, worse, groups of men—are going to have a tougher time, unless they are high rollers and have reserved a table (bottle purchase obligatoire).
Most bars stay open until between midnight and 2 am, with no specific last call; however, wine bars and hotel bars tend to close earlier. Clubs often stay open until 4 am, and some until dawn. Many drinking establishments are closed Sunday nights, so check before heading out on the town. If you want to hit bars at a relatively quiet hour, go for an aperitif around 6 pm. The more earnest places offer drink specials at this time, and it’s also when Parisians congregate to make late-night plans. Do be aware that some spots are better for apéro-hour than others. Aperitifs are typically sipped while seated at café tables or on a terrace if weather permits.
The métro runs until 12:40 am Sunday through Thursday; however, there is service on Friday night, Saturday night, and nights before holidays until 2:15 am. After that, you can try a cab, but it can be extremely difficult to find one after midnight or anytime when there’s a chance of rain. Taxi stands are plagued with long lines of prospective passengers waiting for a limited number of vehicles, and even calling one on weekends can be a frustrating exercise. Using smartphone car-hire services, like Uber and its French counterpart Chauffeur Privé, is a better bet; apps can be downloaded at www.uber.com/cities/paris and www.chauffeur-prive.com respectively. As long as you’re in the Wi-Fi zone, cars usually arrive in less than 10 minutes—and drivers will go anywhere in or outside Paris without sizing you up first and deciding whether they feel like it. Another alternative is the Noctilien, the sometimes rowdy night-bus system. If you stay within biking distance of chosen destinations, Paris’s Vélib’ bike program is also an option; after a few drinks, though, it may make more sense to just stay out until the métro starts running again at 5:30 am.
WHAT TO WEAR
Despite their reputation for flair, for the most part Parisians adhere to a conservative-elegant style. Rarely do they deviate from neutrals and accessorization tends to be modest. Sandals are almost unheard-of for men, and neither sex is caught dead wearing sweatpants in public. If you want to blend in (and get into clubs), dress up. Men, you can wear your jeans—designer jeans, that is—but leave the sneakers at your hotel and try adding a blazer. Ladies, dressing up doesn’t necessarily mean a dress and heels—Parisian girls manage to look like a million bucks in pants and a chic top.
Paris bars run the gamut from the toniest hotel lounge to the tiniest neighborhood troquet, where old-timers gather for a chat over their morning petit blanc.
Hotel bars were once considered the aristocrats of the genre. Some mix historic pedigrees with a hushed elegance, while others go for a modern, edgy luxe. A few still represent the chicest spots for frequent high-roller visitors to Paris. But breathtaking prices and the fickle Parisian fashion pack ensure that only the latest, highly hyped bars regularly draw in locals.
Cocktail bars, on the other hand, have been steadily gaining in popularity, edging their way to preeminence in the sophisticated bar scene that was once the domain of a handful of hotels and eminent watering holes. Although most cocktail bars offer anything from craft beer to Champagne, the real focus is on mixed drinks. After many years playing catch-up to New York and London, the Parisian cocktail scene now equals any in the world. Look for greater availability here of the native spirits that make French cocktail culture unique: everything from Calvados to cognac.
Wine bars are different from regular bars in that they also serve food—from simple snacks (like cheese and charcuterie) to full meals, along with handpicked wines that are often “natural” or biodynamique. Wine bars keep mealtime hours and close earlier than proper bars—somewhere between 11 and midnight. Be warned: many establishments calling themselves wine bars or bars à vin are in fact full-fledged restaurants, with no bar to speak of.
Paris’s cabarets range from vintage venues once haunted by Picasso and Piaf to those sinful showplaces where tableaux vivants offer acres of bare flesh. Some of these places, like the Lido, are more Vegas than the petticoat vision re-created by Hollywood in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge—but the rebirth of burlesque is making some of the old-school venues more popular. Although you can dine at many cabarets, food isn’t the attraction. Prices range from about €50 (admission plus one drink) to more than €200 (dinner plus show) and can go as high as €300 for the works. At all but a handful of specific cabarets on specific nights, the clientele tends overwhelmingly to be visitors to Paris, middle-aged and older, from either the French countryside or abroad.
Paris’s hyped boîtes de nuit—more often referred to as simply boîtes (nightclubs)—tend to be expensive and exclusive. If you’re friends with a regular or you’ve modeled in Vogue, you’ll have an easier time getting through the door. Cover charges at some can be upwards of €20, with drinks at the bar starting at €10 for a beer. Others are free to enter, but getting past the doorman can still be problematic. Locals looking to dance generally stick to the smaller clubs, where the cover ranges from free (usually on slower weekdays) to €15, and the emphasis is on the dancing, music, and upbeat atmosphere. Club popularity depends on the night or event, as Parisians are more loyal to certain DJs than venues and often hit two or three spots before ending up at one of the many after-parties, which can last until noon the next day.
GAY AND LESBIAN BARS AND CLUBS
These bars and clubs—mostly concentrated in the Marais and Les Halles—include some of the hipper addresses in the city. Keep in mind, however, that many of these spots fall in and out of favor at lightning speed. The best way to find out what’s hot is by perusing the gay and lesbian magazine Têtu (available at newsstands and online at www.tetu.com) or 2X, the free “agenda” that can be found in any of the venues listed here. Paris’s gay, lesbian, bi, and trans tourist office (www.centrelgbtparis.org) is another good resource, as is the civic-run nightlife website (www.parisnightlife.fr/en).
Pubs wooing English-speaking clients with selections of British and Irish beers exist in Paris. They’re often good places to watch an important soccer match.
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Champs-Élysées | Around the Louvre | Opéra/Grands Boulevards | Montmartre | The Marais | Eastern Paris | Latin Quarter | St-Germain-des-Prés | Montparnasse
As the sun sets, Paris’s most elegant neighborhood comes to life. Join the fashionistas for a coupe de Champagne in an opulent hotel bar, spend a night clubbing with the international jet set, or indulge in a bit of over-the-top French “culture” at a cabaret.
Apicius offers sublime elegance mere steps from the Champs-Élysées. Wander through the luxe front garden and chateau restaurant to the sleekly modern black bar where couture cocktails are concocted to suit any cultured taste. Oddly, it’s closed Saturday and Sunday. | 20 rue d’Artois, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-43-80-19-66 | www.restaurant-apicius.com | Station: George V.
You might find diplomats and other dignitaries discussing state affairs at this rich red den of masculinity in L’Hôtel Raphael, a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe. The hotel’s Rooftop Bar, a well-guarded Parisian secret, was voted the best bar in Europe in recent years. | 17 av. Kléber, 16e, Champs-Élysée | 01-53-64-32-00 | www.raphael-hotel.com | Station: Kléber, Champs-Élysée-Etoile.
Blind Bar, Maison Champs Elysées.
This romantic spot in the ultrachic Maison Champs Elysées offers a wood fire in winter and a quiet terrace in warmer months. Its impressive range of Champagnes and impeccable cocktails is well worth the stellar prices. The separate all-black cigar bar is one of the remaining few in Paris. | 8 rue Jean Goujon, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-40-74-64-65 | www.lamaisonchampselysees.com | Station: Franklin-D.-Roosevelt, Champs-Elysées-Clémenceau.
While it may be past its prime with Parisians, visitors can’t seem to get enough of the high-camp towering gold Buddha that holds court over this bar’s giant palm fronds, red satin walls, and colorful chinoiserie. A themed dining room serves pan-Asian fare. | 8 rue Boissy d’Anglas, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-53-05-90-00 | www.buddhabar.com | Station: Concorde.
A quiet haven off the Champs-Élysées? Doesn’t exist, you say? At Hotel Daniel you can install yourself on an overstuffed silk couch or divan and sip a flute of Champagne while having a quiet conversation until late into the night. Really. | 8 rue Frédéric Bastiat, 8e, Champs-Élysée | 01-42-56-17-00 | www.hoteldanielparis.com | Station: Saint-Philippe du Roule.
The Shangri-La Hotel’s glamorous Empire-style bar serves cocktails with a signature Asian touch. La Bauhinia, the hotel’s restaurant, has well-attended jazz nights on Friday and Saturday. | 10 av. d’Iéna, 16e,Trocadéro | 01-53-67-19-98 | www.shangri-la.com | Station: Iéna.
Le Bar at George V.
An ultraluxe, clubby hideaway in the Four Seasons Hotel, Le Bar at George V is perfect for stargazing from the plush wine-red armchairs, cognac in hand. Its charm still lures the glitterati, especially during fashion weeks. Be sure to notice the hotel’s signature—and stunning—flower arrangements. | 31 av. George V, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-49-52-70-00 | www.fourseasons.com/paris/dining/lounges/le_bar | Station: George V.
Le Bar at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée.
Newly reopened, this hotel bar par excellence has a clubby feel that beckons a younger fashion crowd. Lounge around in leather chairs under an Yves Klein-blue ceiling installation while sipping stylish cocktails, like the signature Rose Royal (Champagne, raspberry, and a splash of cognac). Mood lighting and a live DJ set the tone for a glam late-night rendezvous. | 25 av. Montaigne, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-53-67-66-00 | www.plaza-athenee-paris.com | Station: Alma Marceau.
Fodor’s Choice | Le Bar du Bristol.
Apparently not satisfied with its usual clientele of the rich and powerful, this splendid spot is now vying for the impossibly hip, too. Along with the stellar cocktails, exceptional wines, and tapas by superchef Eric Frechon, Le Bar hosts art appreciation programs on weekdays between 8 and 9:30, and chic Paris DJs heat up the scene between 9:30 and 2 on Friday and Saturday. | 112 rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, 8e,Champs-Élysées | 01-53-43-43-00 | www.lebristolparis.com | Station: Miromesnil.
Le Lucien Bar.
This bar, at Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière, in the center of Paris’s Golden Triangle, offers the kind of bling you’d expect from a designated palace hotel—picture a life-size panther covered in Swarovski crystal. It’s a favorite among the French and Russian jet set, with a lounge vibe and an inviting courtyard terrace. | 46 av. George V, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-40-69-60-00 | www.lucienbarriere.com | Station: George V.
Housed in a former swinger’s club, this nightclub boasts that it has retained the libertine vibe without the libertine ways. Only the trendiest seem to go—and get in. | 36 rue de Ponthieu, 8e, Champs-Élysée | 01-43-59-23-95 | Station: Saint-Philippe-du-Roule.
Pershing Hall has an überstylish lounge with muted colors and minimalist lines, plus an enormous “vertical garden” in the simply stunning indoor courtyard. The chic ambience and hip lounge music make this a popular neighborhood nightspot; starting at 10 pm there’s a DJ. Try the signature Lalique cocktail—it comes in an actual Lalique crystal glass. | 49 rue Pierre Charron, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-58-36-58-00 | www.pershinghall.com | Station: George V.
Open daily until 2 am, this bustling, phantasmagorical, multilevel, bar-brasserie-hipster shop is just across the street from the Arc de Triomphe. | 133 av. des Champs-Élysées, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-44-43-79-00 | www.publicisdrugstore.com | Station: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile.
Fodor’s Choice | Saint James Club Paris.
Like a library room out of Harry Potter, the bar at the Saint James Club Paris—complete with 5,000 leather-bound volumes and a cozy fireplace—is studiously inviting. It’s very French, and open to nonmembers only after 7 pm or during Sunday brunch. The owners are a venerable old Bordeaux family; accordingly, you’ll find a respectable selection of Champagnes and wines. | 43 av. Bugeaud, 16e, Bois de Boulogne | 01-44-05-81-70 | www.saintjamesclub.com | Station: Porte Dauphine.
Fodor’s Choice | Crazy Horse.
This world-renowned cabaret has elevated the striptease to an art form. Founded in 1951, it’s famous for gorgeous dancers and naughty routines characterized by lots of humor and very little clothing. What garments there are have been dazzlingly designed by the likes of Louboutin and Alaïa and shed by top divas (including Dita von Teese). | 12 av. George V, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-47-23-32-32 | www.lecrazyhorseparis.com | Station: Alma-Marceau.
Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2016, the legendary Lido has launched a new show created by Cirque du Soleil alum Franco Dragone, who adds a modern-day dose of awe-inspiring stage design to the cabaret’s trademark style. The 100-minute production—still featuring those beloved Blubell Girls—runs at 9 pm and 11 pm, 365 days a year. Dinner for Two packages for the earlier show include the Soirée Etoile (€165), Soirée Champs-Elysées (€195), and the Soirée Triomphe (€300). If you’re on a budget, €115 gets you a ticket plus half a bottle of bubbly. Did we mention these prices are per person? Ah yes, this is Paris nightlife as it’s meant to be experienced. Although the Lido holds 1,150, it’s best to your book tickets in advance by phone, online, or on-site. | 116 bis, av. des Champs-Élysées, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-40-76-56-10 | www.lido.fr | Station: George V.
Known as “BC” to its trendsetting devotees, Black Calavados is a sleek bar where the party starts late (don’t bother coming before 1 am) and lasts until morning. Ring the buzzer out front for the doorman to assess your worth—this is a celebrity hangout. Inside, try the Black Kiss, a shot of black vodka served on ice with sugar-cube lips. If all else fails, head upstairs to the smaller but equally sexy Blitz tequila bar. | 40 av. Pierre 1er de Serbie, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-47-20-77-77 | Station: Alma-Marceau or George V.
Formerly a seedy “hostess” bar, Le Baron didn’t bother to update its decadent cabaret decor (red banquettes, mirror ball, and baronial top-hat sign) when it opened in 2004—and it didn’t need to. Models, musicians, and Oscar winners party until morning while indulging in the bar’s classic cocktail: a mix of red fruits, Champagne, and vodka called the Baron Deluxe. It’s notoriously difficult to get in. | 6 av. Marceau, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-47-20-04-01 | www.clublebaron.com | Station: Alma-Marceau.
Mathi’s Bar is one of the best-kept secrets on the Paris bar-lounge scene. If you can talk your way past the stern door-people, you can mingle with oligarchs, artists, and visiting American movie stars in the poshly decadent atmosphere. It gets cozier on weekends. | 3 rue Ponthieu, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-53-76-01-62 | www.paris-hotel-mathis.com | Station: Saint-Philippe-du-Roule.
This mythic gay club of the ‘90s is not quite as monumental as it once was, but it still packs ‘em in and the doors are still difficult to get through, especially—inevitably—on weekends. Proudly hosting a fantastic roster of top DJs, it’s known for its campy soirées. These days it attracts a gay-straight mix of international partygoers eager to dance on podiums. | 102 av. des Champs-Élysées, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-53-89-08-90 | www.queen.fr | Station: George V.
Fodor’s Choice | Showcase.
Nestled under the arches of the golden Pont Alexandre III, Showcase takes the gold medal for best location. The sleekly cavernous dance space heats up to a fever pitch after midnight, thanks to the propulsive beats of big-name acts and underground indie groups. Check the website for raucous party nights when international DJs turn up the temperature. | Pont Alexandre III, Port des Champs-Élysées, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-45-61-25-43 | www.showcase.fr | Station: Champs-Élysées Clemenceau, Invalides.
Jazz Club Etoile.
This moody club at the Méridien Hotel hosts a roster of top-billed international musicians in a classy set of rooms. Check out the Sunday afternoon jazz brunch buffet and the interior garden. | Méridien Hotel, 81 bd. Gouvion-St-Cyr, 17e, Bois de Boulogne | 01-40-68-30-42 | www.jazzclub-paris.com | Station: Porte Maillot.
Fodor’s Choice | Zig Zag.
One of the city’s newest venues, Zig Zag has a state-of-the-art sound system, a glam location, and a riotous dance floor with room for 1,200 revelers. That combination is proving hugely popular. Join the enthusiastic crowd gyrating to electrobeats from DJs or live bands ensconced on an illuminated stage highlighted by two giant screens, or observe the action from the wraparound balcony. | 32 rue Marbeuf, 8e,Champs-Élysées | 06-35-25-03-61 | zigzagclub.fr | Station: Franklin-D.-Roosevelt.
AROUND THE LOUVRE
The cocktail craze has taken off in this atmospheric neighborhood, where dusky speakeasies and cozy hotel bars provide the perfect prelude to an evening of jazz or dancing ’til dawn at hip all-night clubs.
Fodor’s Choice | Ballroom du Beef Club.
Unmarked black door, basement setting, pressed-tin ceilings, atmospheric lighting—did anyone say speakeasy? All this and luscious libations draw a sophisticated crowd that appreciates the extra touches that make this cocktail bar a standout. | 58 rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau, 1er, Les Halles | 09-54-37-13-65 | Station: Les Halles, Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre.
Behind a nondescript facade you’ll find a 1930s-style bar-club-restaurant arranged like a private home, with a series of rooms on three floors—including a special smoking lounge—and lots of corners where the casually stylish cool cats of Paris get cozy until the wee hours. | 47 rue Berger, 1er, Les Halles | 01-40-13-12-12 | www.chachaclub.fr | Station: Louvre Rivoli.
Experimental Cocktail Club.
Fashioned as a speakeasy on a tiny brick-paved street, the Experimental Cocktail Club seems like it should be lighted by gas lamps. The show is all about the alcool; colorful, innovative cocktails like the Lemon Drop are mixed with aplomb by friendly (and attractive) bartenders. By 11 pm it’s packed with a diverse mix of locals, professionals, and fashionistas, who occasionally dress up like characters from a Toulouse-Lautrec painting on special costume nights. | 37 rue Saint-Sauveur, 2e, Les Halles | 01-45-08-88-09 | Station: Réamur-Sébastopol.
A custom-DJ’d music track, enticing love seats, and inventive cocktails make this an easy choice for an intimate evening in sophisticated surroundings. Need further incentive to return? Jefrey’s lets you keep your bottle stored on the shelf, with your name on it, for next time. | 14 rue Saint-Sauveur, 2e, Les Halles | 01-42-33-60-77 | www.jefreys.fr | Station: Étienne Marcel.
Le Café Noir.
Parisians from bobos (bourgeois-bohemians) to pompiers (firefighters) are lured to Le Café Noir’s elegantly worn digs. In addition to cool drinks and friendly staff, the place features a pipe-smoking papier-mâché fish and a vintage leopard-print-covered motorbike. (The restaurant with the same name is unrelated.) | 65 rue Montmartre, 2e, Les Halles | 01-40-39-07-36 | www.cafenoirparis.fr | Station: Étienne Marcel.
Gay and Lesbian Bars and Clubs
Banana Café draws a trendy, scantily clad mixed crowd and offers show tunes in the cellar, where dancing on tables is the norm. A very happy happy hour lasts from 6 to 11 pm to prime the audience for the incomparable banana “go-go boys” nightly show—ooh la la! | 13 rue de la Ferronnerie, 1er, Les Halles | 01-42-33-35-31 | www.bananacafeparis.com | Station: Châtelet Les Halles.
Le Dépôt is a cruising bar, club, and the largest back room in Europe. The ever-popular Gay Tea Dance spices up Sunday afternoon. | 10 rue aux Ours, 3e, Les Halles | 01-44-54-96-96 | www.ledepot-paris.com | Station: Étienne Marcel.
Young tortured-artist types flock here to enjoy the frequent art exhibitions, alternative music, and mood-inspiring ambient lighting. | 25 rue Michel-Le-Comte, 3e, Les Halles | 01-42-72-80-86 | www.duplex-bar.com | Station: Rambuteau.
Duc des Lombards.
Located in a famously bopping neighborhood, the Duc’s cozy interior and top-class jazz acts make it one of the city’s most popular small venues. It’s best to purchase advance tickets online (go to bons plans for discounted tickets). | 42 rue des Lombards, 1er, Les Halles | 01-42-33-22-88 | www.ducdeslombards.com | Station: Châtelet Les Halles.
This two-part club hosts French and American jazz musicians: the Sunside upstairs is devoted mostly to acoustic jazz, while the Sunset downstairs features everything from electronic jazz, fusion, and groove to classic and swing. Jam sessions have been known to last well into the wee hours. | 60 rue des Lombards, 1er, Les Halles | 01-40-26-46-60 | www.sunset-sunside.com | Station: Châtelet Les Halles.
Hôtel Meurice converted its ground-floor Fontainebleau library into the intimate Bar 228, with wood paneling and huge murals depicting the royal hunting forests of Fontainebleau. Its loyal fashion crowd is continually wooed by Philippe Starck’s decor updates and lubricated with the bar’s famous Bellinis. Try the Meurice Millennium cocktail, made with Champagne, rose liqueur, and Cointreau. | 228 rue de Rivoli, 1er, Louvre | 01-44-58-10-66 | www.lemeurice.com | Station: Tuileries.
Since this monolithic marble bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel opened its doors, it has been the “in” game in town. There’s an extensive Champagne menu, and the terrace is especially busy during fashion weeks. | 251 rue Saint-Honoré, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-70-98-78-88 | www.mandarinoriental.com | Station: Concorde, Tuileries.
The Hemingway Bar & the Ritz Bar.
Literature lovers, cocktail connoisseurs, and other drink-swilling devotees drew a collective sigh when the iconic Hemingway Bar & the Ritz Bar were shuttered—along with the rest of the Ritz—when the hotel closed for a top-to-bottom makeover in 2012. It’s expected that libations will start being poured again in late 2015. Watch for the big reveal: this is one of the most hotly anticipated face-lifts in Paris. | 15 pl. Vendôme, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries | www.ritzparis.com | Station: Opéra.
Despite years on the scene, Hôtel Costes still draws big names—and not just during fashion weeks. Expect to cross paths with anyone from Rihanna to Orlando Bloom, as long as you make it past the chilly greeting of the statuesque hostess. Dressing to kill is strongly advised, especially for newcomers; otherwise, expect all the tables to be suddenly reserved. | 239 rue St-Honoré, 1er, Louvre | 01-42-44-50-25 | hotelcostes.com | Station: Tuileries.
At this bar, in Chanel’s old neighborhood, you can order tea and macarons until midnight—in addition to cocktails. | 33-37 rue Cambon, 1e, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-44-58-44-58 | www.castille.com | Station:Concorde, Madeleine.
Le Bar O d’Ora Ïto.
Slip into a sinuous banquette at Hôtel Odyssey’s intimate, stylish bar while you still can. It’s an undiscovered gem, ideal for savoring a choice selection of ambrosial cocktails. The Cointreau Fizz—a blend of ginger soda, lemon, and Cointreau, with a split vanilla bean and a hint of rose—is as classy as they come. | 19 rue Herold, 1er, Around the Louvre | 01-42-36-04-02 | www.hotelodysseyparis.com | Station: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre, Sentier, Les Halles.
Le Fumoir is an oh-so-reliably ultrachic charmer across from the Louvre, where fashionable neighborhood gallery owners and young professionals meet for late-afternoon wine, early-evening cocktails, or dinner. It features a superstocked bar in the front, an ample multilingual library in the back, and chessboards for the clientele to use while sipping martinis. | 6 rue de l’Amiral-Coligny, 1er, Louvre | 01-42-92-00-24 | www.lefumoir.com | Station: Louvre.
Kong is glorious not only for its panoramic skyline views, but for its exquisite manga-inspired decor, the top-shelf DJs for weekend dancing, and its kooky, disco-ball-and-kid-sumo-adorned bathrooms. | 1 rue du Pont-Neuf, 1er, Louvre | 01-40-39-09-00 | www.kong.fr | Station: Pont-Neuf.
Although it’s no longer on the Champs-Élysées, this temple of bling still attracts hot DJs, beautiful people, and—VIPs! Check the website for the latest soirée: usually R&B-hip-hop-Top 40 crowd pleasers. There’s a gift shop, a ground-floor café, and a pricey Italian restaurant on the top floor. Dress to impress. | 188 bis, rue de Rivoli, 1er, Louvre | 01-58-36-46-00 | www.viproom.fr | Station: Palais-Royal.
Paris Cocktail Bars
The cocktail bar is undergoing a renaissance in Paris. In fact, classy concoctions haven’t been served up with such flair since the days when the Bloody Mary and the sidecar were introduced at fabled Harry’s Bar and martinis were the drink du jour at the Ritz Hotel’s Hemingway Bar (the writers and aristocrats who assembled at the latter included the bar’s notoriously thirsty namesake).
The new cocktail bars run the gamut from dauntingly elegant hotel lounges to designer dives, and they attract a diverse crowd willing to shell out anywhere from €10 to €26 a pop. Once called barmen, the new curators of cocktails are “mixologists,” and the best of the lot garner fame and a following among devoted enthusiasts. Drinks are crafted, ingredients are sourced, the booze is barrel-aged or infused, syrups are house-made, and the ice is artisanal. Many also serve excellent food.
Opening hours tend to be perfect for an apéro (six-o’clock-ish). Closing hours tend to be in synch with average Paris bars (around 2 am); cocktail bars in hotels (which can close as early as 11 pm on weeknights) are an exception. Here are a few standouts:
Le Bar O d’Ora Ïto (Hôtel Odyssey): Sip custom cocktails in a bar that’s as sleek and stylish as the hotel that houses it.
Glass: Party to the DJ beats at this shrine to urban cool—complete with microbrews and a frozen-drinks machine.
Dirty Dick: The newest destination cocktail club combines retro tiki-lounge cheekiness with a serious selection of rum.
La Conserverie: High-low loft style, a congenial atmosphere, and superlative drinks draw the cocktail cognoscenti.
Le Mary Celeste: Hipsters come for happy-hour oysters—then stay to linger over craft cocktails and natural wines.
Little Red Door: This tiny trendsetter with atmosphere to spare serves sophisticated choices behind its eponymous door.
Playtime Cocktails (Artus Hotel): Expect an intimate Mad Men vibe with banquettes, and classy classic cocktails.
L’Entrée des Artistes: It’s too moody and dark to read the drinks menu, so just point your finger—it’s all good.
Ballroom du Beef Club: An unmarked door, a dim interior, and upholstered loveseats add to the speakeasy ambience.
Prescription Cocktail Club: Lively and louche, it’s just what the doctor ordered—if your doctor is Dorothy Parker.
This elegant spot (the oldest gay club in Paris) takes gay pride to the heart of the Louvre district on the weekends. Club 18 boasts a well-earned reputation as a “friendly party scene.”|18 rue de Beaujolais, 1er,Louvre | 01-42-97-52-13 | www.club18.fr | Station: Palais Royal.
An assortment of well-established British-Irish pubs and clubs brings an Anglo-inflected nuance to this many-faceted neighborhood that bustles by day and empties out at night.
The city’s nouveau-riche chill to electro-lounge tunes and world music here, drinking in Barramundi’s cool golden ambience as they sip cold tropical drinks at the long copper bar. | 3 rue Taitbout, 9e,Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-47-70-21-21 | www.barramundi.fr | Station: Richelieu Drouot.
Café Oz zips you Down Under to big-screen soccer and rugby games amid Aussie expats. There are several locations around Paris. | 8 bd. Montmartre, 9e, Grands Boulevards | 01-47-70-18-52 | www.cafe-oz.com | Station: Grands Boulevards.
Paris Jazz Clubs
The French fell hard for jazz during World War I, but the real coup de foudre—literally “lightning bolt” or figuratively “love at first sight”—came after the war when Yank sax man Sidney Bechet and 19-year-old song-and-dance vamp Josephine Baker of St. Louis joined a European tour of the Revue Nègre musical. Baker, or the “Black Venus that haunted Baudelaire,” as she was known by French critics, instantly became the sweetheart of Paris. Note: a larger-than-life picture of Baker wearing only a smile, a string of pearls, and a thigh-high skirt today adorns a wall of historic photographs along the platform of the Tuileries métro.
By 1934 France had created its own impressive claim to jazz fame, the all-string Quintette du Hot Club de France, which featured Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and his partner, violinist Stéphane Grappelli. They, in turn, influenced string players from country musicians to Carlos Santana. Reinhardt performed throughout much of World War II in the underground French jazz scene. In the 1950s Paris grew to become a major destination of the bebop diaspora, and expat jazz musicians including Bechet, Bud Powell, and Dexter Gordon played the venues along with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. France embraced the evolving jazz sound that many Americans were still struggling to accept and provided a worshipful welcome to musicians battling discrimination at home. In Paris, Davis said, he was “treated like a human being.”
Want a night of jazz?
The French obsession with jazz continues to this day, and travelers seeking a quintessential Parisian experience have the opportunity to hear jazz artists from all over the world nearly any night of the week. Aficionados can choose anything from traditional jazz to the latest experimental efforts, in clubs ranging from casual to chichi, sedate to hopping. Many venues present a wide spectrum of music. A good option is the double club on Rue des Lombards near Les Halles: Le Sunside specializes in more traditional jazz, and its downstairs sister, Le Sunset, features edgier options.
Music generally begins after 9 pm, so plan accordingly. You can dine at some of the clubs, including Le Petit Journal Montparnasse, or in the Hotel Méridien on the Champs-Élysées, which houses the classy Jazz Club Etoile.
As everywhere else in the city, the French folks at the clubs tend to dress more stylishly than the average traveler with a limited wardrobe, but they’re generally a tolerant bunch—particularly in venues frequented by students and in the heart of tourist areas (like Caveau de la Huchette, a hot cellar dance club across the river from Notre-Dame). Keep in mind, though, that the French are serious about their jazz: with a few exceptions, the audience is generally focused and quiet during performances.
The best place to find out what’s playing and even purchase tickets is at www.infoconcert.com or on club websites, some of which offer English versions. Pariscope, Jazz Magazine, and Jazz Hot, available at newsstands, have listings in English and French. Reservations can be critical, especially for leading U.S. jazz musicians.
Paris Jazz Clubs
Recognizable names to watch for include expat Yank flute-and-sax-man Bobby Rangell and singer Sara Lazarus, and much-loved French musicians like the pianists Alain Jean-Marie and Pierre de Bethman, sax man Didier Malherbe, and Olivier Ker Ourio on the harmonica. You might want to check out a jazz style you’re less likely to find at home, though, like the latest iteration of Gypsy musette (a distinctive, swing-infused interpretation of old Paris dance music) presented by virtuosos like accordionist Richard Galliano, violinist Didier Lockwood, and the guitar-picking Ferre brothers, Boulou and Elios. Look for them inside Duc des Lombards on Rue des Lombards. Alternatively, you can head to New Morning, on Rue des Petites-Ecuries—it’s the top spot for experimental and avant-garde jazz.
The best place to find out what’s playing and even purchase tickets is at www.infoconcert.com or on club websites, some of which offer English versions. Pariscope, Jazz Magazine, and Jazz Hot, available at newsstands, have listings in English and French. Reservations can be critical, especially for leading U.S. jazz musicians.
Entrance charges are rarely more than €20 and often less. Some venues have free jam sessions, depending on the night, so check listings. Drink prices can be sky-high, but most table staff won’t harass budget-conscious customers nursing a single drink.
Another way to experience a variety of top-quality jazz is by attending world-renowned Paris festivals that run from early spring through September, including the Banlieues Bleues (01-49-22-10-10 | www.banlieuesbleues.org), the Paris Jazz Festival (01-48-72-32-97 | www.parisjazzfestival.fr), and the Jazz à la Villette Festival (01-44-84-44-84 | www.citedelamusique.fr).
Corcoran’s Irish Pub.
This roomy pub, with several locations in central Paris, has an ample menu, a gorgeous bar, plus old-timey photos and quotations on the walls—such as “He who opens his mouth most is the one who opens his purse least.” Conversation turns to dancing at night with a regulated guy-to-girl ratio, so men shouldn’t try coming alone. | 23 bd. Poissonière, 2e, Grands Boulevards | 01-40-39-00-16 | Station: Grands Boulevards.
Fodor’s Choice | Delaville Café.
With its huge, heated sidewalk terrace, Belle Époque mosaic-tile bar, graffitied walls, and swishy lounge, Delaville Café boasts a funky Baroque ambience. Hot Paris DJs ignite the scene Thursday to Saturday, so arrive early on weekends if you want a seat. | 34 bd. Bonne Nouvelle, 10e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-48-24-48-09 | delavillecafe.com | Station: Bonne Nouvelle, Grands Boulevards.
A favorite not only for its prestigious location between Opéra and Place Vendôme, but also for its worn-leather chairs and English-private-club feel, the Westminster Hotel’s bar offers drinks like the “James Bond” and “Duke’s Martini.” At times you get the feeling that Mr. Hercule Poirot is lurking just behind that wing chair. | 13 rue de la Paix, 2e, Opéra | 01-42-61-55-11 | www.hotel-westminster-opera-paris.fr | Station: Opéra.
Also known as Harry’s New York Bar, this cozy, wood-paneled hangout decorated with dusty college pennants is popular with expats and American-loving French people who welcome the ghosts of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who drank themselves unconscious here. Founded in 1911, Gershwin composed “An American in Paris” in the piano bar downstairs and the Bloody Mary is said to have originated on-site. | 5 rue Daunou, 2e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-42-61-71-14 | www.harrysbar.fr | Station: Opéra.
This ever-popular Irish pub near the Place Vendôme attracts both a posh after-work crowd and salt-of-the-earth types. Authentic trimmings—including stained glass and Gaelic street signs—are decor highlights. A restaurant serves pub standards like fish-and-chips, and rugby games are shown on the big screen in season. Check the website for guest DJs and concert info. | 10 rue des Capucines, 2e, Opéra | 01-40-15-00-30 | www.kittyosheas.com | Station: Opéra.
Fodor’s Choice | La Conserverie.
La Conserverie is a rustic-elegant loft space with exposed ductwork, Aubusson tapestries, comfy sofas, and glass-bottle chandeliers. Skillfully crafted cocktails—for those on and off the wagon—and reliably good food keep the crowd convivial. A smaller downstairs space accommodates romantics. Reserve ahead to be sure of a table. | 37 bis, rue du Sentier, 2e, Grands Boulevards | 01-40-26-14-94 | www.laconserveriebar.com | Station: Bonne Nouvelle, Sentier.
Le Bar Long.
At the Royal Monceau’s innovative bar your mixologist will fix your drink right next to you at the illuminated, Philippe Stark-designed bar. The collection of glasses on the walls isn’t just decoration—you may choose which to drink from. A light tapas menu is served between 6 and 11 pm. | 37 av. Hoche, 8e, Grands Boulevards | 01-42-99-88-00 | www.leroyalmonceau.com | Station: Ternes.
What looks, sounds, and feels like an English pub but kicks booty like a punk club? Le Truskel. The basement showcases gigs by the globe’s hottest new alternative acts, while a loud, happy Parisian rocker crowd staggers around the roomy bar. | 12 rue Feydeau, 2e, Grands Boulevards | 01-40-26-59-97 | www.truskel.com | Station: Bourse.
This old-world-style wine-and- chanson bistro oozes Parisian charm. It serves food until 10 pm Tuesday-Sunday before giving way to the singing of traditional French songs of “expression,” with musical accompaniment bien sûr. There’s no entrance fee; musicians pass the hat. | 18 cité Bergère, 9e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-45-23-33-33 | limonaire.free.fr | Station: Grands Boulevards.
This temple of techno and house is popular with students and open Wednesday through Sunday. One of France’s most famous DJs, Laurent Garnier, is sometimes at the turntables. | 5 bd. Poissonnière, 2e,Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-42-36-10-96 | www.rexclub.com | Station: Grands Boulevards.
David Lynch named his nightclub after a reference in his Oscar hit, Mulholland Drive. Silencio, which hosts concerts, films, and other performances, is open only to members and their guests until midnight; after that everyone is allowed. Guest DJs spin until 4 am Monday through Thursday, 6 am on Friday and Saturday. | 142 rue Montmartre, 2e, Grands Boulevards | 01-40-13-12-33 | www.silencio-club.com | Station: Bourse, Sentier.
Fodor’s Choice | New Morning.
At New Morning—the premier spot for serious fans of avant-garde jazz, folk, and world music—the look is spartan, the mood reverential. | 7 rue des Petites-Ecuries, 10e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-45-23-51-41 | www.newmorning.com | Station: Château d’Eau.
Vestiges of this quartier’s absinthe-tinged heyday, immortalized by Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir, still endure in the cabarets and clubs that extend from the heights of Montmartre down to louche Pigalle’s newly vibrant cocktail bar and dance scene.
Café la Fourmi.
One of Pigalle’s trendiest addresses, Café la Fourmi has a funky, spacious bar-café where cool locals party. | 74 rue des Martyrs, 18e, Montmartre/Pigalle | 01-42-64-70-35 | Station: Pigalle.
Fodor’s Choice | Dirty Dick.
An updated version of the classic tiki lounge, this stylish option in a newly hip neighborhood comes complete with lurid lighting, life-size totems, and retro rattan furniture. All the exotic drinks you’d expect at a Polynesian beach hut (or ‘60s motel lounge) are here—including fruity cocktails, a range of rums, and punch bowls with names like Amazombie. | 10 rue Frochot, 9e, Montmartre/Pigalle | 01-48-78-74-58 | Station: Pigalle.
Fodor’s Choice | Glass.
Masquerading as a dive in Pigalle’s rapidly gentrifying red-light district, this dark, candlelighted space is actually a shrine to urban cool. Hipsters party to a DJ while knocking back sophisticated cocktails, artisanal beers, and frosty margaritas from the frozen-drinks machine. It might also be the only place in Paris to find a boilermaker (a beer and a shot). Gourmet hot dogs help fuel the late-night party scene. | 9 rue Frochot, 9e, Montmartre/Pigalle | 06-25-16-72-17 | www.glassparis.com | Station: Pigalle.
Ice Kube proves you don’t have to be hot to be popular: this ice-theme bar in Montmartre’s Kube Hotel isn’t cheap—it’s €25 for the 25-minute session degustation (entrance fee and three vodka cocktails)—but the fur banquettes, aurora borealis lighting, glasses carved from ice, and subzero vodka chamber make for an unforgettably “chill” experience. | 1-5 passage Ruelle, 18e, Montmartre | 01-42-05-20-00 | www.kubehotel-paris.com | Station: La Chapelle.
Le Rendez-Vous des Amis.
This makes an intriguing midway breather if you climb the hill of Montmartre by foot. Le Rendez-Vous des Amis has a jovial staff, eclectic music, and a century’s worth of previous patrons immortalized in photos. | 23 rue Gabrielle, 18e, Montmartre | 01-46-06-01-60 | Station: Abbesses.
Café by day, Le Sancerre turns into an essential watering hole for Montmartrois and artists at night, with Belgian beers on tap and an impressive list of cocktails. Locals love its traditional old-school vibe. | 35 rue des Abbesses, 18e, Montmartre | 01-42-58-08-20 | Station: Abbesses.
Fodor’s Choice | Au Lapin Agile.
An authentic survivor from the 19th century, Au Lapin Agile considers itself the doyen of cabarets. Founded in 1860, it inhabits the same modest house that was a favorite subject of painter Maurice Utrillo. It became the home-away-from-home for Braque, Modigliani, Apollinaire, and Picasso—who once paid for a meal with one of his paintings, then promptly exited and painted another that he named after this place. There are no topless dancers; this is a genuine French cabaret with songs, poetry, and humor (in French) in a pub-like setting. Entry is €28. | 22 rue des Saules, 18e, Montmartre | 01-46-06-85-87 | www.au-lapin-agile.com | Station: Lamarck Caulaincourt.
The always-decked-out-in-blue owner, Michou, presents an over-the-top show here. It features tranformiste men on stage in extravagant drag, performing with high camp for a radically different cabaret experience. Dinner shows are €110 and €140, or you can watch from the bar for €40, which includes a drink. | 80 rue des Martyrs, 18e, Montmartre | 01-46-06-16-04 | www.michou.com | Station: Pigalle.
When it opened in 1889, the Moulin Rouge lured Parisians of all social stripes—including, of course, the famous Toulouse-Lautrec, who immortalized the venue and its dancers in his paintings. Although shows are no longer quite so exotic (no elephants or donkey rides for the ladies), you will still see the incomparable French cancan. It’s the highlight of what is now a classy version of a Vegas-y revue, starring 100 dancers, acrobats, ventriloquists, and contortionists, and more than 1,000 costumes. Dinner starts at 7, revues at 9 and 11 (arrive 30 minutes early). Men are expected to wear a jacket. Prices range from €112 for just a revue to €210 for a luxe dinner and a show. | 82 bd. de Clichy, 18e, Montmartre | 01-53-09-82-82 | www.moulinrouge.fr | Station: Blanche.
A first-class shopping destination by day, by night this superchic neighborhood draws a diverse and trendy crowd for its branché cocktail bars and the city’s most vibrant gay and lesbian scene.
Andy Wahloo has a hip crowd and an Andy Warhol-meets- Casablanca decor. Fans of the ginger-rum Wahloo spéciales relax on oversize paint-can stools beneath high-kitsch silk-screened Moroccan coffee ads, and listen to funky Arabic Raï remixes. Dancing to DJs starts later in the night. | 69 rue des Gravilliers, 3e, Marais | 01-42-71-20-38 | andywahloo-bar.com | Station: Arts et Métiers.
You’ll feel like an honorary Highlander at Auld Alliance, where Scottish shields adorn the walls and the bar staff (who don kilts for special events) serve 120-plus types of whiskey. Scottish beer and pub grub, including a haggis burger, are also available. It’s a great place to catch televised soccer or rugby matches, and, on occasion, live music. | 80 rue François Miron, 4e, Marais | 01-48-04-30-40 | www.theauldalliance.com | Station: St-Paul.
Bar at the Hotel Jules & Jim.
The look here is something between a chic contemporary Paris apartment and a low-key lounge. Enjoy a cocktail over a good book from the bar library, or relax with a smooth drink in front of the outdoor fireplace. | 11 rue des Gravilliers, 3e, Marais | 01-44-54-13-13 | www.hoteljulesetjim.com | Station: Arts et Métiers, Rambuteau.
Fodor’s Choice | Candelaria.
Steamy Candelaria is a tacqueria by day and a cocktail lounge by night. The tang of tequila hangs in the air at this hip hideaway, where deftly crafted drinks are poured for a contented crowd. | 52 rue de Saintonge, 3e, Marais | 01-42-74-41-28 | www.candelariaparis.com | Station: Filles du Calvaire.
Equal parts cocktail bar and gourmet pizzeria, this stylish offspring of the übercool concept store Merci promises top-quality libations and stone-oven-baked pizza. The decor is industrial-rustic, with pressed-tin ceilings and a corrugated-iron bar, all enhanced by mood lighting. It’s jam-packed with neighborhood hipsters, so reservations are a must. | 91 bd. Beaumarchais, 3e, Marais | 01-42-78-11-96 | www.graziegrazie.fr | Station: Saint-Sébastien-Froissart.
La Belle Hortense.
This spot is heaven for anyone who ever wished they had a book in a bar (or a drink in a bookstore). The bar litteraire is the infamous spot where gal-about-town Catherine M. launched her vie sexuelle that became a bawdy bestseller. | 31 rue Vielle-du-Temple, 4e, Marais | 01-48-04-74-60 | Station: St-Paul.
La Perle is a bustling, buzzy Marais masterpiece, where straights, gays, and lesbians of all types come to mingle. The crowd makes this place interesting, not the neon lights, diner-style seats, or stripped-down decor. It continues to pack in some of the city’s fashion movers and shakers from midafternoon on. | 78 rue Vielle-du-Temple, 3e, Marais | 01-42-72-69-93 | cafelaperle.com | Station: Chemin-Vert.
Fodor’s Choice | Le Mary Celeste.
Half-price oysters at happy hour (6-7 pm) aren’t the only reason this refreshingly unpretentious cocktail bar has been wildly popular since debuting in 2013. One of a trilogy of superhip watering holes (including Candelaria and Glass) opened by a trio of expat restaurateurs, its craft cocktails, microbrews, natural wines, and standout tapas menu deliver the goods and then some. If you’re planning to dine, reserve ahead online. | 1 rue Commines, 3e, Marais | www.lemaryceleste.com | Station: Saint-Sébastian-Froissart.
Le Trésor is lively and sophisticated, with mismatched Baroque furnishings in a large space and a chill vibe on a tiny street that’s a tad separated from the sometimes-madding crowd of the Marais. | 7 rue du Trésor, 4e, Marais | 01-42-71-35-17 | Station: St-Paul.
Little Red Door.
Behind the red door, you’ll discover a dark, cozy lounge that has style, sophistication, and atmosphere without the attitude. Creative cocktails—supplemented by artisanal beers and well-chosen wines by the glass (the last of which aren’t always easy to come by in a cocktail bar)—can be enjoyed from a cushy velour barstool or cubbyhole alcove. | 60 rue Charlot, 3e, Marais | 01-42-71-19-32 | www.lrdparis.com | Station:Filles du Calvert.
Max y Jeremy.
An almost-too-cool crew can be found in Max y Jeremy’s red ember-like interior, drinking cocktails and eating the sultry bite-sized pintxos of Basque country. There’s a distinct party atmosphere here, which can spill into the street, especially in summer. | 6 rue Dupuis, 3e, Marais | 01-42-78-00-68 | www.maxyjeremy.com | Station: Temple.
Fodor’s Choice | Sherry Butt.
On a quiet street close to the Bastille, Sherry Butt’s relaxed loftlike atmosphere, imaginative drinks, whiskey flights, and tasty bar menu draw a lively crowd that appreciates meticulously crafted cocktails. A DJ spins on weekends. | 20 rue Beautreillis, 4e, Marais | 09-83-38-47-80 | www.sherrybuttparis.com | Station: Bastille, Sully-Morland.
Gay and Lesbian Bars and Clubs
3W, as in “Women With Women,” is a pillar of the lesbian scene. | 8 rue des Ecouffes, 4e, Marais | 01-48-87-39-26 | Station: St-Paul.
“Le Cox” is a prime gay pickup joint. Behind the frosted-glass windows of the fire-engine-red hot spot, men appraise the talent. The café is known for its live DJ sets; and the extended Sunday happy hour—from 6 pm to 2 am—is a rollicking good time. | 15 rue des Archives, 4e, Marais | 01-42-72-08-00 | www.cox.fr | Station: Hôtel de Ville.
Fodor’s Choice | Concrete.
On a barge moored in the Seine, superhip Concrete is one of Paris’s preeminent hard-core dance venues. It goes full tilt until the wee hours on Friday and Saturday nights; it also opens on alternate Sundays, when you can party from 7 am to 2 am accompanied by live acts—heavy on the techno—and Paris’s hottest DJs. | 69 port de la Rapée, Bastille/Nation | No phone | www.concreteparis.fr | Station: Gare de Lyon, Gare d’Austerlitz.
Drawing everyone from suits to punks, this spot is less of a gay meat market than neighboring Café Cox. Relaxed and always packed, it has a disco-café vibe. | 17 rue des Archives, 4e, Marais | 01-42-72-26-18 | www.opencafe.fr | Station: Hôtel de Ville.
The ever-popular Raidd has a darker downstairs bar and potent drinks. The men are hot, and so is the steamy shower show presented after 11 pm—not for timid voyeurs. | 23 rue du Temple, 3e, Marais | 01-42-77-04-88 | www.raiddbar.com | Station: Hôtel de Ville, St-Paul.
So What! So What! is a happening lesbian bar in the heart of the gay district that welcomes all comers (including small groups of men). The DJ in the tiny basement cooks on Friday and Saturday nights. | 30 rue du Roi de Sicile, 4e, Marais | 01-42-71-24-59 | Station: St-Paul.
Carefully safeguarding its dance-hall origins, Tango lures a friendly mixed crowd of gays, lesbians, and “open-minded” heteros. Late-night music is mostly French and American pop, but the DJ plays classic chansons (French torch songs) before midnight—so arrive early to waltz and swing! | 13 rue au Maire, 3e, Marais | 01-42-72-17-78 | www.boite-a-frissons.fr | Station: Arts et Métiers.
Young and hip—from the colorful cafés and bars surrounding Place de la Bastille to the newly chic 20e arrondissement, with Oberkampf’s artsy cocktail clubs and the Canal St-Martin’s trendy watering holes in between—there’s enough here for a week of stellar nights out.
Barrio Latino rocks the rafters for adventurers who love to indulge in Latin cultures from Brazilian to Cuban in the middle of Paris. The quirky four-story hacienda-resto, two dance bars, and top-floor nightclub fuel the devoted who shake to salsa and samba beats all night. The pricey €20 weekend entrance fee includes a drink. | 46-48 rue du Faubourg St-Antoine, 12e, Bastille | 01-55-78-84-75 | www.barrio-latino.com | Station: Bastille.
A casual dance club in an old ballroom, Le Balajo has been around since 1936. Latin groove, funk, and R&B disco are the standards, with old-style musette Sunday afternoons, salsa on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and rock on Wednesday. Saturday is ladies’ night, with a half-price entrance charge. | 9 rue de Lappe, 11e, Bastille | 01-47-00-07-87 | www.balajo.fr | Station: Bastille.
Folie en Tête.
Folie en Tête or “Lunacy in the Head,” is a former mainstay of Paris’s ‘70s punk scene. The comfortable interior is decorated with percussion instruments, comic books, and old skis. It’s known for world music and jazz, not to mention the traffic light in the toilet that lets you know when it’s safe to enter. | 33 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, 13e, Bercy/Tolbiac | 01-45-80-65-99 | lafolieentete.wix.com/lesite | Station:Corvisart, Place d’Italie.
An old tugboat refitted as a hip (yet reasonably priced) bar and concert venue, Le Batofar plays eclectic music, from live world-beat to electronic and techno. (Stylish) sneakers are recommended on the slippery deck. | Port de la Gare, 13e, Bercy/Tolbiac | 01-53-60-17-00 | www.batofar.org | Station: Bibliothèque.
This is not the place to stand around. Le Djoon attracts a devoted dance crowd, and DJs (inspired by the ‘80s New York house scene) mix afro, disco, and funk. It’s a taxi-ride away from everywhere, but a fun diversion from the normally cramped clubs. It’s open Friday and Saturday from 11:30 to 5 am, Thursday from 10 to 1 am. | 22 bd. Vincent Auriol, 13e, Bercy/Tolbiac | 01-45-70-83-49 | www.djoon.com | Station: Quai de la Gare.
Epitomizing the effortless cool of this arty neighborhood, Chez Prune is a lively golden getaway. It offers the designers, architects, and journalists who gather here a prime terrace for gazing out at the arched footbridges and funkier locals of Canal St-Martin. | 36 rue Beaurepaire, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 01-42-41-30-47 | Station: Republique, Jacques Bonsergent.
Hôtel du Nord.
Hôtel du Nord—which starred in the classic Marcel Carné film of the same name—has been spiffed up but still maintains its cool with a vibrant lounge-bar (and restaurant) scene in the buzz-worthy Canal St-Martin district. | 102 quai de Jemmapes, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 01-40-40-78-78 | www.hoteldunord.org | Station: Goncourt.
Among the bars and eateries lining Rue Lancry, you’ll find La Patache. It has a wide selection of wines and a retro-inspired ambience fueled by a jukebox and candlelight that illuminates the vintage photos on the wall. | 60 rue Lancry, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 01-42-08-14-35 | Station: Jacques-Bonsergent.
The spot where Piaf and Chevalier made their names, La Java has reinvented itself as a dance club with an emphasis on rock-pop, soul, and electro. It also hosts inexpensive performances by up-and-coming bands. | 105 rue du Faubourg du Temple, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 01-42-02-20-52 | www.la-java.fr | Station: Belleville, Goncourt.
Le Gibus is one of Paris’s most famous music venues. More than 6,500 concerts (put on by the likes of Iggy Pop, The Clash, and The Police) have packed in fans for 30-plus years. Today the Gibus’s cellars are the place for trance, techno, and especially hip-hop. | 18 rue du Faubourg du Temple, 11e, Canal St-Martin | 01-47-00-78-88 | www.gibus.fr | Station: République.
Neighborhood bohos are seduced by Café Charbon’s warm, wooden, Belle Époque charm and floor-to-soaring-ceiling mirrors. The attached Nouveau Casino offers cutting-edge live performances. | 109 rue Oberkampf, 11e, Oberkampf | 01-43-57-55-13 | Station: Rue St-Maur, Parmentier.
This popular Latin cocktail bar took the scene early, forging Oberkampf’s hip reputation. Back behind courtyard gates you’ll find caipirinhas and mojitos, guest DJs presenting an eclectic mix of samba, soul, and hip-hop, and a nonstop dance scene. | 18 rue du Faubourg du Temple, 11e, Oberkampf | 01-40-21-38-14 | favelachic.com | Station: République.
L’Entrée des Artistes.
Veterans of some of Paris’s best new-generation cocktail clubs, the bar talent here strikes out with a few rarified options that will please both amateurs and aficionados. Small, dark, and in the hip Oberkampf area, the bar feels more like an atmospheric neighborhood joint than a magnet for trendy bar crawlers. Some very good nibbles and a skillful wine selection are just icing on the cake. | 8 rue Crussol, 11e,Oberkampf | 09-50-99-67-11 | Station: Filles du Calvaire, Oberkampf.
Le Nouveau Casino.
Le Nouveau Casino is a concert hall and club tucked behind the Café Charbon. Pop and rock concerts prevail during the week, with revelry on Friday and Saturday from midnight until dawn. Hip-hop, house, disco, and techno DJs are the standard. | 109 rue Oberkampf, 11e, Oberkampf | 01-43-57-57-40 | www.nouveaucasino.net | Station: Parmentier.
On a back street just off the Boulevard Beaumarchais (which links the Bastille to République), this dark, hard-partying boho playhouse has a pronounced English-rocker feel. | 105 rue Amelot, 4e, Oberkampf | 01-48-05-56-11 | popin.fr | Station: St-Sebastien-Froissart.
A bastion of rock concerts and other musical performances, this venue is just across the street from Mama Shelter, in a neighborhood some like to call the Brooklyn of Paris. | 102 bis, rue Bagnolet, 20e, Père Lachaise | 01-44-64-01-02 | www.flechedor.fr | Station: Alexandre Dumas.
Hip Parisians make the pilgrimage to visit the Island Bar at this hotel, the happeningest spot around. Beautiful people flock in for solid cocktails, foosball, and even an adjacent pizza bar. It’s always packed, but lines will be out the door Thursday through Saturday, when DJs and other international artists perform. | 109 rue de Bagnolet, 20e, Père Lachaise | 01-43-48-48-48 | www.mamashelter.com | Station:Alexandre Dumas.
This multiuse exhibition space in a hip, up-and-coming neighborhood functions as a bar, dance club, restaurant, and performance venue, with concerts and burlesque shows. | 19-21 rue Boyer, 20e, Belleville | 01-46-36-07-07 | www.labellevilloise.com | Station: Gambetta, Ménilmontant.
The smoke may have cleared from the jazz clubs in the city’s historically bohemian quarter, but the atmosphere’s still hot—or cool, depending on how you look at it.
This bar-café-resto attracts a buzzing student crowd with its comfy leather couches, exposed brick walls, trompe l’oeil bookcases, and diner-style food. | 2 pl. de la Contrescarpe, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-26-51-26 | www.cafedelmasparis.com | Station: Cardinal Lemoine.
The Long Hop is a go-to dive bar for young Anglophones. It’s the perfect place to watch a game in the afternoon or to dance to pop and house music later on with a mix of locals and study abroaders. Extensive cocktails and shots keep the party going. | 25 rue Frédéric Sauton, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-29-40-54 | www.the-long-hop.com | Station: Maubert-Mutualité.
This convivial hangout is legendary as the student rioters’ unofficial HQ during the May ‘68 uprising and is named after the satirical French art-house movie about a supermodel. Weekends are wild, with drinks at the wacky tile bar and live Latin music that keeps the party thumping until morning. | 3-5 rue du Petit Pont, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-46-33-33-64 | Station: St-Michel.
Occupying a building that’s attributed to Gustav Eiffel, Paradis Latin peppers its quirky show with acrobatics and eye-popping lighting effects, making this the liveliest and trendiest cabaret on the Left Bank. | 28 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-25-28-28 | www.paradislatin.com | Station: Cardinal Lemoine.
Caveau de la Huchette.
One of the few surviving cellar clubs from the 1940s, Caveau de la Huchette boasts the “best boppers” in the city and packs ‘em in for swing dancing and Dixieland tunes. It’s a killer jazz spot for everyone but claustrophobics. The music continues till dawn Thursday to Saturday. | 5 rue de la Huchette, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-26-65-05 | www.caveaudelahuchette.fr | Station: St-Michel.
Exclusivity is the theme in the bobo (bourgeois-bohème) left bank, where “private” clubs draw celebs and fashionistas, and stylish cocktail bars cater to an urbane mix of students, gallerists, expats, and urban sophisticates.
Sir Terence Conran’s makeover of a 17th-century Parisian jeu de paume court features a stylish mezzanine-level bar under a greenhouse-glass roof. DJs and “sound designers” spin mixes into the wee hours Thursday through Saturday. | 62 rue Mazarine, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-53-10-19-99 | www.alcazar.fr | Station: Odéon.
Bar du Marché.
Waiters wearing red overalls and revolutionary “Gavroche” hats serve drinks every day of the week at this local institution (they demonstrate particular zeal around happy hour). With bottles of wine at about €25, it draws a quintessential Left Bank mix of expats, fashion-house interns, and even some professional rugby players. Sit outside on the terrace and enjoy the prime corner location. | 75 rue de Seine, 6e, St-Germain/Buci | 01-43-26-55-15 | Station: Mabillon, Odéon.
Chez Georges has been serving red wine, pastis, and beer for the past 60-odd years in pretty much the same caveau that still packs in devotees today. Older students and locals fill sofas and crowd around tiny, candle-topped tables in the cellar bar before grinding to pulsing world music all night. | 11 rue de Canettes, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-43-26-79-15 | Station: Mabillon.
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels.
After jump-starting the Paris cocktail bar scene, the partners behind Experimental Cocktail Club and the Ballroom du Beef Club apply the same winning formula to this hybrid wine bar-nightclub. Plush surroundings, an extensive wine list, and upscale nibbles draw a crowd of hip young Parisians who can hone their wine-tasting skills on classics in every price range. Natural-wine aficionados, get thee to a full-fledged wine bar; though solid, the wine list here does not deliver as promised. | 7 rue Lobineau, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 06-14-76-81-08 | compagniedesvinssurnaturels.com | Station: Odéon, Mabillon.
L’Hôtel’s hushed Baroque bar is the perfect place for a discreet rendezvous. Designed in typically jaw-dropping Jacques Garcia style, the hideaway evokes the decadent spirit of one-time resident Oscar Wilde. | 13 rue des Beaux-Arts, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-44-41-99-00 | www.l-hotel.com | Station: St-Germain-des-Prés.
The banquettes and throw pillows may mislead, but at this snug little hotel bar “playtime” means choosing according to suit (namely clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades). Veteran barman Emeric Aguillar, who learned his trade at the Dorcester and the Royal Monceau, skillfully executes a clever cocktail menu that reads like a deck of cards. Happy hour starts at 6. | 34 rue Buci, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-43-29-07-20 | www.artushotel.com | Station: Odéon, St-Germain-des-Prés.
Prescription Cocktail Club.
This club is brought to you by the owners of popular cocktail bars in London, New York, and Paris—including the Ballroom du Beef Club and the Experimental Cocktail Club. So rest assured: the atmosphere will be stylish (think upholstered chairs, dim lighting, and vintage touches), the crowd hip, and the drinks tasty. Located in fashionable St-Germain-des-Prés, it’s a good after-shopping apéro or dinner option. | 23 rue Mazarine, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-46-34-67-73 | www.prescriptioncocktailclub.com | Station: Odéon.
It’s notoriously difficult to get past the doorman at Le Montana: a sleek St-Germain club owned by French nightlife king André (Le Baron). A Studio 54 vibe, Vincent Darré decor, and enormous cocktails make it popular among models, actors, artists, and Parisian playboys. | 28 rue St-Benoît, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-44-39-71-00 | Station: St-Germain-des-Prés, Mabillon.
Immortalized in the 1920s by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso, the cafés and bars in this quiet corner of the city still radiate atmosphere. Whether sipping a sidecar at Hemingway’s beloved La Closerie des Lilas or slurping oysters at one of the quarter’s storied brasseries, you can’t help but fall under Paris’s spell here.
La Closerie des Lilas.
La Closerie’s swank “American-style” bar lets you drink in the swirling action of the adjacent restaurant and brasserie at a piano bar adorned with plaques honoring former habitués like Man Ray, Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, and Ernest Hemingway, who talks of “the Lilas” in A Moveable Feast. | 171 bd. du Montparnasse, 6e, Montparnasse | 01-40-51-34-50 | www.closeriedeslilas.fr | Station:Montparnasse.
Step through the Art Nouveau front door of Jean-Paul Sartre’s one-time haunt and you’re instantly immersed in the dark, moody, fourth dimension of Old Montparnasse, where white-jacketed servers and red-lacquered tables transport you into the past. | 11 bis, rue Delambre, 14e, Montparnasse | 01-43-35-38-54 | Station: Vavin.
Le Petit Journal Montparnasse.
Le Petit Journal Montparnasse has long attracted the greats in French and international jazz, with a focus on big band music. Dinner is served from 8 pm to 1 am. A second Le Petit Journal location (at 71 bd. St-Michel in the Latin Quarter) specializes in Dixieland tunes. | 13 rue du Commandant Mouchotte, 14e, Montparnasse | 01-43-21-56-70 | petitjournalmontparnasse.com/ | Station: Montparnasse Bienvenüe.