From Clubs to Wine Bars, Hipster Dives, and Cabarets
Paris' dizzying variety of settings, subcultures, and moods is perhaps nowhere more visible than on a night out on the town. Begin your evening with ostentatious cocktail-sipping near the Ritz at Place Vendôme. Enjoy a blanche on one of the coveted people-watching terraces of the Marais. Then, finish up with a warm bowl of Vietnamese Pho followed by a glass of house red at a bohemian brasserie in cosmopolitan, gritty Belleville, and you just might feel like you've changed countries.
Whether you yearn to mingle with the fashion set or experience a younger, edgier nocturnal scene, a memorable evening out is virtually guaranteed. We've reviewed the hottest Paris nightlife spots to help you adapt your dress and wallet and faire la fête (party) Parisian-style. Without further ado, click through to find out where to head for a fantastic night out in the French capital.
Popular with a young and trendy Parisian set, the Oberkampf district asserted itself as the city's coolest new hang-out in the mid-90s. More than two decades on, Oberkampf remains a favorite but has alienated some due to overcrowding and occasional rowdiness.
District Picks and Favorites
- Café Charbon (109 Rue Oberkampf): Old-style spacious café and reigning hipster favorite, this lively late-night bar can err on the meat market/sleazy side.
- Au Chat Noir (76 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud): A cozy but edgy café where you can lounge and work during the day and share wine or cocktails with friends after dark
- Nouveau Casino (109 Rue Oberkampf): A favorite for concerts, along with the nearby Bataclan.
- L'Alimentation Generale (64 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud): This "Grocery Store" bar contains everything from cupboards of kitsch china to lampshades made from kitchen sponges. The large space also offers an eclectic variety of beers and cocktails, with different DJs spinning each night.
- Au P'tit Garage (63 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud): This rock n' roll bar with a 1950s Americana theme mimics its name. With white stuffing coming out of the bar stools and wobbly tables, the place is complete with loud music and cheap beer.
- Les Pirates (88 Rue Oberkampf): This bar features an array of rums and mojitos, which are served in pints on the cheap.
- Panic Room (101 Rue Amelot): Emphasizing a "chic and trash" theme, this two-story nightclub features mirror-lined walls where you can watch yourself dance, drink, and indulge in the food you're allowed to bring inside. An indoor smoking room is also available, much to the relief of those who want to make use of the narrow sidewalk outside.
- Pop In (105 Rue Amelot): This long-popular indie destination features three levels of activity; a bar, a piano lounge, and a sweaty dance "cave" in the basement, where anything goes. Indie rock reigns here.
Bustling and exciting, but overcrowded and noisy, Bastille (Metro Bastille) is best suited to 20-somethings looking for a lively party. Nightlife here is a mix of traditional cafes, classy nightclubs, dive bars, and music venues. Bar hopping down hectic Rue de Lappe or Rue de la Roquette is a good place to start. Salsa or Merengue dancing is also in order.
- La Balajo (9 Rue de Lappe): Reputed for its lively salsa nights.
- La Mécanique Ondulatoire (8 Passage Thiere): Further establishing the district's reputation as Paris' top hangout for rockers, this venue offers three levels of activity, including eclectic DJs and live acts in the cellar.
- Le Motel (8 Passage Josset): This hipster-dominated, indie hotspot is packed nightly with a young crowd who flock to hear their friends DJ or play live.
- Les Furieux (74 Rue de la Roquette): If you want to be regaled with loud rock and metal music in a large bar, offering several rooms filled with stylish seating, this is the place for you.
Ménilmontant and Gambetta
Tucked between Belleville and Oberkampf, this district, touching both the 11th and 20th arrondissements, features several lively streets packed with bars that are both affordable and still relatively free of tourist traps.
- La Bellevilloise (19-21 Rue Boyer): Multitasking as a bar, restaurant, club, and exhibition space, this building once housed Paris' first workers' co-operative. Film and music festivals take place on the top level, while downstairs, the club and concert venue feature new bands and an '80s night.
- La Maroquinerie (23 Rue Boyer): This former leather factory is touted by musicians as the venue for live bands. Home to the popular Inrocks Indie Club nights, the bright bar inside gives way to a shaded terrace in the summer.
- L'International (5/7 Rue Moret): Don't let the tiny space on the first floor deceive you: the bottom level of this free music venue offers nightly shows featuring up-and-coming bands.
- Le Lou Pascalou (14 Rue des Panoyaux): A popular cultural cafe that hosts screenings, exhibitions, theatrical renditions, and more within a small courtyard that boasts a sizable terrace.
- La Flèche d'Or (102 Bis Rue de Bagnolet): an indie-rock temple in East Paris that attracts some of the best bands, both local and international.
- Le Saint-Sauveur (11 Rue des Panoyaux): A genuine punk and biker bar that features live music and an amusing scene of characters to entertain you as you drink on the cheap.
Place Vendome/Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré
If you wish to see and be seen and money is no object, check out the legendary Place Vendome/St. Honoré for some quality people-watching. A luxury shopper's dream by day, fashionistas and celebrities frequent the nearby high-chic establishments to flaunt their wares and discuss fashion shoots.
- Hotel Costes (239-241 Rue Saint-Honoré): The fashion set's lounge of choice for sumptuous before-dinner cocktails.
- The Hemingway Bar (15 Place Vendome): The world-famous Ritz bar frequented by Ernest Hemingway in the 40s provides a chic environment in a literary, British club-type setting. Dress to impress and leave frugality at home. (Read related: 10 Literary Haunts in Paris)
The historic Marais has evolved into one of Paris' most dynamic and beloved spots for nightlife. It's also home to a thriving gay and lesbian scene.
- Au Petit Fer à Cheval (30 Rue Vielle du Temple): A tiny horseshoe-shaped bar with a lively atmosphere.
- 3W Kafé (8 Rue des Ecouffes): A lesbian bar that remains popular despite changing owners several times in past years.
- Stolly's (16 Rue Cloche Percé): This gritty drinking den serves a mainly anglophone crowd and claims to have seen it all. With a summer terrace, European football on the TV, and a plastic shark on the wall, it's hard to think otherwise.
- Andy Wahloo (69 Rue des Gravilliers): A formidably fashionable crowd fights for the coveted "seats" on upturned paint cans in this Moroccan-themed bar, fitted with authentic artifacts and a colorful spice rack.
Read related feature: Best LGBT and "Friendly" Bars in Paris
Probably best-known as the legendary Edith Piaf's birthplace, the working-class district of Belleville has seen a surge in bar and club openings in the past few years. Belleville provides night owls a gritty and authentic experience, but check it out while it's still relatively unchartered by tourists.
- Aux Folies (8 Rue de Belleville): Attracting a mixed crowd, this bar, featuring somewhat garish, fluorescently lit interiors, is much loved by Belleville residents, so much so that it has been featured in four films. Food is not served here, but beer is always on tap, and inexpensive. The large outside terrace is always full, especially on evenings and weekends.
- Café chéri(e) (44 Boulevard de la Villette): this eclectic bar offers free entry and an ever-changing music program on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
- La Java (105 Rue de Faubourg du Temple): Visit the spot where Edith Piaf made her debut to enjoy a vibrant scene and mix of sounds.
- Okubi (219 Rue Saint-Maur): Primarily a lesbian bar, Okubi is one of Belleville's best new spots and attracts a mixed crowd.
The exclusive Champs-Élysées is probably best avoided if you're looking for more locally dyed-in-the-wool nightlife. Its famed club scene often comprises tourists who haven't made it past the Eiffel Tower and straight-out-of-school suburbanites in search of the big city experience. Dedicated clubbers will find some good choices for dancing and all-night partying in the area, though, so if you're keen, dress Parisian-chic to get past the doormen—and expect some sobering cover charges.
- Chez Régine (49 Rue de Ponthieu): Created by a key figure of the Paris nightlife scene, Chez Régine's club has revamped itself from disco to electro, inviting top international DJs, and offering an ever-crowded dive bar, most popular into the early morning hours.
- Le Club 79 (22 Rue Quentin-Bauchart): This classier club is one of Paris' oldest dance venues revamped to accommodate up to 1500 customers, including celebrities and French elite.
Montmartre and Pigalle
Branded as Paris' red light district, Pigalle is nevertheless no match for the sleaze of counterparts in Amsterdam or Antwerp. With attractions like the Moulin Rouge cabaret and several cool bars and late-night clubs, tourists and Parisians alike flock here. Meanwhile, the upper heights of arty Montmartre offer a less gritty, but sometimes also slightly caricatural, ambiance.
Our Neighborhood Picks:
- Moulin Rouge (82 Boulevard de Clichy): The distinctive gaudiness of the Moulin Rouge show remains a big draw card.
- Elysee Montmartre (72 Boulevard de Rochechouart): Since 1807, this spacious cultural center has been renowned for its entertainment, including being the birthplace of the French cancan.
- Divan du Monde (75 Rue des Martyrs): Once called the Divan Japonais, this historic site was prized by famed Parisians such as Henri Toulouse de Lautrec. It's now a reliable nightclub with thematic rock, goth, or hip-hop nights and live sets.
- La Fourmi (74 Rue des Martyrs): Evoking Berlin more than Paris, La Fourmi is a favorite among Paris' artsy and pseudo-artsy set.
- Lux Bar (12 Rue Lepic): Amid the tourist traps and noise of Montmartre, this local favorite is where the district's local crowd meets to drink cheaply and catch up. Great sidewalk seating, and inside, not-too-loud rockabilly music dominates.
- Au Lapin Agile (22 Rue des Saules): Once frequented by the likes of Picasso and Utrillo, this cozy cottage of a cabaret features the same carved wooden tables of the past, but with new acts performing anything from French folk songs to music-hall ditties.
- Café Rendez-Vous des Amis (23 Rue Gabrielle): Though close to the Sacre Coeur, this bar/cafe still offers affordable drinks, especially during happy hour, and is mostly frequented by locals and students.
Grands Boulevards and Sentier
- Silencio (142 Rue Montmartre): Modeled on director and part-owner David Lynch's film, Mullholland Drive, this exclusive, and mostly members-only, club features a performance stage, cinema, art library, and reflective dance floor. Members only until midnight
- Le Truskel (12 Rue Feydeau): Best known as an after-midnight club and bar, this is another local staple in the area.
While the right bank has taken over where authentic Paris nightlife is concerned, the St. Germain-des-Prés district still has an abundance of bars and clubs to tempt the tourist. Students from the nearby Sorbonne gather here, as do transient tourists visiting nearby Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter. Be aware that the privilege of drinking in the city's prime tourist location is reflected in the prices.
- Chez Georges (11 Rue des Canettes): Not for the claustrophobic, this "cave-bar" in the Latin Quarter is a favorite of regulars and students who pop in during the day to sip wine over a game of chess or show up at night to dance to chanson or pop music.
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