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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.
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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. Over a decade on, Oberkampf remains a favorite but has alienated some due to overcrowding and occasional rowdiness.
District Picks and Favorites
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- 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: A cozy but edgy café where you can lounge and work during the day and share wine or cocktails with friends after dark
- Cithéa (114 rue Oberkampf): Come here when the other joints shut down and add a bit of soul to your evening.
- 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 DJ's spinning each night.
- Au P'tit Garage (63, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud): This rock n' roll bar with a 1950's 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 (80, 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: 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.
- UFO Bar (49, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud): With red walls covered in pinups and posters for punk bands, this relatively new rock bar features tables printed with vintage comic books, lit from above by 1960's lamps. DJs spin for a dancing basement crowd.
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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 Marenge dancing is also in order.
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- Sans Sanz (49 rue du Faubourg St. Antoine): A young cosmopolitan crowd fills this club to the hilt at weekends. The decor is bordello-style plush and various DJs mix the sounds. Food is available.
- 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.
- Tape Bar (21, rue de la Roquette): This small yet crowded rock bar, modeled after the coveted yet defunct cassette tape, offers cheap drinks, but you will probably have to stand for the night if you arrive after 9 pm. The bathroom is reminiscent of the old CBGBS punk club in New York, with wall-to-wall graffiti--only here.
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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.
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- 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 Bar and Concert Venue: 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.
- Le Cafe Noir (15, rue Saint-Blaise): This high-ceilinged cafe, decorated with old cafetieres, attracts artists and an upbeat crowd of local trendsetters who frequent the establishment throughout the day either for a coffee or a glass of wine.
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Place Vendome/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.
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- Hotel Costes: 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)
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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 where everyone is welcome.
- Amnesia (42 rue Vielle du Temple): A vibrant gay bar mixing disco, funk, and soul.
- Au Petit Fer à Cheval (30 rue Vielle du Temple): A tiny horseshoe-shaped bar with a lively atmosphere.
- 3W Café (8 Rue des Ecouffes): A lesbian bar that has stayed popular despite changing hands several times in past years.
- Stolly's (16, rue Cloche-Perce): 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.
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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.
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- 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 featured in four films. Food is not served here, but the beer is always on tap, and inexpensive. The large outside terrace is always full, especially on evenings and weekends.
- Café chéri/e (44 Blvd de la Villette)
- La Java (105 rue Faubourg du Temple): Visit the spot where Edith Piaf made her debut and enjoy an eclectic 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.
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The exclusive Champs-Elysees 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.
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- Man Ray (34 rue Marbeuf): Worth checking out if only in hopes of spotting part-owners Johnny Depp and Sean Penn. Only for the beautiful.
- Le Regine (49, rue de Ponthieu): Created by a key figure of the Paris nightlife scene, Regine's club has revamped itself from disco to electro, inviting top international DJs, and a Thursday night party where guys get in for free if they dress like women.
- Le Baron (6, avenue Marceau): This small and exclusive lounge, with a capacity for 150 people, serves as the "it" place for the international jetset crowd. Situated in what was formerly an unmarked brothel, it has the decor to prove it. Befriending a regular still serves as the best way to get in.
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Montmartre and Pigalle
Branded Paris' seedy sex center, Pigalle is nevertheless no match for the sleaze of counterparts in Amsterdam or Antwerp. With attractions like the Moulin Rouge 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:
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- Moulin Rouge (82 Boulevard de Clichy): The distinctive gaudiness of the Moulin Rouge show remains a big draw card. 145 Euros entitle you to a mediocre champagne dinner and full cancan show.
- Elysees Montmartre (72 Boulevard de Rochechouart)
- Divan du Monde: 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' arty and pseudo-arty set.
- Lux Bar (12, rue Lepic): Amid the tourist traps and noise of Montmartre, this local favorite is where the district's locals meet to drink cheaply and catch up. Great sidewalk seating, and inside, not-too-loud rockabilly music dominates.
- Au Lapin Agile: Once frequented by the likes of Picasso and Utrillo, this cozy cottage of a cabaret features the same carved wooden tables of old, but with new acts performing anything from French folk songs to music-hall ditties.
- Au 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.
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Grands Boulevards and Sentier
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- La Conserverie (37 bis, rue de Sentier): With a "nuit bleu" interior, complete with velvet sofas and tasty cocktails, this is a friendly hangout.
- 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.
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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, though.
- Coolin (15 rue Clement): An Irish pub offering atmosphere and great live music.
- Les Etages (5 Rue de Buci): This ambient bar, featuring warm colors and intimate tile-mosaic tables, offers a refreshing alternative to lackluster and fusty brasseries nearby. There's also another location in the Marais, at 35 rue vieille du temple.
- 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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