Paris for Music Lovers: A Complete Guide to Venues and Festivals

Whether you're a true aficionado or are simply seeking a good night out at a concert or performance in the city of light, you're in luck: Paris is a fantastic city for music lovers. As a global metropolis, it not only harbors some of the world's finest venues for opera, jazz, musicals, rock, or world music: it's also a city that heavily subsidizes the arts. Year round, Paris offers a variety of inexpensive and free events dedicated to the musical arts, especially during the summer months. Read on to learn how to make the most of "la musique" in the French capital. 

01 of 08

For Classical, World Music, and Much More: The Paris Philharmonic

The facade of the new Philharmonie de Paris, designed by Jean Nouvel.
C. Borel/Philharmonie de Paris
221 Av. Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris, France
Phone +33 1 44 84 44 84

This recent addition to the Paris music scene has generated much excitement-- and justifiably so. While it's a bit far from the city center, located in the far northeastern reaches of the 19th arrondissement at the Parc de la Villette complex, it's worth the trip. You should consider carving out some time for a performance here if you're a music fan. The eclectic program offers everything from classical to baroque to world music and rock-- and visit the music museum and its fascinating temporary exhibits. The Paris Philharmonic's gorgeous new building from French architect Jean Nouvel, complete with panoramic rooftop terrace, is yet another drawcard for the adventurous.

02 of 08

For Classic Operas: The Opera Bastille

Opera Bastille and the Colonne de Juillet
Thierry Pix/Moment/Getty Images
Pl. de la Bastille, 75012 Paris, France
Phone +33 892 89 90 90

Staging world-class performances of operas as diverse at Puccini's Madame Butterfly and Mozart's The Magic Flute, the ultracontemporary Bastille Opera is the place to head if you're a fan of the operatic arts. Located on the square where the first major revolt of the 1789 French Revolution took place, with the storming of a prison that once stood there, the sleek, glass and concrete structure beckons as a symbol of a resolutely modern Paris. 

This isn't the least expensive form of musical entertainment, but if you book in advance you can often find inexpensive seats that are still very decent. 

03 of 08

For Ballet: The Opera Garnier

Statue infront of Palais Opera Garnier

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

4 Rue de l'Isly, 75008 Paris, France
Phone +33 1 43 87 30 55

The classically elegant Palais Garnier looms on the Place de L'Opera in the Grands Boulevards/ old department stores district in Paris: an icon of early Parisian modernity. Once the home of the Paris Opera (now at Bastille; see more details above), the prestigious National Ballet of France now calls the Palais Garnier its home. Come for a ballet performance and to visit the sumptuous building, complete with ornate details such as a grandiose staircase in the hall. You should notably see painter Marc Chagall's breathtaking ceiling fresco in the main theatre.


04 of 08

For Jazz: Best Yearly Festivals in Paris

Jazz performance in the streets of Paris, Latin Quarter

omersukrugusku/Getty Images

Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ella Fitzgerald are all American jazz legends who passed through Paris and left their mark on the city: it's no wonder that Parisians are known to be jazz-crazy. That legacy can be felt today in the city's numerous fantastic jazz festivals. Mostly taking place in spring and summer in Paris, these are all very accessible from a budgetary standpoint, and attract talent from around the globe. Performances range from more "traditional" jazz fare to experimental and eclectic, incorporating different genres and techniques. Read more. 

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05 of 08

For Rock: Rock en Seine

Rock en Seine is an incredibly popular Rock festival in Paris.
Blink/Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons license.
92210 Saint-Cloud, France

If rock, indie music, and hip-hop are more your speed, make sure to be in town in midsummer, when the annual Rock en Seine festival takes over the western suburb of St-Cloud. You can even pitch a tent and camp if you reserve ahead. Three days of performances from bands from around the globe make this a coveted one among young visitors and locals especially. 

06 of 08

For Traditional French Cabarets: Best Venues in Paris

Dita Von Teese performing at the Crazy Horse in 2009.
Courtesy of the Crazy Horse Paris
82 Bd de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
Phone +33 1 53 09 82 82

For many people, no visit to Paris would be complete without indulging in the kitschy, slightly bawdy fun of a traditional Parisian cabaret show. Whether you're willing to fork out the cash for exorbitant entry to the Moulin Rouge, or would rather find a cabaret that's a bit more off the beaten track, we have it all here in our complete guide. 

07 of 08

For Street Music: June's Fête de la Musique

Street performers at the 2006 Fête de la Musique in Paris.

Jef Poskanzer / Creative Commons

If you've ever see Julie Delpy's hilarious film 2 days in Paris (we can't recommend it enough), you may remember a scene in which Delpy's character and her curmudgeon boyfriend (played masterfully by Adam Goldberg) have a fight, then wander around separately through crowds watching musicians play in various corners of the city. The film (accurately) references a beloved event that takes Paris by storm every June 21st: the annual Fête de la Musique. Street performers in the hundreds occupy every corner of the city, and there are tons of indoor performances at venues dotted around the capital. This is without a doubt one of our most highly recommended free annual events in Paris

08 of 08

Annual Summer Festivals in Paris: More Ideas

A performer at the annual (free) FNAC Live festival in Paris.

Asopuma/Creative Commons

Haven't found quite what you're looking for? Read our guide to the best summer festivals in the city of light for more ideas on where to catch fantastic musical performances during the summer months. 

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Paris for Music Lovers: A Complete Guide to Venues and Festivals