Top 15 Things to Do at Night in Paris

Pont Neuf and the buildings along River Seine, Paris, France
Pont Neuf and the buildings along the River Seine, Paris, France.

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Millennials may prefer Berlin and New York for their high-energy clubbing scenes. And, London might be best for its pubs and world-class theatre. Still, Paris trumps them all for its diversity of after-dark offerings. Travelers tend to associate Parisian nights out either with traditional cancan dancing, or chic clubs populated by intimidating fashionistas, but the truth is plenty of experiences fall entirely outside of those familiar clichés. This French capital offers a variety of nighttime pursuits, like a Seine river cruise or a night out at the opera, while also catering to all ages and interests. Whether you're angling for a sip of French wine amid the softly lit streets, or are hopping in a vintage car for a tour around the city, there's something for everyone to enjoy in Paris at night.

01 of 15

Watch the Eiffel Tower Light Show

Eiffel Tower lights at night

Santiago Urquijo / Getty Images

The Eiffel Tower comes alive at night with a spectacular light show. Every evening from sunset to 1 a.m. (2 a.m. in the summertime) the "Iron Lady" performs a 5-minute show with her twinkling lights, every hour on the hour. The tower also has a beacon (marine light) that shines from the top and reflects out across the city. During special occasions, firework shows and colored lights can be seen on and around the tower. For the best viewing, head to the Trocadero, take a boat cruise on the Seine, or climb the Montparnasse Tower.

02 of 15

Take a Moonlit Stroll of Paris Landmarks

Pont Neuf and the buildings along River Seine, Paris, France

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

As the film Midnight in Paris suggests, there's something indisputably otherworldly about strolling Parisian streets la nuit tombée (at nightfall). The banks of the Seine provide an ideal walking venue during the warmer months, in particular the areas surrounding Pont Neuf, the Pont des Arts, and the Ile de la Cité. Along the riverbank, you can take in views of the Notre-Dame cathedral. Illuminated at night, Notre Dame's dramatic facades and spires will likely leave you gobsmacked. Other favorite late-night strolls include the Le Marais district, where you can wander the narrow, medieval-era streets and passageways, before ducking into a bar or restaurant for dinner and drinks. Also visit the Rue Montorgueil district, perfect for a stroll on the nearby Grands Boulevards before or after a show.

03 of 15

Go Tango Dancing on the River

Couple dancing on the banks of the river in Paris

Christopher Robbins / Getty Images

Every Friday evening in summer, starting at 7 p.m., groups of tango enthusiasts gather at mini amphitheaters on the river and dance until dusk. Cue the Argentinian music, and the banks of the river come alive with lively dancers exchanging partners. Experienced dancers can join right in, while novice dancers can take free tango lessons at Square Tino Rossi, Quai St. Bernard, and in the 5th Arrondissement. If you prefer to take in the sights instead, grab a seat on the stairs and pop open a bottle of wine. The energy is palpable, and you will be just as mesmerized watching the show as you would be if you were participating.

04 of 15

Go on a Vintage Car Night Tour

A vintage car ride in Paris

Kate Vredevoogd / EyeEm / Getty Images

Riding through the streets of Paris in a vintage Citroen car is a car enthusiast's dream. Climb inside, while your driver takes you on a vintage car night tour of Paris' famous monuments, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe. You can also take an abbreviated one-hour tour, and sneak it in at dusk, or book a Secret Paris Tour, where you spend two hours on backstreets discovering off-the-beaten-path locations. This experience pairs well with a pre-ride dinner, after which, you can sit back and relax and let your driver show you the sights.

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05 of 15

Sip an Apéro at a Wine Bar

Wine and oysters on the half-shell at Le Baron Rouge, Paris

Owen Franken / Getty Images

A before-dinner aperitif, (or apéro) is a traditional French ritual, particularly when it's paired with homemade charcuterie and antipasti to prime the palate. Many Parisian wine bars offer this type of dining experience, along with a laid-back antidote. Stake out a table early on in the eveningmost bars don't allow reservationsand settle in with a good bottle of wine paired with cheese and other nibbles. Wine bars, like Le Verre Volé (The Stolen Glass) and Frenchie Bar à Vins, offer a relaxed vibe alongside gourmet small plates. Here, you can sample a dish of perfectly arranged vegetables, delicate cuts of meat or fish, and then, round it out with dessert and sweet wine. Who needs a full dinner someplace else after that?

06 of 15

Descend Into the Catacombs of Paris

Skulls in the Paris Catacombs

Michael Lehigh / EyeEm / Getty Images

Address
1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France

A trip to the Catacombs of Paris gives you an eerie peek into the region's past. During the French Revolution, piles of bones were deposited into stone quarries due to the overpopulation of the city's cemetery, the Cemetery of the Innocents. Throughout a period of 15 months, nighttime processions led by priests moved the remains underground, creating 300 kilometers of below-the-earth tunnels on which Paris now sits. Guided tours lend access to 2 kilometers of these tunnels, an underground ossuary, the Quarriers’ Footbath, the Sacellum Crypt, the Sepulchral Lamp, and the Tomb of Gilbert. Along the way, you'll hear the tales of life and death from a museum lecturer, while discovering the geological history of Paris.

07 of 15

Take a Seine River Cruise

A night cruise of the Seine is always a good idea

Yvan Travert / Creative RM / Getty Images

Address
Seine, France

A night cruise on the Seine River is romantic, picturesque, and one of the best ways to take in the city's most iconic monuments after dusk. From dry land, you don't get the same vantage point from which to view Paris in all of its nocturnal glory. Sights especially worth seeing at night include the Louvre, the Pont des Arts, the Assemblée Nationale, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower, all bathed in carefully curated light. The shimmering play of that light on the water is enough to seduce even the most cynical visitors. And, as long as you have a camera with a good low-light setting, the evening photo ops are unbeatable. Opt for a dinner cruise package for the full experience. Some are more formal than others, so shop around to find the one that best suits both the occasion and your budget.

08 of 15

Attend a Moulin Rouge Cabaret Performance

Exterior of Moulin Rouge

TripSavvy / Ivey Redding

Address
82 Bd de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
Phone +33 1 53 09 82 82

Nothing beats the kitschy fun of a traditional Parisian cabaret, especially one held at the famed Moulin Rouge. The experience typically consists of watching a Can-Can performance while enjoying dinner and a glass, or two, of champagne. However, you can also buy tickets for just the performance for a less lavish night out. Or spring for a VIP package which includes the best seating, a show program, priority access, complimentary macarons, and free use of the cloakroom. All ages are welcome, yet, due to nudity in the program, it may be best to leave the kids at home. And, the theater's dress code calls for smart casualwear—that means no flip-flops and sneakers. Parking is sparse, making public transportation, or walking, the best option for getting there.

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09 of 15

Eat a Parisian Dinner

Whole fresh scallop seared on Parisian limestone with toast garnish, at Clover Restaurant
Colette Davidson

Few places in the world offer a more exciting gastronomical experience than Paris. Still, finding a good restaurant in this capital isn't as effortless as you may assume. If you gamble on dinner at the corner place near your hotel, you may stumble on Michelin-level gold. However, you may also end up wishing you ordered a crepe from that stand across the street (and saved about 100 Euros). Those on a tight budget can find the most delicious street food at places like Le Camion Qui Fume. Plus, sitting outside during the summer with a good falafel or crepe is ideal. Traditional sit-down French fare doesn't have to be pricey, either. Classic Parisian haunts, like Chartier and Polidor, serve affordable (by Parisian standards) takes on local favorites.

10 of 15

Pop Into a Stylish Speakeasy

The Castor Club is one of Paris' hottest new speakeasy-style watering holes

The Castor Club

After dinner, a craft cocktail is usually in order; perhaps, in the form of a trendy bitter, a botanically-infused artisanal gin, or an artfully fruity concoction. You can find whatever you're craving at one of Paris' stylish haunts steeped with history. Try Harry's New York Bar, a favorite of literary luminaries that has a burgeoning "mixology" scene. Places like the Experimental Cocktail Club and Candelaria serve pricey drinks made with top-shelf booze. Other speakeasy-style bars, like Moonshiner, which is hidden behind a pizzeria, have become immensely popular. While many of these are, admittedly, no longer secret, they offer sophisticated and intriguing settings for a night out on the townnot to mention some of the most expertly shaken cocktails and creative drinks available. 

11 of 15

Attend a Night at the Opera

Star Dancers Mathias Heymann (Basile) and Ludmila Pagliero (Kitri) performs in Don Quichotte

Bertrand Rindoff Petroff / Getty Images

For opera fans, the vibrant scene in Paris means there's almost always a worthwhile opera performance to see. The modern Opera Bastille offers programs that include both classic performances and more contemporary, experimental shows. The Palais Garnier, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, was built in the 1800s, over a period of 15 years, and boasts an Italian-style, horseshoe-shaped auditorium, a marble staircase, gilded statues, and an ornate foyer. Arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of time to wander around the building. All of the performances here are offered in their original language (mostly Italian), so it's rare to see a show in English. Yet, most of the time, subtitles are provided.

12 of 15

Take a Dip in an Art-Deco Pool

The Piscine Pontoise is open weekdays until close to midnight

Nageurs

Address
19 Rue de Pontoise, 75005 Paris, France
Phone +33 1 55 42 77 88

If you're hankering for a pre-dinner dip, then consider packing your swimsuit and bathing cap and going for a swim at the Piscine Pontoise, a lavish art-deco style indoor pool in the historic Latin Quarter. The pool is heated and sheltered from the elements and open year-round. Enjoy the shimmering lights on the water, and admire the stately architectural details that have made this pool a popular place to escape the heat and the city's bustle. This picturesque way to sneak in some exercise will help you justify the champagne, duck pate, and creme brûlée you'll be having at dinner. 

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13 of 15

Drink Craft Beer

Beer tasting at La Fine Mousse

La Fine Mousse

While wine and cocktails have long been a staple of Parisian nights out, the advent of the craft brewery and brewpub is a more recent trend in Paris. Authentic brasseries and cafes around the city have long offered familiar French and European beers on tap—from Amstel to Hoegaarden. But now, you can seek out microbreweries and craft beer pubs all around the city. Many locations are concentrated in northeastern Paris, home to a younger and hipper after-dark crowd. La Fine Mousse is one of the most popular spots, with 20 different beers on draft. And, O'Clock Brewing makes a hop-forward IPA that rivals any beer that hails from the microbrew capital of the world—the United States' Pacific Northwest.

14 of 15

Enjoy a Free Show at the Fete de la Musique

Asa performance

David Wolff—Patrick / Redferns / Getty Images

Every year on June 21, Fete de la Musique turns the streets of Paris over to hundreds of live performers. The best part is—it's entirely free. See an amateur jazz or blues group perform outside a local bar, or watch a world-renowned musical act at a large venue. The Fete de la Musique lends a fantastic opportunity to ring in the summer solstice, as you wander from concert to concert, taking in a variety of genres on the longest day of the year. You can also choose—a la carte-style—from the vast list of free evening performances.

15 of 15

Attend a World-Class Dance Performance

Palais Opera Garnier

Taylor McIntyre

Address
Pl. de l'Opéra, 75009 Paris, France
Phone +33 1 71 25 24 23

Paris is one of the best places to enjoy world-class ballet and modern dance performances. The Paris Opera Ballet is the oldest national ballet and boasts some of the finest dancers you'll likely ever get the chance to see. This group performs regularly at the aforementioned Palais Opera Garnier. More contemporary dance troupes offer modern hip-hop performances, or traditional Flamenco dancing, at venues like the Théâtre National de Chaillot. This venue also offers incredible views of the Jardins du Trocadero Gardens and its waterfalls, as well as the Eiffel Tower, and is surrounded by great restaurants, should you want to get dinner or a snack prior to the show.  

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15 Things to Do at Night in Paris: What's Hot After Dark