The Ultimate Paris Nightlife Guide
Paris is one of those cities that everyone dreams of visiting again and again in their lifetime – no matter how many times you’ve been there, the romance never seems to fade away, more so as the sun goes down and magic seems to sweep the city. For those of you who thought the only thing to do in Paris by night was to view the lit Eiffel Tower, boy are you wrong. The Paris night scene is raging, and you’re going to have a blast! You’ll find festive events in clubs, public parks and gardens, and unexpected venues like abandoned factories. In this piece, we show you how this city loves to party. Presenting: The Ultimate Paris Party Guide!
The exclusive Parisian Clubs
We’ll start with the exclusive ones, the tight circles where outsiders find it notoriously hard to get in (a famous face or last name certainly help). If you do manage to sneak in, you will be rubbing elbows with the movers and shakers of the European scene. Leading the llist is Le Montana (6th arrondissement), the super exclusive club. Lenny Kravitz, Vanessa Bruno and Kate Moss have all hit the floor here lately, enough said. Alternately, let’s not forget about the VIP nightclubs of western Paris, located around the Champs-Élysées, in the capitals 8th arrondissement: Le Matignon, Chez Raspoutine, Maxim’s and Le Manko.
If you’re looking for a more dignified time, similarly high-end Le Café Marly, which offers you the chance to to sip a drink on a terrace in the Louvre courtyard, with views over the gallery's glass pyramids. The salons are flamboyant and gilted – the perfect setting for you to sip on your raspberry and pear eaux de vie and Tanqueray Gin. Bar Kléber at the Peninsula Hotel on Champs-Elysées is a beautiful setting – with architecture to rival many of Paris’ top tourist attractions.
Meanwhile, the mood at the Bar 228 at Le Meurice Palace Hotel is that of a British gentlemen's club, a nod to the nationality of clientele that the establishment predominantly welcomed in its opening years. The bartender William Oliveri has worked at Le Meurice for more than 30 years and has served some of the great figures of the 20th century, such as Salvador Dali, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Enjoy the live Jazz as you consult the extensive cocktail menu for famous creations, including the totally extravagant King Alfonso (€26), a mix of a coffee-flavored Baileys and double cream, which was created in honour of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, the bar's very first client. If you love unique cocktails from around the world, it is a must-have!
The Raging Alternative Scene
Paris may well have a reputation for being stiff upper lipped, but you will be surprised to know that the city has a raging alt scene, pretty much on par with Berlin! The motive is putting on inclusive, interactive, light-hearted, eco-friendly parties in unexpected venues (under bridges and in parks, or in art studios) throughout Ile-de-France. The list is long: Alter Paname, Otto Dix, La Mamie’s, Cracki, D.Ko Records, 75021, Le Camion Bazar, Microclimat, La Dynamicale, Drom, Soukmachines, Pardonnez-Nous and so many more. It’s easy to find out more on their websites or Facebook pages.
While they sometimes organize parties in Parisian clubs, their most innovative events take place in non-profit community and activist venues and embrace a multidisciplinary approach to art. For example, Soukmachines has set up camp for a year (through June) at La Halle Papin, an abandoned factory in Pantin. Voisins in the former Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Hospital (14th arrondissement) is another example.
The Electro Scene
You’re in luck: Greater Paris is home to a number of enticing events, with international artists invited to perform each week. Concrete (12th arrondissement), a barge anchored near Gare de Lyon, is a driving force on the scene: it has transformed the Parisian nightscape in just a few years and is the only electro club in France authorized to stay open 24/7, for parties that rage all night and all day! And let’s not forget Salò (2nd arrondissement), Badaboum (11th arrondissement), Le Gibus (11th arrondissement), Le Zig Zag Club (8th arrondissement), Glazart (19th arrondissement), Faust (7th arrondissement) and the unrivalled Paris leader: Rex Club (2nd arrondissement).
If you’re someone who loves to dance, check out our list of the World’s Craziest Dance Clubs.
Bastille Goes Chic
Bastille was once known as the poor, working-class neighbourhood of Paris. It’s suddenly turned cool – and the city’s hip crowd can’t get enough. New bars and restaurants are opening every week, fashion boutiques are replacing outdated furniture shops, and back-street artisans' ateliers are transformed into trendy lofts or minimalist art galleries. The bar scene, more than clubs, is what the Bastille is all about. From the early evening apéritif through to the last tequila at 4am, you will find salsa and soul, funk and techno, live bands, resident DJs and cabaret theatre.
Obligatory bars to drink at are What's Up Bar (15 rue Daval), La Grosse Caisse (6 rue de la Main-d'Or) and the mysterious No Name Bar (Le Bar Sans Nom, 49 rue de Lappe). Don't miss the Petit Punch, a lethal rum concoction that is popular here. If you’re into old school dancing, check out Le Balajo (9 rue de Lappe) an ancient music hall that still hosts afternoon tango sessions, but converts to a dance club with everything from Cuban to techno every Friday and Saturday night.
Drinks with a View
Many venues enjoy indoor and outdoor spaces, so it’s no surprise some parties get started at noon. And, with the arrival of spring, courtyards, terraces and artificial beaches are swarming with costumed, sequined sun-seekers, often with kids in tow for a leisurely afternoon stroll. Our vote for the best view in Paris (it’s also one of the best terrace bars in the world) goes to Bar le Perchoir, Paris: An enormously popular new bar in Menilmontant, has opened on a huge rooftop with a 360 degree view of the capital.
For open-air cafés, head over to Rosa Bonheurin Buttes-Chaumont Park (19th arrondissement), Rosa Bonheur sur Seine (7th arrondissement) or La Guinguette de l’île du Martin-pêcheur in Champigny-sur-Marne. Glazart, whose LaPlage is the envy of all of Paris, La Clairière and Le Chalet des Iles (in the Bois de Boulogne) all deserve a mention as well.
Bars with Unique Themes
A favourite is Batofar (located at an isolated harbor along the River Seine) a large docked boat whose interior has been remodeled into a bar/nightclub. The venue is known to bring in internationally renowned bands and DJs for the late night dance scene and is ideal for those looking for a bit more excitement. It is a boat, however, so the quarters get cramped quickly when the music starts. There are also various bars and lounges below deck that offer refuge from the main dance floor.
Another unique bar in the heart of the Left Bank, L’Urgence takes its ‘emergency room’ concept seriously. The fun décor includes syringes and x-rays (with some extra surprises in the restrooms). The drinks have comical but thematically appropriate names. Oh yes, and the bill arrives on a prescription slip.
If quirky is your thing, check out our list of the Most Unusual Clubs and Bars in the World.
LiveInStyle.com encourages you to enjoy responsibly!