Paris might not have the all-night party atmosphere of other European cities, but it certainly isn’t short of bars to choose from.
With 20 arrondissements, each with their own distinct personality, there is plenty of choice for where to take your evening. Whether you’re looking for the best bars in Paris, cheap pints with the locals or to try out the city’s growing craft cocktail scene, the Paris nightlife will have something for you.
3 Things You Need to Know About Paris Nightlife
1. Paris, for all of its elegance, fashion and haute couture, is actually a surprisingly casual city.
Unless you are heading to one of the city’s hotel bars, nightclubs or Michelin star restaurants, there is very little need to dress up. In fact, you’ll look more like a local if you don’t.
For most restaurants and bars, the dress code by night is pretty much the same as the dress code by day. Leave your heels at home and don’t worry about going out in your jeans and sneakers.
A real no-no however, is shorts and flip flops, which will get you turned away from most places no matter how good the weather is. In winter, don’t forget to bundle up with a coat; Parisians are always well-wrapped up and drinking on a terrace is popular all year round.
2. Unlike other European cities such as Madrid and Lisbon, Parisians tend to eat earlier, and can be more flexible with timings.
Some places, namely bistros, can be just as busy at 8 p.m. as at 10 p.m., and if you see the sign “service continu” it means non-stop service from opening until closing. However, if you do want to eat later, be aware that some will take last orders at 10 p.m., so although you can stay past then, you’ll need to get your order in beforehand.
Bars are always free, but nightclubs usually charge between €5 to €10 for entry. However, the club scene has died down in recent years, and many Parisians happily stay out late just drinking in their favorite local bars, or go dancing in bars with a dance floor area.
Insider’s tip: Parisians are, in general, not a rowdy bunch, and it’s rare you will see people obviously drunk in bars or on the street. So if you want to drink like a local, take your time over that bottle of French wine.
Pick an Area, Any Area: 3 Options for Your Perfect night Out
Pigalle is not as seedy as its image might suggest, and its good selection of bars makes it popular with travelers and locals alike.
If you get off at Pigalle metro, the nearby New Orleans-inspired Lulu White, which also hosts its own soul, funk, and blues evenings, is a great place to start with the night with a cocktail. If a tiki bar is more your thing, head a couple of doors down to Dirty Dick.
Head up from Pigalle toward Montmartre and you’ll find Marlusse Et Lapin, which serves €5 pints all night. This quirky bar gets packed out at the weekend with young Montmartre locals who frequent it not only for the cheap drinks but also for the unusual decor, with the back room designed as a charming, if not slightly unkempt bedroom, complete with a bathtub, bed, and even a swing. Five minutes from here is La Machine du Moulin Rouge, a sprawling space with a huge dance floor, basement club, separate bar and rooftop terrace to cater for a variety of nights out.
One of the buzziest areas in Paris come nightfall, Oberkampf offers up an endless choice of bars that will take you through to the early hours.
If in doubt of where to go, start at metro Parmentier and head up rue Oberkampf to start bar-hopping. Places to look out for include Café Charbon, a charming Parisian brasserie-style bar where you can drink until 4 a.m., or head next door to club and gig venue Nouveau Casino, which has hosted the likes of Diplo and Lana del Rey. You can also catch some live music at L’International, an intimate venue just around the corner which books everyone from post-punk and rock bands to electro acts and acid music.
If you get hungry, stop off at PNY for one of the best burgers in Paris. Continuing up the street, make sure to look out for Le Mur, a wall just outside the cafe bar La Place Verte, which is repainted every month by a group of street artists.
Just a five-minute walk from here towards the Ménilmontant neighborhood is also the rooftop cocktail bar Le Perchoir, which offers up fantastic views, especially in summer. Nearby rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud is also packed with bars and definitely worth heading to for La Loutre, a great little cocktail bar which serves up craft cocktails for just €6 during happy hour, and only €8 full price.
3. Le Marais
A night in Le Marais might be a more subdued evening, but this area draws a fashionable crowd looking to stay out late with dinner, drinks and cocktails.
The Candelaria is one of the city’s “secret” cocktail bars, serving up tequila and mezcal-based drinks behind the back of a taqueria—just squeeze your way through the tiny restaurant and push open the white door on the back wall to get in. Another popular address for craft cocktails is the Little Red Door, just around the corner, or if you’re looking for another more secret address, the small and intimate speakeasy La Mina (14 rue Charlot) is hidden in a cave underneath Carbon restaurant—ask the staff to point out the stairs when you arrive (closed until summer 2019 for renovations).
For dancing, head to Paris’ legendary Les Bains nightclub. Once a spa frequented by Marcel Proust (Les Bains means “The Baths” in English), Les Bains is now one of the city’s hottest five-star hotels, with an oh-so-cool underground club which has seen everyone from Mick Jagger to Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss party the night away.Want our insider’s guide to eating in Paris? Just add your email address in the form below!
Nicola Leigh Stewart is a travel writer who, after living in London and Madrid, finally settled in Paris. Always thinking about her next meal, her favorite thing about France is the food, and she spends most of her weekends in search of the flakiest pain au chocolat in Paris, the best fromagerie, and more importantly, the best cocktail happy hour.