The sun has begun to set and, aside from eating and going back to wherever it is you are staying, you do not really know what to do. Well, Paris has actually much more to offer past 5 pm than one could list up; however, there is no harm in trying. Don’t worry, with that article, your nights in Paris promise to be filled with happenings as miraculous as the ones you experienced during the day.
It is 5 pm and stores, as well as most museums, are going to close soon(ish). That’s when you need to head to the two areas of Paris that never sleep. You can either go explore Le Marais, the trendiest area of the city, or stroll around Saint Germain des Prés, an old historic quarter filled with bars, clubs, and old cobblestone streets. In the former, you will find quaint old streets, hip stores, and fabulous falafel restaurants. In the latter, bourgeois boutiques and old beautiful churches will give an eyeful of all the luxuries Paris has to offer. In both, you will definitely find a good place to eat at. Here are two that we, at Discover Walks, especially cherish.
Le dome du Marais
Located at 57 rue des Francs Bourgeois, one of the busiest streets of le Marais, this restaurant offers an amazing setting for dinner. There, you will get to see a unique cabinet of curiosities as well as a cozy conservatory. You will also have the opportunity to eat under a majestic dome that dates back to the 19th century. The food there is delicious and a traditional dish will cost you between twenty and thirty euros.
If you want to try out modern French cuisine, it is definitely a place you should check out. Since the restaurant is very popular, you might want to make a call for reservations. Last but not least, you can also check out the place in the afternoon, as the restaurant turns itself into a traditional salon de thé, where you can order some thick hot chocolate and delectable French pastries.
La cuisine de Philippe
Located at 25 rue Servandoni, this restaurant offers traditional French cuisine right in the core of Saint Germain. You will not have to spend more than thirty euros to taste some excellent dishes, among which you can have things as exquisite as a ballotin de volaille farci à la mousse de foie gras. Same here, we would advise you to call to reserve a table ahead of time.
Now that you are sated, it is time to have some fun, whether it means going to the late opening of a cool museum or trying out new bars. Here’s what we Parisians like to do at night.
Caveau de la Huchette
Located right by Notre Dame in rue de la Huchette, this jazz bar used to be a prison, before it was turned into one of the hippest places of Paris, where people like Memphis Slim or Art Blakey used to play. Velvet sofas, low lightning and stonewalls make for the perfect place to listen to be-pop, jazz, and dance the boogie all night long.
Even though Walhoo means “I have nothing” in Arabic, this amazing bar has quite a lot to offer. A very cool and colorful setting, for a start. Verging on the kitsch and blending together Moroccan, French, and American traits, this is the place to be, whether you want to try out new cocktails or just enjoy a fresh mint tea. In the summer, you will also be able to rest on their beautiful terrace. If cocktails can cost up to thirteen euros, the ambiance there is both peculiar and magic, and definitely worth a try.
If it is Thursday night and you are in Le Marais, there is an easy way to enjoy free champagne and fancy appetizers. If you happen to be into art, especially contemporary art, then it is a win-win. Wander the streets of the neighborhood and you quickly will find an art gallery that is having a new opening, called vernissage in French. Have a sip of your hard-gained champagne and act like a real Parisian by providing the audience with some comments about the new exhibition, be they laudatory or shamelessly scornful.
If it is not Thursday night, there are still ways to enjoy art by visiting some pretty amazing museums. Le Louvre, for example, stays open until 9:45 pm on Wednesday and Friday, and gives you the opportunity to check out its collections without the crowd of tourists that usually swarms around the place.
If you want to push it all the way to the Eiffel tower, the Palais de Tokyo, nearby, presents an amazingly modern collection that will ravish any contemporary art fan. Located in a massive palace that is a work of art in and of itself, the Museum stays open until midnight every night except for Tuesdays. It is the ideal place to go to for night owls, who can then enjoy lying down on one of the lawns surrounding the Eiffel Tower.
If you are still in the vicinity of Le Marais, you can also walk to Beaubourg, very distinct thanks to its uncommon architecture made of colorful pipes and a transversal staircase. The impressive collection of 20th century art is open to the public until 9 pm. They also organize some big exhibitions every month or so, and have welcomed thus fart the works of artists such as Paulin or Jeff Koons.
If you love books and old bookstores and want to find in Paris the same sort of atmosphere as the one shown in Woody Allen’s Movie “Midnight in Paris”, you should definitely check out the store Shakespeare and Company. Located right across from Notre Dame, it stays open until 11 pm and offers a unique ambiance. It often hosts cool events with famous writers or even late writing workshops. If you are a broke writer traveling abroad, you can even spend the night on one of the beds they have on the second floor, as long as you agree to review a book for them and write a short biography in their guest book.
How to become Parisian in an hour
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. In an hour, Olivier Giraud sets himself the task of teaching you how to act like a real Parisian in all situations, be it in the subway, the taxi, the restaurant… or even in the bedroom! French warning, sex jokes ahead. Delivered entirely in English, this hilarious lesson makes for a good one-man show in which laughter and intelligence abound. From the famous “Ohlala” to the most obscure facial expressions, you will be able to apprehend, understand, and even reproduce the weird language that Parisians use to communicate. This is the ultimate guide to enjoy Paris! In the summer, the show is played each night at 8:30 pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
How could I write about Paris’ nightlife without mentioning the world-renowned Moulin rouge? This Parisian cabaret, the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance, dates all the way back to the 19th century and has remained the place to be ever since the Belle Époque. Once you’ve been astounded by the outer unique architecture, you will get to enjoy a festive champagne evening and watch one of the most superb shows Paris has to offer.
The dancers, all women, are extremely skilled and will entertain you as well as seduce you, aesthetically speaking. The show sometimes verges on the luscious side but never gives in to tawdriness. Definitely a must-see, especially if this is your first time in Paris. You do need to speak French to enjoy the show, and you can also order a meal to go along with it. Both the food and the service are great. It may be time to indulge yourself with some French specialties.
The crazy horse
While le Moulin Rouge will offer you the best of what Paris has to say about traditional cabarets, the crazy horse claims to be the “most avant-garde cabaret show in Paris”. We could not agree more. If you have already gone to Le Moulin Rouge or if you are just seeking a more modern experience, the crazy horse will definitely fulfill your longings. The dancers as well as the choreographers are exceptional there and, though sultry and seductive, remain utterly tasteful. A few scenes also give a comedic relief to the show, while the lightning and setting will provide you with what some writers like to call aesthetic bliss. The tickets are a bit expensive, but the show’s creativeness and inventiveness make up for it.
Classical music concerts
When you are strolling around Saint-Germain, you should definitely check if there is any classical music concert going on. Those are pretty common in the area and can take place in churches or small venues. Some will be great and others a bit disappointing, but hey, they are always pretty cheap. In Saint-Germain des Prés Church though, they are always excellent.
Right on the riverside and beneath the Alexandre III bridge, this nightclub is the place where young Parisian socialites like to hang out and be seen. The venue is impressive, a little more than 700 meter-square, and the music, typically European, is usually techno. However, DJs from all over the world like to come and work here, and each night brings with it a unique atmosphere.
Facing Faust, Showcase promises to be just as fun. True to its name, it is known for showcasing the next-big-thing in bands. Many popular Parisian DJs will pick up wherever the band left and make sure that everyone keeps dancing and having fun ‘till the break of dawn. The music, the setting as well as the impressive architecture give this club an underground feel: when you party there, you know you are experiencing something that, give it a year or two, will soon become very popular. And thanks to us, you are always ahead of the game.
Last but certainly not least, the amazing yet inexpensive Rex Club is located at 5 Boulevard Poissonière. Their lineup is always great and can be local or international. DJs such as Daft Punk have already played there and the club offers great music all year round. The entrance only costs eight euros on Thursday, and is not as posh and exclusive as in most other Parisian clubs. A good way to relax, and dance yourself into oblivion.
Bonus: Fête de la musique
If you are lucky enough to be in Paris on June 21st, you will also get to experience the fête de la musique, also known as World Music Day. Although this celebration has now spread to 120 different countries, it was first put in place in France in the beginning of the 80s. The motto of the day? Make music! Both amateur and professional musicians are therefore encouraged to perform throughout Paris, and according to the area you are in, you will be able to listen to just about any type of music you want. In Paris, there is also an obligation by law to make all concerts free. Stroll around Notre-Dame, particularly dynamic, or look up which area will play the genre you’d rather listen to. There’s something for everyone on June 21st, no matter your taste.