Côte d'Azur Nightlife
25 Cours Masséna
Tel: 33 4 93 34 93 00
This dusty basement establishment specializes in its namesake, serving more than 30 varieties of absinthe that are both strong (55% alcohol and up) and cheap (about $7 a glass). The storied anise-flavored liquor was a favorite of Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde but was banned by reformers until the 1990s for its alleged psychoactive properties. There is still an underground feel to the drink, and the bar itself plays that up, with 19th-century flea-market decor and an atmosphere that smells strongly both of basement and anise. The accompanying shop, Balade en Provence, stocks bottles to take home, as well as absinthe spoons and fountains.
Open daily 11 am until midnight.
58 La Croisette
Tel: 33 4 93 06 40 06
Grand hotel bars don't get more classic than this. Situated between the Carlton's main lobby and restaurant, this Belle Époque space has high ceilings, fluted pillars, and windows that frame the Croisette and its endless parade of strolling couples, families, and Ferraris. Pricey drinks (cocktails are about $27 a pop) are mixed to be stealthy and strong. It is the perfect place to have a civilized drink before heading out for the night.
Open daily 10 am to 2 am during the summer season, 10 am to 1 am during the winter.
29 Rue Alphonse Karr
Tel: 33 4 93 82 37 66
This multilevel club is a big stop on the international DJ circuit. That means, of course, velvet ropes and a stiff entry fee (usually about $28).The name is a variation on audacity, and it's a fine expression of Nice's swaggering, occasionally garish character. The East-meets-West decor is by now a standard feature of French nightclubs, including an array of Buddhas and bright red accents.
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm.
5 Rue de France
Tel: 33 4 93 87 69 03
Mori's is one of the few non-nightclubs that serve drinks after 11 pm. The place itself is nothing special, just a basic bar with outdoor tables that dominate the sidewalk. It's a taste of what France was like before the gentrification and facelifts of the 1990s. But drinks are relatively cheap: A glass of rosé or a beer will run $4 to $6. And the locationon a pedestrian street crowded with tourists and shoppers by day and Nice's carnivalesque parade of eccentrics by nightkeeps things interesting.
13 Rue du Commandant André
Tel: 33 6 22 92 23 58
Via Notte sits at the corner of Rue des Frères Pradignac and Rue du Commandant André, the epicenter of Cannes' table-dancing, exhibitionistic nightlife. The parade of tan, blond, and extremely energetic patrons of all ages keeps flowing through the imposing stainless-steel doors (if they can get past the picky doorman) until the wee hours. The low-ceilinged space itself is small and almost an afterthought, and the DJ booth is busier than the understaffed bar. Drinks are not the important thing here, though: Via Notte is about dancing, snapping pictures, and flirting with whoever's at hand.