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France Nightlife

Absinthe Bar
25 Cours Masséna
Antibes
France 06600
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.

André's Paris

Paris nightlife belongs to graffiti-artist-turned-club-impresario André and a close circle of friends known simply as "la clique." The founders of the perennially chic and hard-to-access Le Baron are the same people behind Le Montana, which in 2009 was arguably the hottest ticket in town. During fashion week, this boîte is packed to its vaulted ceilings with models and boldfaced actors taking turns playing DJ, and even when the collections are over, the door policy is draconian, so mere mortals shouldn't even try. Instead, consider the former lesbian cabaret Chez Moune. The Art Deco interior remains intact, and despite the club's newfound heterosexuality, the ambience is très Pigalle—you'll take to the disco/electro dance floor alongside the occasional transvestite. Another successful resurrection is Chez Régine, an institution whose heyday harks back to the 1970s. The mirrored walls remain, the decor is updated '30s cabaret, and it's slightly bigger and therefore easier to get into than Le Montana. For late-night eaters, Chez Régine has requisitioned the Reginette pizza parlor next door (although no one goes for the food). La Fidélité, however, a restaurant and bar in the unlikely tenth arrondissement, serves decent brasserie fare in an exceptional turn-of-the-century setting. It's considered a must among the see-and-be-seen set, which makes for entertaining people-watching.

Le Montana open Mondays through Saturdays 7 pm to dawn.

Chez Moune open Wednesdays through Saturdays 11 pm to dawn.

Chez Régine open Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 pm until dawn.

La Fidélité open Mondays through Saturdays 12 to 3 pm and 8 pm to midnight.

Au Pied de Cochon
6 Rue Coquillière
Paris
France 75001
Tel: 33 1 40 13 77 00
Metro: Châtelet-Les Halles
www.pieddecochon.com

During the day, Au Pied de Cochon looks like a tourist trap—a typical Belle Époque brasserie with a multilingual menu of standard fare. Late at night, however, it's a different story. It's one of the few 24-hour restaurants in Paris and the spacious red-leather banquettes are transformed by a new, if pleasantly rowdy, crowd: postprandial clubbers and high-haired night owls. Those with a 2 am appetite should try the soupe aux oignons with cheesy bread, or the famous baba au rhum.

Open daily 24 hours.

Bar des Célébrités
InterContinental Carlton
58 La Croisette
Cannes
France 06414
Tel: 33 4 93 06 40 06
www.ihhhg.com

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.

Bar du Port
7 Quai Suffren
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 97 00 54

The ideal pre-disco hangout gets packed from about 11 pm onward and is where you'll suss out the night's private parties. The dressed-to-kill crowd lingers at tables or sways to the DJ tunes at the long bar. A good option for an after-dinner drink if you don't want to commit all night to a club.

Open noon to 2:30 am.

Batofar
11 Quai François Mauriac
Paris
France 75013
Tel: 33 1 53 60 17 30
Metro: Quai de la Gare
www.batofar.org

Housed in a restored bateau-feu—a boat used to patrol waters after dark—tethered to the Left Bank of the Seine near the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Batofar is also a lighthouse for the electronica scene in Paris, with well-known international DJs regularly appearing on the monthly roster (expect to hear anything from indie-rock to funk, too), as well as live music. The groovy crowd clambers in year-round, as the boat's surprisingly commodious, with three bars and 1,000 square feet of dance space. When the fourth terrace bar opens in summer, the scene moves down to the quai, filling up the new (landlocked) "canteen." The perfect place to watch the sunrise is at one of the after-parties (held two Sundays a month; not regular, so check with venue).

Closed Mondays.

Café Le Senequier
Quai Jean Jaurès
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 97 00 90

This café overlooking the port is a major hub for many locals. Customers might come by three times in a day—in the morning for a coffee with the papers, before dinner for an aperitif, and then afterward for a nightcap. The slouchy scarlet-red director's chairs on the terrace offer some of the most electric people-watching in the world.

Chez Jeannette
47 Rue du Faubourg St. Denis
Paris
France 75010
Tel: 33 1 47 70 30 89
Metro: Château d'Eau

Not long ago, this corner bar and café on gentrifying Rue Faubourg St. Denis felt like an outtake from a Jean-Paul Belmondo film, with dingy red chandeliers, blue leatherette-chairs, smoked-mirror walls, and a 1950s chrome bar occupied by mime students and garment district workers. When new (read "young") owners took over in 2007, they were smart and didn't touch the gloriously faded decor but updated the drink menu to include cocktails. By day, media and film types hold lively meetings at corner tables; on Friday and Saturday nights, leather-jacketed DJs play scratchy rock and an artfully scruffy hipster crowd packs the banquettes. There's no door policy, but with few tables, it can be hard to find a seat.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 11 pm, Sunday 8 am to 10 pm.

Curio Parlor
16 Rue des Bernardins
Paris
France 75005
Tel: 33 1 44 07 12 47
Metro: Maubert-Mutualité
www.facebook.com/group.php?v=info&gid=22840230823

Inconspicuous on the outside—look for the stuffed raccoon in the window—this latter-day speakeasy and cabinet of curiosities is the brainchild of the trio behind the highly successful Experimental Cocktail Club. The decor is British-eclectic but the crowd is truly Parisian; the dance floor is worthy of the name; and the door policy is not nearly as extreme as at some of its rivals. Whiskey lovers, take note: The vaulted cellar is home to the only Nikka Bar this side of Tokyo (from $15 per glass).

Open Mondays through Thursdays 6 pm to 2 am, Fridays and Saturdays 6 pm to 4 am.

Experimental Cocktail Club
37 Rue St. Sauveur
Paris
France 75002
Tel: 33 1 45 08 88 09
Metro: Étienne Marcel or Réaumur Sébastopol

Those who seek shall find: Only a gold plaque on an unobtrusive facade off the bustling pedestrian Rue Montorgueil will confirm that you've arrived at the Experimental Cocktail Club. As the name suggests, this is one of the best places in Paris for cocktails, both classic and signature. House favorites include the Experience #1, an elixir of elder flower, basil, lemongrass, vodka, and lemon, and the rum-based Old Cuban, a mixture of mint, lime, ginger, Champagne, and bitters (from $14.50). The ambience is Roaring Twenties with a swing vibe, and the good-looking clientele really dresses for the occasion. Expect a crowd around 2 am, when other bars in the area close. In November 2009, a Left Bank outpost called Le Prescription Cocktail Club opened at 23 Rue Mazarine in the sixth.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 7 pm to 2 am (until 4 am on Fridays, Saturdays, and sometimes Thursdays).

Gay and Lesbian Nightlife in Paris

Queen is still the mother ship of gay nightlife in Paris, a giant dance palace on the Champs Elysées that feels like you've walked straight into a disco ball. During the week it's a mixed crowd, but the weekend gay-themed parties are legendary (102 Ave. des Champs-Elysées; 33-1-53-89-08-90; www.queen.fr). When Queen's owners wanted to expand in 2005, they chose Le Mix Club, a nightclub at the border of Montparnasse that once belonged to French icon and songster Johnny Halliday; international DJs playing a mix of electronica and techno are imported for the Sunday "tea dances" (24 Rue de L'Arrivée; 33-1-56-80-37-37; www.mixclub.fr). Renovated and reopened Les Bains Douches is regaining its reputation for fun with weekly dinner-dances on its flashing dance floor (7 Rue du Bourg L'Abbé; 33-1-53-01-40-60; www.lesbains.info). In the Bastille neighborhood, La Scène, with its old-fashioned rock stage and theatrical atmosphere, has both live music and "clubbing" nights, including a popular gay Sunday night fete (2 bis Rue des Taillandiers; 33-1-48-06-50-70; www.la-scene.com). And Open Café is a fine place to start your evening with a cocktail or beer, and to find out where the rest of the night might lead—you'll see the throngs of well-coiffed gentlemen crowding its terraces from several blocks away (17 Rue des Archives; www.opencafe.fr).

For a taste of lesbian history in motion, visit Le Rive Gauche in Saint Germain: It is reputed to be the former hangout of Gertrude Stein and Natalie Barney, though it's doubtful they saw it lined with mirrors, '70s-style (1 Rue Sabot; 33-1-40-20-43-23; www.lerivegauche.com; women-centric Fridays and Saturdays). In the Marais, lesbian hipsters line the illuminated bar of 3W—the name stands for "women with women"—until the wee hours (8 Rue des Ecouffes; 33-1-48-87-39-26). Accordions, horns, rockabilly, and more are in the mix at Le Tango, which holds Friday and Saturday night balls that start with "couple-dancing"—you'll see a French version of ballroom dancing called "le rock" that's more like swing—and end in merry mayhem (13 Rue au Maire, Third Arr.; 33-1-42-72-17-78; www.boite-a-frissons.fr).

Hemingway Bar
The Ritz
15 Place Vendôme
Paris
France 75001
Tel: 33 1 43 16 33 65
Metro: Madeleine or Opéra
www.ritzparis.com/jump_to.asp?id_target=1340&id_lang=2

The library-paneled and pouffy-chaired Hemingway is tucked away at the back of the Ritz and widely considered the best place to get a cocktail in Paris. Its top barman, Colin Field, is a world-class perfecter of ambrosias such as the Picasso Martini (the vermouth comes frozen in a cube) and the French 75 (Champagne, gin, sugar, and lemon juice). Field manages his cocktails and his fashionable clientele, from supermodels to lesser divinities, with equal finesse, and occasional introductions. Across the hall, the gentleman's club–inspired Ritz Bar hops on Thursday nights starting at 10 pm, when beautiful and exotic species alight on red velvet sofas before migrating to the dance floor downstairs. If you find the venue has been privatized for the evening, you can always join Field at the Hemingway.

Hemingway Bar open daily 10:30 am to 2 am.

Hotel Amour
8 Rue de Navarin
Paris
France 75009
Tel: 33 1 48 78 31 80
Metro: Saint-Georges or Pigalle

Tucked on a quiet street close to Pigalle, just off the bobo-chic Rue des Martyrs, this hotel bar (and the hotel itself) takes the red-light district as its theme—but seen through a minimalist eye. For denizens of its Prouvé- and Perriand-outfitted bar-restaurant, the intimate terrace is perhaps a little too close for comfort to the courtyard rooms—which are available by the hour, though the residents are more likely honeymooning yuppies than ladies of the night. The crowd, however, is lured by the clever mix of cocktails (especially the tart caipirinhas; avoid the sticky-sweet "amour") and see-and-be-seen atmosphere. P.S. The hotel itself was included on Condé Nast Traveler's 2007 Hot List of new and noteworthy hotels.

L'ôdace
29 Rue Alphonse Karr
Nice
France 06000
Tel: 33 4 93 82 37 66
www.odaceclub.com

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.

La Guinguette de L'Île du Martin-Pêcheur
41 Quai Victor Hugo
Champigny-sur-Marne
France 94500
Tel: 33 1 49 83 03 02
Metro: RER A to Champigny St-Maur
www.guinguette.fr

Les guinguettes, dance hall-restaurants along the Marne, have been in existence since the 18th century, immortalized by Renoir in his paintings of frothy maidens lolling on riverbanks. These days, from March to December, a genuine mix of curious Parisians and suburban dance-hounds come to La Guinguette de L'Île du Martin-Pêcheur, situated in the southeastern suburb of Champigny, to partake of the moules frites served at the red-checked tables. Then they hit the dance floor as live bands belt out a mixture of foxtrots and rumbas. You can reach La Guinguette on the RER train to Champigny or by car.

La Palette
43 Rue de Seine
Paris
France 75006
Tel: 33 1 43 26 68 15
Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Près

La Palette, located down a main artery of galleries in Saint Germain, is living proof that cafés are still at the heart of la vie parisienne. The walls are tiled and crammed with paintings, but it's the giant mosaic (installed in the '30s) in the main room that is most fun, featuring several of the extant and crankily efficient waiters. With a decent selection of wines by the glass and filling snacks—buttery pieces of pain Poilâne with dried ham or Gruyère—you can shore up indoors in winter under the amber-smoked ceilings. In summer, the crowd expands onto the terrace: the perfect spot to people-watch.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 2 am.

La Perle
78 Rue de Vieille du Temple
Paris
France 75003
Tel: 33 1 42 72 69 93
Metro: Saint-Sébastien-Froissart

At the epicenter of the "new" Marais (the northern end, where the galleries are), this bar and café has nothing specific to recommend it—neither decor, nor drink list, nor menu. Even so, this is the social ground zero for hooked-in bobo scene makers. The decoratively clad crowd of media and art types, architects and artists—basically anyone who looks good in skinny jeans—spills out of La Perle's doors six nights a week. For the neighbors' benefit, posted signs urge revelers to keep the decibel level down, but no one pays them any mind. There's more elbow room at brunch, or for an aperitif before the night owls emerge, but for the full spectacle (the opera of clinking glasses and howls of "mais non!"), head here around midnight on the weekends.

Open Mondays through Fridays 6 pm to 2 am, Saturdays and Sundays 8 am to 2 am.

La Société
4 Place St.-Germain-des-Prés
Paris
France 75006
Tel: 33 1 53 63 60 60
Metro: St.-Germain-des-Prés

If André owns the late-night scene, the Costes empire has pretty much locked down the city's hip eatery scene, like it or not (and there are vocal partisans on each side). As its name suggests, this Costes venue is less about the "world food" menu with the usual signature favorites than about rubbing elbows with chic Parisian society and showbiz icons such as habituée Catherine Deneuve. A revolving inventory of contemporary works by local artists punctuates the luminous ecru and chocolate decor by Christian Liaigre, and because La Société has replaced the legendary Le Bilboquet, expectations are high that there will be a return to live jazz. In the meantime, a new outside terrace should give the neighboring Les Deux Magots a run for the money.

Open daily 8 am to 2 am.

Le Bar du Plaza Athénée
25 Avenue Montaigne
Paris
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 53 67 66 00
Metro: Franklin D. Roosevelt or Alma-Marceau
www.plaza-athenee-paris.com

When Patrick Jouin (protégé of design diva Phillipe Starck) introduced a bar carved in glass to look like ice in the cleverly renovated Plaza Athénée, it began drawing in a megawatt crowd of local politicos and media types. The bar, like the hotel, also plays home-away-from-home to the international fashion pack, creating pouty mayhem during the défilés. They love it as much for its strategic location just off the Champs-Élysées as for its inventive cocktails, such as the Rose Royale, a lip-staining pure fruit twist on the Kir, made of Champagne and fresh raspberry purée.

Open nightly 6 pm to 2 am.

Le Baron
6 Avenue Marceau
Paris
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 47 20 04 01
Metro: Alma-Marceau
www.clublebaron.com

Just when you think this ex-bordello in the heart of the Eighth Arrondissement has had its day, it becomes popular again. There's something about the tiny space still kitted out in the louche accoutrements of its former existence (red velvet, black ceilings, fringe) that makes people want to let their hair down; the peep-show vitrines hidden away behind the stage are now empty, but the hard-dancing clientele put on their own show to the live rock and occasional electronica. The crowd is a cross-section of label-obsessives and models (and their inevitable chasers). Mick Jagger even celebrated his birthday here when he was in town.

Le Fumoir
6 Rue de l'Amiral Coligny
Paris
France 75001
Tel: 33 1 42 92 00 24
Metro: Louvre–Rivoli
www.lefumoir.com

The Fumoir's bar may have been imported from Chicago, but the velvet curtains, lacquered walls, long windows, and easy arrangement of leather club chairs feel distinctly Parisian, as does the view onto the Louvre, with a peephole glimpse of the Seine. The well-coiffed crowd know that in the late-afternoon glow it's still the best place to have a coffee (watch out for the addictively delicious ginger biscuits), and with service until 2 am, it also works for a late-night drink or easy evening snack (food until 11:30). Beware of happy hour, when the men from the Bourse, or stock market, jam up the bar.

Le Papagayo
Résidence du Nouveau Port
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 97 95 95
www.papagayo-club.com

Le Papagayo is the most unbridled of all the clubs in St. Trop. It doesn't look like much—snug, painted all in white, and with an open circular VIP area—but it has pulled everyone from Brigitte Bardot to Donna Summer. More recently, you might have been shaking your stuff next to Bono, Beyoncé, Denzel, or Diddy. Everyone jams the strobe-lit dance floor together, stars and all. Our favorite nights are the lavish costume parties and themed evenings (Tahiti, cowboys). All in all, let's just say that a lot of illicit behavior and dirty deeds have gone down here: What more recommendation do you need?

Open nightly midnight to 5 am, July through September; weekends only in October.

Hotel Photo
Les Caves du Roy
Hotel Byblos
Avenue Paul Signac
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 56 68 16
www.lescavesduroy.com

If there's an institution that sums up why the French refer to St. Tropez as "St. Trop" (trop meaning "too much"), it's this flashy Studio 54 throwback, which has been the nexus of the partying crowd since the 1970s. The wall-to-wall mirrors, electric palm trees, and disco balls hail from that decade, too, but a 2008 face-lift updated the banquettes, wall upholstery, bathrooms, and entryway. Boldface names, including Beyoncé, Diddy, and George Clooney, still swing by, along with Botoxed beauties ranging in age from 16 to 60 and playboys with wallets big enough to drop $3,400 on a magnum of Cristal. About four times a season, someone will order a $140,000 limited-edition bottle of Dalmanazar Byblos by Perrier-Jouët, complete with diamond keepsake by Van Cleef & Arpels. The appreciative crowd (sometimes including whole families) arrives ramped up and ready to boogie to house, hip-hop, and the occasional bit of perplexing French rap offered by Jack E., the rotund house DJ. Since people line up for hours outside in high season, and even pretty people get turned away with some regularity, look your best (or book a room at the Hôtel Byblos, to which Les Caves du Roy is attached). The regular doormen tell us that behavior in line does count: One unruly, already-drunk friend could ruin your chances. And don't forget your AmEx Black Card.

Open daily midnight to 5 am, July and August; weekends mid-April through June and September through mid-October.

Le Sunset/Le Sunside
60 Rue des Lombards
Paris
France 75001
Tel: 33 1 40 26 46 60 (Sunset)
Tel: 33 1 40 26 21 25 (Sunside)
Metro: Châtelet-Les Halles
www.sunset-sunside.com

Paris is one of the few places in the world where people under 20 still proudly declare themselves "jazzophile" and where jazz clubs are plentiful, well-attended, and even fun. The Sunset/Sunside is certainly the most atmospheric—crepuscular and, yes, still smoky—with two clubs in one. The Sunset, started in 1983 in the vaulted cave under the original restaurant near Les Halles, showcases electronic jazz in its warren of rooms. The Sunside, replacing the former eatery, now hosts traditional acoustic jazz musicians. Their (slightly mystic) slogan is "Jazz on all floors for all jazz," and they mean it: The performers are a mix of local favorites and international headliners. There are shows at both venues on the weekends, but weekday performances tend to be held only at Sunside.

Le Tambour
41 Rue de Montmartre
Paris
France 75002
Tel: 33 1 45 08 46 72
Metro: Châtelet-Les Halles
www.restaurantletambour.com

This open-late (until 6 am) restaurant with a covered terrace off the trendy Rue Montorgueil is decorated to look like a catch-all brocante, with all manner of found signs and oddities nailed to the walls. During the wee hours, it's sometimes hard to elbow your way past the bar, where locals line up three deep.

Open Sundays and Mondays 7 pm to 6 am, Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 3 pm and 6 pm to 6 am.

Mathis
3 Rue de Ponthieu
Paris
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 53 76 39 55
Metro: Franklin D. Roosevelt

A hotel bar that feels more like a courtesan's sitting room, Mathis is a hidden spot where celebrities and well-heeled locals like to rub elbows, or even knees. Discreetly reached through the (less impressive) Hotel Mathis Elysées Matignon, Mathis has two sides: a bar and restaurant to the left at the entrance, and late-night spot to the right. Familiar faces such as famous French actors Isabelle Adjani or Lambert Wilson gravitate to the former—perhaps for its soft banquettes, the gold-dipped mirrors, or the very flattering light of crystal sconces. In the latter, which is done up with red velvet settees and dark walls, the crowd gently grooves to softly pulsating music.

Closed Sundays.

Mori's Bar
5 Rue de France
Nice
France 06300
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 location—on a pedestrian street crowded with tourists and shoppers by day and Nice's carnivalesque parade of eccentrics by night—keeps things interesting.

Hours vary.

Moulin Rouge
82 Boulevard de Clichy
Paris
France 75018
Tel: 33 1 53 09 82 82
Metro: Blanche
www.moulinrouge.fr

Before Las Vegas, and even Ziegfeld, there was a time when a visit to Paris meant catching a "show"—where else could frothy underwear look like so much fun? For authentic kitsch, the spectacle at Montmartre's Moulin Rouge, in continuous business since 1889, is still worth the visit. This place genuinely recalls the raucous amusements of the 19th century, though the signature windmill is now outlined in red neon. Sixty "Doriss" girls and countless sequins are featured in Féerie, the new all-dancing show of high-class cheese, which includes a crowd-pleasing cancan. The audience is international, with a hearty dose of French provincials. Avoid the (mediocre) dinner performance and come for the late show at 11 pm; the $120 cover comes with a half bottle of Champagne or two drinks.

Neo
23 Rue de Ponthieu
Paris
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 42 25 57 14
Metro: Saint-Philippe-du-Roule
www.neoclub.com

On Rue de Ponthieu, a main after-dark drag lined with velvet ropes and doormen, nightclubs rarely last from one ready-to-wear collection to the next. Neo, however, has hit upon a winning formula of simple white leather sofas, an eager-to-please mix of 1970s to 1990s dance hits, and a way with models and visiting U.S. celebrities. (We spotted Bruce Willis there in 2007.) There's no cover charge, but dress to impress and don't waste your time during fashion week, when it takes a professional pass to march in the door.

Nouveau Casino
109 Rue Oberkampf
Paris
France 75011
Tel: 33 1 43 57 57 40
Metro: Parmentier
www.nouveaucasino.net

One of Paris's most appealing nightspots, this live music venue hosts crowded dance parties and books international rock and pop groups and up-and-coming local acts. Affiliated with (and located behind) venerable Café Charbon—the grande dame of scruffy Bastille cafés—Nouveau Casino has a Tron-like decor that highlights its acoustics, which are surprisingly sophisticated for a small club. Check to see if you recognize any of the names on the roster: Some of the groups, like the Brooklyn-based Fiery Furnaces, are better known outside of France.

Octave Café
Place de la Garonne
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 97 22 56

It's hard to chat up your new attractive friend at the club with the whomping bass. ("What's your name again? Pardon? Oh, forget it.") The Octave Café is a piano bar tailor-made for tête-à-têtes. Visiting pop stars sometimes drop in for impromptu sets—it's a local tradition. Liza Minnelli, a Rolling Stone or two, and France's favorite rocker, Johnny Hallyday, are among those who've performed.

Open nightly from 11 pm.

Paris Social Club
142 Rue Montmartre
Paris
France 75002
Metro: Bourse
www.myspace.com/parissocialclub

Paris Social Club's entrance on a corner of Rue Montmartre (one of the second arrondissement's bar-and-restaurant blocks) is unannounced—but that's because this club is in all ways underground. Down the shabby steps, you'll find what is, for the moment at least, one of Paris's best DJ scenes. The space is dark and scrappy, but patrons come for the revolving door of disc jockeys competing for the best set list. The music is wildly variable—from rap to electro-trance to punk and back—but the crowd is consistently serious about the music, and grooving to it.

Showcase
Pont Alexandre III
Port de Champs Elysées
Paris
France 75008
Metro: Concorde or Champs Elysées Clemenceau
www.showcase.fr/

Arriving at Showcase is nine tenths of the pleasure. As its nickname—Sous le Pont Alexandre III—tidily notes, the club is under this 19th-century bridge. To enter, you make your way down a curving balustrade to the quai and join the queue at the velvet rope, lit by the watery glow of the Seine. Housed in a cavernous former boat hangar owned by the city and left unoccupied for decades, Showcase opened its 10,000-plus square feet to an exclusive public at the end of 2006. The size sounds (and is) overwhelming, though it also means—by some acoustic miracle—that different music can be played in the same space: say, a lesbian punk-croon band on one side of the dividing bar and funk on the other. The crowd splits by age—from well-mussed businessmen to go-go minettes—and by music preference.

Via Notte
13 Rue du Commandant André
Cannes
France 06400
Tel: 33 6 22 92 23 58
www.vianotte.fr

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.

Hours vary.

VIP Room
Résidence du Nouveau Port
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 97 14 70
www.viproom.fr

The southern branch of the nightclub on Paris's Champs Elysées has a doppelgänger crowd: curvy young blondes in designer gear being ogled by slightly older men with sunglasses pushed back on their heads. Still, it feels a bit less manufactured than either Caves du Roy or Le Papagayo, which means many visitors feel comfortable here, assuming they're cool enough/well-dressed enough/beautiful enough to get in. The playlist shifts from 1970s oldies to the latest funk and deep house as the evening grinds on.

Open nightly from midnight, Easter through August.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.