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.
6 Rue Coquillière
Tel: 33 1 40 13 77 00
Metro: Châtelet-Les Halles
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.
11 Quai François Mauriac
Tel: 33 1 53 60 17 30
Metro: Quai de la Gare
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).
47 Rue du Faubourg St. Denis
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.
16 Rue des Bernardins
Tel: 33 1 44 07 12 47
Inconspicuous on the outsidelook for the stuffed raccoon in the windowthis 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.
37 Rue St. Sauveur
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).
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 leadyou'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 3Wthe 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).
15 Place Vendôme
Tel: 33 1 43 16 33 65
Metro: Madeleine or Opéra
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.
8 Rue de Navarin
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.
41 Quai Victor Hugo
Tel: 33 1 49 83 03 02
Metro: RER A to Champigny St-Maur
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.
43 Rue de Seine
Tel: 33 1 43 26 68 15
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.
78 Rue de Vieille du Temple
Tel: 33 1 42 72 69 93
At the epicenter of the "new" Marais (the northern end, where the galleries are), this bar and café has nothing specific to recommend itneither 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 artistsbasically anyone who looks good in skinny jeansspills 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.
4 Place St.-Germain-des-Prés
Tel: 33 1 53 63 60 60
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.
25 Avenue Montaigne
Tel: 33 1 53 67 66 00
Metro: Franklin D. Roosevelt or Alma-Marceau
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.
6 Avenue Marceau
Tel: 33 1 47 20 04 01
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.
6 Rue de l'Amiral Coligny
Tel: 33 1 42 92 00 24
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.
60 Rue des Lombards
Tel: 33 1 40 26 46 60 (Sunset)
Tel: 33 1 40 26 21 25 (Sunside)
Metro: Châtelet-Les Halles
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.
41 Rue de Montmartre
Tel: 33 1 45 08 46 72
Metro: Châtelet-Les Halles
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.
3 Rue de Ponthieu
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 formerperhaps 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.
82 Boulevard de Clichy
Tel: 33 1 53 09 82 82
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.
23 Rue de Ponthieu
Tel: 33 1 42 25 57 14
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.
109 Rue Oberkampf
Tel: 33 1 43 57 57 40
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 Charbonthe grande dame of scruffy Bastille cafésNouveau 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.
142 Rue Montmartre
Paris Social Club's entrance on a corner of Rue Montmartre (one of the second arrondissement's bar-and-restaurant blocks) is unannouncedbut 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 variablefrom rap to electro-trance to punk and backbut the crowd is consistently serious about the music, and grooving to it.
Pont Alexandre III
Port de Champs Elysées
Metro: Concorde or Champs Elysées Clemenceau
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.