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France nightlife

French nightlife keeps its own time, adapting worldwide fashions in unpredictable ways. Celebrity discos like Le Baron, for example, have kept the spirit of Studio 54 alive from the 1980s until today, while the celebrity DJs of more recent years have brought world music to upscale clubs. No matter what your taste, there's a range of user-friendly options, depending on how late you want to stay up and the thickness of your wallet. Be prepared to dress up and keep your voice down: The only stumbling, shouting people you're likely to see on a night out are other tourists.

Want to bypass doormen and cover charges? Head to one of the country's increasingly popular wine bars after dinner (or don't leave the dinner table at all—small neighborhood cafés are the perfect place to linger over another bottle of Sancerre). The only catch is that the more relaxed nightlife options tend to shut their doors by 11 pm (or midnight at the latest). From then on, it's music that defines French nightlife in the form of performance venues and dance clubs, and you'll generally have to pay a premium for it. The jazz scene in France is still extremely active, with clubs catering to everyone from poor students to high rollers. Hot Paris dance clubs feature international DJs and extremely selective door policies (on the other hand, those doors stay open until 5 am).

Cities outside Paris tend to shut down earlier (with the exception of a student-oriented club or two). However, the Champagne-swilling nightclubs that line the Côte d'Azur from Antibes to St. Tropez give the capital city a run for its nightlife money. Down south, mounting bar tabs seem immaterial to the yacht owners and nubile young yacht-bait they attract. Something to avoid throughout France: the "Irish pub" phenomenon, where expatriates of every nationality surround you in advanced (and loud) states of inebriation.

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Le Fumoir, Paris

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...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Le Papagayo, St. Tropez

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...more

see the St. Tropez guide
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Les Caves du Roy, St. Tropez

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...more

see the St. Tropez guide
Editors' Pick
Le Sunset/Le Sunside, Paris

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,...more

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Editors' Pick
Le Tambour, Paris

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...more

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Editors' Pick
Mathis, Paris

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....more

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Editors' Pick
Mori's Bar, Nice, France

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...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
Editors' Pick
Moulin Rouge, Paris

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...more

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Editors' Pick
Neo, Paris

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,...more

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Editors' Pick
Nouveau Casino, Paris

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...more

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

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