For the past several years, the Greater Paris party scene has been lit! A breath of fresh air has swept through Ile-de-France with the coming of age of a new generation of partygoers who have adopted the capital and its surroundings as their favorite playground. You’ll find festive events in clubs, public parks and gardens, and unexpected venues like abandoned factories. The musical palette on offer is just as diverse, with electro—particularly techno and house—leading the charge. Here’s a quick look at a few places and parties that just can’t be missed. Rock, electro, select, alt, jazz, French chanson, musicals and more—something’s bound to suit your fancy.
The club scene is always on the move, and new venues are constantly opening all over Greater Paris. Read on for a quick survey of the places to be after dark. There are clubs like Salò (2nd arrondissement), which replaced The Social Club and whose name is a nod to the Pasolini film; Electric (15th arrondissement) and its panoramic view of the Eiffel Tower; Nuits Fauves (13th arrondissement) and its three dancefloors; and, right next door, Grand Rivage with its bohemian Berlin ambiance. The effervescent club scene has even led to urban renewal in many neighborhoods. Parc de la Villette, for example, has a new lease on life thanks to the opening of a unique new place: À la Folie (19th arrondissement), which is a café, a restaurant, and on some nights a club. Along the Seine in the 13th arrondissement, several barges, like Le Playtime and Petit Bain, open their holds or decks to club-goers. And for those who prefer an alt ambiance and a cozy setting, don’t miss Macumba (1st arrondissement) and its impressive Ancient Egyptian décor, the French cabaret Madame Arthur (18th arrondissement), or the iconoclastic La Station, located in the former Gare des Mines train station at Porte d’Aubervilliers (18th arrondissement) and managed by the MU collective, which organizes parties, projections and performances there during the spring and summer. And everyone who’s anyone is eagerly anticipating the opening of Dock B in Pantin, northeast of the capital, this spring. It will be a hub for exchanging ideas and living life to the fullest—a new must to experience after dark!
In the mood for electro?
You’re in luck: Greater Paris is home to a number of enticing events, with international artists invited to perform each week. Concrete (12th arrondissement), a barge anchored near Gare de Lyon, is a driving force on the scene: it has transformed the Parisian nightscape in just a few years and is the only electro club in France authorized to stay open 24/7, for parties that rage all night and all day! And let’s not forget Salò (2nd arrondissement), Badaboum (11th arrondissement), Le Gibus (11th arrondissement), Le Zig Zag Club (8th arrondissement), Glazart (19th arrondissement), Faust (7th arrondissement) and the unrivalled Paris leader: Rex Club (2nd arrondissement).
If you’re more one for small, intimate places, Le Klub (1st arrondissement), Chez Moune (9th arrondissement) and Macumba (11th arrondissement) will be right up your alley! In addition to the vibrant club scene, Greater Paris is home to more and more techno raves held in unusual venues and organized by collectives like Drom, Fée Croquer, Berlinons Paris, Possession, and Débrouï-art. They most often set up in areas outside the city, where they’re free to get loud!
Jazz in Paris
As one of the world’s jazz capitals, Paris is full of places to enjoy the genre. Make sure to drop in at legendary clubs like Le Petit Journal Saint-Michel (5th arrondissement), Le Caveau de la Huchette (5th arrondissement) and Le Duc des Lombards (1st arrondissement), one of the capital’s jazz meccas. There are also the celebrated concert cafés to enjoy, such as Café Laurent (6th arrondissement), which was the place to be in 1950s Saint-Germain-des Prés: Boris Vian used to play here. There are also full-service restaurants with live music, like La Bellevilloise (20th arrondissement) and its famous Sunday jazz brunch. Also worth a mention: River Café in Issy-les-Moulineaux, with its floating concerts on the Seine; Le Triton, a non-profit community restaurant in Les Lilas, which features a jazz-rich concert lineup; and La Dynamo de Banlieues Bleues, located in a former burlap sack factory in Pantin.
You’ll find all the different rock genres playing in a wide selection of Parisian bars and clubs. Indie, punk, garage, new wave, hard, metal and more are in the spotlight almost every night—and the concert venues sometimes turn into dancefloors once the live music is over. Le Gibus (11th arrondissement), UFO (11th arrondissement) and La Féline (20th arrondissement) are all must-visits in the category.
Music in Greater Paris
Something for everyone. Electro, rock and jazz are just the tip of the iceberg—every style of music has its own schedule of events in Greater Paris. There’s live music playing somewhere every night in Ile-de-France, so you’re bound to find something that suits your fancy: French chanson, world music, hip-hop and so much more. Concert halls, bars and cultural institutions put on a rich and varied schedule of events year-round, featuring international musicians, French artists and bright new talents. We’ll name just a few of the capital’s legendary stages, to whet your appetite: Le Bataclan and Le Café de la Danse in the 11th arrondissement, Le Casino de Paris (9th arrondissement), La Cigale (18th arrondissement), La Maroquinerie (20th arrondissement) and L’Européen (17th arrondissement). For other venues with live music, you can start with: Le Pop-Up du Label (12th arrondissement), L’Olympic Café (18th arrondissement), Lou Pascalou (20th arrondissement), Grand Bouillon in Aubervilliers, Café La Pêche in Montreuil, Canal 93 in Bobigny and La Halle Roublot in Fontenay-sous-Bois. Check each venue’s Facebook page for the nightly lineup.
The LGBT scene
The LGBT community is a driving force behind the dynamic after-dark scene in Paris. In case you’re wondering, all the places listed are, of course, straight-friendly. The atmosphere is open-minded, laid-back and incredibly festive. In addition to the classic venues in and around the Marais (like the bars Banana Café, The Labo and Bears’ Den; and the club Le Dépôt), don’t miss Rosa Bonheur: Rosa Bonheur Buttes-Chaumont, which is reopening this March following renovation work, and its little sister Rosa Bonheur sur Seine, located on the banks of the river. Several major addresses in the Parisian nightscape also host LGBT events: Saturday night at Le Gibus (11th arrondissement); Le Tango (3th arrondissement), aka La Boîte à Frissons; and Raymond Bar Club (2nd arrondissement) to name just a few. As for dedicated parties, there’s a plethora to choose from: La Madame Klaude at Les Étoiles (10th arrondissement), Le Grand Motel at Badaboum (11th arrondissement), Flash Cocotte, La Trou aux Biches, Wet for Me by Barbieturix for women, Bizarre Love Triangle at Maxim’s, CockOrico, Menergy, Champs Libre (in a hangar in Aubervilliers) and La Sale top the list. And let’s not forget La Nuit des Follivores et des Crazyvores, held at Le Bataclan and Le Gibus in turn.
Is Greater Paris the new Berlin? The alt scene is so active in the city that a documentary has been produced on the topic: Le Renouveau. Available online, the film explores the backstories of a host of new collectives based in Greater Paris. Their end-game is putting on inclusive, interactive, lighthearted, eco-friendly parties in unexpected venues (under bridges and in parks, or in art studios) throughout Ile-de-France. The list is long: Alter Paname, Otto Dix, La Mamie’s, Cracki, D.Ko Records, 75021, Le Camion Bazar, Microclimat, La Dynamicale, Drom, Soukmachines, Pardonnez-Nous and so many more. It’s easy to find out more on their websites or Facebook pages.
While they sometimes organize parties in Parisian clubs, their most innovative events take place in non-profit community and activist venues and embrace a multidisciplinary approach to art. For example, Soukmachines has set up camp for a year (through June) at La Halle Papin, an abandoned factory in Pantin. In Saint-Denis, Le 6B is a symbolic squat that welcomes a vibrant crowd every weekend from May through October and invites them to play, dance and discover the space’s artistic endeavors. A similar mindset drives Mains d’œuvres in Saint-Ouen, La Villa Mais d’Ici in Aubervilliers, La Ferme du bonheur in Nanterre, Le Péripate in the 19th arrondissement, Anis Gras in Arcueil, Le Hangar in Ivry-sur-Seine and Les Grands Voisins in the former Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Hospital (14th arrondissement). In Vitry-sur-Seine, Gare au Théâtre, is "a manufacturer of art objects of all kinds,” and has taken up residence in a renovated former train station and features a full schedule of events, including La Grande Fête du Gros Paris for example.
If you would like to learn more, Intersquat Paris is a platform designed to enable squats throughout Ile-de-France to communicate, cooperate and pool resources.
A select few
By definition, these exclusive clubs promise an evening rubbing elbows with the cream of the crop. And getting in can be difficult if you’re not a regular or even a member, like at the renowned Silencio, dreamed up by American director David Lynch. Dress code is obligatory at other places as well, including Le Montana (6th arrondissement), Le Carmen (9th arrondissement) and Les Bains (3rd arrondissement), which is now a hotel and a club. And let’s not forget the VIP nightclubs of western Paris, located around the Champs-Élysées, in the capitals 8th arrondissement: Le Matignon, Chez Raspoutine, Maxim’s and Le Manko. And of course the aptly named VIP Room in the 1st arrondissement.
Anything but ordinary!
In Paris, nightfall is an invitation to discover the most unusual of places! After dark, several Parisian public places turn into dancefloors. At L’Espace Sportif Pailleron (19th arrondissement), clubbing parties attract a trendy set of electro fans. Also keep an eye out for Hors Série, a new project launched by the team behind Concrete, which puts on raves in unexpected venues. The first edition took place in September at Saint-Lazare train station. What will be next? Surprise! To find out more, check out their Facebook page.
Family-friendly and the great outdoors
Many venues enjoy indoor and outdoor spaces, so it’s no surprise some parties get started at noon. And, with the arrival of spring, courtyards, terraces and artificial beaches are swarming with costumed, sequined sun-seekers, often with kids in tow for a leisurely afternoon stroll. For open-air cafés, head over to Rosa Bonheur in Buttes-Chaumont Park (19th arrondissement), Rosa Bonheur sur Seine (7th arrondissement) or La Guinguette de l’île du Martin-pêcheur in Champigny-sur-Marne. Glazart, whose LaPlage is the envy of all of Paris, La Clairière and Le Chalet des Iles (in the Bois de Boulogne) all deserve a mention as well. The parks of Greater Paris also host their fair share of festivals. Last year for example, La Dynamicale set up camp for 48 hours in Jean-Moulin Park in Bagnolet. To keep up with the happenings, check out the websites of the venues and the collectives behind them. And don’t miss L’Été du Canal, which takes place every July and August with a rich and varied schedule of events along the Canal de l’Ourcq: party and concert cruises, walks, street dances, shows, concerts, exhibitions, urban art, water sports, family activities and more—one big party with something for everyone!