Everyone knows that Paris is one of, if not THE most romantic city in the world, but not everyone knows about the nightlife in Paris. You would think that such a high profile city would be brimming with places for nighttime antics. So why are they so hard to find?
First and foremost the best nights out in Paris are really nights IN. Inside many of those alluring apartments along and around the Champs Elysées there are house parties just about every night of the week – but that’s a whole ‘nother post. This post is a rundown of where to go to mix and mingle with the lovely locals out and about and maybe get invited to one of those exclusive in-house soirées.
There’s only a handful of spots in Paris worth going to after dark and it’s generally harder to get through the door than the likes of London, Berlin, Amsterdam or Barcelona. Dare I say it, door people in this city are highly discriminatory. Luckily Paris is such a walkable city and all of the bars listed below are close to each other so if one is a no-go then the next is no more than a couple of blocks walk or ten minute taxi ride away.
I guess it goes without saying but with less than a second to make an impression for ‘in’ or ‘out’, some effort needs to go into getting ready – whilst not looking like you’ve put any effort in at all… you know, that frivolous term “effortlessly elegant”?
Parisians aren’t fans of showing skin or packing on the make up (which for me was completely unnatural for a big night out so I really had to put in the hard yards!).
Also, like everywhere else around the world, you’re most likely to get in if you’re female or you’re accompanied by one – preferably more.
Not to make things any easier, all of the good places are kind of hidden – you won’t see any big flashy signs or tacky promotional material. Some are so discreet, you could be standing right outside and have no idea of the shenanigans happening beneath your feet. Also, most don’t open until midnight or later.
If you’re planning a trip to Paris and wondering when the best time to go is, may I suggest Paris Fashion Week. Sure, accommodation might be slightly more expensive but to experience the excitement levels right across the city is priceless – Fashion Week is celebrated by absolutely everyone here.
The arty-types, celebs, models, fashion and PR from around the world flock into town to party and these places will be packed out with what will appear to be vampires, they’re that stylish and good-looking (and sleep-deprived).
A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a champagne in the courtyard of this Parisian institution. Hôtel Costes (pronounced ‘cost’) is truly an icon of Parisian-luxe indulging every sense from the plush red velvet loungers and crystal chandeliers, the intoxicating scent of Costes branded candles mixing with designer perfumes, to the ice-cold sparkling champagne and catwalk-ready staff. The food is to-die-for (wallet will die a little too… who am I kidding – it will die a lot) modern French cuisine with Asian influences.
The actual bar is a dark and opulent den downstairs but the real attraction here is the courtyard that the entire complex is built around. As pretentious as this sounds, the better you look the more central you’ll be seated, so if you don’t make it into the courtyard at least you’ll be able to watch from the outskirts and save a week of your life by avoiding the constant smoke-bomb in the courtyard. Go here for a leisurely late lunch or dinner with drinks (of course) to warm up for your big night out.
[Hôtel Costes: 239-241 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris | +33 1 42 44 50 00]
If Hôtel Costes is the ultimate in Parisian-luxe then Matignon is the icon for Parisian-chic. Since both are owned and operated by brothers, they have a similar feel. Like Hôtel Costes, Matignon is dripping in elegance but is more lighthearted and fun so you’ll find a hipper crowd. This is the playground for the young and the restless.
Dinner at Matignon is so much fun. Book ahead for a late dinner but be aware that like Hôtel Costes, the most glamorous are seated right in the centre of the dining room with a perfect view of the DJ. The music is always so good that you’ll most definitely be seat-dancing. Towards the end of dinner, around midnight, you will see people start to slip away downstairs to the club. There are VIP booths for groups but because it is a really cozy space down there, everyone ends up mixing with everyone – feel the love!
Tuesday nights are the biggest nights here and of course Saturdays are good too. Unless you’re into hard core retro and disco music, avoid Thursdays (still fun though) and the club is closed Sundays.
[Matignon: 3 Avenue Matignon, 75008 Paris | +33 1 42 89 64 72]
This is your classic underground too-cool-for-school kind of club. You won’t find more black leather jackets anywhere else in the whole of France. There’s a big pink neon sign on the wall flashing “If the music is too loud, you are too old” that sums it up nicely. There’s a smoking room (or at least I think it’s for smokers?) filled with pool tables, pinball machines and other arcade games.
When it first opened it was the hangout of reality TV’s ultimate bad boy Justin Bobby *swoon*.
Since then there’s been the likes of Kayne, Jamie Foxx, Jessica Alba and more recently the cast of Spartacus and the All Blacks. The music here is a mix of hip hop and electro. There is no way you can go here and not dance. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen dancing like I’ve seen here, it’s truly off-the-charts, Step Up style.
[5 Rue de Berri, 75008 Paris | +33 1 45 62 50 23]
Raspoutine is what I’d imagine the inside of 19th century Russian Tsar’s boudoir might look like. Again it’s underground and the interiors are draped in deep red with gold leaf filigrees and stained glass panels along the walls. There’s also a smoking room that goes further underground. This place is your go-to at the end of the night and it’s distinctive style sees it often hosting fashion show after-parties or any after-party for that matter.
If you’ve got some anxiety about getting in then aim to get there before 1am. Otherwise gather a group and split a booth between you for about 800EUR. You’ll have plenty of vodka, champagne, fresh fruits and bottle service and if you’re settling in for a few hours it’ll end up being cheaper and far more fun than hustling your way back and forth from the bar that has a notoriously long wait time.
[Raspoutine: 58 Rue de Bassano, 75008 Paris | +33 1 47 20 02 90]
Right next to one of the world’s most famous monuments the Arc de Triomphe, this restaurant-bar-club combo reopened after a couple of years in limbo to a fresh, swanky layout designed by none other than Lenny Kravitz’s design co.
The food’s tasty and beautifully presented but the portions are more suited to models prepping for the catwalk…
My friend Anita and I attended the opening just after Paris Fashion Week in Sep/Oct 2014. Lenny was there of course as well as Justin Bieber and Mick Jagger. Since then there’s been a non-stop flow of celebs including Rhianna, Kate Moss, Liv Tyler, Chanel Iman, Rosie Huntington-Whitley, Kendall and Gigi. But this place has such good vibes that even without the celebs, it has no trouble holding its own. The crowd is a beautiful jumble of people – young, old, glam, hipster, old-school-pimp… you just never know who you’ll run into here.
[L’Arc: 12 Rue de Presbourg, 75016 Paris | +33 6 59 21 32 44]
While some of my best nights out have been at these establishments, they won’t suit all tastes so I would absolutely LOVE to hear from YOU about where you think are the hottest night spots are in Paris.