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Paris Nightlife


Paris's nightlife has a reputation extending back for hundreds of years, and it shows no sign of slowing down. While many tourists won't venture beyond the crowded and overpriced bars of the Champs Elysées, there are many bustling nightlife districts in Paris worth exploring.

Bastille has a mixture of noisy nightclubs and bars best suited to twenty-somethings. Oberkampf was the place to be in the 1990s, and still buzzes with hipster-filled cafes. The area around the Louvre is home to some of the most upmarket, and expensive, bars in Paris, including the Ritz's Hemingway Bar in Place Vendome, a piano bar frequented by the writer in the 1940s.

Montmartre is the home of the famous (or infamous) Moulin Rouge cabaret, which still presents glittering extravaganzas on a nightly basis, though the price tag is a bit higher than when it started in 1889. Nearby Pigalle is a bit seedy, but offers some good rock music venues. Marais also boasts a good selection of bars and cafes, with a thriving gay and lesbian scene.

There is no end to the live music possibilities in Paris. Nouveau Casino hosts a variety of bands on most nights, and La Flèche d'Or is known as an indie-rock venue. Belleville's La Java hosts an eclectic mix of artists in the venue where Edith Piaf debuted.

For a more sedate music experience, the Cité de la Musique hosts classical, jazz and traditional concerts in a network of concert halls. Paris is of course an opera paradise, and you'll find symphonies and operas at the Opéra Bastille, lighter opera at the Opéra Comique, and you might even spot the phantom of the opera at the grand Opéra Garnier, the home of the Ballet de l'Opera National de Paris.

Cafes and bars are generally open from late afternoon to 1am with some variation, and clubs don't open until 11pm on the weekends, staying open until 5 or 6am. It's not fashionable to arrive at a Paris club until well after midnight. The drinking age in France is 16 for wine and beer, and 18 for spirits.

Pick up a copy of the weekly Pariscope, or the English-language Boulevard for up-to-date entertainment listings.

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