What are some fun things to do in Paris at night?
May 5, 2009 10:37 AM   Subscribe

What should we do in Paris in the evenings / at night?

Hi all, I'm sure this has been covered before but I'm going to ask it again nonetheless: Does anyone have ideas for fun activities in Paris during the evenings? My partner and I will be in Paris for a week; during the day we plan to do the typical touristy stuff (museums, shopping, general walking around, etc.,), but we're kind of at a loss for what we should be doing at night. It seems like most of the attractions and shops close at 6 or 7ish, we're not really into the club / bar scene so going out every night isn't really an option (although I'm sure we'll go out once or twice). We'll be traveling by metro, and have things we want to do pretty much all over the city (well, not the suburbs) so location isn't really a problem. Cost is a factor though, we'll be on a fairly limited budget so something like going to the opera would probably be out of our price range.
posted by mizike to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (16 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Take a river cruise on the Seine at night. It's a beautiful way to see all of the monuments lit up- they take on a new life at night. Also, the boat driver will give narration or there will be recorded narration in multiple languages.

By the Eiffel Tower, if you just walk down to the river from there you'll find a few different boat tour operators- you should just be able to buy a ticket, it's in the neighborhood of 10-15 euro for a 1 hour round trip. If you walk over to the Seine, you really can't miss the boat tours- they're easy to find.

Do the Eiffel Tower at sunset and then walk down to the river when you are done for a perfect combination.
posted by mintymike at 10:47 AM on May 5, 2009

Paris is a great city for movies. Foreign films are often shown in the original language with French subtitles (look for v.o. in the listings, for "version originale"). There are frequent festivals of old movies too.

In addition to the Seine cruise, it can be fun to head up to Montmartre at night and see the panorama of the city spread out before you. Take the métro to Abbesses and then the funicular.

The Louvre is open until 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. It's a good time to visit because there are fewer people, though some of the galleries are closed.

Visit the courtyard of the Palais Royal after dark, too; the illuminated sculptures are funky.

And if it's still there, a good inexpensive show is "Metamorphosis," a classic magic show in a boat moored in the Seine in the 5th arrondissement, not too far from Notre-Dame. They do a dinner upstairs followed by a show downstairs, but you can get tickets just for the show. A little French helps, but it's not necessary to enjoy most of the illusions.
posted by brianogilvie at 11:06 AM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Louvre is open until 10pm on a Wednesday and Friday evening.
The Eiffel tower is open until 11.45pm, 12.45pm in the summer.
Arc de Triomphe, 11pm.

All the major attractions open fairly late or will have late nights, I could go on, just google them. There are night bike tours, night walking tours, rollerskating events, boat trips, readings, live music, outdoor film screenings in the summer, the list of things to do in Paris at night is as plentiful as the list of things to do during the day.
posted by fire&wings at 11:18 AM on May 5, 2009

It's definitely worth stopping by the Eiffel Tower post-sunset, because every hour on the hour it does a little sparkly light show. They started it for 2000, and continued because it turned out popular. The view is nice from the Trocadero, directly across the river.

I didn't do the river cruise when I was there, but it's on my list for next time - it did look like a nice relaxing bit of fun.

Also, one thing I found - Parisians eat dinner fairly late by US standards, (like, 8pm instead of 6 or 7) and dinner lasts a long time. A nice 3-course meal in a bistro can easily last 2 hours and occupy most of an evening. So - if you go to dinner 7/7:30 ish you can get in before the main rush, relax over your meal until 9/9:30. Then a slow walk back to the hotel and you're done for the evening - (you'd be surprised how much energy you can use up sightseeing all day.)
posted by dnash at 11:22 AM on May 5, 2009

Oh - seconding the mention of the Louvre open late on Wednesdays! It's brilliant because a lot of the less popular areas get pretty empty. (Or did when I was there, which admittedly was somewhat out of season in early March.)

(On that note - get a Museum Pass. You can get them for a certain number of days - I think 2, 3, or 5 - gets you into almost every museum in town plus you can jump past lines to get in. It's a great deal.)
posted by dnash at 11:26 AM on May 5, 2009

Absolutely go on the Bateaux-Mouches night cruise of the Seine. It's incredible and well-worth it to see Paris lit up at night. It leaves from Pont de l'Alma in the 8th arrondissement.
posted by pised at 11:36 AM on May 5, 2009

When I was in Paris, we did the touristy things during the day and kept a keen eye out for upcoming concerts. We couldn't afford to go to the opera either, but we learned that for a handful of francs we could see phenomenal performances of classical music in some of the most stunning settings. We saw the soloists of the Notre Dame choir perform a mass by Monteverdi with an organist (in Notre Dame, at night), and we saw the soloists of the French National Orchestra perform Vivaldi's Four Seasons in Sainte-Chappelle. I'm a lover of classical music, so this was right up my alley. But I would be willing to bet that if you carefully check bulletin boards and remain flexible about what you might be willing to see, you'll find something AMAZING.

Those performances rank as some of the best I've ever attended, and absolutely the most memorable.

Bon voyage!
posted by greekphilosophy at 11:47 AM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dinner and a walk filled most of my evenings in Paris. There's some lively evening street life in a few quarters, too, like near the Place St. Michel in the left bank. A glass of wine at a nice cafe can make for great people watching. Also I can second what greekphilosophy says about lots of inexpensive casual classical concerts in the city. Some are pretty touristy and low quality, some are amazing.
posted by Nelson at 12:51 PM on May 5, 2009

If the weather is good, have a glass of champagne at Cafe Marly, outside, facing the Louvre Pyramide outdoors and watch the lights come on the delicate edges of the Louvre. You will also get a partial view of the Eiffel Tower while sitting there. It sparkles on the hour. After your champagne, walk through the Cour Caree, the second Louvre square, through an archway that will be to your left as you sit at Cafe Marly. This is one of civilizations great squares. To the right of the square will be an archway framing the Ponts des Arts and the Mazarin monument at the end of it. Both will be lit and magical. Head that way and stand on the bridge. Stop and watch the lit boats below the Pont. Then go get on one.

If you're in Paris on a Monday, go to Piano Vache at 9:30. It's on rue Laplace near the Pantheon in the 5th arr. An amazing jazz menouche guitarist plays in the back room. You don't even have to buy a drink.

Take a walk to the Champs de Mars, arriving just before the hour. Just watch the Eiffel Tower light up. Free, except for the bus to get there.

Bon vacance.
posted by Elsie at 1:40 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

11:00 dinner, glass of wine and a smoke at Brasserie Lipp.
posted by artdrectr at 1:50 PM on May 5, 2009

When TheOtherGirl and I were in Paris last year, we would always gravitate to the Latin Quarter at night (5th Arrodissement, near Notre Dame). Lots of cheap eateries and the famous Shakespeare and Company Bookshop where you can always find fellow bibliophiles to talk to and pose around :)
posted by TheOtherGuy at 2:23 PM on May 5, 2009

Arguably the best evening activity I did in Paris was go to the Eiffel Tower at dusk. Bring a baguette, a bottle of wine, visit the tower then spend the evening on the huge lawn area just off the tower. Have a drink and enjoy just being in Paris.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 2:33 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nth-ing many here who have said to just walk around. Go to the Champs Elysee around 11:30 - midnight and wander around some of the streets there. Paris at night is gorgeous and sometimes the streets can be completely empty.

A friend and I did that recently (we are two girls) and we were perfectly safe. If felt like we had Paris all to ourselves. Lovely.
posted by urbanette at 2:38 PM on May 5, 2009

You're in Paris - you don't need anything to "do". Bottle or three of good wine, two glasses and your partner - sit on the Seine and wait for the sun to come up.
posted by turkeyphant at 4:42 PM on May 5, 2009

Walk around. Has been said before I know but bears repeating. Paris is at its best at night. Even better: rent a Vélib and cycle around. If you dare.

Also as someone has mentioned above, classical performances at churches are on ALL the time and you'll find posters plastered all over the central arrondissements announcing them. Ste Chapelle is very expensive (due to its breathtaking beauty), but you'll find similar more affordable stuff at countless other churches.

Look into other museum nocturnes (late nights), I'm pretty sure the Louvre is not the only one.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 7:16 PM on May 5, 2009

When exactly are you going? This year's Nuit des Musées (Night of the Museums) is on Saturday 16 May 2009 6pm to midnight. Not only is there free entry to the municipal museums (Modern Art at Palais de Tokyo, Victor Hugo's House, not the Louvre) but also concerts, lectures etc. Here's a link to the schedule in French; the city's official website Paris.fr does have English pages, but you'll find reference to the 2007 event on the English pages.
posted by boudicca at 1:29 AM on May 6, 2009

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