Nightlife in Paris: A Girls’ Guide to Parisian Bar Etiquette
Paris, the City of Light and the city of romance, truly comes to life at night. But for a college student from a college town, there are several key points to keep in mind when considering an evening out in this city. Here are some tips for what one can expect and how to make the most of nightlife in Paris.
What to wear? Black. One can never be overdressed or underdressed in the Parisian “color” of choice. Add sparkle with a great piece of statement jewelry, and color with a slick of lipstick or eye shadow. All black can go from a local bar to a club with ease. Depending on the weather, add tights and a leather jacket; Parisian nights may involve more walking than one is used to back on campus. Remember: a coat check that costs 2 euros is a lot cheaper than a cab ride, and besides, nothing is less chic than shivering in line or on the metro!
Shoes can range from stilettos to flats, but I recommend a pair of thick-heeled or wedged booties. They’re comfortable to walk in, dressy enough for clubs and hip enough for bars. As for a bag, I would recommend a wristlet or a cross-body one with a good clasp, something that is easy to keep close to you but still allows you to hold your cocktail.
Where to go? Paris is filled with great places to go out. Do some research on the best Paris blogs (the Girls’ Guide to Paris, obviously, but Time Out Paris and Let’s Go Paris are also good ones), and pick a bar or club. Some of my favorites include Café Oz, Favela Chic, the Frog and Princess, Little Temple Bar and le Glass.
Café Oz by Denfert-Rochereau is a great Thursday spot. I describe it as a big college bar with French people. Favela Chic is one of the more unique bars I have been to; I love the combination of Brazilian cool with Parisian chic, which is enhanced by a delicious mojito. The Frog and Princess is a small bar filled with a mix of ages. It’s a great place to meet new people; everyone always seems willing to engage in conversation here. Le Glass is a newer spot that I instantly loved for its laid-back and hipster cool vibe.
Another option is to head to a popular area and pick a spot based on what seems busy. Odéon and the Bastille are excellent spots for nightlife in Paris. When going out anywhere, a great night depends entirely on attitude, so go into it open to new experiences and people.
Getting there? Depending on the spot of choice and the starting location, you can walk, take a taxi or use the metro. Between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., the metro is typically safe in groups of three or more. Do not be loud or draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Walking around Paris a little tipsy is very different than walking around your college campus after a drink or two. As in any big city, it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings, especially when language and cultural differences may make you more noticeable.
Bouncer etiquette? Many bars and clubs will have a line depending on what time it is. Again, don’t be loud and openly tipsy! If your group is large (more than five), I recommend splitting up and entering in groups of two or three. Smaller groups are admitted more easily, despite that ultimately the same number of people will end up inside. Bouncer logic, I suppose. If for whatever reason the bouncer says no to your group, DO NOT argue with him. Most bouncers have spent hours dealing with pushy and intoxicated people, and it is highly unlikely that you’ll make any progress by arguing, so just continue on to the next inviting place.
French men? Entire posts are dedicated to this subject, but for now, here is an overview. Typically, French men are more aggressive than your average college guy. While I have met a range of personalities, many French men will begin by saying something like “I had to talk to the most beautiful girl in the bar.” Flattering, yes, but it can be a bit much. If he offers to buy you a drink, only say yes if you are willing to spend some time chatting with him (as politeness ordinarily requires). Expect to chat quite a bit; French men are very talkative and will ask for your number quickly. If he is not your type, politely decline. Sometimes, I have found that I need to be a bit more forceful when declining attention. If shaking your head or a “Non, merci” is not sufficient, then say that you are meeting up with someone else and just walk away. Hopefully, he will assume that the “someone” is a boyfriend and just move on to his next target. This has worked like a charm several times for me.
Dancing? Parisians certainly like to dance, but not necessarily like some American college girls. Like most things Parisian, dancing tends to be subtle and involves a little more attitude. Large arm movements, booty popping and “dropping it low” tend to draw strange looks.
Paris is the city of late nights! It is quite common for people to stay out until 5:30 or 6 a.m. to catch the first metro home. Most of Paris is closed on Sundays, so lounging in bed all day is an option. Put on your favorite pregame playlist and get ready to take on nightlife in Paris with these tips in mind!
See website for locations.
18, rue du Faubourg du Temple, in the 11th Arondissement.
The Frog and Princess
9, rue Princesse, in the 6th Arrondissement.
Metro: Mabillon or Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Little Temple Bar
12, rue Princesse, in the 6th Arrondissement.
7, rue Frochot, in the 9th Arrondissement.
As a study abroad student in Paris, Victoria Hardy has had plenty of learning experiences both in and out of the classroom! Her interests include international relations (the “study” part of her abroad semester), French history (especially Marie Antoinette’s era), discovering the gardens of Paris (one has to work off all the croissants somewhere), shopping (mainly window-shopping—student budgets are tough) and tasting as many new foods as possible!
Editor’s note: Did you know we have a DIY wine walk that covers the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements? Download it and start sampling the best wine bars in Paris today!