May 15, 2012

Paris nightlife guide for international guys visiting alone

I lived two years in Paris and I must tell you that nightlife in Paris could be both extremely awesome and incredibly frustrating. Particularly frustrating if you are a guy alone, or a group of guys, and you are not French. This is because even the crappiest, stinkiest, and most unremarkable bars in Paris might have a bouncer that will not let you in. If you are a guy alone or if you come with a bunch of guys the main two excuses for not letting you in nightclubs and some bars are: either you do not have female company or you are not dressed “well enough” for that place, but mostly the former. However, it is not always like that, there are great places open for everyone and here I will share with you some of the places I had the chance to visit. I will focus here mostly on a few clubs and bars that are inexpensive, easy to access, and where it is easy to meet cool people, plus a couple of cheap restaurants of my liking, and some strategies and advice that could come in handy. This is not a guide to fancy and stylish places in Paris, thought I have the chance to visit a few amazing super exclusive clubs and bars too, so I might do another brief guide for the other end of the spectrum later.

There are two cool streets where I used to go out for drinks often, mostly because I used to live close by. One is Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement, also known as the Latin Quarter, and the other is Rue de la Butte-aux-cailles in the 13th arrondissement, close to Place d'Italie. Rue Mouffetard is a great place to go out for drinks and meet some cool people. If you just stroll along the entire street you will find many bars. There are a couple of those that have tiny dance floors in the basement, like Cap Rougue (23 Rue Mouffetard, 75005), but these places are not really places for dancing, this places are good to get a pint under ten euros and cheap mojitos. These are bars for students, no dress codes, just beers, laughter, and casual fun. The bars along Rue Mouffetard are small and crowded, there will be plenty of international students, so it is extremely easy to start conversations with pretty much anyone, there is absolutely no need to know French. Most young people in France do speak English and as I said, there will be many internationals. A good place for a pint is Le Requin Chagrin (10 Rue Mouffetard) and Le Mayflower (46 Rue Descartes). There are many more bars though. There are also many restaurants, creperies, sushi places, kebab places, and so on. An extremely good restaurant in the area is called Bonjour Vietnam, Vietnamese food (6 rue Thouin, 75005), it is tiny yet beautiful, I counted only 12 seats total, and the food is DELICIOUS!  Rue de la Butte-aux-cailles is also very similar to Rue Mouffetard, many little tiny bars and pubs along the street; however, it is a bit isolated, so while from Rue Mouffetard it is easy to just walk to other touristic places in Paris downtown or to move to another area for drinks, from Butte-aux-cailles you probably will have to take the metro and if it is beyond 1.30, then you will have to take the night bus or rent a bike.

Starting early at Rue Mouffetard, sitting by Le Requin Chagrin

Everywhere around the 5th arrondissement you will find bars and pubs, two fun places to go for drinks and to make new friends are The Long Hop (25 Rue Frédéric Sauton) and Le Violon Dangue (46 Rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève). The first one closes at 2.00 while the second is open until sunrise; many times when The Long Hop closed, we moved to The Violon. The Long Hop is a small pub, it has a dance floor and the crowd is very international; it's a fun place to go. The Violon Dangue is a lot bigger and it has a disco in the basement, if you want to go to the disco you have to pay ten euros if you are a boy and it is free for girls.

Finnishing late in the Latin Quarter, this is by the Pantheon

Other good area to find a few good bars and restaurants is around the old opera house, the Palais Garnier, in the the 2nd arrondissement. Very often what I and my buddies did was to start with dinner at a very authentic Japanese restaurant, actually my favorite restaurant in Paris. The place is called Sapporo Ramen and their specialty is, as the name implies, ramen. I know two Sapporo Ramen, the first one is located  very close to the Louvre Museum; 276 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001. One huge and delicious bowl of ramen will cost from 7-10€, I recommend you to order the Sutamina Ramen. From there we walked north along Av. de l'Opéra, almost until reaching the Palais Garnier, we would turn west to Rue Daunou. This street has two remarkable bars, the first one is Footsie (10-12, Rue Daunou ,75002) and the second is Harry's New York Bar (5 Rue Daunou). I have already mentioned more in detail these two bars in another post, check this link out. The former is a tiny bar, good for a pint, the latter is a cocktail bar, pretty famous for being the place where the Bloody Mary was invented and because it was a regular hang out for Hemingway and Coco Chanel. These places are beautiful, a bit expensive but worthy, there is no dress code or anything like that... but fun for one drink. Footsie is usually crowded from Thursday to Saturday after 22.00, I recommend you to arrive earlier than that, otherwise the place will be full and you will not be able to get in. Harry's bar is a pretty calm place, awesome cocktails, great for conversations or just to check it out, not really good to strike random conversations. In this street you will also find the second Sapporo restaurant, the thing about this one is that they do not have my ramen of predilection, Sutamina.

Always start a night out with a full belly

At Harry's New York Bar, basement.

Another bar very close by is called Le DOCK (25 Rue Louis Legrand, 75002). This one has a small dance floor in a basement as it is typical from Paris. The place will be crowded during weekends, more casual and cheaper than the two I mentioned above. It is also a good place to start conversations.

An amazing restaurant in the area that I strongly recommend you to visit is called Le Paradis du Frutes (23 Bd. de Italiens, 75002). Their menu is exotic and the food is cooked with a variety of fruits. I suggest you to start with some taco with guacamole, exceedingly delicious, and then the Mamasköl for main dish! So good. The place is cool and the price is convenient. Not the cheapest but not unreasonably expenisve either.

The cheapest pint in Paris is also in this area. You should follow Bd. de Italiens towards east, it turns into Bd. Montmartre that changes a few squares later into Bd. Poissonnière. At the level of Bd. Poissonnière you will find many pubs, an Irish and an Australian one among others, the one I recommend is called James Hetfeeld's Pub (17 Bd. Poissonnière, 75002). There are two good things about this bar: it has the cheapest beer in Paris, just 3.50€ all night and you can drink outside in the sidewalk. Extremely easy to meet new people in here. During weekends it will get very crowded and they close at 2.00. The reason why the Irish (O'Sullivans) and the Australian (Café Oz) pubs suck is because they close doors, so after 21.00 there will be bouncers and if you are a guy alone or just a bunch of guys they will not let you in. There are several of these pubs in Paris, all of them work in the same way. They are big and around midnight there will be a pretty fun party until sunrise, a lot of international people, these are indeed great for socializing. If you want to party in these places the best thing is to arrive before 21.00 and wait, if you are alone or just a couple of guys it might get boring before the party actually gets good... I forgot how many times they did not let me in to these pubs; which in style, music, or crowd, are nothing remarkable at all. On the other hand Hetfeeld's has no bouncer and open doors all night, the party here also is pretty good. The place has a Rock theme, but during party hours they will mix it with regular dancing music, whatevere there is in the charts.

In this same area you find another place worth mentioning, it is a pub called Le Truskel (12 Rue Feydeau, 75002). This place is not so full of internationals as O'Sullivans, or Café Oz, but it is a fun place and a great venue to meet young French people. There are often live bands playing, and the music is mostly Indie Rock or Indie Pop. During the weekends after 22.00 or so there will be a bouncer outside, they will give you troubles if the place is too full. I recommend you to arrive there before 23.00, but they are open until sunrise.

There are two other bars I like that I think are great for meeting people. One is called Le Prohibido in Montmartre (34 rue Durantin, 75018). This is a tiny place, but it gives such positive vibes that it becomes extremely easy to start conversations with strangers. You can also drink outside in the streets, which is ideal during summertime. The other bar is even better, called Point Éphémère (200 Quai de Valmy, 75010) and this could be one of the coolest bars in Paris. Cheap beer, a lot of laid-back people, it has some kind of gallery where they feature art from cartoonist and illustrators. This space offers a unique opportunity to meet cool people, since you can easily start conversations by commenting about the exhibitons in the gallery. They also have a small dance floor and spaces for drinking outside. Another thing great about this place is that it is by the Canal Saint Martin, which makes for a good urban landscape to admire.

canal saint martin
Point Éphémère

There are many more places where you could find bars and restaurant around Paris, pretty much everywhere in the city. These were some of the once I visited most frequently and where I had pretty good times.

My last advice for you is to check out this expat group: INTERNATIONALS in Paris. This is a huge group of expats that host many events at bars and clubs in Paris, about twice a week. It is meant for internationals and locals that want to meet new people and network while you drink and party. The crowd is a little older, mostly young people that came recently to work in Paris (25 years old and above, I would say the average would be around 30-33 years old). I suggest you to join the meetup group and check out the schedules, you might be lucky and find an event during your stay in Paris. The events are usually hosted in really nice venues and you will meet new people FOR SURE. I made great friends through this meetup. It is excellent.

That's all for the moment, I hope this was useful!

6 comments:

  1. I love your Blog Tanai! I have heard about The INTERNATIONAL i'll go there in a close future Its seems to be a great place ;) Hope you're fine and do not hesitate to contact me if you come back to france I'll be glad to see you again! Or in Ireland cause I'll live there in 2 years ahahah! Good Bye Colombian and friendly guy! Florence

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    1. Hi Florence, thanks for commenting. The INTERNATIONALS group is great. There I met Gosia, Mariam, and many of the people I used to hang out in Paris with. It's a great social experience. I'm glad you like the blog! And I let you know next time I'm in Paris.

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  2. Hi this is really nice blog red wine with spaghetti wow i love it thank you so much for sharing this ..
    Nightlife clubs venue

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  3. Really its very good information. thanks for shearing with us.

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  4. I always find the best bar and restaurant in any place that I travel. I always want to experience their different kinds of beverages and also to see their collection of glassware.

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  5. Epic post!! So so true, it's really not easy for guys in Paris getting into bars and clubs. Great suggestions you've written :) I've also written about nightlife in Paris with a few tips too and my favourite places to party all night. You can read them here: http://www.tripchow.com/paris-nightlife-where-to-drink-dance-party/

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