Ready to spend a sublime evening in Paris? Then use this list of things to do at night before you say ‘bonne nuit’ to the day. But be warned, although you will be perfectly safe in Paris as it starts to get dark, your heart may not be…
Watch the sun set
Over the Seine
A simple stroll along the Seine as the sun sets can be one of the most beautiful ways to spend an evening in Paris. As the sun sinks below the horizon the water of the Seine gently shimmers orange or red and the sky fills with a glow. Stop off on one of Paris’ many bridges for a good vantage point.
Top bridges: Pont Neuf, Pont Alexander III and Pont des Arts are great spots to see the last of the day fade away and the lights of this beautiful city switch on.
At the Esplanade du Trocadéro
For the best views of the Eiffel Tower as the sun sets, head to the Esplanade du Trocadéro across the Seine River. The esplanade is in front of the Palais de Chaillot, it’s free to visit and offers the most stunning views of the Eiffel Tower and the rooftops of the City of Lights on an evening in Paris.
Of course, you can always climb up the Eiffel Tower itself to see the sunset. This isn’t free however. Tickets can be bought from €10 at the tower itself – sadly, you can’t prebook.
On the steps of Sacre Coeur
Montmartre is the highest point in Paris, as such, it offers fantastic 360 degree views over the city during the day or on an evening. One of its most famous spots is the steps and grassy banks below the famous Sacre Coeur church.
Do as we did, grab a bottle of fizzy and a couple of plastic glasses and park your bum on the grassy banks to see the sun sink to bed. Many Parisians hang out here too, so the vibe is buzzing.
Afterwards, why not explore the rest of Montmartre located just behind the Sacre Coeur. It will be bustling, but it’s one of the most enjoyable things to do on a night in Paris.
Visit these landmarks
Head to Notre Dame
In English, Notre Dame de Paris translates to ‘Our Lady of Paris’. Sadly, Notre Dame is a shell of her former self after a devastating fire destroyed much of her medieval beauty.
Although, she’s closed for repair, Notre Dame is still an impressive sight to behold on an evening in Paris. Her quiet hulking exterior remains mostly intact – so you can marvel at her impressive collection of chimières (gargoyles).
Remember to head around the back of Notre-Dame to see Jean Ravy’s spectacular flying buttresses. Directions: To getting to Notre-Dame: From Gare du Nord, take the metro to St. Michael Notre-Dame (it’s the blue line – line 2).
Marvel at the Louvre
Head across the Pont Notre-Dame and walk towards the Quai Des Tuileries and the Musée du Louvre. It’s a fair way from Notre Dame – about 20 minutes or so, but the Seine at night, with its lights and laughter bouncing off the water, makes the journey absolutely worthwhile.
When you reach Musée du Louvre I challenge you not to gasp – this former palace is heart-stoppingly beautiful. And in the dark the buildings are even more impressive; shadows cover courtyards and creep down columns, whilst couples whisper sweet nothings into the nuit.
Added to that there’s the famous glow of the glass pyramid dominating Cour Napoléon. Opening: The Louvre Museum is open at night on Wednesday and Friday only, from 9 am to 9.45 pm.
See the Eiffel Tower Twinkle from the Champ de Mars
Every evening, the Eiffel Tower is adorned with its golden lights which sparkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour. To enjoy the view up close, head to the Parc du Champ de Mars with a blanket and some French wine.
The Champ de Mars is a large public greenspace located in the seventh arrondissement, between the Eiffel Tower to the northwest and the École Militaire to the southeast.
Its beautiful lawns and flowerbeds make it the perfect spot to laze during the day and wait for the light show on an evening in Paris. Did you know? It’s actually illegal to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night! The lights on the tower are considered an artistic work, which means anyone who wants to photograph them has to get permission.
Drink in these cool places
Le Bar in the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris
On a wide avenue off the celebrity Champs-Elysées in the upmarket 8e arrondissement, you’ll find one of Paris’ best hotels: George V. It’s in the hotel’s plush bar, Le Bar, that you’ll find many well-heeled Parisians and discerning travellers.
Plush, decadent and with an interior that would look at home in Versaille, Le Bar is the height of Parisian luxe. Head here for one of the bar’s signature cocktails, but be prepared to pay at least €30 for it. Find it: 31, avenue George V
The Buddha Bar is famous throughout the world – and this is where it all started. Inside, it’s a dark and hallowed place where the DJ mixes that made the Buddha Bar world class pulse out.
Made up of a second-storey bar and lounge, and a first-floor restaurant with an impressive two-storey Buddha, the Buddha Bar is an experience without question.
The restaurant serves PanAsian food: we had sushi rolls which were fresh and impeccably presented. But the price tag is large. The drinks are equally pricey: G&Ts start from €17 each. Definitely one to put on your list of things to do in Paris at night, just don’t expect a lot of change from €100.
Find it: 8-12 Rue Boissy d’Anglas, 75008 Paris
Le Vrai Paris – Montmartre
With its huge terrace and pink flowers adorning the façade, Le Vrai Paris side eyes anyone passing by rue des Abbesses. Deliberately styled to typically French in its décor and its menu, the Le Vrai Paris is a great spot to soak up the bohemian atmosphere of Montmartre on an evening in Paris.
Parisians come here for the generously proportioned food, whilst tourists come here to avoid the swindle associated with faux-French bistros in the cities tourist traps.
Find it: 33 Rue des Abbesses, 75018 Paris
The Café des 2 Moulins – Montmartre
Open until 1am every day of the week, the café des 2 moulins (French for ‘two windmills) days is famed as being the café where Amélie works in the Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s classic movie of the same name.
Despite its fame, it’s a delightful neighbourhood café where you can grab an espresso and watch the lively goings on of the Rue Lepic.
Find it: 15 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris, France
Take a night tour
The dark side of Paris
Uncover a darker side of Paris on a guided tour of Paris turbulent history with City Wonders. With an English-speaking guide leading the way, you’ll be led through the hushed Paris streets stopping at various points to hear about their fearsome and gruesome past.
See the 7th century church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, where around 30,000 Huguenots were killed in the infamous St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572, as well as learn about the sordid side to the Palais de Justice.
Paris at night in a 2CV
Step inside your very own classic French car for 2hours of moonlit fun and frolics. Enjoy a bottle of Champagne in the car as you’re driven along exploring the City of Lights. Learn about some of Paris’s top icons with your local guide and see the dazzling Arc de Triomphe, Île de la Cité, and the Moulin Rouge in the darkness, as well as plenty more.
It’s not fast-paced, you can ask your driver to stop for photos and you’re picked up fro your hotel. It’s a unique way experience an evening in Paris. Book here
After hours at the Palais Garnier
Le Palais Garnier is one of the most alluring buildings in Paris, especially when it’s lit up at night. The theatre was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III as part of his sweeping reconstruction of Paris and designed by Charles Garnier (who also designed the Casino de Monte Carlo).
It is spread over seventeen storeys and contains two ballet companies and inside its architectural beauty is breath-taking. Of course, it’s also famous as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s book, the Phantom of the Opera. And this legend is brought vividly to life on the Mysteries of the Opera Garnier After Hour tour. Book here
See a famous cabaret show
The world-famous Moulin Rouge is a must on an evening in Paris. This risqué cabaret has been attracting artists and writers for over 100 years ago. Although tickets sell out fast, book early and you may be lucky enough to get one of its vibrant dinner and show experiences.
Although I’ve yet to go to the Moulin Rouge myself, the reviews of the show seem to be overwhelmingly positive: a riot of colour, sequins, costumes, French cancan, singing, acrobatics, and much much more. There are two shows offered nightly: one at 9:00pm, the following at 11:00pm. If you’d like to pair the show with dinner, then go at 7:00pm and stay for the earlier show.
Head to the Paris left bank and you’ll discover the Paradis Latin with its lively, glamorous cabaret shows featuring French can-can. Housed in a theatre built by Gustave Eiffel, the Paradis Latin is the oldest cabaret in the French capital.
It has a light-hearted vibe featuring the coquettish entertainment typical of French cabaret. Expect circus acts, girls high-kicking in frilly petticoats, singers and tap dancers.
Au Lapin Agile
Montmartre is Paris’s bohemian neighbourhood, where artists and writers have been hanging out together since the turn of the 20th century. Spend an evening in Montmartre and make sure you add Au Lapin Agile to your cabaret list.
Literally translating as the ‘agile rabbit’, this small French venue has played host to the likes of Pablo Picasso, Maurice Utrillo, and Toulouse-Lautrec (all of whom have paintings hanging inside).
The acts have a rustic, traditional French appeal – from French poetry readings set to music to humorous songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar. The venue is small and quickly gets crowded – so don’t expect to leave your seat for most of the evening. Costs: €24 per person, which includes a glass of the cherry house wine, and although reservations aren’t required, make one so you’re not disappointed.
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