Paris Bars For An Amusing Night Out On The Town

Paris offers so many experiences, so many venues, that whatever you feel like in the moment has an answer, a perfect place just waiting to satisfy. If one night you put on the stilettos and cocktail dress and sip bubbly from crystal flutes while sitting gazing deeply into the eyes of your mate, the next night you both may just head on out in a pair of jeans and kick it at a bar specializing in beers on tap, dispensed from re-fitted 1950's gas station pumps.  

Choices on this list range from a bar where Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to knock them back, to a terrace rooftop just a kiss away from the Arc de Triomphe, to a couple of chic cocktail clubs in the hip Montorgueil neighborhood.

Cocktails have definitely become all the craze in Paris, along with the rest of the civilized world, so you will readily find extensive cocktail menus. Many of these feature creative concoctions using cognac or champagne as an ingredient. Wine bars in Paris are their own genre so those you’ll most definitely discover on their own list. And since everyone whose ever been to Paris has found their way at least once to rue Daunou, you owe it to yourself to say hi to Harry while you’re in town. 



In its handful of years since opening, this place has become the cocktail institution. The founders, a group of badboy buddies, has since gone on to open several more clubs and even one in NYC. They are often credited (accurately or inaccurately) with bringing the modern day craft cocktail movement to Paris. Nonetheless, the cocktails here are creative and easily downable. The ambiance is more a rocker vibe and it's the kind of place where the music is so loud you can't hear what the person next to you is saying. Sometimes that can be a good thing. Of course, though, that's for you to decide.

Barrio Latino
Photo courtesy of Barrio Latino Cocktails photo copyright Barrio Latino


If you enjoy a night of Salsa music and you feel like putting on your dancing shoes while you're in Paris, the Barrio Latino is the place to be. It's also a good place to just hang out with friends while you grab a cocktail and some small plates, Latino style in the four-storeyed bar/dance club/restaurant. Located at 46/48, rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine, in one of Paris's most exciting, vibrant nightlife districts that is Bastille, the stunning decor, good music and great atmosphere will have you dancing the night away. Do not, however, come here expecting a cheap and cheerful place where you can also dance a little: the Barrio Latino may look and feel as though it was in South America, but this is still Paris, and cocktails range from 12 to 15� each.

6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche


Set decorated like a vintage gas station, this new-ish bar just around the cornder from Odéon has become a quick hit with beer lovers and wine aficionados. Part of the appeal is that you can self-serve your own beers, from taps that have been fashioned to dispense beer straight from the old gas station pump dispensing guzzles. How it works is that you put some cash on a little magnetic-strip card when you arrive and with that you can pretty much serve yourself beer all night, or until you use up the cash on your beer card. The wine menu will also keep most wine lovers satisfied, too. And, by the end of the evening you're sure to have mastered how to pour yourself a beer with the least amount of foam on top.

8éme Arrondissement
Bugsy's Bar & Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Bugsy's Bar Paris copyright 2014


Take it from me, even while you're on vacation, your guy is going to want to watch the game. After all, the World Cup happens only every 4 years and pity the loving mate who's dragged her man off to some sightseeing thang when there's a match to be watched. Bugsy's is your Paris headquarters, then, for this year's World Cup (and any other games when you're in town). It's sort of tucked in behind the Elysée which makes it just a few minutes' walk from the Champs-Elysées. It 's an expat who owns it and yes, Bugsy's is named after Bugsy. You'll find comfort cocktails of Cosmopolitan, French Martini and White Russian, and a good many beers on tap. Bar food includes burgers, fries and other basics. When you're looking for a place where you can be sure the game is on the big screen, this is it.

8éme Arrondissement


This bar's signature line is "haute couture cocktails." But don't let that frighten you, gentlemen, since they do honor sports here, too, and when there's a big rugby or soccer match on, you can often catch it here. There was a time when this bar fronted out onto the lobby, offering one an opportunity for display while libations were consumed. But since 2012, this luxury hotel created its very own little tucked away nook (formerly a ballroom) where one can sit in soothingly dim lighting and have quiet conversations over one of Maxime Hoerth's award-winning cocktail creations. The palace's signature cocktail is the Gingerbread Old Fashioned and there's nothing that this Meilleur Ouvrier de France â€" that is a coveted distinction here â€" likes to do more than create original cocktails that harmoniously speak to a given moment. There are DJ sets Wednesday through Saturday going as late as midnight.

16éme Arrondissement
Hotel Raphael Rooftop Bar
Photo courtesy of Hotel Raphael Paris Rooftop Bar photo copyright 2014 Cohen


This is the Parisian rooftop bar to beat all rooftop bars. Seriously. And I'll be honest, I am not one for hotel bars. But the rooftop bar of the Hotel Raphael, just a stone's throw from the Arc de Triomphe, is one of those gems you wish were open all year long. Alas, it's only open during the summer months. Here the seating is arranged in discreet manner so you get both the sense of a rooftop lounge with panoramic views of the Sacre-Cœur, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, while maintaining that sense of a private rendez-vous. For this season, I've heard murmurings that Bbq is the theme so any sunny afternoon or early evening that you stop by, you may just be able to get some hot skewers of steak, chicken and shrimp to go with your glasses of champagne and fresh strawberry cocktails.



Legend has it that Gershwin composed « An American in Paris » in the downstairs piano bar here. I don't doubt it as the other legend, that Fitzgerald drank himself unconscious at Harry's, seems to have held up through the ages. But most people who come here to enjoy a whiskey-sour, bloody Mary or rum-and-coke in the wood-paneled bar, probably don't come her for those reasons, even if they do know who Gershwin and Fitzgerald are. Harry's is just one of those Paris bars that has always been and forever will be. It was established in 1911. And its location, just by Opéra and Place Vendome, make it so very convenient. It's also a good spot to hang out in if you're looking for some expat comraderie.

8éme Arrondissement
Secret 8 by Buddha Bar
Photo courtesy of FB Secret 8 by Buddha Bar


The famed Buddha Bar needn't re-invent itself as a hipster speakeasy. It simply added a Secret Bar behind a hidden wall in a place you'd never suspect. So the big Buddha remains but if you're looking for a more intimate kind of evening, ask the hostess to show you the way to the hidden bar, the Secret 8. Cocktails here get pretty inventive, too: One is made with mushroom flavors and bits of the fungus, presented on a bed of green moss. Vodka seems to be the spirit of choice for the mixologists here. Seating can accommodate up to about 25 people maximum, so if you're a large group, best come early. Check their FB page for the month's riddle. When you solve it, the answer acts as your password for entry. For example, to have the privilege of sipping a Walk On The Wild Side or Snowy Venezia cocktail in November you would have had to figure this one out: I am leaving, sailing away, From heat of the flame that I used to accompany. On the water I am now as deep purple would say, And here I dance, hypnotizing and tasty, without leading to danger. In 5 words I am

9éme Arrondissement


Itching for a truly authentic tropical fruity cocktail? This Tiki Bar in the grand tradition of Tiki Bars is the only true Tiki Bar in Paris. Its owner is a devotee of the haloed pedigree that tiki bars have evolved from and it was with this reverence for hand pressed fresh juices and daily made small batch mixes that he runs his shop here in SoPi. SoPi, South Pigalle, refers to a very trendy nightlife area in Paris that is seeing rapid gentrification. It is the Moulin Rouge district of Paris and this district, Pigall, was once known for its seedier sides. Not so anymore. It has fast become the area where fashionable restaurants and trendy bars have popped up. So much so that if you want to spend a night bar-hopping without the hassle of catching taxis all over the city, this is a good place for it. However, mind you, if you start out here at Dirty Dick's, the cocktails are so good you might never leave!

6éme Arrondissement


Ever fantasized about having a drink with Emile Zola, Apollinaire and Paul Cézanne, or even Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Miller ? Les Lilas is the place. Or at least, in the 20's/30's it was, and especially on Tuesday nights when international thinkers and artists gathered, talked and drank. But this storied venue dates back even farther, to the mid-19th c. when it was a station on the road to Fontainebleu. Its (former) garden of lilac trees helped create its Thousand-and-One-Nights reputation and anchored Montparnasse's café culture. Today its piano bar is still beloved like a well-worn, leather-bound book. Many an expat swear it's the place to find yourself a good stiff drink on a cold winter night or warm summer evening. But, Hemingway said it best, "The only decent café in our neighborhood was La Closerie des Lilas, and it was one of the best cafés in Paris."


Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige