Paris Restaurants, Cafés and Nightlife

Nightlife in Paris is as varied as you want it to be. Many tourists like to start out with the traditional and go on to sample the more eclectic choices.

The Folies Bergère

The Folies Bergère on rue Saulnier is the most famous of Paris' many music halls, having enjoyed a heyday that lasted from the 1870s into the 1920s. Its lavish musical numbers featured either very richly costumed performers, or, quite often, female performers wearing nothing at all.

Always a venue for the new and unusual, Paris was taken by storm in 1926 by the African-American chanteuse Josephine Baker who performed a suggestive dance, while dressed in a skirt made entirely of bananas.

Such performances inspired the creation of the American Zigfield Follies. While the entertainment has been toned down just a bit, the Folies Bergère is still a must-see, even for its architecture.

Le Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge or Red Windmill, a famous nightclub in ParisAnother nightclub that draws a good many visitors for its rich history of French Music Hall performances is Le Moulin Rouge.

Located in Pigalle (pronounced: "pee-gahl"), this club is perfectly at home in the semi-slum, demimonde ambiance, considering the content of the shows that were held there (and which are still featured), as part of titillating French nightlife.

Home of the French Can-Can dance (which is still performed), the club derives its name (literally: "the red windmill") from its architecture.

The original building, which was replaced in 1906, once backed onto the beautiful Jardin de Paris. Outside its door was a monstrous stucco elephant, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889.

While ladies took a genteel stroll to admire the jewels of horticulture, their spouses could climb a spiral staircase inside the elephant's leg, to a private room where the gems they admired were in the navel of a bellydancer.

Modern Nightclubs and Bars

For more modern entertainment, Ménilmontant, Parmantier, the Bastille and the Marais are wildly popular nightclubs. Jazz lovers will also find plenty of venues, especially in the Latin Quarter and Les Halles, where shows may not start until after 10 p.m.

Cabarets are also plentiful, ranging in styles of entertainment from new performers to the famous, and providing less expensive options than bigger clubs.

You can find guides online to bars, pubs and cafes by price and popularity. Paris has beer gardens, breweries, wine bars and cabarets, so you will likely find something that suits your mood and your budget!

Restaurants

Dining in Paris presents a challenge to the palate and the pocketbook. Whether on a budget or not, sometimes one can enjoy the food, and certainly the atmosphere more, by stopping at the sidewalk displays of fruits, bread and cheeses, picking up a bottle of wine, and sitting on the bank of the Seine or in a park to eat.

But for those who want a sit-down meal, you have an overwhelming 8,000+ choices in restaurants and other eateries.

A little research for categories of restaurants can provide the visitor to Paris with a list of choices ranging from tea rooms and fast foods to international cuisine.

If you're trying to balance a budget and eat too, with maybe a special meal now and then during your trip to Paris, it's possible to check out restaurant dinners by price range so you can plan accordingly.

Maxim's

The really dedicated gastronome, and those who truly enjoy fine dining, will want to drop into one of the premier restaurants, and none offer a higher profile and more luxurious experiences than the famous Maxim's.

Opened in 1893 by a waiter, Maxime Gaillard, it has become a Paris landmark for the last hundred years, with its Belle Epoque décor, impeccable service, and outstanding gourmet menus.