The best free nights out in Paris

Clubbing that money can't buy

© Romain Decker

Long past closing time, long before bed time? Don't head out on the tiles in Paris without a back-up list of cool venues that won't stiff you for the entrance fee. These laid-back dives are everything a night owl on a budget could wish for. 

Clubs with free entry

Wanderlust

At quay level in La Cité de la Mode et du Design on the Quai d’Austerlitz, Wanderlust (by Savoir Faire, the team behind Le Social Club and Silencio) is spread out over 1,600 square metres and includes a huge wooden terrace, perfect for watching the sunset with a cocktail in hand. Music is minimal techno and house on a top quality sound system, getting the crowd going to point where, if you’re outside, you can watch well-dressed backsides gyrating together in the club’s huge street level bay windows...

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Gobelins

Le Carmen

The hôtel particulier that houses Le Carmen is an opulent, rococo architectural gem, built at the height of Empire decadence in 1875, where Bizet wrote his famous opera. Enormous ceilings with moulded frescoes, sculpted columns, sparkling crystal lamps and gigantic mirrors all recall the ostentation of the era. Now an extremely hip bar, decorator Antoine Plateau was given carte blanche to enhance the decadent décor and he has outdone himself, with beds in the salons, golden cages hanging from the ceiling, Renaissance sofas and red velvet everywhere...

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9th arrondissement

Nüba

A hotly anticipated venue, the rooftop club of La Cité de la Mode et du Design has finally opened, adding another layer of excitement to the site that already houses Wanderlust. Behind the venue are Lionel Bensemoun and Jean-Marie Tassy, founders of Le Baron and Calvi On The Rocks, a popular annual electro-rock festival in Corsica. The vast rooftop terrace offers a superb panoramic view over the surrounding quays, and an almost exotic atmosphere with a wooden DJ booth like a beach hut playing chillout world music, deckchairs, big communal tables and a table football set... 

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13th arrondissement

Favela Chic

Past the usually steely-faced door attendants, the Brazilian-themed Favela Chic attracts an up-for-it, international and invariably dressy crowd for some serious samba and other full-on Latin dancing. There are decent DJs, live acts, and Brazilian food and drinks too. The opening of a sister bar in London's Shoreditch has seen the Favela Chic brand expand into other forms of music, such as disco punk and electro.

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République

Chez Moune

Unlike the majority of Parisian nightclubs, Chez Moune offers free entry, so there’s always a big queue outside. The music here is eclectic and trendy with an emphasis on electro-rock: do not miss the underground label nights from the likes of Katapult and Meant Records and after-shows from groups like CocoRosie, LCD Soundsystem and Anoraak. In this basement hangout there’s a great atmosphere all the way through until the morning after and the clientele is mainly 20-something hipsters.

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Pigalle

L'Alimentation Générale (ALG)

It might translate as General Foods, but Alimentation Générale is no supermarket – rather, it’s a bar, restaurant, concert hall and club all rolled into one. Evenings at ALG are warm, colourful, ultra festive and always affordable – entrance is usually around €5 to €10 with a drink. The concrete room, furnished with big convivial wooden tables and a table football set, also includes a crammed dance floor, allowing revellers to get up close and personal with the acts. Evenings start off quite quietly, with decorous drinks and nibbles ­– there’s cheese and charcuterie... 

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Oberkampf

SanZ SanS

The Sanz brothers set up their bar-restaurant a stone’s throw from the Place de la Bastille, where for almost 20 years, SanZ SanS has hosted trendy evenings out that start with an aperitif and don’t slow down until dawn. The decor is chic and baroque with chairs covered in zebra-striped fabric, huge, glitzy moulded mirrors...

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Bastille

La Java

At the back of a superb Art Deco building, La Java has been the venue for Parisian night owls since the 1930s. In this working-class area of Belleville, Django Reinhardt, Edith Piaf and Jean Gabin all made their names to the sound of the accordion. In the decades that followed, the rebellious bourgeois youth came to let their hair down to a rock soundtrack. Then, in the 1980s, the nocturnal fauna of the Parisian ‘trash underground’ came here to listen to punk rock. There followed a fallow period of low-quality salsa, but La Java has recently rediscovered its original vocation as an anti-establishment club... 

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10th arrondissement

Raidd Bar

The infamous 'shower bar', Raidd welcomes a trendy mix of younger locals, innocent study abroad students, and other voyeuristic internationals to the Marais who don’t just come for the pricey drinks. Instead, they crowd around to ogle the scantily-clad go-go boys who make you feel dirty while they get clean, stripping down and lathering up in the glass shower by the bar. Each Thursday, Raidd has an extended shower show, featuring four different male specimens who take their time cleaning everywhere to make sure they get squeaky clean... 

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The Marais

Le Soleil de la Butte

Le Soleil de la Butte has two faces: by day, this picturesque restaurant in Montmartre attracts tourists like bees to honey with its sunny terrace at the foot of a set of stairs, away from the pollution and traffic. Later on, it draws the night owls of the neighbourhood in search of a nightcap and on weekends, it stays open until dawn. The menu is affordable, classic Parisian brasserie, making it a good choice for lunch or dinner (the kitchen is open non-stop until 1am). During the week, the room in the basement is rented out to musicians, small theatre companies and comedians... 

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Montmartre
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