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The best summer terraces in Paris

These deckchair docking stations come out with the sun

Paris Plages is well known for lining the Seine with sand and deckchairs during the summer months, but there are plenty of other venues across the capital that open up extra spaces when the sun comes up. With DJs and bars, summer sports or just shady places to relax, these summer spaces are the perfect spots to plant your parasol.

The rooftop at 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. Far from being an elitist hangout, there’s no dress code and the atmosphere is relaxed and festive. Inside, coloured lights reveal rooms done out in copper and stone. There are live concerts in the evenings, punctuated by clubby electro sets and inventive dance shows from the House of Drama collective. The hot place to be in summer 2013, dawn will always see groups of clubbers staggering out into the daylight.

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13th arrondissement

The Batofar beach

This lightship of the Parisian night sways every evening till the early hours to the beats of underground hip hop, rock, electro, dancehall, house, minimal, techno, drum’n’bass, jungle and dubstep, and there’s a fantastic view from its bridge. There’s an open kitchen looking over the dining room, where the chef serves up good quality regional dishes like hunk of lamb in a herb crust with a scoop of polenta and parmesan for €18. From June until September the bar even sets ups a temporary beach; come and admire the sunset while sprawling in a sun lounger on the pier amidst sand and greenery, with a cold beer and Aveyron charcuterie, brochettes or tapas.

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13th arrondissement

The terrace at La Rotonde

Transformed into a bar-restaurant, the magnificent ancient Rotonde on Place Stalingrad has become a favoured destination for partying Parisians. A vestige of the old city wall of ancient Paris, the Rotonde was built a year before the French Revolution by Claude Nicolas Ledoux, one of the founders of the neoclassical movement. It only just survived Haussmann, who wanted to knock it down in the aftermath of the fire of Paris in 1871, and the construction of second Metro line in 1903, which also threatened it with destruction. Today, miraculously conserved, the Rotonde is the jewel in the crown of a district that, since the development of the banks of the Ourcq canal, has been enjoying a thorough renaissance.

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19th arrondissement

The terrace at La Dame de Canton

The former Guingette Pirate is now known as the Dame de Canton, befitting its home in a superb Chinese junk made from exotic wood. In its previous life, it sailed the seven seas, but now in retirement on the banks of the Seine, this delightful Dame is now all about living it up in her golden years. With the concert space and its striking wooden dance floor, the captain’s room with its ancient library, the intimate, romantic restaurant in the hold and the sun-drenched bridge with a view of the Seine, you never get bored of exploring this floating labyrinth.The musical programme has evolved since its revival: previously focusing on French artists, the Pirate shook with sounds of the guitars of Mathieu Chédid, Noir Désir, Thomas Dutronc, Bénabar and Sanseverino. Today, it’s more avant-garde: there are VJ projects on giant screens, break beats, electro-swing gypsy jazz and tzigano-keupon, electro-tropical candomblé DJs, thaï-funk electro disco, ragga, kompa, mash up or bootleg, and plenty more alternative world music you’ve never heard of.In the kitchens in the hold of the boat, the menu will also keep you on your toes – we recommend the brilliant oyster risotto with saffron-infused shellfish coulis and a killer choclate cake.

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13th arrondissement

The terrace at 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.Declared 2012's ‘place to be’ by Paris’s fashionistas, Wanderlust's door policy and prices can get a little tiresome (entry is free, but drinks and food come at a premium), but the top quality programming usually makes it worthwhile. Expect the cream of the new generation of ‘French touch’ electronic dance music (the likes of I:Cube, Etienne de Crecy, Para one, Gilb’r or Busy P), plus excellent fashion-themed nights on Fridays (documentary screenings, catwalk shows and performances), and in the daytimes free fashion workshops for children and adults, yoga, food pop-ups and more. Check the website for the full programme.

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Gobelins

The roof of Petit Bain

Not so much a terrace here as an upper deck, this arts centre has been afloat at the foot of the National Library (BNF) since 2010 when it joined the flotilla of cool riverboat venues moored in the 13th. And it’s been giving the Batofar (Paris’s stalwart floating nightclub) a run for its money, with an excellent line-up of concerts and art exhibitions. The coveted terrace doubles as a bar, restaurant and octopus gardener’s paradise, decked out with myriad aquatic plants. The venue regularly hosts live music in a range of genres, from minimalist Norweigan pop and indie folk to rock and jazz. It's eclectic enough to match Le Petit Bain’s architecture: designed by the Encore Heureux collective, it looks like a fluorescent green barge topped by a cubist wooden tree house.    This is one of Time Out's 100 best bars in Paris. Click here to see the full list.

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13th arrondissement

The Glaz'art beach

This converted coach station is a temple of drum ‘n’ bass, jungle and dubstep, but it’s not all one note. You can shake your stuff to minimal techno and house beats, but also to groove, soul and rock concerts.It’s a lovely venue, with a concert stage and a bar with comfy sofas – it’s just a shame it’s lost in the depths of the 19th arrondissement, but that does mean that it draws an authentic underground crowd. There’s no Parisian hype here, but rather techno partygoers (‘teuffeurs’) out for the sound and nothing but the sound. They’re often drawn to Glazart by Jungle Juice (for those who love heavy basslines). In the summer, the outdoor area is transformed into a sandy beach with pastis, pétanque and merguez: a winning combination.

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North-east Paris

La Grande Prairie at La Bellevilloise

The Bellevilloise is the latest incarnation of a building that once housed the capital's very first workers' co-operative. Now it competently multitasks as a bar, restaurant, club and exhibition space, hosting regular film and music festivals on the top level (where there's a fake lawn with deckchairs and a massage area). Enjoy brunch in the Halle aux Oliviers or decent views of the quartier from the charming terrace; downstairs the club-cum-concert venue has launched some of Paris's most exciting new bands, and on '80s nights you can hardly move for the thirtysomethings living it up like they were 20 again. Live jazz music at the Sunday brunch.

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Ménilmontant

The terrace at Galeries Lafayette

Sure, so it's not the Empire State Building. But if you fancy seeing Paris from on high without having to pay an entrance fee or queue for hours, then this is the place for you. All you have to do is head to Galeries Lafayette and haul yourself up to the seventh floor for a panoramic view of the city, stopping at the sixth to grab something to eat or drink. The vista is one of the most impressive you’ll get in Paris – it beats that from the Eiffel Tower by virtue of having the Tower in it. As the terrace is only accessible during the Galeries Lafayette’s opening hours, it’s better suited to a daytime breather than to a night of stargazing. Note that the top floor of the Printemps store next door is also open to the public, and has a café too: le Déli-Cieux.​By AW/CB

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Chaussée d'Antin

The bar at le Perchoir

An enormously popular new bar in Menilmontant, opened on a huge rooftop with a 360 degree view of the capital. Despite ‘speakeasy’ pretentions (the street entrance is unmarked), the place is becoming a victim of its own success, with queues out of the front door to be endured before you take the lift to the 7th floor. But once you do make it up there, you’ll find a vast space surrounding a handsome bar, comfortable sofas strewn with cushions, colourful plants and scented herbs planted in pots around the seats or hung from railings. Watching he sunset over the Sacré-Coeur, glass in hand, under garlands of coloured lights, really is something special. On the menu, you could try the cocktail of the day (€12), a slightly pricy draught beer (€5 a half) or an imported bottled beer from places as far flung as Mexico and the Czech Republic. For wine, it’s cheaper to share a bottle – careful, the bill adds up quickly. Tapas is also on offer. For your best chance of getting a seat, come very early (5.30pm) or quite late (10pm) – or to be certain of that view, reserve a table in the restaurant, on the penultimate floor of the building.

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Ménilmontant
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