The smoky bar. The smooth, luxurious sounds of the saxophone as the crowd is little more than a silent murmur, hypnotized by the music and sipping their drinks from time to time.
This isn’t the opening to the next great novel or a new movie. For many Parisians, this is a regular night, as jazz clubs populate their gorgeous, beloved city. If you plan on visiting Paris to experience its rich culture sometime this year, don’t just spend time at restaurants, museums and city landmarks. We suggest you spend some time in one (or several) of these 23 great jazz clubs, which are wonderful tiny gems spread across Paris.
Jazz Club Etoile
Each night, Executive Chef Laurent Belijar whips up the most succulent meals while cocktails are freshly prepared when you walk through the doors to Jazz Club Etoile. Serving Parisians and passersby since 1965, the club has a long history. Dizzy Gillespie, Ike Turner, Fats Domino, Diana Krall and Dee Dee Bridgewater are just some of the big names who have played here. Make sure to reserve a table.
Autour de Midi et Minuit
In picturesque Montmartre, you’ll find Autour de Midi et Minuit, which also doubles as a bistro. Paris Info, the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website, mentions that the establishment “offers simple, fresh and family-friendly food.” When the lights go down and the jazz begins, you’ll feel comfortable and cozy in the venue’s intimate cellar, which includes just enough room for a stage. You can also listen to cabaret and atmospheric tunes in this newer club, established in 2001.
La Chope des Puces
Paris’ self-styled “Temple of Gypsy Jazz,” La Chope des Puces may seem like it has big shoes to fill, but it lives up to that name. The Culture Trip points out that if you head in during the weekends, “the Manouche community that lives in the periphery and visitors to the nearby famous flea market often mix and dance together in this legendary space.” You will definitely want to see this for yourself.
Choose between Sunset or Sunside when you stop by these adjacent jazz buildings. The clubs’ website has a calendar of upcoming shows so that you know what you’re in for when you visit. The site Your Paris notes that the building hosts at least two concerts on a daily basis every single night of the week. Bireli Lagrene, Robert Glasper, Magic Malik and even Miles Davis have all passed through here.
Highly-ranked for its culinary excellence, the dusky, romantic atmosphere of Chez Papa is the perfect place to indulge in a night of sultry musical entertainment. The jazz here is on the softer side, and it often starts later in the evening, around 21:00. Reservations are available on the Chez Papa website, which you may want to consider, especially because this ritzy place can fill up fast.
New Morning caters to a younger generation of residents and tourists alike. Travel site Your Paris points out that on any night you could find fusion, free jazz or funk. Apparently, even major celebrities like Prince and Spike Lee couldn’t resist New Morning, so it might be worth popping in just to see whether you recognize any famous faces.
Pssst.: Tourism in Paris
Le Baiser Sale
Neon lights; warm, wooden surfaces; dizzying crowds: There’s something about Le Baiser Sale that will feel like an American bar, yet it differentiates itself from your standard fare with its talented roster of musicians. The events hosted here vary from week to week and month to month, so if you’re planning on a longer stay in Paris, you have a very good reason to return here multiple times to check out jam sessions, group musicians and tribute performances.
One of the key players in the landscape of Parisian jazz, Swan Bar is both a stunningly refined bar and a lovely place to host jazz concerts and other performances all year long. The bar’s designer, Lionel Bloom, calls New York home, and it’s clear that the bar’s atmosphere draws upon Manhattan as inspiration. Blues and world music artists also fit right in among the jazzy voices that fill up the Swan Bar’s pretty halls.
In the suburb Les Lilas, Le Triton serves as a haven for artists who need to get out of the city to record or work on their material. Part rehearsal studio, part concert hall and part restaurant, Le Triton is home to all kinds of music, including work and even some rock.
Bab-Ilo doesn’t stop at jazz. Instead, it opens up its patrons’ ears and tastes to music and entertainment from around the world. This club, which was founded in 1984, keeps its calendar full with “cultural events” that include standup comedy shows, exhibitions, theater, and documentaries and other films.
Caveau de la Huchette
Located in the Latin Quarter, Caveau de la Huchette has had such names in the past as Theatre de la Chanson (“Theatre of Song”) and Caveau de la Terreur (“Cave of Terror”) before settling on its current moniker, which is simply named after the road it’s on. No matter which night that you arrive, a solo musician or a band will be on stage playing smooth jazz. The club, which opened its doors in 1946, is quite proud of the talent it has hosted since its inception, including Bill Coleman, Kenny Davern, King Pleasure & the Biscuit Boys, Wild Bill Davis, Mighty Flea Gene Conners and Jean-Paul Amouroux.
Le Petit Journal Montparnasse
Both a jazz club and a brasserie, Le Petit Journal Montparnasse has music every night starting at 21:30. Snacks such as gazpacho and gratinée à l’oignon are available to munch on while you listen; you can even get breakfast, dinner, dessert and drinks here. Outside, the Montparnasse Tower is simply breathtaking, so consider arriving to the club a little early so you can see it in the daylight.
Since 1994, La Java has sat beside a popular Parisian shopping center. It doesn’t have to try hard to vie for attention, though; with two floors and plenty of glass in various hues, these elements combine for a funky viewing experience that makes La Java a seriously cool piece of real estate. Expect to hear a number of genres such as rockabilly, swing and electronic.
Le Caveau des Oubliettes
Some venues and bars in Paris only have live musical entertainment a few nights out of the week, particularly the weekends, when the owners know the place will be packed. At Le Caveau des Oubliettes, you can see a jazz show no matter which night you come by. Besides that, you can also have a bite or a drink at happy hour any night of the week (when, by the way, you can get 7.50 euro cocktails, a rarity in this neighborhood).
Located on the lovely rue Saint Jacques in the Latin Quarter, Café Universel reopens in early September 2015. Check out the club any time of the year to hear a fresh crop of musicians who are attracted by the storefronts and pulsing life of the Latin Quarter. Owner Jean-Michel Proust is especially proud of the club’s “fresh and positive energy.”
Boasting both a bar and a restaurant, Atelier Charonne lets you get the best of both worlds with a combination concert and dinner package. You gain access to your own prime seat with a perfect view of the stage and then get to pick from a choice selection of the restaurant’s menu, including entrees and desserts, so you can eat while you listen and watch. Atelier Charonne recommends that you book ahead to get coveted spots.
Le Petit Journal Saint-Michel
Another Latin Quarter club, Le Petit Journal Saint-Michel can feed your stomach and your ears all in one little building. Although a tight fit, jazz bands and crowds squeeze in for incredible shows each week. Since 1971, Le Petit Journal Saint-Michel has aimed to bring New Orleans jazz to French audiences. Its stage has been home to famous names such as Barney Kessel, Benny Bailey, The Golden Gate Quartet and Sacha Distel; today, you’ll find names like Claude Bolling, Olivier Franc and Marcel Zanini playing here often.
If you’re only in Paris for a few days, L’Improviste puts on blues and jazz shows a few times a week that feature artists like the Kay Bourgine Band, the Martin Roussel Trio and Amar Sundy. If you plan on staying in Paris for a long time, though, make sure that you get a Club Music membership card. It will save you money on any concerts on the schedule.
Le Duc des Lombards
Dating back to 1984, Le Duc des Lombards is one of the most highly regarded jazz establishments in Paris. Make your way down to rue des Lombards, the street that serves as the club’s namesake, and you’ll never forget this venue — it’s electric with colorful lights that practically usher you right in. Le Duc des Lombards also has a restaurant, so it’s OK if you arrive hungry.
When you click on Le SpeakEasy’s website, you’ll be greeted by some brassy, soulful tunes right off the bat. You can also catch up on the best in blues and soul here with music all night. The Restaurant Piano Bar is attached to the Le SpeakEasy building and also includes a smoking lounge. You’ll almost feel transported to a simpler time when you enter.
While the Hotel D’Aubusson is just that, a hotel, it does host jazz evenings with a piano bar at its Cafe Laurent. This part of the building has attracted music fans since World War II, but these days, “jazz evenings continue to chime out their notes and rhythms, no longer in the formerly packed cellars, but in a lounge offering a cosy atmosphere,” the hotel’s site writes. Pianists are around almost every night, but if you don’t want to chance it, stop by on Wednesdays through Saturdays to see a performance from Hotel D’Aubusson’s program.
Also Check: Hotels in Paris
Le Duke’s Bar
You can head to Le Duke’s Bar for lunch if you prefer, but chef Christophe Moisand is busiest at dinner, when the music starts. With a piano located right near the plush seats and polished wooden tables, you should treat yourself to a fun, enriching evening in this gorgeous space. As the club’s website states, Le Duke’s Bar achieves a “relaxed and unique atmosphere…among the great ancient library of books and contemporary and comfortable leather clubs.”
With a bar, restaurant and live music space, Le China is one happening spot. There’s a huge roster of artists that includes A Band Called Myself, Patrick Biyik, Sandy Cossett and Nelly Stan. That’s just a small sample, so when you come here, don’t just expect jazz. Almost all genres here are covered, from world music to reggae to soul and blues. It’s always a fresh listening experience at Le China.
Gilad Rom, Pedro Ribeiro Simoes , zoetnet, JD, Maxime Auger