While the stereotype of the French may suggest a nation of hard-playing, work-adverse people, Parisians are as hardworking as the rest of us. Work ethics aside, it seems that every resident of this luminous city has a higher education in pleasure. With the workday behind them, locals head for a café or wine bar to meet with friends over a drink and perhaps a meal. Whatever your diversional whim, Paris can answer it. Stadiums, racetracks, and city parks cater to sports enthusiasts; while theaters and concert halls captivate audiences with performances ranging from classical to postmodern. As its moniker indicates, Parisian streets and monuments remain illuminated all night. Restaurants won't expect you before 8pm, and by midnight the party is just getting started at hundreds of bars and dance clubs throughout the city.
In this section, we highlight the best leisure and entertainment options in Paris: the top performance spaces for live entertainment, the best bars for whistle-whetting, and the hottest clubs for dancing off all that foie gras. From a jog along the city's "green lung" to outlandish floor shows and everything in between, if it's about having fun, then you'll find it here.
The Bar and Café Scene
Rather than go home to often-cramped apartments, Parisians socialize in the bars and cafés throughout the city. Along with coffee, wine, beer and liquors, cafés also serve small meals and plates of meat and cheese. Besides focusing on wine, wine bars also serve small plates, but are a bit more gastronomically focused than cafés. Anglo- and Irish-style bars and pubs are also scattered throughout the city; these bars serve cocktails and beer, and are a bit more boisterous than the intimate settings of cafés.
Wine Bars -- The wine bar, or bar à vin, is a welcome departure from sitting down at a typical café or restaurant. They are often calm and warmly decorated, and many have regional themes. All offer diverse and interesting selections of wines and serve simple small dishes and platters -- perfect for those in the mood for a delectable snack with their drinks without the commitment to a full-blown meal.
Bars and Pubs -- You will find Parisians enjoying their drink at any of the ubiquitous cafés throughout town (many of which double as bars and often an extension of personal living rooms). Nonetheless, there are plenty of nooks set up in the more traditional Anglo-centric style of drinking establishment -- and some cafés function more like a bar than anything else. Our selections below are among the best places to enjoy a beer or cocktail, in part because of the interesting crowds they draw. Paris is also home to quite a few grand-luxe, world-class bars: Those at the Plaza Athénée or Ritz, for example, are among the grandest in the world and provide a uniquely Parisian experience. Of course, you would never show up in sneakers at such an establishment -- or without a titanium-level credit card. As a general rule, bars and pubs are open daily from 11am to 2am.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.