After a long day sightseeing in Paris, what could be better than making the most of the city’s jazz legacy and chilling out to live music in the evening? Whether you want to kick back to some blues on an authentic Parisian barge, dance to 1920s jazz in ancient underground cellars, or sit back and enjoy big band swing on a terrace overlooking the Eiffel Tower, our guide has you covered.
Jazz Club Etoile is a stunning jazz bar with an impressive reputation. Opening in 1975 at Le Méridien Etoile hotel with just one pianist; a flurry of jazz musician friends, such as Maxim Saury, Géo Daly and Marcel Zanini, soon joined. After this, American soloists began joining the bill, along with top French musicians. However, it was in the early 1980s that the first real bands appeared at Bar Patio, attracted by the vibrant, lively atmosphere, including Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Claude Bolling, BB King and The Count’s Men. The Bar Patio boasts an authentic stage with full sound and lighting system.
The Jazz Café Montparnasse, located on the legendary Left Bank, only a stone’s throw from Montparnasse Tower, is a mythical jazz venue in Paris with over 30 years of history. Over the decades, it has welcomed the most famous jazz players in the world. The venue offers a convivial and cosy ambiance, where good live music as well as fine food lovers are happy to meet, mingle and relax. Recently, the place has been completely renovated bringing stylish and comfortable furniture into the mix, along with a luminous conservatory, and outside terrace perfect for the warmer months. The violinist Aurore Voilqué schedules three-hour long concerts at 9pm, and the ultimate selling point of the place is that the concerts are free.
The 38 Riv Jazz club is an intimate venue tucked away inside a 13th century vaulted cellar with original medieval stonework and nestled on the right bank of the Seine. The club hosts a wide range of jazz, Brazilian and traditional Baroque music concerts as well as more spontaneous jazz and funk jamming sessions. You might also hear big band swing, bebop, hardbop, modern, or bossa nova music. As well as this varied range of shows, there are also amateur jazz sessions to help develop the talents of budding young players. The central location of this venue is perfect if you’re looking to wind down after a long day visiting the City of Lights, as it’s only a few blocks from Notre Dame Cathedral.
With a view that spans the gorgreous Parc de Belleville and much of the Paris skyline, Moncoeur Belleville is a local favourite. You can even spot the Eiffel Tower, as well as the usual flurry of Parisian rooftops, from this spectacular vantage point. What’s brilliant is that bands play outside on the terrace when the weather is favourable, usually from April until the end of September. The area is bohemian, just a short walk from Belleville and Ménilmontant, making it a great place to meet up with friends. Although Moncoeur Belleville opened just three years ago, the restaurant is celebrated both for its unique view and for its cuisine dubbed “chic and authentic”. As it happens, the Chef spent four years learning with Michelin star chef, Thierry Marx at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris, but he prefers to serve up fresh home-made produce here. There is a live jazz concert every Sunday after brunch, from 12pm until 4pm.
Nubia has a world-famous artist as the owner – Richard Bona, who is considered one of the greatest bassists in the world and three times Grammy Award winner, and Best International Artist of the “Jazz Victory Year”. It’s an important address for renowned musicians, following in the footsteps of Bona’s previous jazz venues that enticed the likes of Sting. This new venture is sure to not disappoint, as it brings together the most extraordinary contemporary musicians, while exploiting all the latest developments in the realm of sound technology. In fact, the owner says that the quality is so high, you could easily imagine you were in a recording studio. Plus, there is top-level catering, so you can enjoy great-quality food while sitting back and enjoying the gorgeous melodies: from pop, electro and world music, to soul, hip-hop, blues, R&B and rock.
Who’s to say that you have to enjoy jazz music indoors when you can listen to it on a boat? This authentic peniche built in 1925, offers tapas-styled delicacies such as tacos, guacamole and chorizo for bargain prices while putting on an energetic jazz show. Situated on the Quai de l’Hôtel de ville of the Seine, with incredible views of Notre Dame, listening to a two-piece jazz band while sipping Champagne and watching the boats go by is a great way to spend a few hours. They often host parties and have an outside bar on the terrace open from May to October. Nearly 200 people can dine at the makeshift tables of the terrace and in the main room of the barge itself, making it one of the most unusual and lively venues to enjoy jazz in the whole of Paris.
The Bal Blomet is the oldest jazz club in Paris still running today, whose historic legacy stands in testament to its enduring popularity. This facility was most popular during the inter-war years under the name Le Bal Nègre and welcomed a whole range of famous personalities including Joséphine Baker, Ernest Hemingway, Sidney Bechet and Jean-Paul Sartre. It was a particular favourite of the intellectual circles of Paris, with philosophers and writers galore. The club recently reopened its doors after three years of refurbishing . The space is designed to homage the arts and the jazz club’s legacy, and it welcomes experimental and avant garde acts. There’s also traditional jazz music though, as well as world music performances, classical and contemporary music, as well as musical theatre.
The Parisians like making the most of their ancient underground cellars, and Caveau de la Huchette is one of the best underground jazz venues in the whole city. It’s a quirky place that focuses mainly on 1920s jazz, so feel free to dress up in your finest flapper attire if you wish. This musical den, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city outside, cultivates a cosy atmosphere where dancing is almost certainly on the cards. All of the post-war jazz greats have performed at Caveau de la Huchette and this legacy continues with the contemporary line-up. A sombre fact is that in the 1500s, the stone arch under which you’ll be dancing used to be an execution chamber.
You could easily stumble past this venue without a second glance, given its understated exterior, but this cosy little jazz spot is a gem on the music scene and well worth a visit. Sunset Sunside has a gorgeous vaulted, dimly lit salon inside that lends it an intimate ambiance, heightened by the curious, tight-packed layout. The audience is so close to the stage that interaction becomes instinctive, so don’t be surprised if you’re invited onto stage to dance! It gets particularly lively at the weekends, bustling with young couples and friends soaking up the relaxing jazz vibes. There’s a wealth of talented acoustic jazz musicians on the line-up, but it’s kept varied with singers, orchestra swing pianists, and vibrant jam sessions.
La Bellevilloise is the hidden gem of the 20th arrondissement, tucked away in the trendy northeast with an eclectic music programme on most nights. The venue has an unusual history, being the site of Paris’s first workers’ cooperative, remaining an important cultural landmark since 1877. It’s a perfect summertime spot as the venue has a huge terrace above its two-storey structure, where you can soak up the sun’s rays while sipping a cocktail and listening to some of the best jazz musicians the city has to offer. If that’s not enough, there’s also a fabulous arts and cultural centre for exhibitions, and with film screenings on the bill too, so it’s not just a night-time venue. You can also just drop by for a coffee in the day, relaxing in the soothingly lit café.