Paris After Dark
Paris is known as the “City of Light” and each evening after dark it is transformed in a stunning light show. Sparkling lights dress the Eiffel Tower and most noteworthy monuments are lit by spotlights, emphasizing their glorious architectural features. Romantic boat trips, late-night openings to museums and art galleries and a host of musical performances prove that there are just as many interesting things to do in Paris after dark as there are during the day. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
There are a few popular gathering places in Paris at sunset. Pont des Arts has a nice view of the Eiffel Tower and its sparkling light show. The Trocadero, across the river, has great views of this iconic landmark.
The Champs de Mars is another gathering place where many people head for with a bottle of wine and watch the Eiffel Tower light up at dusk. The lawns around the Palais de Chaillot have good views of the city lights and even if you are solo, people are very friendly. Alternatively, indulge in a glass of champagne at the Café Marly near the Louvre Pyramid for a memorable start to the evening.
Montmartre offers great views of the city after dark. Take the Metro to Abesses and then ride the funicular for some panoramic views along the way.
The Eiffel Tower is open until just after midnight in the summer months, and 11.45pm in the winter. The platforms offer superb views across the city after dark, making it fun to pick out famous landmarks. The tower itself is outlined in lights that do a five-minute sparkly show on the hour after dark. The Eiffel Tower is as much fun to look at as it is to climb up and view from.
Stroll along the Seine
The broad quais along the Seine are the perfect place to stroll on a balmy evening or promenade along the sidewalks at street level, overlooking the water. Boats are lit up as they go by, the trees are garlanded with fairy lights and the buildings are reflected in the dark waters. Plan to walk past the Notre Dame as it is beautifully illuminated after dark. From the Pont Neuf you can pick up a one-hour boat trip too.
Cruise the Seine
Even if you have enjoyed a boat trip on the beateaux-mouches during the day, the trip is well worth repeating after dark for a totally different perspective. The River Seine runs past many of Paris’s most recognisable buildings and monuments which are beautiful lit up, along with the 37 bridges, each a historic landmark in their own right. Most boat trips have a commentary in various languages and some offer dinner and wine as part of the trip. Now that’s romantic!
Enjoy the Opera or Concert Performance
The Paris Opera always has a fabulous program of opera and ballet performances but tickets are pricey. Alternatively, look out for classic concerts performed in some of Paris’s churches. Far more reasonable, and often showcasing professional standard performances, these concerts are often free.
Concerts by professional orchestras such as the French National Orchestra are regularly held in Sainte-Chapelle where the beautiful church interior adds to the ambiance. The Notre Dame Choir, accompanied by the impressive organ, performs during the evening from time to time. Many of these concerts are listed in the weekly “Pariscope” which lists local events and is available every Wednesday from newsstands. If your French language is up to it, try scouring the “Officiel des Spectacles”, a similar publication of events and happenings in Paris.
Tango in Paris
If you renting a Paris holiday home on the left bank of the Seine, head for the Quai Saint-Bernard where people of all nationalities gather to tango in the open air, Montevideo-style. The evening starts with tango lessons, then around 8pm the real pros show you how it should be performed! It is just as much fun to spectate as it is to join in, and the Latino music is great. This impromptu event takes place near the parc Tino Rossi from May to October.
Paris’ Café Culture
There something about the cafés in Paris that makes you want to linger. Perhaps it’s the chance to eavesdrop on local conversation, or to people-watch as chic Parisians stroll by. Order a glass of wine after dark and watch the city life. There are some excellent cafés at the plaza near the Pompidou Centre, on the Place de la Bastille or in the delightful neighbourhoods of Montmarte and Trocadero.
Museums After Dark
The Louvre has late-night opening on Wednesdays and Fridays and offers all its treasured artworks without the crowds. Just behind the Louvre, beneath the lit arches of the Coeur Carree, a cellist often plays harmonious chamber music. The d’Orsay Museum offers similar late-night opening on Thursdays.
The sidewalks and the Paris Metro are busy until late and they are perfectly safe, but as in any city avoid deserted alleyways and hanging out beneath the bridges late at night as the company may be less desirable.