Last Updated on 15th June 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
Many visitors to the City of Light aren’t content with simply eating dinner, quickly strolling alongside the River Seine and then heading to sleep after a long day of exploring. Instead, they want to enjoy the best of Paris at night.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to visit Paris at night, as well as the best nighttime attractions the City of Love has to offer, then we have you covered! From strolling along the Seine to enjoying dinner to spending a night at the opera, here’s your complete guide for things to do during the perfect evening in Paris…
But first, an introduction to Paris by night… There’s a reason the French capital is known as the City of Light! And yes, although the French Capital is named for the city’s great contributions to the Age of Enlightenment, nowadays, thanks to the many twinkling lights and outdoor delights, the City of Light has been given new meaning.
- Experience the sunset in Paris
- Enjoy an opera performance
- Wander along the Seine
- Enjoy a Seine River Cruise
- Cruise along Canal Saint Martin
- Watch a cabaret or traditional show
- See the Eiffel Tower sparkle!
- Enjoy a date night dinner date
- Ascend the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe
- Experience the Louvre by night
- Sip on cocktails or enjoy a lovely glass of wine in a Parisian bar
- Relax in a gorgeous hotel with an Eiffel Tower View
- Head to one of the best Parisian rooftops in Paris
- Discover the covered passages of Paris
- Explore Paris by Citroën 2 CV
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Experience the sunset in Paris
Before meandering along the River, enjoying a romantic dinner, or simply experiencing Paris after dark, start your evening the right way by enjoying the sunset from one of the many beautiful locations that the French capital has to offer.
For example, the view from the Arc de Triomphe, the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, and the viewing deck of the Tour Montparnasse all provide perfect bird’s eye perspectives of the city. For more golden hour inspiration, check out my guide to the best sunset spots in Paris.
Enjoy an opera performance
Ah, the sounds of Paree! Whether you prefer classical, jazz, or pop music, there’s no denying that there’s something for everyone to enjoy when it comes to the City of Love. However, truth be told, one of the more quintessentially French things to do in Paris at night is to enjoy a night at the opera.
Though there are two opera houses in Paris, that of Opera Bastille and that of Palais Garnier, the latter is the very same space that’s alleged to be the basis for the story ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and there’s even a secret body of water hidden beneath the structure itself!
Palais Garnier is sometimes nicknamed the ‘wedding cake’ on account of its ornate and elaborate decor and is just as beautiful in the day as it is at night. Even if you don’t have time to enjoy a performance, I highly recommend taking yourself on a tour of the late 19th-century sumptuous building. Purchase your self-guided visit tickets here in advance.
Wander along the Seine
Of course, if you want to soak up the views of Paris by night, then you need only wander alongside the River Seine. Start on the opposite side of the river from the twinkling Eiffel Tower.
From there, make your way through the city, passing by The Louvre, Conciergerie, and even Notre Dame Cathedral as you soak up the sights and sounds of the city. If you want a truly magical experience, then you may well want to set up a picnic along the Seine as the sun goes down…
Enjoy a Seine River Cruise
Otherwise, if you prefer to enjoy another perspective of Paris, and indeed the River Seine, then you might want to consider booking a river cruise. After all, this way you can enjoy many of Paris’ more famous attractions lit by bright lights post-dusk.
There are several options available, including this Audio Guided Seine River Cruise & Illuminations Bus Tour or this Early Evening Dinner Cruise on the River Seine. For those with time constraints who wish to simply see the sights of Paris on the water, this 1-Hour Illuminations River Cruise is short and sweet!
Cruise along Canal Saint Martin
For those looking to go a little off the beaten path during their time at night in Paris, consider heading to the 10th arrondissement, which is best known as being the location of Canal Saint Martin, a 19th-century canal system that’s home to lively bars and a plethora of delicious eateries.
Those looking for a romantic activity in the area might consider booking a dinner cruise on Canal Saint Martin. For example, this cruise offers an on-board dinner, as well as live commentary of what the boat is going past. See full details here.
Watch a cabaret or traditional show
The Moulin Rouge can be found in Pigalle and has long considered to be an icon of the city. One of the more touristy things to do in Paris at night (you’ve been warned!) is to watch the cabaret Féerie show while sipping on champagne. Book your Moulin Rouge show here.
For those who are looking to experience a Parisian cabaret, as well as a River Seine cruise, you might consider booking this combi ticket. Otherwise, for an Eiffel Tower dinner, Seine River Cruise, and Moulin Rouge show, book this experience.
See the Eiffel Tower sparkle!
There’s perhaps nothing quite as cliché, nor perhaps as enjoyable, as seeing the Tour Eiffel sparkle for the first time. You’ll never forget that split second and it’s a memory that’s sure to stay with you for a long time. One of my personal favourite spots for spying the Tour Eiffel at night is along rue Saint-Domonique.
Truth be told, as insignificant as it might sound, that very first moment when you turn a street corner and stumble upon the sparkles is honestly one of the best things to do in Paris at night.
What’s more is that, if you’re visiting Paris during a special event, then the Eiffel Tower might even be lit up in a different or unique colour to normal. For an idea on where to spy the Iron Lady, here’s where to find the best Eiffel Tower views.
Enjoy a date night dinner date
Of course, France is not only known around the world for its picturesque architecture, fairytale châteaux, and breathtaking scenery… Instead, l’Hexagone is also well-known for its world-famous cuisine, many of the highlights of which can be found in Paris.
Just bear in mind that one of my top travel tips for Paris would be that the French tend to dine much later than you might be used to, with many restaurants only opening their doors after 7:30 PM…
Even if you don’t eat meat, you’re sure to find a tasty dish to tuck into at one of the best vegan restaurants in Paris. Otherwise, some of my favourite date night restaurants include Le Train Bleu (for an ornate and opulent affair) and Le Bistrot d’Henri (a tiny bistro serving traditional French fare).
For a taste of fine dining, Auberge Nicolas Flamel offers Parisian food set against the backdrop of one of the oldest houses in Paris. Otherwise, for a particularly unique and fun experience (though the food isn’t of the best quality), be sure to check out Le Refuge des Fondus, where the wine is served in baby bottles!
Ascend the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe
If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time (in which case, hi, friend!), then you’ll know that I’ve long advocated that the best place to enjoy views of the city is not from the top of the Eiffel Tower, but instead from the Arc de Triomphe.
The same holds true when dusk descends on the city and bright lights illuminate the most iconic locations. However, if this is your first time in Paris, then you should still journey up to the top of the Tour Eiffel at least once, if only to say you’ve done it!
Both times I’ve been up to the top, I’ve gone at sunset so as to enjoy the best Parisian views of both daytime and nighttime! Book your Eiffel Tower tickets here. For those in search of a more unique and culinary experience, then it’s even possible to dine at the restaurant on the first floor of the famous monument. Book your Dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel with Priority Lift Tickets here.
Experience the Louvre by night
When night falls, the city keeps going. Such is even the case with the largest museum in the world, i.e. the Louvre on Wednesday and Friday nights when the cultural space is open from 9 am to 10 pm. Also worth noting is that you can enter the Louvre for free include Bastille Day and the White Night festival which takes place during Paris in May.
Finally, museum entry is always free for under 18s, residents of the EU under 26, and for all under 26s on a Friday night. If you’re planning on visiting the museum for a regular late-night opening, then you’ll want to purchase your tickets in advance. Check prices and further information here. Otherwise, here’s my guide for the best tips for visiting the Louvre.
Sip on cocktails or enjoy a lovely glass of wine in a Parisian bar
Of course, many of the most famous wines in the world originate right here in France. Between the wines of Bordeaux, the reds of Burgundy, and the crisp rosés of Provence, you’re pretty much spoilt for choice when it comes to enjoying drinks in l’Hexagone.
It’s also worth noting that most bars in the city (particularly those of the 10th and 11th arrondissements) have happy hours most evenings, resulting in cocktails that are less than €10 each. As such, one of the best evening activities in the city is to grab a few friends and head to a bar to chat away and sip on some rather delicious wine.
Some of the best bars in the city can be found in the medieval streets of Le Marais, where the music never plays too loud and the venues are open ’til late. For a more luxurious drink, head to the Art Deco Ritz Bar, the Hemingway Bar, Le Très Particulier, or the Napoleon era l’Arc.
Relax in a gorgeous hotel with an Eiffel Tower View
For those tired after a day of exploring or those who are not so interested in experiencing Paris nightlife, why not head back to a wonderful hotel room/ apartment and enjoy glittering views of the Eiffel Tower? Some of the best Eiffel Tower views can be found at the following hotels:
Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel
Head to one of the best Parisian rooftops in Paris
Fancy your drink with an epic view of the city? Well, here’s some good news! There are plenty of incredible rooftop bars and terraces in the city, which together make up some of the best things to do in Paris at night.
Personal favourites include Le Perchoir (there are two locations; 14 Rue Crespin du Gast and33 Rue de la Verrerie) and Mama Shelter Rooftop Bar. For more epic views of the city, check out my guide to the best of Paris rooftops.
Discover the covered passages of Paris
Depending on the time of the year you’re visiting, you may well be able to shop within the covered passages of Paris come nightfall. These charming arcades were constructed as the precursor to shopping malls. And while once upon a time there would have been some hundred and fifty, today only around two dozen remain.
Nevertheless, these stunning covered walkways are magical at night (during the winter when the sun sets early, you can visit them before they close) and each covered passage specialises in something or another.
Personal favourites include Passage des Panoramas (located in the 9th district), which specialises in stamps, while Galerie Vivienne has a luxury wine restaurant, a stunning bookshop, and is often covered in twinkling fairy lights.
Explore Paris by Citroën 2 CV
Imagine enjoying the iconic Parisian attractions and incredible sights by night, all while sitting in a vintage French car: it doesn’t get much more romantic than this. You can book this classic tour for an hour, or extend your excursion to two hours if you so prefer. Check prices and availability here. Alternatively, this private tour of Paris by night includes champagne!
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Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs solosophie.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She currently splits her time between Paris and London. Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.
Saturday 18th of May 2019
Paris at night sounds like a chill kind of fun :)
- Laura || afinnontheloose.com