Paris is even more magical at night, when the crowds lighten and the city sparkles
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There are so many lovely things to do in Paris at night, and evening explorations felt especially magical on my most recent trip. The daytime June temperatures were warm, and as the sun set, the crowds lessened and the city felt enchanting. In the height of summer, when Paris can be very hot and humid, nighttime exploring would be even more welcome.
Special Things to do in Paris at Night
The architecture of Paris is especially stunning at night. If you are on the way to dinner or another evening activity try to build in some extra time to walk part of the way and enjoy the gorgeous buildings, such as of the Paris Opera House.
Enjoy an Apertif at an Outdoor Café
Many people think of daytime as thee ideal time for people watching from a sidewalk seat at a Paris café. Bit it’s even more pretty at night, with everything aglow. So do as the French do and enjoy an evening Aperitif such as Pastis, Lillet or Chartreuse. Or keep it simple and order a glass of champagne. This is a nice way to pass time before a late dinner reservation, or a fun final stop, if you aren’t quite ready to say goodnight. Because who wants any day in Paris to end?
Left Bank areas of Saint-Germain and Latin Quarter are a nice place to people watch, the most famous being Les Deux Magots. But it’s possible almost anywhere. I enjoyed the bistros around the Trocadero in the 16th arrondissement (where we stayed last time) with so many people coming and going to admire the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero.
Not sure where to go… j ust wander around in search of a cute bistro with an open outdoor table. If you are are only having an aperitif and a light snack or dessert, most places will be perfectly fine. It’s hard to go wrong in Paris!
Seeing the Eiffel Tower at Night
The Eiffel Tower is the quintessential thing to see in Paris at night, with its lights twinkling against a velvet sky. “La Dame de Fer” (the Iron Lady) is located on the Left Bank in the 7th arrondissement, but it’s possible to see it from many places around the city.
One of my favourites (pictured above) is from the Place Du Trocadéro directly across the river from it. We were staying nearby at Le Dokhan’s. (I highly recommend it. It has Paris’s cutest elevator made from vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunks, an adorable champagne bar and wonderful staff. ).
The Palais de Chaillot located at the Place Du Trocadéro is higher than the Seine, so it felt as if the Eiffel Tower was performing on a stage below. This was a spectacular vantage point to see the Eiffel Tower light show, “Illuminations”. With its lights twinkling, I had a “pinch me, I’m in Paris” moment. This light show occurs on the hour, from dusk to 1 am. Check for current times because of Covid-19.
If you want to take a guided tour, Eiffel Tower Night Tour with Champagne on the Seine is well reviewed.
We also rode along the Seine on scooters, guided by the son of a friend. I went very slowly and it was still nerve wracking – yet fun. And we got the best views of our trip!
For more ideas for seeing Paris’s most famous monument, read my guide: Best Views of the Eiffel Tower which includes a detailed Paris map with all of the spots I mention.
Tours of Paris at Night
Paris is a city of neighbourhoods and evening tours that will allow you to explore a part of the city with a knowledgable guide. There are food-themed tours, tours by Segway and more.
Tours of the Le Marais, Montmartre and the Latin Quarter are all popular and wonderful areas to explore with a guide. The Viator website has a listing of evening tours of Paris.
I’ve also done a few “free walking tours of Paris” and thought they were terrific. Yes, they are free, but you are expected to tip the guide. I’ve taken tours with Sandeman’s Paris; check the website for current evening options.
A Nightime Stroll Along the Seine
Among the very best things to do in Paris at night are free. Strolling along the Seine, which runs through Paris, separating the Left Bank from the Right Bank, allows you to enjoy the lights of the buildings and river boats.
Any part of this walk through central Paris is pretty on either bank; I especially like the stretch on the Right Bank between the Louvre and the Jardins du Trocadéro.
Visit Paris Museums at Night
Paris’s most wonderful museums are open late on some days and beautifully lit at night. And added bonus – they are usually less crowded.
The Louvre is open until 9:45 on Wednesdays and Fridays (check current times due to Covid-19). On my last trip, even just walking around outside the Louvre at night was a thrill. The Tuileries Garden, which separates the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde is open until 9 pm from the last Sunday in March to the last Saturday in September.
And the Musee d’Orsay – my favourite – is open until 9:45 on Thursdays. Pre-booking is required and available online.
Evening River Cruise on Paris's Seine
A boat tour of the Seine is a wonderful way to see Paris at night. Get Your Guide lists the many evening tour options here: Paris Seine Night Tours.
If you can make it work, the Bateaux Parisiens are considered the best of the many Seine cruise companies. I’d love to do book a window seat on the Seine Dinner Cruise. Another option is the Bateaux Parisiens 1-hour illuminations tour if it’s running.
Discover Walks also offers a hop on and off option. Choose 24 or 48 hours and tour the Seine during the day, exploring the monuments along the way, then just enjoy the ride and beautiful lights in the evening.
Go to a Paris "Jazz Cave"
I haven’t done this but it’s at the top of my list for my next visit. A fellow Paris-lover told me that her evening at a jazz club in the Latin Quarter was one of the best nights she and her husband have ever had, not just in Paris but anywhere!
Famous and highly recommended Jazz caves – called such because they are in the basement and typically have walls made of stone – include Le Caveau de la Huchette. The building dates to the 16th century, but became a jazz club in 1949.
Le Caveau des Oubliettes is another popular option. I will update this once I’ve experienced it myself.
Have a marvelous time exploring the beautiful city of Paris at night!
Tips for Safely Exploring Paris at Night
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Where to Stay in Paris
On my last visit to Paris we stayed at the charming Le Dokhan’s,a Belle Epoque-style hotel in the 16th arrondissement. The rooms are a class Parisian style with gorgeous bathrooms. I don’t want a minimalist modern vibe in Paris. I want to feel like Marie Antoinette! Le Dokhan’s also has Paris’s cutest elevator made from vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunks, an adorable champagne bar and wonderful staff. (Complete review coming soon).