Paris is even more magical at night, when the crowds lighten and the city sparkles
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Paris at night can be especially magical; with twinkling lights and lighter crowds, it’s an ideal opportunity to explore by evening in Paris. Nighttime exploring is especially welcome in summer, when Paris can be very hot and crowded during the day.
What to do in Paris at Night
Evening Performance at the Palais Garnier (Opera House)
The architecture of Paris is especially stunning at night. The Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier) is one of my favorite buildings in Paris and is especially pretty at night. The exterior shines and its gilded interior glitters. Built in the 19th century, at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III, it’s an opulent tribute to French arts. You can purchase tickets to an evening ballet, opera or concert.
It’s advised to book ahead, but last-minute tickets are often available. Explore and book at Palais Garnier Tickets. Note that some performances are held at the more modern Opera Bastille, so make sure you are booking at the Palais Garnier if you’d like to see inside this Belle Epoque beauty.
You can also take tours of the Palais Garnier, either guided or self-guided. I did a guided tour on my recent trip, and it was very interesting; I highly recommend it.
There is also an early evening tour called: The Mysteries of the Palais Garnier, which takes place after closing, at 5 p.m., so you’ll explore without the crowds. Check the Palais Garnier events calendar for current availability.
Exploring 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). 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 favorite, is open until 9:45 on Thursdays. Pre-booking is required and available online.
An Evening River Cruise on the Paris 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.
I recommend the Bateaux Parisiens, considered the best of the many Seine cruise companies, and I took an evening dinner cruise on my most recent trip and absolutely loved it. The food was delicious and the service was friendly: 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.
See a Paris Cabaret, Moulin Rouge & More
Paris is full of evening spectacles, shows and performances that can be booked with or without dinner.
I attended the Moulin Rouge on my last visit, and while yes, it’s mostly tourists and a little pricey. We really enjoyed ourselves. The venue is charming, a bright slice of Paris history, and I thought the performers were excellent.
This books up well ahead, and I would advise having dinner elsewhere before. There are so many wonderful restaurants and the food here is said to be just ok and expensive. Reserve Moulin Rouge tickets at their official webiste.
Other highly reviewed Paris evening shows include: Le Crazy Horse Paris and the Folies Bergere.
The Folies Bergere is a historic music hall and theatre with a variety of performances, from comedy shows to cabarets. I haven’t been but have heard very good things.
This historic venue was the first major music hall in Paris, when it opened in 1869. It’s in the 9th arrondissement, very near the Palais Garnier. Explore upcoming Paris evening shows at their website: Folies Bergere.
Where to See 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 favorites is from the Place Du Trocadéro directly across the river from the tower, as the Place Du Trocadéro is elevated, compared with the Seine and the tower, so it felt as if the Eiffel Tower is on display, center stage below.
This is a spectacular vantage point to see the Eiffel Tower light show, “Illuminations”, which occurs on the hour, from dusk to 1 am. With the lights twinkling, I had a “pinch me, I’m in Paris” moment.
The Champ de Mars park is another nice option, however it is currently under construction for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
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 neighborhoods and the city’s most charming areas are awash with history and charm; Le Marais, Montmartre, and the Latin Quarter are all ideal for exploring with a knowledgeable guide.
And since you are in Paris, why not add food or wine to your exploration? Some recommended evening food and wine tours in Paris include The Twilight Wine Stroll or Le Marais Twilight Food Tour, with Eating Europe, and the Montmartre Evening Food Tour with Secret Food Tours and Paris at Sunset: Aperitif, Food & Wine Tour in the Latin Quarter with Devour Foods.
On a budget? 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; and the guides were terrific. Check the website for current options. The latest start around 5 pm so early 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 1946. It is open every day, yearround.
Le Caveau des Oubliettes is another popular option. I will update this once I’ve experienced it myself.
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 twinkling lights of the buildings, and the pleasing French songs coming from the river boats which glide by.
Any part of this walk through central Paris is pretty; I especially like the stretch on the Right Bank between the Louvre and the Jardins du Trocadéro.
On the Left Bank, head to the Jardin Tino Rosso in the 5th arrondissement to see dancers perform a tango. Bring some wine or a picnic to this open-air oval and be ready — you may be invited to dance.
Tips for Safely Exploring Paris at Night
Evening Festivals in Paris
Ask your hotel about special events or festivals that might offer evening activities during your stay. If you are in Paris in early June, you’ll have the chance to explore Paris at night during Nuit Blanche, an evening arts festival throughout the city on June 3. Museums, art galleries, and other cultural institutions will be open all night, and free of charge. Public transport is also open all night so visitors can easily hop around the city to explore the many installations and events, and make their way home as the sun wakes up. Find details at Paris Tourism: Nuit Blanche.
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 “Apero” such as Pastis, Lillet or Chartreuse. Or do as I do and order a glass of champagne (although I also love Lillet). This is a nice way to pass time before a late dinner reservation, or a fun final stop in the evening, because who wants any day in Paris to end?
The Left Bank area of Saint-Germain is a nice place to people watch, among the most famous being Les Deux Magots. But it’s possible in every neighborhood. Not sure where to go… just wander around until you find 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!
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What wonderful evening adventure have you enjoyed on a trip to Paris? Please share in the comments below. Have a marvelous time exploring the beautiful city of Paris at its most sparkly — after dark.
Where to Stay in Paris
On a recent visit to Paris with my husband, 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).