Sleepless in Paris: Nuit blanche

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Reviewed on 02/1/2012 | No Reviews

Photo: © AFP, Jacques Demarthon, Lionel Bonaventure


The Moulin Rouge at Pigalle - Photo: MAP

Paris is not the kind of city that never sleeps. It’s not New York. Ok, it’s called the City of Lights (gosh, I’ve sworn I would never mention that name), and for good reason. The light shines brighter in the daytime here. But don’t get me wrong: it’s not that you can’t have the kind of thing that the French delightfully call  a “nuit blanche”.

Of course you can have an all-night experience in Paris. Where do we start? With a nice cruise on the Seine? It’s a fantastic way to discover some of the famous historical buildings along the river (think Louvre, Palais de Justice, Notre-Dame) all beautifully lit at night. And there will, of course, be the Eiffel Tower outshining everything.

Crazy Horse or Moulin Rouge?

Once back at Pont d’Alma, jump off the boat and head to the Crazy Horse, you’re only a short walk away. The Bateaux-Mouche Company even sells dinner-cruise tickets with a show at the famous cabaret afterwards. (Allow 95.- Euros for the dinner-cruise and 205.- for both). You actually prefer the more classic version? Take a cab and join the Moulin Rouge at Pigalle.

This all sounds too touristy to your ears? Well, I can understand. When in Paris do as the Parisians do. Head to the Bastille or the district around rue Oberkampf. There are plenty cafes and bars to hang out – Café Charbon and Cithea are my favourites. Or why don’t you check out the concerts at the nearby Nouveau Casino or Bataclan? Another place, a bit scruffy but so charming, is La Flèche d’Or, just in front of the Mama Shelter, a hip place to sip a cocktail or have a late pizza.

Not only for members

By now you’re probably ready for Silencio, the buzzy club opened by David Lynch at the end of 2011. Until midnight it’s for members only . Afterwards you can try your luck.

Now you might want some adresses that open all night. Here we go. You want to offer a lovely bouquet to your beloved at 4 in the morning? Pick them up at Ely Fleurs, or, even better, ask them to deliver them wherever you want.

In Paris, it’s not easy to dine after the usual dining hours. Here are some restaurants open all night, or nearly.

The most famous one is Au Pied de Cochon, it’s not a restaurant, it’s a myth. Why? Because it has never been closed since it opened in 1947.

Crazy Horse: God save our barskins....

Chez Denise: think checkered tablecloths

Another option is La Tour de Monthléry – Chez Denise, a bristro like the one you dream about with tradional dishes like gigot, gratin dauphinois, you name it. All served on small tables with checkered tablecloths. And after the first pitcher of red wine, believe me, you’ll get the impression that nothing has changed here since the wholesale food market moved away from Les Halles in 1969. Chez Denise is one of the last surviving places where the workers from the market had their steaks at 5 in the morning, just after work.

From cigars to books

In case you just need a quick snack, cigarettes or a newspaper? Publicis Drugtstore on the Champs Elysées is open until 2, every night and provides everything from cigars to books.

And just one last thing: you will probably need some aspirin for your coffee.There are two pharmacies in Paris open 7/7, 24/24: Pharmacie les Champs at 84, Avenue des Champs Elysées, and the famous Pharmacie Européenne de la Place de Clichy, 6, place de Clichy.

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