A visit to the City of Light will undoubtedly satisfy all of your senses while providing an engaging lesson in history. Every cobbled corner of Paris appears to set the scene for an enchanting day, but how best to discover the soul of the city by night? These exceptional experiences top the list. Vive la ville lumière!
Art of the Apéritif
Discover the French art of the apéritif at 19th-century Haussmann mansion turned 5-star hotel La Réserve Paris just off the Champs-Élysées. It’s no wonder this stately address once belonged to Emperor Napoleon III’s step-brother the Duc de Morny. Named for Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel of Cos d’Estournel vineyard in Médoc, Bar Le Gaspard invites into an opulent setting accented by creative cocktails crafted by head mixologist Tinihau Moilon. Toast to la vie en rose beside a cozy fireplace or a plush outdoor terrace, with a side of tasty bouchées by two Michelin-starred Chef Jérôme Banctel. In case you don’t feel like leaving, book a room with a view and call it a night.
Star-Studded Dinner Cruise
The centuries-old city of Paris can best be enjoyed via a cruise along the river that runs through it. Add a gourmet meal helmed by Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse and this is what dreams are made of. Aboard Ducasse sur Seine every seasonal dish is plated to perfection, providing a movable feast that glides by Parisian landmarks including Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, the Louvre Museum, and Musée d’Orsay. While you can opt for a 2-or 3-course lunch cruise “Déjeuner sur Seine”, it’s the fanciful 5-course dinner “Nuit étoilée” paired with wine that sets the most sumptuous scene. The perfect grand finale to a star-studded dining experience includes a glowing Madame Eiffel.
Art Nouveau Shopping Spree
The most iconic shopping address situated in the center of the fashion capital is also one of the most dazzling. Composed of Art Nouveau and Art Deco details dating back to 1870, la Samaritaine has just reopened its newly renovated doors after remaining shuttered for 16 years. With over 500 fashion and beauty brands to choose from, many of which are exclusively French, shop to your heart’s content until 8 in the evening. A choice of ten eateries from casual to gourmet – including top pastry spots – will provide the fuel. Sink into a post-shopping spree massage or facial at Cinq Mondes Spa and come September 7, book a plush room with a view at 5-star hotel Cheval Blanc.
Dine à la 18th-Century
Enter Café Lapérouse at newly renovated museum Hôtel de la Marine on Place de la Concorde and become entranced by this restaurant and bar, set in the very location Victor Hugo often frequented with his family. Stop by for a nightcap with a side of culinary classics including pâté en croûte, foie gras, and center-cut smoked salmon and other sweet and savory options served until midnight. The two covered terraces set a perfect summer scene, rain or shine. Come September, a wine cellar featuring over 1,000 wines from all over France, a gourmet food store as well as a chocolate and ice cream shop will join the space. While there, book a table at renowned Chef Jean-François Piège’s new restaurant Mimosa following a visit to this history-rich 18th-century palace.
An Evening with an Art Collector
As of May, the former 18th-century stock exchange Bourse de Commerce has been masterfully transformed into a museum at the talented hands of Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Within this nine-meter-tall rotunda, discover Kering founder and businessman François Pinault’s private collection – numbering over 10,000 contemporary works by close to 400 artists from around the globe. Paintings, sculptures, and photography on display include artists Cindy Sherman, Urs Fischer, David Hammons, Rudolf Stingel, Tatiana Trouvé, and Kerry James Marshall. Open every evening until 6 pm and until 9 pm on Fridays, where better to catch the last rays of light than from the top floor galleries.
Historic Jazz Night
Celebrated writers and intellectuals including Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, and Joséphine Baker could often be found at historic haunt Bal Blomet. Regulars also included artists Alexandre Calder, Pablo Picasso, Francis Picabia and the Prince of Wales once made an appearance. Opened in 1924, the oldest jazz club in Paris continues to pay homage to the music of all genres from classical to contemporary. Following six years of renovations, the new Bal Blomet opened its doors in 2017 with an even more diverse program. Book a performance to experience the Montparnasse of the 1920s with a hint of New York speakeasy vibes.
Performance in a Palace
Originally named “Salle des Capucines” for its location on the Boulevard des Capucines, this ceremonial building soon became known as Palais Garnier in memory of architect Charles Garnier. From its inauguration in 1875 until 1989 when Bastille Opera House was constructed, every Paris opera was set upon the historic stage of Opera Garnier. This regal venue continues to present world-class opera and ballet performances. It’s worth a visit simply for a glance at Marc Chagall’s impressive ceiling frescoes. If a history lesson is more appealing, take an after-hours guided tour of Opera Garnier. You may even learn the story behind the Phantom of the Opera.
A Drinkable Feast
Tucked inside hotel Ritz Paris, Bar Hemingway is easily one of the city’s most famous watering holes. It’s also the address of some of Paris’s best cocktails, as concocted by Colin Field, twice-named “Best Head Barman in the World”. With only 25 seats, one of historically occupied by the regular for whom the bar was named, there’s often a queue to enter. This intimate well-worn salon open from 6 pm to 2 am takes no reservations. For an extra indulgence, stop by the neighboring Ritz Paris Le Comptoir before 7 pm and pick up a sweet treat to go. World-renowned pastry chef François Perret even created drinkable desserts in the form of cake shakes in addition to his signature madeleines and seasonal confections.
Dance Until Dawn
Named for the 19th-century Parisian slang for “little songbird”, nightclub Le Piaf in Paris’s chic 8th arrondissement, knows how to throw a party. Decked out in red velvet and gold accents, this upscale restaurant and bar convert into a well-heeled hotspot every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Retro without being kitsch, the speakeasy-style ambiance speaks for itself. The soundtrack at Le Piaf varies by night, from the grand piano to the DJ booth. Prepare for jazzy and electro beats that will keep you dancing well into the early morning. In case you head to the south of France, stop by Le Piaf in Saint Tropez.
The Royal Treatment
To live a vrai Parisian fantasy that will last for days, check into the Eiffel Suite at Hôtel Plaza Athénée. Dating back to 1913, this palatial address was one of the first to introduce Art Deco design to Paris. This past April, creative duo Bruno Moinard and Claire Bétaille re-styled 25 of these guest suites, some of the very rooms Coco Chanel and Christian Dior once called home. The legacy of this palace hotel has been reawakened both in its Art Deco outfitting as well as with new chef Jean Imbert at the helm. If beauty beckons head to the Dior Institute spa for an invigorating treatment that will return all senses to the present day.
Our Favorite Hotel in Paris:
The newly opened Kimpton St Honore Paris minutes from Tuileries Garden, Opera, and Faubourg St Honoré honors the creative history of the city of light with its 1917 Art Déco facade. Its impossibly chic guest rooms and designer suites the work of renowned Paris-based interior designer Charles Zana are inspired by minimalist Art Nouveau aesthetics and guests can also enjoy a California-inspired patio restaurant, spa complete with an indoor swimming pool and, cerise sur le gâteau, where you can enjoy 360-degree views of the rooftop bar and garden.