Discovering the Paris Music Scene

Le Carmen Paris Discovering the Paris Music Scene

Armistice, Carmen, Paris. CC Image by Mathieu Marquer (Flickr).

Finding somewhere to go dancing in Paris has always been more difficult than you may expect. On one level it’s a thriving cultural city on par with London and New York. But assuming you don’t count the dudes in stripy t-shirts playing accordion on the Metro, Paris’s music scene has always remained a little more hidden.

Sure, there are the large venues like Le Bataclan, which is the equivalent of Brixton Academy or Radio City Music Hall, where you can book advance tickets for the big touring bands from the UK and the States. But what about the places with a low entry fee, low ceilings and raucous behavior that are at the heart of every local music scene, and which are always the most fun?

If you’ve just got to Paris (you can find tips how to get there on the cheap here) and are looking for a great night out, don’t panic: these five places rock.

Le Klub

The equivalent of London’s Koko, this small indie club is located very centrally near the Pompidou centre, and has a diverse roster of club nights, from heavy metal and punk to burlesque.

Le Carmen

If you’re looking for a more elegant time, venture into le Carmen. Former home of the opera composer Georges Bizet, this majestic venue is named after his most famous work, but now plays host to mainly rock and electronic music nights.

La Cantine de Belleville

While the outside may look like a regular cafe/bar, venture downstairs into its cavernous underbelly for a small, sweaty live music venue. Rock and indie gigs by local bands destined for bigger things is the norm.

Le Pompon

One of the trendiest bars in town, its hipster cred means prices are high and the queues may be long. But to rub shoulders with the coolest cats of the Paris art, music and fashion worlds in a former synagogue, this bar located near Strasbourg St Denis and Chateau D’Eau is the place to go. DJs and bands play till late in the basement.

Pop-In bar

A classic rock pub with a venue in the basement, this classic dive bar is at the heart of the Paris music scene. Like so many of these places, it smells of beer, the music is loud, and everybody’s crammed in close together.

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