Paris is the City of Light and Love, a magical place everybody should visit once in their lives. But what if you can’t afford Michelin-starred dining and swanky champagne bars along the Champs-Élysées? Well, despite its reputation, there IS an affordable side of Paris, even when it comes to the nightlife – you just need to know where to look. So where are these mythical, budget-friendly Parisian bars?
From cool rooftop bars to 80s-themed dive bars and even floating bars, we’ve put together a guide to the best bars in Paris to help you avoid the tourist traps and party like a local.
1. Rosa Bonheur
Fun fact: Bonheur means ‘happiness’ in French 📷@thetravellinglight
Tucked inside the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, high up on a hill above the city, Rosa Bonheur is unquestionably one of the most beautiful bars in Paris. Locals congregate here to drink and dance on the outdoor terrace, surrounded by the lush greenery. The cute building began life as an elegant 19th century open-air dance hall. Nowadays though, the atmosphere here is a little more raucous, especially on Sunday afternoons in the summer, when the line to get in can sometimes snake all the way out to the park’s entrance.
If the crowds or the queues get too much, grab some drinks from a local shop and plant yourself on the grassy slope in front of the bar to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and views out over the city.
Address: Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 2 avenue des Cascades, 75019 Paris
2. Paname Brewing Co.
Floating and drinking, drinking and floating 📷@cityinsidersparis
Perched literally on the waters of the Quai de le Loire in Paris’s North-East, Paname Brewing Company is the best brewery in Paris serving delicious craft beer at affordable prices. The sunny terrace is actually more of a raft, floating in the canal’s waters. It’s perfect for summer days drinking good beers in the sun with friends, or watching the sunset over the water. For the colder months, there’s a glass-walled dining room with views out over the canal and all its activity and life.
Address: 41 Quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris
Nothing to see here, just doing some washing 📷@ebcarmen
We genuinely thought Lavomatic was a regular laundromat for several years before a friend let us in on the secret that was hiding behind one of the washing machines in back. Crack open the secret door right down the back of what looks like a regular laundry room, then climb a rickety staircase to the third floor to emerge in this bright and pumping bar near Paris’s Canal Saint Martin. The great thing about this bar is that it doesn’t have the regular hushed, speakeasy vibe of other hidden bars; it’s loud, fun and friendly, all the more surprising in contrast to the silent, neon-lit laundromat you enter through downstairs on street level.
Address: 30 Rue René Boulanger, 75010 Paris
4. Ground Control
Ground Control is one of the most loved pop-up bars in Paris 📷@thetravellinglight
A train-themed bar and that pops up every summer in Paris, Ground Control chose the Halle Charolais open-air terrace as its temporary home for 2017, not far from the Gare de Lyon, one of Paris’s main train stations. Here you can find bar areas, food trucks housed in train carriages, DJ sets, workshops and an interesting crowd of local Parisians. Rumour has it that this year, the space might be here to stay all year around!
Address: 81 Rue du Charolais, 75012 Paris
5. Le Comptoir Général
Vintage chic at this cool little bar near Canal St Martin 📷@thetravellinglight
This hideaway concept store, bar and eatery in Canal St Martin pays tribute to African ghetto cool, looking like something between an abandoned ballroom and a tropical greenhouse. Needless to say, Le Comptoir Général is a pretty unique space that draws an interesting crowd day and night. Memorabilia of African culture lines the walls as decoration, and the nooks and corners of the place display vintage wares for sale. On weekend evenings, the bar transforms into a busy party with a disco-ball lit dance floor and checkered tiles underfoot. The rest of the time it’s a light-filled space, with vintage couches in cosy corners inviting you to settle in for a drink or three.
Address: 80 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris
6. Le Basile
Formica tables and a young Mick Jagger at Le Basile 📷@thehungryshoes
In the heart of Saint-Germain, the most ‘Paris’ area of them all, Le Basil is situated close to Sciences Po University, meaning the crowd here is made up mainly of students taking study breaks. The décor is cool, light, with an Art Deco touch. Old rock icons line the walls giving a modern and vintage feel all at the same time. This is one of the best bars in Paris for a relaxed lunch or dinner with drinks, under the watchful eyes of a young Mick Jagger – très sexy!
Address: 34 Rue de Grenelle, 75006 Paris
7. Canal Saint Martin
The cheapest and best bar in Paris is the banks of the Canal Saint Martin 📷@thetravellinglight
Parisien hipsters (or ‘bobos’ in local speak) love to dangle precariously along the banks of the Canal Saint Martin, bringing their own drinks to the best unofficial outdoor bar in Paris. Gather up your cheap wine or beer from the local supermarket and some french delicacies, and find a spot to while away the evening hours. There’s always a party atmosphere here, even in the depths of winter. Our picks for food nearby to accompany your drinks: pizzas from Pink Flamingo, Korean picnic from Jules et Shim, Cambodian food from Le Petit Cambodge or a traditional sweet or savoury crêpe from Lulu la Nantaise. This might just be the perfect way to spend an evening in Paris.
Address: Canal Saint-Martin (around Rue de Lancry) 75010 Paris
8. Le Perchoir
Amazing views over the rooftops from Le Perchoir 📷@thetravellinglight
Le Perchoir is an open-air rooftop bar in Paris’s Oberkampf neighbourhood, an area full of student bars and nightlife. Climb the spiral steel staircase to the top of the building for amazing views of the surrounding Belleville area and those pretty Parisian rooftops. From up here you can see all the way out to the Sacré-Cœur on the hill in Montmartre. The rooftop itself is filled with plants and greenery and interesting locals.
On a sunny summer’s day you may have to wait in the line down on the street, but it’s always worth it to come up here. There’s an amazing restaurant too, one level down in a cool dining room, but if you’re on a budget you can stick to rooftop drinks that won’t break the bank with the best view in Paris.
Address: 14 Rue Crespin du Gast, Paris 75011
9. Chez Georges
Chez Georges looks like something straight out of the movies 📷@liliedenn
A great wintertime nightlife option, this raucous Parisian wine bar is found in a centuries-old wine cellar in the swanky Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood. Here it’s a strange mix of older, prim and proper locals as well as the local student population. At Chez Georges, you can dance until the early hours of the morning to cheesy, old-school pop/rock music while sipping on good wine – a unique Paris experience.
Address: 11 rue des Canettes, 75006 Paris
10. Le Zéro Zéro
Le Zéro Zéro is sweaty but fun 📷@crouxy
By day, it’s a cafe with free wifi, by night it’s its own breed of bar/nightclub complete with DJ decks. The best way to describe Le Zéro Zéro to somebody who’s never been, is to imagine all the people that would normally fit into a normal-sized nightclub. Now imagine all those people crammed into a really small, grungy bar with stickers and graffiti covering every inch of the walls. It’s fun and sweaty on the tiny dance floor, where indie students in leather jackets bump up against one another to the music, and drink cheap beers and cocktails. Take note of happy hour between 6.30 and 8pm!
Address: 89 rue Amelot, 75011 Paris
11. Le Piano Vache
This Paris bar housed in a huge, three-room venue space, is a welcome exception to the mostly touristy bars usually found in the 5th arrondissement. Come to Le Piano Vache to mingle with local students, particularly during happy hour between 6 and 9pm. This is a great place to listen to free live music in Paris, specialising in rock and gypsy jazz; check their website before your visit to see who’s playing.
Address: 8 rue Laplace, 75005 Paris
Alcohol plus rollerskates… what could go wrong? 📷@fernandaballesterosf
A bar/nightclub complete with giant disco ball, Garage puts on electro DJ nights pulling in some big names (the owners are the people behind Calvi on the Rocks) with an epic sound system to match. Dance the night away indoors or outdoors. A special feature in summer is the Sunday night rollerdisco parties where you can hire rollerblades and skate to themed music for the night.
Address: 34 quai d’Austerlitz, 75013 Paris
13. Le Café Charbon
Vintage decor and friendly vibes at Le Café Charbon 📷@johnnyluckyrabbit
Over a hundred years old, Le Café Charbon is a beautiful example of a traditional Parisian brasserie, just a little more party-oriented than some of the other turn-of-the-century brasseries in the city. Found on Rue Oberkampf, this café is an institution for the local clientele and the whole area is great for a fun, local and affordable night out in Paris.
Address: 109 Rue Oberkampf, 75011 Paris
Is your internet cafe this cool? 📷@tadmildura
What started as an internet cafe has spiralled out into a full buzzing bar with outdoor pavement terrace, photobooth, pool tables and foosball inside. So it’s no surprise that Sputnik is a popular student hangout in this very student-heavy area on the left bank of Paris. If you’re looking for a sports bar in Paris to watch an important game when you’re far from home on your travels, this is the place to come.
Address: 16 Rue de la Butte aux Cailles, 75013 Paris
15. Chez Bouboule Pigalle
Boules + cheap wine 📷@pti_luuu
When you visit a new country, you want to try your hand at all the local activities, and in France, the game of pétanque aka boules is a must. You’ll see old men playing this game with the shiny metal balls in various parks and sand patches around Paris, but the question of where to play the game yourself is not so easily answered. Enter Chez Bouboule, a small chain of three specially designed pétanque bars in Paris, where you can play the game indoors, rain or shine, and sample the great drinks menu at the same time. Our favourite one is in the Pigalle neighbourhood.
Address: 0 Avenue Trudaine, 75009 Paris
16. Le Mauri7
Found in the middle of buzzing and central Strasbourg Saint-Denis, Le Mauri7 is one of the best bars in Paris for finishing up a night out. It’s dark, cosy and unpretentious, with vinyl records, old film posters (not vintage, just old) all over the walls, plus the people who come here often enough to make it a relaxed and fun place to hang out.
Address: 46 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris
17. La Bellevilloise
With a regular program of film screenings, art shows and live soul, funk, hip hop and world music, La Bellevilloise is a place to come to discover young creatives and artists’ work in trendy Menilmontant in the East of Paris. The attached restaurant is a relaxed place to take a meal too to line your stomach, the Sunday brunch being popular amongst locals.
Address: 19-21 Rue Boyer, 75020 Paris
18. Petit Bain
The city of Paris has the River Seine snaking through its centre, and as a tourist, sure, you can take one of the pricy Bateaux Mouches boats with the masses to get out on the water. Or you can come to this bar on a boat in the 13th arrondissement; the name Le Petit Bain literally translates to the little swim. The boat doesn’t cruise up and down the river like the tourist boats, it’s stationary, but with beautiful water views and a cool local student clientele with big weekend nights, you’ll be happy you chose to spend your money on a few cheap drinks here over a pricy boat cruise.
Address: 7 Port de la Gare, 75013 Paris
19. Le Point Ephémère
Le Point Ephémère is a former squat turned bar and creative space 📷@adrien__david
Right on the banks of the upper reaches of the Canal Saint Martin, this multi-level bar with ample outdoor terrace space is housed in a former warehouse for Art Deco construction materials. This striking concrete space right next to a working fire station was a popular artist’s squat in 2004 and today continues to showcase local art and culture with regular exhibitions and music gigs. If you want to meet interesting people, and get under the skin of the city’s creative scene, then Le Point Ephémère is the place to do it. The drinks and events are all very affordable, so it’s popular amongst local students.
Address: 200 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris
There you have it, 19 of the best bars in Paris. Let us know how many you’ve been to, or add to the conversation with a few recommendations of your own.
Katie McKnoulty is a nomadic freelance branding strategist and travel blogger. Originally from Australia, she roams the world for her travel blog, The Travelling Light, a blog for travellers, nomads and seekers, a collection of unique places, people and journal entries from her life as a digital nomad. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. She travels to find the soul in places, she lives to find secret places and people creating amazing things.