Paris Bars & Nightlife
La Conserverie (Closed)
37 Rue du Sentier, 2nd
There's a bit of an identity crisis at this much-loved spot, but it totally works. For one, the décor is American Gothic meets industrial (galvanized tubing stretches across the ceiling, the bar is backed by antique crates, and old-fashioned prints of tools dot the walls). And for two, the menu morphs dramatically throughout the day. Breakfast tends to be American (pancakes, eggs, and hash), lunch is Japanese bento boxes, and then it morphs into a full-on bar, with excellent (and complex) cocktails at night.
Le Baron (Closed)
6 Ave. Marceau, 8th
Though it has spidered into cities across the globe (there are now locations in Tokyo and New York), Le Baron in Paris is the original, and it's still our favorite. For one, it's small and intimate (it holds only 150); for two, the DJs are some of the best in the world; for three, those who make it past the tough door always turn it into a great party. Meanwhile, the red-hued décor takes a deep bow to the building's former life as an upscale brothel.
52 Rue de Saintonge, 3rd
This is Paris's version of La Esquina, complete with a doorman to hold back the crowds. Up front, you'll find a teeny-tiny tacqueria, with fresh tortillas and a roster of toppings, whipped up under the watchful eye of the Mexico City–born chef. There's a hidden door in the back that opens into a cozy bar, which offers some of the more inventive (and delicious) tequila cocktails in the city.
Le Baron Rouge
1 Rue Théophile Roussel, 12th
While it's not required, locals bring their own glass bottles and fill them with wine from the barrels near the door. This is not a place for picky oenophiles as the wine here is more the "house" variety, but it's still a great place to put back a few glasses with some small plates.
1 Bis Passage St. Sébastien, 11th
This one-room wine bar requires a walk down a very long (and at night, scarily dark) passage, but the music, lively crowd, and simple but solid menu of French small plates justify the gauntlet. While Aux Deux Amis down the street may tempt with a similar wine bar concept, it gets way too packed: Au Passage, which also feels a bit more grown-up, easily wins out.
Le Verre Volé
67 Rue de Lancry, 10th
Part wine shop, part bistro, Le Verre Volé draws a reliably large crowd despite its tiny footprint (you'll want to make a reservation unless you're just stopping in to pick up a bottle). There's a wine shop in the 11th (38 rue Oberkampf) as well as a sandwich shop (54 rue de la Folie Méricourt).
Verjus Bar à Vins
47 Rue Montpensieur, 1st
Tucked away beneath its parent restaurant upstairs (the excellent, prix-fixe Verjus) this more casual bar à vin lives in a cool vaulted cave and serves innovative small plates. Bonus: The wine list is top notch.
Septime La Cave
3 Rue Basfroi, 11th
While you can take your low-sulfite wine to go at this former shoe repair shop, you can also grab a seat at the bar and snack while you drink: Sardines, fois gras, and cheese all get the Septime treatment here.
34 Rue Duperré, 9th
A wildly ornate bas-relief ceiling—moodily lit by Versailles-worthy chandeliers—is actually not the first indication that this isn't your average bar (that would be the gigantic birdcage at the entrance). Occupying the former mansion of composer Georges Bizet (hence the name, Carmen), this Pigalle club gets particularly busy around fashion week, when any number of designers host their after-parties here. While DJs play until 4 a.m. on weekends, the space hosts more-civilized affairs, too: For example, the literary magazine A Tale of Three Cities uses it to hold a monthly book club.
142 Rue Montmartre, 2nd
Leave it to the mind behind Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet to engineer Paris's most labyrinth-like club—in one of the city's most culturally significant buildings. Constructed in the late 19th century as a publishing press for France's leftist newspapers, Émile Zola printed "J'Accuse" there in 1898, and rumor has it that Molière might be buried in its hallowed ground. For its 2011 opening, David Lynch designed the entire, garret-like space himself, from the futuristic theater to the wood-block lined passageway to the '60s-style bar. Until midnight, it's a private club with screenings, talks, and private exhibits; after midnight, it's a full-on dance club with some of Europe's best DJs.