Parisians have embraced the free-spirited, improvised music of jazz since the 1940s, and now in the 21st century, it remains a city-wide obsession.
Local favorite Jazz Café Montparnasse may be currently shuttered, but the French capital is still chock-full of excellent spots to listen to live jazz. Here’s a brief history of how the genre came to be popular in Paris—and some of the best places in town for jazz fans to get their fix.
When did jazz arrive in Paris?
When World War II finally came to a close, Parisians were eager to kick back and have a good time after a spate of dark days. American soldiers and ex-pats brought jazz music across the pond, and it almost immediately took the capital by storm.
Soon it was flowing from the bohemian cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés on Paris’s Left Bank, and before long, jazz clubs began cropping up all over town. Paris became a veritable incubator for different genres of jazz music, including the gypsy jazz style pioneered by American and French musicians, such as Dizzy Gillespie and Django Reinhardt.
What quarter has the best jazz in Paris?
The Left Bank gave Paris its first taste of jazz, and to this day it is still home to some of the best jazz clubs in the City of Light. You’ll also find a bevy of excellent spots to listen to live jazz on Paris’s Right Bank.
If you’re looking for an authentic Parisian jazz experience, the Latin Quarter is a no-brainer. You can explore the area’s gastronomical landscape with a tasting tour, then wrap up the evening at one of the district’s lively jazz clubs.
What are the best places to listen to live jazz in Paris?
1. Le Duc des Lombards
Located on the corner of Rue des Lombards and Boulevard de Sébastopol, this typically Parisian jazz club was founded in the 1980s. Completely refurbished in the early aughts, Le Duc des Lombards has a classy ambiance, as well as excellent food and cocktails.
2. New Morning
New Morning also opened in the early ’80s, but the club has a decidedly different vibe than that found at Duc des Lombards—think jam session in a giant garage.
A slew of iconic jazz musicians has played shows here, including Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, and Chet Baker. Today you’ll find an eclectic mix of music played alongside jazz at the club.
3. Sunset-Sunside Jazz Club
The two-story Sunset-Sunside is an excellent place to take in authentic jazz music. Sunside is located on the ground floor, with Sunset situated beneath it in a large basement.
Many top-billed jazz musicians put on shows at this joint, and it’s also a great place to get introduced to up-and-coming musicians playing in a variety of styles.
4. 38Riv Jazz Club
If you’re looking for an old-school jazz club vibe, 38Riv fits the bill. As with many of the earliest Parisian jazz clubs, this one is located underground and doesn’t have a stage, so it has a laid-back feel to it. All kinds of jazz are played here, from bossa nova to gypsy jazz.
5. Jazz Club Etoile
Located in Le Méridien Etoile hotel, Jazz Club Etoile has been consistently delighting jazz music lovers for more than four decades. Some of jazz’s greatest musicians have played here, including Lionel Hampton, B.B. King, and Cab Calloway. Though the club’s interior was recently completely renovated, it retained its classic art-deco design.
6. Le Petit Journal Saint-Michel
Across from the popular Jardins de Luxembourg, Le Petit Journal Saint-Michel is a lovely little spot to take in a solid mix of traditional and Dixieland jazz, with a cluster of adorably old-school regular clientele.
7. La Petite Halle
Open-minded jazz people head to La Petite Halle to take in jazz in all of its iterations, classic and contemporary. Come for the innovative jazz performed by international and local musicians, and stay for the wood-fired pizza and the laid-back ambiance.
FAQs – Best Live Jazz in Paris (2024 & 2025)
Where can I watch jazz in Paris?
Paris boasts several iconic jazz clubs and venues where you can enjoy live performances. Some of the most renowned include Duc des Lombards, Sunset Sunside, New Morning, and Le Caveau de la Huchette. Each offers a unique atmosphere, from intimate settings to larger concert halls.
Is the jazz club in Emily in Paris real?
The jazz club featured in “Emily in Paris” captures the essence of Parisian jazz culture, but it’s a fictionalized setting created for the show. However, Paris is home to many real jazz clubs that offer a similar vibe and experience, such as Duc des Lombards and Le Caveau de la Huchette.
Is jazz still popular in Paris?
Yes, jazz remains very popular in Paris. The city has a rich jazz history that dates back to the 1920s, and today, Paris continues to be a vibrant hub for jazz music, with numerous clubs, festivals, and live performances happening throughout the year.
What are some must-visit jazz clubs in Paris?
Duc des Lombards, Sunset Sunside, and Le Caveau de la Huchette are must-visit clubs for any jazz enthusiast. Each venue offers a distinct experience, from traditional jazz to modern and experimental acts.
Can I find jazz performances in Paris every night?
Yes, in Paris, it’s possible to find live jazz performances every night of the week. The city’s jazz scene is active and dynamic, with clubs and venues hosting local and international artists regularly.
Are there any free jazz concerts in Paris?
Yes, there are opportunities to enjoy free jazz concerts in Paris, especially during the summer months. Parks, festivals, and some clubs offer free performances. Keep an eye on local event listings and cultural center schedules.
Do I need to book tickets in advance for jazz clubs in Paris?
For popular clubs and special performances, it’s advisable to book tickets in advance. Some venues might allow walk-ins, but booking ensures you get a seat, especially on weekends or for well-known artists.
What is the dress code for jazz clubs in Paris?
Most jazz clubs in Paris have a casual to smart-casual dress code. While not overly strict, dressing smartly can enhance the evening’s experience, reflecting the sophistication and history of Parisian jazz culture.
Are there any jazz festivals in Paris?
Paris hosts several jazz festivals throughout the year, such as the Paris Jazz Festival and Jazz à la Villette. These festivals attract a wide range of talent, from up-and-coming artists to international stars, and offer a great way to experience live jazz in different settings.
Is there a jazz scene beyond the clubs in Paris?
Yes! Beyond the clubs, Paris’s jazz scene thrives in outdoor concerts, cafes, and even some restaurants. The city’s cultural fabric is interwoven with jazz, making it accessible in various forms and settings across Paris.