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Party at Fabric, London
Life and Style

Paris vs London : which city has the best nightlife ?

By M B
29/03/2011

 

 

Foreword

This article is not the diary of an adventurous party animal looking for a life devoted to debauched fun. Please consider it as a  piece of highly accurate sociological comparative field work about English and French night-life. The truth is that I wanted to know, once and for all, which city, between Paris and London, had the best nightlife. So, in the name of research, I have been working very hard over the past 7 months -sometimes until the very early hours of the morning... And this has put me in a very good position to determine which of the two capitals is the best city to party at.

 

The Eiffle Tower: Probably the Best Place to spend the night in Paris
The Eiffel Tower: Probably the Best Place to spend the night in Paris


Long ago, Paris was labelled as the world's capital of chic and glamour, no other city could have been more far removed from cold and puritanical London. The French 'folie' was much appreciated by a wide range of partygoers, especially the rich tourists looking for a night of classy debauchery. But things have changed, and Paris is no longer the top destination for cosmopolitan dandies in search of a thrill. All Francophiles and French people who were lucky enough to live through the time when the French capital was proud of its reputation for excess now have to face the truth : Paris may just have lost it. Of course, there are still many marvellous places to visit, from a boat ride on the Seine to a ruinous shopping trip down the Champs Elysees, not to mention the tour of the Palace of Versailles, The Notre Dame Cathedral, and The Louvre Museum. No one will dispute the fact that Paris is beautiful....but when it comes to partying at night, in comparison with London, the French capital loses its lustre.

 

No doubt you may disagree with me – I know Paris is a sacred city of sorts and to criticise it is tantamount to blasphemy – but my comparative and relatively unbiased experiences of London and Paris are what have led me to this conclusion . Let me explain why in 5 points.

 

1. Party spirit : cold Parisians versus friendly Londoners

 

This may be purely subjective, but I do believe that the English attitude is much more friendly and straightforward than its French counterpart. I am used to French parties which are often a sort of contest where the only goal is to draw attention to yourself, to seem more social than you really are. In contrast, I have found English people incredibly warm and friendly. Is it due to binge drinking ? I do not think so- at least not solely- as downing bottles over as short a time as possible is much appreciated by Parisians as well. I would simply say that it is about their mentality : the French go out to be seen, the English just go out to have the time of their lives, whenever...and wherever. On the contrary, 'in Paris, it is simply impossible to pub-crawl in the street as you could do in London. Some bars are cool, but clubs are not really attractive. And you really have to know precisely in which club you want to enter', says Julien, a Paris-born expatriate living in London.

 

Whoever said London night clubs were not chic had not been to Movida
Whoever said London night clubs were not chic had not been to Movida


 

2. Atmosphere : 'When the night quietly dies' in Paris, the party goes on in London

 

Amid complaints that Parisian nightlife suffers by comparison with a city like London, more than 16,000 Parisians have signed a petition entitled 'When the Night Quietly Dies', protesting against the closure of leading bars and clubs in Paris - many clubs are closing before 2am - as well as the strict rules on noise and the smoking regulations. But the main concern is about the atmosphere of the city : you may have spent a great night which ended at 3am in London but been boring in Paris, even if clubs can now stay open until 7am. As you may understand, it is not about the length of the party so much as the atmosphere. The petitioners claim that 'the city of Light' is in danger of becoming the 'European Capital of Sleep'. Hard to disagree. Even on the New Year's Eve, Paris is unbelievably quiet : 'I was really disappointed when I saw that there were neither fireworks nor big parties in Paris on 31st December', Pauline, a 22 year-old student living in Paris, says.

 

3. Paris's mythical places....which places ?

 

Les Bains-Douches, le Régine, la Locomotive : Parisians have had some of the most hyped clubs in the world at their disposal. But the scene has been in steady decline since its golden age in the 1960's. Nowadays, each year more and more mythical places are closing (either temporarily or permanently), or have their night licenses revoked. La Locomotive, once a regular venue for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, located just below the Moulin Rouge, had to close after being heavily fined because of complaints that its amplifiers were too loud. The Paris anti-noise legislation is actually surprisingly strict. Les Bains-Douches, which welcomed Andy Warhol, Mel Gibson, Prince, Mick Jagger, Madonna, Jack Nicholson closed last year because of dilapidation. Even Pigalle is now a sort of gloomy desert. Has Paris lost its soul ? Actually it has lost its 'vedettes' (stars): the most famous DJs in the world - some of them are French - have crossed the Channel and prefer performing in London. Fabric and The Ministry of Sound are now ruling Western European electro. Au revoir Paris.

 

The Clubbing Institution that was La Loco has now been replaced by La Machine do Moulin Rouge
The Clubbing Institution that was La Loco has now been replaced by La Machine du Moulin Rouge

 

4. The weird Parisian bouncers...

Another problem for anyone who has already been clubbing in Paris is the weird and ambiguous way the bouncers refuse entry to some people. Should they dislike your look, then I am afraid you'll be spending your night on the wrong side of the red rope. The most famous scandal occurred in 2007 when French anti-racist NGO SOS Racism sued the very famous club Le Queen for discrimination. The least one can say is that  it is much easier to get into London clubs, and this has nothing to do with lower standards on this side of the pond. They are simply more tolerant. Paris clubs have gone too far in declaring that 'the more cliquey the club is, the better'. At the end of the day, all this has done is earned them a bad reputation. 'Whether you spend a lot of money by buying a bottle, whether you can't enter', Pauline says as a conclusion.

 

5. Transports : when clubbing in Paris turns to an expedition

It is fair to say that going back home after a clubbing night in Paris can often be a long, tortuous and sometimes risky adventure. Unless you are courageous enough to wait for the first tube at 6.00am, you will probably have to walk back home. Indeed, Noctilien, the night bus service  in Paris, is just insufficient, whereas transports in London is far more frequent and safer, as the large crowds at at all hours increase the sense of security. 'The Noctilien buses ? It is just weird!' says Irène, living in Paris. The most common way to go back home in Paris is to take a taxi. But you wallet won't thank you for it.

 

The most reliable way of getting home after a night out...but also the most expensive
The most reliable way of getting home after a night out...but also the most expensive



As a French expatriate experiencing London night-life this year (and I'm certainly having a laugh discovering it), I have really understood why it is one of the best in Europe. It undoubtedly goes some way to explaining the  high number of  Parisian people who fly away from their home town in order to party-on elsewhere. "Paris" as they say "est mort"...vive London. However, there are of course good clubs in both of the cities...and we have listed them in an amazing top 5 !

 

Top 5 Best Clubs in Paris and London

 

  PARIS LONDON
1.

Le Baron

6 Avenue Marceau, 75008 Paris

http://www.clublebaron.com/

The Box

11-12 Walkers Court, W1F 0ED

(020) 7434 4374

2.

Le Queen

102 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris

http://www.queen.fr/

Ministry of Sound

103 Gaunt Street,  Greater London SE1 6DP

http://www.ministryofsound.com/

3.

Le Cabaret

2 Place du Palais Royal 75 001 PARIS

http://www.cabaret.fr/

Fabric

77A Charterhouse St, EC1M 3HN,

http://www.fabriclondon.com/

4.

L'Arc

http://larc-paris.com/

Favela Chic

91-93 Great Eastern St, EC2A 3HZ

http://www.favelachic.com/london/

5.

Le Showcase

Port des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris

http://www.showcase.fr/

Notting Hill Arts Club

19-21 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3JQ

http://www.nottinghillartsclub.com/


COMMENTS:

06/07/2013 - Mikemontreal99 said :

Paris bars and clubs sucks ! There is racial profiling in bars by bouncers and doorman and hostess. We where deny entrance at hotel costes bar because we are foreigners and not with women...that could be very insulting to gays who show up for a nightcap minus any female friends !

26/04/2012 - holmescjg said :

As someone who has lived in both London and Paris (I am American), may I make a comment? London has never been 'puritanical'. It acquired a slight reputation for this in the 50s, when London was totally broke after winning the war. However, in the 20s and 60s, London was known as 'The World's Party Central' -Paris wasn't even on the map!. It was outrageous. Also, most New Yorkers and Londoners have always considered themselves more chic and more glamorous than Paris, which they consider to be provincial (think of the great stars who have lived in London, for example). Also, remember that many of the chicest places in London are 100% private! Like Annabel's, Arts Club, Tramp, Home House, Bouji's, Public, and many more. You can't move there for Euro aristos!

26/02/2012 - david.atlan14 said :

Native parisien and totaly agree it doesn't mean that you won't have fun in Paris but that london is 10 times funnier....parisien bouncers asking whether you are on the list or.. and Paris citizens who make this city dying. It's rather sad. What a shame!..david

08/04/2011 - angelina_ipanema said :

I completely agree Londoner nightlife is a wider array of different sort of parties and people are so much more friendly. However, I am so sorry I don't know who made this list, but he or she definitely doesn't know anything about a proper Parisian night. That list makes me laught so much "Le Baron", "Le cabaret" are definitely not places to go except if you like the Paris Hilton style and commercial music ! I Give you some tips in order to meet friendly parisians and a higher quality of music than this list:

If you like electronic music, go to "Le Rex Club", which opened by the well-known Laurent Garnier. That place still provides a quite underground spirit and is filled with musical lovers. Overall people are quite nice and open-minded compared to another (la Baron, le Queen, le Cabaret etc…), and go there in order to listen stunning sound.The leitmotiv of this place is the music. Most of the DJ are heavyweights and always play at the Rex Club when they come to Paris. However new DJs always open the ball what is cool as well. That place is not big at all compared to the Fabric, Ministry of Sound, but it is a nice experience to be able to see exactly how the Dj manages his/her set !

5 Boulevard Poissonnière
75002 Paris, France
01 42 36 10 96

Nowadays, the incontrovertible "Social Culb" is completely stunning if you want to have a crazy night. Quite difficult to categorise this club which offers a wide choice of different parties such as all sorts of electronic music, Hip Hop… a bit underground with younger people than the REX (18-25 years old), but the DJ, bands featuring at the Social Club can be well-known or completely anonymous but they always give their best, as the dance floor is small and you almost can touch them enjoying this amazing view. Anyway it is quite normal to see them at the counter and you easily can have a chat and a drink with them and that is so nice !

142 Rue Montmartre
75002 Paris, France
01 40 28 05 55

Le Scopitone is quite a new place where parisians go. I can't speak to much about it, as I have been there just few times. But, I really like their concept to provide a mix up of parties and concerts. The room is quite small too, but you really enjoy these indescribable energies. However, in my point of view drinks are definitely too expensive €12 so avoid to get drunk at the Scopitone !

5 Avenue de l'Opéra
75001 Paris, France
01 42 60 64 45

Paris is 10 times smaller than London, so it is so normal to pop in different places walking. I can tell you, if Paris was dead, therefore Paris has risen from the ashes ;-)

PS: sorry about the spelling mistakes

01/04/2011 - fischels said :

I agree Paris is so beautiful, but still European mentality..........gouvernament and police.........and the people...
Sorry but London have more free and safety life, but not everywhere.....

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