Paris has been a jazz haven since the 1930s, second only to New York City. Almost a century later, the city is still known for its jazz clubs, where on any given night in Paris you can easily find at least a half dozen live concerts at different venues throughout the city. The Left Bank is particularly interesting for the variety of clubs and programming, from tiny cellars and cozy cocktail bars to dinner concerts and jam sessions where everyone’s dancing.
You don’t have to be a fan of jazz music to enjoy the energy and atmosphere of the Paris jazz scene. While there are concerts in large venues featuring international stars, many of the smaller clubs are accessible – and affordable – for anyone curious enough to step inside. Here’s a primer on the best ones on the Left Bank to help you choose.
In this article:
Historic Cellar Clubs
Caveau de la Huchette
Caveau de la Huchette
5, rue de la Huchette, 5th
Metro St-Michel or Cluny-Sorbonne
Open nightly from 9pm until 2:30am (until 4am on Friday, Saturday, and holidays).
Concerts begin at 9:30pm.
Entry €14 (€16 on Friday, Saturday and holidays); €10 for students under 25 with student ID.
Drinks are available under €10 (no requirement to purchase drinks). Coat check available.
According to legend, the Knights of Templar met in this cellar in the 16th century, followed the Free Masons in the 18th century. It’s been a jazz hotspot since 1946, where all of the great jazz legends played, from Sidney Bechet to Lionel Hampton. Today it hosts jazz, swing, and blues concerts, with jam sessions open to all musicians on Monday nights. This is one of the few jazz venues where you can dance — and many do! If you prefer to sit and watch, make sure to get there as soon as the doors open at 9pm to get one of the seats along the benches surrounding the dance floor, or up on the mezzanine tables for the best views. It’s very casual, with people chatting amongst themselves, and coming and going to the bar upstairs, during the concerts.
11 Rue des Canettes, 6thMetro Odéon
Bar open daily 6pm-2am (until 1am Sunday-Monday); concerts Tuesdays 8pm-11pm.
Concert tickets €12. Reservations online highly recommended.
Drinks and cheese/meat platters available for €4-€10.
Opened by Georges Abbe and his wife Minouche in 1952, this popular bar is now run by their kids, and has barely changed at all over the past 25 years, despite how stylish the neighborhood has become. Like the Caveau de la Huchette, there’s no dress code here. The ground floor bar is open to anyone if you can find a corner to cram into. The prices are more than reasonable, with many wines and their house Sangria available at €5/glass or under €25/bottle. The cellar is only for those who have purchased tickets to the concerts (when full, you’ll see a “soirée privé” sign on the stairs).
They host Swing and Jazz Manouche (aka Gypsy jazz) concerts every Tuesday night, with a different group each time. You’ll want to get there at 7:45pm to make sure you get a good spot near the front. There’s a dedicated bar and coat check downstairs; once you have your table your order will be taken and brought to you. This is convenient because it’s such a small venue (about 40 spots on chairs, stools and benches) that once you’re seated and the music begins, it’s really difficult to walk around. There are three sets from 8pm-11pm, with breaks in between so everyone can stretch their legs and chat (no one talks while the musicians are playing). A great venue if you want to experience an intimate atmosphere up close and personal with the musicians and fellow music lovers.
Hotel Bar Concerts
Wilde’s Lounge at L’Hotel
13 rue des Beaux-Arts, 6th
Bar open daily from 5pm-1am. Concerts Thursdays from 7:30pm-11pm.
Free entry, no reservations. Cocktails from €25.
There are free jazz concerts in the bar of the luxury boutique hotel, L’Hotel, where the 19th-century writer Oscar Wilde famously died. These concerts are part of the neighborhood’s Jeudi des Beaux Arts event to promote the art galleries along the Rue des Beaux Arts on Thursday nights (usually a popular evening for vernissages, or show openings).
Wilde’s Lounge, which has expanded into the space that used to house the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant (now closed), is one of my favorite cocktail bars for its plush, boudoir-style décor full of marble and fringed velvet, perfect for a date. You’ll want to get there by 7:15pm if you want to be sure to get a table before the music starts at 7:45pm (possibly earlier in high tourist season). Given the steep price of the fabulous cocktails — and the rooms, should you be lucky enough to stay here — the crowd tends to be a bit better dressed than at the venues mentioned above. The musicians, usually a duo or trio with piano and vocalist, are placed at the far end of the lounge. If you can’t get a table, or prefer to be able to chat more freely with your companion(s), grab one of the stools or sofa across from the bar, which is in a smaller room connecting the lounge to the hotel’s lobby.
Café Laurent at Hôtel D’Aubusson
33 Rue Dauphine, 6th
Bar open daily 4:30pm until midnight; concerts Monday through Saturday from 8:30pm-11pm (additional solo sessions on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6:30pm-7:45pm).
Free entry, no reservations. Cocktails from €19, other drinks (including teas) from €10. Bar snacks from €16.
According to the hotel’s history, the Café Laurent has been open since the late 17th-century (about the same as the nearby Procope), and its cellar became one of the neighborhood’s most popular jazz clubs — under the name Le Tabou — back in 1947. Today the jazz concerts take place in the elegant ground-level lounge bar of the Café Laurent, with windows overlooking the busy Rue Dauphine. This may be one of the easiest jazz venues to visit without much commitment or advance planning, since entry is free and there are concerts every night but Sunday. The program is on their website and posted in the hotel lobby if you want to check out who’s playing (it will often be pianist Christian Brenner, the club’s program director, along with a vocalist, bassist and saxophonist).
There are comfy upholstered chairs and low tables for guests around the piano, as well as seating at the long bar. There’s a full drinks menu, as well as tapenade spreads and sweets like macarons if you’re hungry. There are two sets in the evenings at 8:30pm and 9:45pm, and two sets for the soloists on Wednesday and Thursday at 6:30pm and 7:15pm. If you want to be able to chat, there’s another cozy lounge with a huge fireplace on the other side of the bar, and an interior courtyard with a few tables for some fresh air.
Dinner Concert Clubs
141 Rue de Tolbiac, 13th
Metro Tolbiac or Olympiade
Bar open 5pm-2am Tuesday – Saturday. Restaurant/concerts 8pm-10pm (although they often start later and go longer).
Tickets €10-€15 purchased in advance, €12-€17 at the door. Reservations highly recommended.
One of the best-kept secrets (so far), this address was once home to one of the oldest cinemas in Paris, dating back to 1911. It closed in 1983 and was occupied by artist squatters until it was finally demolished in 2011 and replaced with public housing. Le Barbizon restaurant-bar-club opened at street level just after the final pandemic restrictions were lifted in 2021. They host jazz, blues, funk, and world music concerts on a small stage overlooking a dining room and bar.
They take great pride in their homemade food, so when you book your ticket (always cheaper in advance than at the door), you have the option to reserve a table. The menu includes gourmet burgers for €24, charcuterie or cheese platters (€15-€20), and salads. There’s a children’s menu at €15, and “formules” with drinks included from €35 (solo)-€45 (duo). If you just want to drink or snack, you’re seated or standing at the bar, depending on space). Cocktails are €12, other drinks from €4.50 and up.
The acts playing here come from Paris and all over the world, with a great variety of styles. There are also a few regulars, including New Orleans native Jeff Boudreaux’s “Mumbo Gumbo Brass Band”. Wednesday nights are jam sessions honoring legendary musicians; tickets are €10 for watching (and a €7 fee added to any drinks to pay the musicians), or free if you’re participating. After the concerts, the musicians usually join the crowd at the bar to hang out. There’s no dancing, but the atmosphere is friendly and casual; no dress code.
Petit Journal Saint Michel
Petit Journal St-Michel
71 Boulevard Saint-Michel, 5th
RER Luxembourg or Metro Cluny-Sorbonne
Restaurant open from 7:30pm Tuesday-Saturday. Concerts from 9pm.
Entrance €25 (including first drink) or dinner-concert for €70-€75 (includes entrance, food, and service, but not drinks). Drinks €8-€15. Bar snacks €25-€32.
Reservations via online form or by calling 01 43 26 28 59.
Going strong since 1971, the Petit Journal is a restaurant and club known for New Orleans Jazz and swing acts, such as regulars Les Dixieland Seniors. The atmosphere is fun and friendly, no dress code expected. They’ve added a small area to dance, although most people are seated for dinner. The room is long and narrow, with the musicians at the far end, so you’ll want to decide if you’d rather sit closer for a good view (but know that it will be harder to hear anyone at your table) or further away so you can more easily chat (but risk not seeing much).
When reserving (recommended if you’re more than two people), you’ll need to either call or fill out their online reservation for with the date, number of people, and whether you’re eating or just drinking, and wait for their confirmation. Despite these old school hurdles, they have a loyal and dedicated following of regulars from around the world.
If you plan on eating, be sure to check the menu, which is quite limited (main dish choices are duck confit, rump steak, veal kidneys, or roast cod). Bar snacks like cheese platters or plate of snails start at €25. I haven’t eaten there (no vegan options), and the reviews seem to advise people to stick to the music and the drinks.
Other Left Bank Venues
Le Piano Vache
8 rue Laplace, 5th
Métro Cardinal Lemoine
Bar open Monday-Saturday 4:30pm-2am; jazz manouche concerts Monday nights from 9:15pm.
Free entry, no reservations, drink purchase required.
This student dive bar has been going strong since the 1970s, with its heydays as a rock bar in the 80s. The walls and ceilings in the warren of successive rooms are covered with decades of layered photos, magazine pages, concerts flyers and even student ID photos. They started Monday night live jazz about 15 years ago (the other evenings are dedicated to other kinds of music, but not live). Grab a drink at the bar before finding a spot at one of the heavy wooden tables (if you get there early enough; otherwise you might be standing).
166, boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th
MetroMabillon or St-Germain-des-PrésBar-restaurant open daily 9am-2:30am (until 12:30am Sun-Mon, until 1:30am Tues-Wed)
Concerts Sundays and Mondays 8:30pm-10:30pm
Free entry, €1 added to drink prices during concerts.
This historic neighborhood institution was first opened in 1932 by a rum importer. Today they have jazz concerts twice every week in a festive, laid-back atmosphere overlooking the busy Boulevard St-Germain. Of course you’ll want to try the rum cocktails, and if hungry, the Creole and West Indies snacks from €5-€15.
Les Deux Magots
6, Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 6th
Open daily 7:30am-1am, jazz concerts Thursday nights from 7:30pm-10:30pm.
Free entry, but you’ll need to order something to drink and/or eat.
Reservations are highly recommended by phone 01 45 48 55 25 or online
Les Deux Magots is one of the most famous St-Germain cafés. On Thursday evenings they host a jazz trio (usually a vocalist, pianist and bass) for some light jazz (or swing, be-bop, blues) while tourists and regulars eat at the tables and booths (make sure when you reserve you tell them you want to see the jazz so you’re within eyesight).
Le Bal Blomet
33 rue Blomet, 15th
Metro Sèvres-Lecourbe or Volontaires
Bar-restaurant open from 7pm, concerts Wednesday through Friday from 8pm.
Most tickets €22-€25. Reserve your spot online or at FNAC. Full bar and light foods available.
This self-described cabaret hosts all kinds of music and performances, but primarily jazz, in a spacious concert venue that seats 250 people, one of the largest of its kind on the Left Bank. The original jazz club here first opened in 1924; the one you see today was completely rebuilt in 2017 after changing hands for several decades.
ParisJazzClub.net is a great place to start for information about where to enjoy jazz in Paris. It’s in French and English, and includes the program for most of the venues it lists. They also offer a membership card for €40/year that gives you entry into seven free concerts each month, as well as discounts and other benefits.
L’Officiel des Spectacles, online or offline, is also a great resource to find all of the jazz concert listing in Paris, such as the Châtelet Fait son Jazz jazz festival at the Théâtre du Châtelet March 5-12.
Note: Café Universel on Rue St Jacques and Jazz Café Montparnasse are permanently closed.
We are active jazz lovers in our 60’s and 70’s who can’t sit still to good live music, so are looking for places to dance. I realize that space is at a premium in Paris, but are there places farther out from the center of the city where we can dance to live bands, as we do here in California? (Caveau de la Huchette is too crowded these days–I’ve been there numerous times from 1972 to 2022.)