Finding Jazz in The City of Lights

13 Sep 2016

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Jazz and Paris have always been lovers. During the roaring twenties, flamboyant Americans creating the scene included clarinettist Sidney Bechet and singer/dancer Josephine Baker; in the 30s the Hot Club de France and Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt made wind.

Then there was the post WWII jazz boom with Miles Davis and friends in Saint Germaine. More recent influences came from the musically talented immigrants from North African, Africa and Eastern Europe on the right bank.

Jazz in Paris today has many flavours. Here are some of the addresses for the best places to catch a concert.

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Couple watches live jazz concert in club
You'll be spoilt for choice for live jazz in Paris. Photo: Getty Images

Duc des Lombards

It’s chic, sophisticated and usually swinging. Top American acts on the bill include Herbie Hancock, but you can also find Latin jazz and funk outfits to boot. Be prepared for a sit down affair that calls for a drink or three.

42 Rue des Lombards, 75001

Sunset Sunside

Upstairs is sunside and downstairs is sunset, with styles ranging from jazz fusion and electro through to modern jazz.

60 Rue des Lombards, 75001

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Le Caveau de la Huchette jazz club
One of Paris's original jazz haunts. Photo: Le Caveau de la Huchette

Le Caveau de la Huchette

One of the original jazz haunts, La Caveau de la Huchette is situated in a large cellar in the heart of St Michel, the Latin Quarter. Count Basie, Art Blakey and Lionel Hampton all played here and now swing and trad bands will have a slightly older crowd swing dancing the night away.

5 Rue de la Huchette 75005

New Morning

Inaugurated by Art Blakey et the Jazz Messengers in 1981, this club in the lively 10th arrondissement remains one of the best places for jazz. It’s mainly standing room so you can dance and circulate, or perch on a bar stool and sip wine. The stage has been graced by the likes of Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Nina Simone. Today there’s also afro jazz, soul and much more.

Rue des Petites Écuries, 75010 Paris

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Le Caveau des Oubliettes jazz club Paris
An intimate jazz cellar in the Latin quarter. Photo: Le Caveau des Oubliettes

Le Caveau des Oubliettes

Open till 4am on weekends, this intimate jazz cellar on a cute cobbled lane in the Latin Quarter also hosts many jam sessions. Get amongst it and practice your French on a young saxophonist or ten waiting their turn to play.

52 Rue Galande, 75005 Paris

Autour de Midi et Minuit

If you’ve spent the day exploring the backstreets of charming Montmartre, you can drift down to this jazz cellar on the famous Rue Lepic for some bossa, swing or trad, or to catch one of the regular jam sessions.

11 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris

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Le Petit Journal Montparnasse dinner theatre in Paris
Enjoy dinner and a show in Montparnasse. Photo: Le Petit Journal Montparnasse

Le Petit Journal Montparnasse

It’s not cheap, but it’s comfortable and respectable for a dinner-concert with styles ranging from New Orleans and Latin to Gospel.

13 Rue du Commandant René Mouchotte, 75014 Paris

Le Petit Journal

Wonder through the gorgeous Jardin de Luxembourg before catching a splash of Dixieland, big band or swing in this atmospheric downstairs den. 

71 Boulevard Saint-Michel

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Jazz singer in beautiful club
Paris offers a range of jazz to suit every ear. Photo: Getty Images

Bab-Ilo

Styles include bossa, samba and Brazilian as well as Afro jazz and more traditional styles. You can also get a good couscous! You’ll feel right at home in this intimate,

9 Rue du Baigneur, 75018 Paris

Jazz in Cafés

You can also find jazz in cafés, restaurants and even boats all over town. Usually these shows are free entry but the musicians will pass a hat. If you like the music, be generous and they’ll appreciate it!

 Australian jazzman David Lewis 'and friends' play every Sunday at 7pm (from October) at Loupascalou café (14 Rue des Panoyaux in the 20th arrondisement- Métro Ménilmontant).  The music is always excellent so get there early to ensure your seat.

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Four musicians playing jazz instruments
Get your toes tapping with these Paris jazz festivals. Photo: Getty Images

Jazz Festivals

There are several annual jazz festivals in Paris, including:

Paris Jazz Festival

Enjoy jazz in the pretty Parc Floral over June and July with a weekly theme, ranging from Classical Jazz through to Afro-Cuban.

Jazz à la Vilette

In the Vilette Park in the 19th, jazz plays with its boundaries for ten days in early September. The line-up could include names such as Archie Shepp and Erik Truffaz.

Saint Germaine Jazz Festival

This swinging festival takes place on the Left Bank in churches, theatres, universities and cultural centres.  An international line-up makes it this May festival a great day out for jazz lovers. 

Ruby Boukabou

Ruby Boukabou is a travel, culture and food reporter based between Paris, Sydney and North Africa. Ruby has written for dozens of publications including Qantas in-flight magazine, The Age (Life & Style), National Geographic (Paris guide), The Australian (Travel), Issimo Magazine and The Sydney Morning Herald. She has also reported for ABC and SBS and is principal of Ruby TV. When not working as a journalist, Ruby is often performing. She co-directs the Paris Tap Crew and is a member of Paris based jazz/world music group Le Shuffle Project.