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.
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
Upstairs is sunside and downstairs is sunset, with styles ranging from jazz fusion and electro through to modern jazz.
60 Rue des Lombards, 75001
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
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
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
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
Styles include bossa, samba and Brazilian as well as Afro jazz and more traditional styles. You can also get a good couscous! Small, friendly and fun.
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.
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.