Paris and jazz have a history almost as long as jazz itself.
Although jazz was born in the United States (arguably in New Orleans in the late 19th century), the form quickly spread to Europe, as many African-American “jazzmen” found that their brand of music was both taken more seriously and considered more acceptable across the ocean than back at home. Paris, in particular, opened its arms to these innovative musicians, many of whom settled in Paris after fighting in Europe during World War I. Many jazz historians feel that were it not for Paris’s whole-hearted welcome of jazz and African-American jazz musicians, the music might never have fully developed and found its place in the world.
From 1914 through the 1930’s, the hot spot for jazz in Paris was old Montmartre, a section of the city in which many African-American jazz musicians lived, and the site of many legendary jazz clubs, including Le Grand Duc and Bricktop’s. Decades later, the now ritzy streets just off of the Champs-Elysees were the place to go. Today, jazz can be found all over the city, from huge public venues, to small cozy settings, to a single musician blowing jazz standards on his sax on (or under) a bridge.
If you’re looking for a good venue to enjoy jazz on your trip to Paris, here are a few options.
1. Le Duc des Lombards.
This well-known jazz club has been around for nearly 25 years, and holds a reputation for being warm, intimate and open. Top-notch musicians from around the globe play here, including Steve Swallow, Michele Hendricks, Paolo Fresu. Known especially for its free jazz, you’ll be transported back to the ‘50’s and ‘60s from the first note.
42 rue des Lombards, 1st arrondissement, Paris. Tel. 01.42.33.22.88.
Admission: € 19-25, depending on the performers.
2. New Morning.
One of the most popular jazz clubs in Paris, New Morning holds about 300 people when at capacity, but still manages to have a personal vibe. In terms of décor, don’t expect anything fancy: there are only wooden folding chairs and small tables on which to place your drinks – but you’ll forget about that once the music starts. Buy your ticket in advance, if possible. The lines for tickets the night of a particular concert can get pretty long.
7-9 Rue des Petites Ecuries, 10th arrondissement, Paris. Tel: 01 45 23 56 39.
Admission: € 10, approx.
3. Café Laurent.
This low-key hotel jazz bar has yet to become a big name in Paris, but as far as I’m concerned – that’s great. This is my favorite place to kick back on a comfortable sofa, order a (really well-made) cocktail, and listen to some first-rate jazz. The Christian Brenner trio plays every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, and often invites guest musicians and vocalists from around the world to join them.
33 rue Dauphine, 6th arrondissement, Paris. Tel. 01 43 29 03 33.
Admission: No cover, just one €10 drink minimum after 9pm.
4. Parc Floral Jazz Festival.
If you are a jazz-lover and happen to be in Paris in June and July, you’ll definitely have to check out the annual Jazz Festival at the beautiful Parc Floral de Paris. There are about 1500 seats available, but why not just take a blanket, a bottle of wine and a picnic basket and listen to blissful jazz on the grass, under blue skies? Concerts take place every Saturday and Sunday in June and July, starting from 3pm.
Parc Floral de Paris, boulevard de Ménilmontant, 20th arrondissement, Paris.
5. Autour de Midi…et Minuit.
Those who want to listen to jazz on the stomping grounds of the original jazzmen of the 1920’s and 1930’s, will enjoy this cozy club in Montmartre. Although it has not been around long – it opened in 2001 – it has made quite an impression on jazz aficionados. And with its lovely “double voutée” (double vaulted) stone ceilings, even people very into jazz must agree that the place wins top marks for atmosphere.
11, rue Lepic, 18th arrondissement, Paris. Tel.: 01.55.79.16.48
Top 5 Popular Hotels in Montmartre, Paris
- Hotel Le Relais Montmartre – 3-Star Hotel – Room Price: €155
- Le Char Noir Design Hotel – 2-Star Hotel – Room Price: €166
- Hotel de Flore – 2-Star Hotel – Room Price: €85
- Hotel Régyn’s Montmartre – 2-Star Hotel – Room Price: €91
- Timhotel Montmartre – 2-Star Hotel – Room Price: €79
Photo of Jazzmen playing on Arcole Bridge, Paris, by Mohsan