Where To Hear Jazz In Paris – The Best Jazz Clubs & Festivals

It's said that jazz music was introduced in Paris by black American soldiers stationed here in World War I; and there's a true history behind that assertion. During that First War a New York regiment composed solely of black soldiers, named the 369th Infantry, was sent to Europe. However, since white American soldiers refused to serve with them, the 369th was assigned to the French Army, who were less concerned with race. The regiment served with distinction.

The 369th Infantry also had a band, led by a musician named Jim Europe. (We're not making this up.) As the regiment marched, the band played — not just military marches, but current music like ragtime and a nascent form of jazz. The band played for both military and civilian audiences. Soon, the nightclubs of Paris were full of Black soldiers who remained in Europe to enjoy the good life. Thus, the jazz craze took hold in Paris, where great jazz is still being played in festivals and in clubs around the city.


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Jazz Festivals in Paris

Paris Jazz Festival

Today there are annual jazz festivals in Paris. The biggest one is the Paris Jazz Festival, a sprawling music happening in Parc Floral (in the Bois de Vincennes) running from mid-June to the end of July, with performances most days.

Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés, on the other hand, is a festival held the heart of the Left Bank running for ten days at the end of May. Performances are staged in iconic venues in the quartier like Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Odéon Theatre, the Sorbonne, and Hotel Lutetia.

Not to be outdone, the 19th Arrondissement is home to Jazz de la Villette during in the first two weeks of September, with performances in the glorious music venues in the Cité de la Musique.

Paris Jazz Festivals Resources

The Top Jazz Clubs in Paris

Duc Des Lombards, Wynton Marsalis by Christian Ducasse

Paris likes to call itself the Jazz Capital of the World. We're not going to argue that either way, but jazz is certainly alive and well here, and there are a lot of great clubs where the music is played live every night. What are the best clubs? If you ask that of any ten Paris jazz lovers you're likely to get ten different answers.

For the best advice on where to go to hear the bebop, we've used two authorities. The official visitor's website for the Paris region chose clubs that represent the region's best jazz. The Guardian newspaper took a different route — asking jazz musicians, record company directors, and music journalists to each choose their favorite club. Below, we'll take a look at the top clubs those sources named.


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The Paris Region Website

Duc des Lombards

    One of the most prestigious jazz clubs in the city, with high-concept design and great acoustics.
    42 Rue des Lombard, 1st Arrondissement
    Also on Rue des Lombard, this club is described as "raunchier" (perhaps they mean more low key) and more eclectic.
    58 Rue des Lombard, 1st Arrondissement
    For over 60 years this Latin Quarter jazz club in a cavern has hosted the likes of Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, and the best of today's musicians.
    5 Rue de la Huchette, 5th Arrondissement
    More nostalgic, specializing in New Orleans jazz.
    71 Boulevard Saint-Michel, 5th Arrondissement
    This bistro serves up not only classic dishes, but jazz from Tuesday to Saturday nights.
    3 Rue Saint-Benoit, 6th Arrondissement
    Up in Montmartre, restaurant Autour de Midi et Minuit turns its cellar into a jazz club Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
    11 Rue Lepic, 18th Arrondissement


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The Guardian Newspaper's Panel of Music Experts

La Cave Du 38 Riv

    Newly refurbished with Art Deco design and subtle lighting, this club has seen the likes of Cab Calloway, BB King, and Lionel Hampton
    81 Boulevard Gouvion-Saint-Cyr, 17th Arrondissement
    A terrace and wood-fired pizza oven aren't the only attractions here. The music is leading edge for "open-minded jazz people".
    Parc de la Villette, 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 19th Arrondissement
    Baiser Salé also makes the Guardian's list due to its low cost and unplugged sound system — here's no amplification. (By the way, the Guardian also names Duc des Lombard.)
    58 Rue des Lombard, 1st Arrondissement
    Like a jazz club from the 1950s or 1960s, says jazz saxophonist Thomas Ibanez about this place. He also likes the cavern it's in.
    38 Rue de Rivoli, the Marais, 4th Arrondissement
    A stripped-down decor, but this club has hosted greats like Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, and Dexter Gordon. Prince (The Purple One) said it was his favourite club in Paris.
    7-9 Rue des Petites Écuries, 10th Arrondissement
    A third club on Rue des Lombards is the pick of singer-songwriter Irina R. It's actually two rooms — Sunside on the ground floor and Sunset in the basement space.
    60 Rue des Lombards, 1st Arrondissement

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