Nightlife on the Seine: Péniches, Rooftops and Terraces

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Nightlife on the Seine: Péniches, Rooftops and Terraces

The summer season is upon us, and what better way to rejoice in its arrival than by enjoying the setting sun along the Seine? Between now and October, Parisians will flock to the riverbanks for a well-deserved evening apéro. Each local has their favorite spot – a péniche (river barge), a terrasse, or a rooftop. Here are a few of my favorite riverside bars– what’s your go-to locale?

Péniches

Before aviation and effective transportation by land, the Seine was the lifeline of France. Just about anything and everything was hauled up and down the river, with péniches (barges) filled with freight. Now that the movement of essential materials has taken to the skies, or at least the roads, these barges now have a different (though arguably still essential) use – for eating and drinking. How French!

Rosa Bonheur-sur-Seine

Port des Invalides, Quai d’Orsay, 75007

Situated by the grand golden statues of Pont Alexandre III next to Les Invalides, Rosa Bonheur-sur-Seine offers a magical setting for an evening of gazing at la Tour Eiffel across the water. Enjoy a delicious pizza made fresh to order, served with ice-cold drinks, while sitting either on deck or on the riverbank terrace. This péniche has been bringing the banks of the Seine to life since 2014; the original Rosa Bonheur is a popular spot in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

Polpo Plage

47 Quai Charles Pasqua, 92300 Levallois-Perret

A beach bar in Paris? Surely that’s not possible. Polpo, a fashionable riverside barge known for its impressive seafood menu, now also has a “beachfront” spot for cocktails and wine. If you are in search of a location that will transport you to the south of France, look no further. Secure your deckchair, lie back, and listen to the good music and the flow of the river.

Petit Bain 

7 Port de la Gare, 75013

À côté de the National Library (BNF- Francois Mitterand) in the 13th arrondissement, floats Petit Bain, an expansive cultural space consisting of a rooftop for drinks, a restaurant for eating, and a nightclub for dancing. Check their program for upcoming concerts and DJ sets, as well as workshops, yoga, and their well-valued formule du midi (17 euros) during the daytime.

 

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Péniche Antipode

55 Quai de la Seine, 75019

If you prefer live bands over DJ sets, then this peniche is for you. Péniche Antipode, which is moored at the Bassin de la Villette in the north of Paris, has a brilliant monthly program of band performances, from garage punk to acid groove, as well as reggae and poetic rhymes. This barge is definitely one of Paris’ best-kept secrets and it would be hard to have a bad time here. On board, the Antipode Café offers artisanal, local, and fair trade products.

Terraces along the Seine

Do you lack a pair of decent sea legs? Then perhaps sticking to solid ground is your best bet. Here are some favorite spots.

Maison Maison

63 voie Georges Pompidou, below the stairs at 16 Quai du Louvre, 75001

Adjacent to Pont Neuf you will find the buzzing terrace of Maison Maison serving locally sourced tapas, wines, and beer. This perfect position provides unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower. The small plates are innovative and the good vibes are unbeatable.

Les Nautes

1 Quai des Célestins, 75004

Les Nautes, translating to “The Sailor”’ in English, is a bar and lively hangout spot along the Seine away from the tourist crowds. The historic port of Saint Paul, once a watering hole for horses, has become a popular watering hole for Parisians. Here you will find the cool crowd sitting in the evening sun, with their feet dangling, sipping on a cold drink. You can also order your drinks “á emporter” so that you can sit right at the river’s edge.

ON/OFF Paris Seine

86 Quai d’Austerlitz, 75013

Paris’ first and only floating hotel, OFF Paris Seine, also offers a unique bar and restaurant open to the public. Located near Gare d’Austerlitz in the 13th arrondissement, this hotel has previously caught the eye of adventurous travelers visiting Paris, and now is attracting many more for its great location, menu, and pool. Enjoy an Italian-inspired meal, and fabulous cocktails, and then sit back and watch a live band, dance to a DJ set, or simply admire the view.

Scilicet

134 Voie Georges Pompidou, 75001

Another amazing spot to “boire un verre”, Scilicet in the 1st arrondissement provides a great location to chill, drink, eat, and dance. With its central location, this is undoubtedly the best riverside spot to admire Paris’ most iconic landmarks – from the Eiffel Tower to the Conciergerie. Sip drinks on the terrasse and then head below deck to dance the night away.

Rooftops along the Seine

Perhaps you would rather enjoy a bird’s eye view? In an urban setting such as Paris, there’s nothing better than escaping to a rooftop, surrounded by greenery, to admire the panoramas.

Cafe Oz – Rooftop

Cité de la Mode et du Design, 34 Quai d’Austerlitz, 75013

On the roof of the Cité de la Mode et du Design, you will find Cafe Oz Rooftop – the largest rooftop bar not just in Paris, but in the whole of Europe. This chain of Australian bars has become infamous across Paris for its DJ sets on weekdays and weekends, boozy sports screenings, and international crowds. Their rooftop location is arguably their best. It’s situated on the Quai d’Austerlitz next to the Pont Charles de Gaulle.

Bonnie

10 Rue Agrippa d’Aubigné, 75004

For a more exclusive option, head to Bonnie in the SO Hotel, perched at the Top of the Morland Tower. This opulent restaurant/bar/nightclub is positioned with Ile Saint-Louis at its feet and with both Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower a stone’s throw away. The interior of the restaurant fuses contemporary design with 1960s influences, resulting in a retro-modern wonderland. The exterior is characterized by its wrap-around glass roof terrace overlooking the Seine. When the clock strikes 11 pm, head upstairs to the New-York inspired nightclub serving explosive cocktails as you groove to the disco beats of the 60s and 70s.

Laho Rooftop

5-9 Rue Van Gogh, 75012

Sixty meters above ground, this laidback rooftop terrace provides a soaring setting in the sky just above the Seine on Rue Van Gogh. Laho occupies three floors, with one for convivial games, one for drinks and dancing, and the top floor oasis for sitting and soaking up the fantastic atmosphere. This venue is available for privatization– it would provide the perfect venue for that extra special celebration.

Kong

1 Rue du Pont Neuf, 75001

Made famous from the season finale of Sex and the City, Kong still holds a celebrated reputation. In fact, it’s one of the trendiest restaurants in Paris, located on the roof of 1 Rue du Pont Neuf. The interiors were created by French designer Philippe Starck, and it’s a popular lounge scene by night.

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Inspired by the rich culture that France has to offer, Poppy Pearce moved to Paris as an au pair in August 2022. Having gained a degree in Theology and Religion with Arabic from the University of Exeter, Poppy has a passion for languages and experiencing new cultures. When she’s not working, Poppy loves to explore everything that Paris has to offer, from exhibitions and museums, to restaurants and second-hand clothing stores.