The best party destinations in France are a very mixed bunch. From surfer-filled coastal resorts on the Atlantic Ocean to the buzzy streets of major cities far inland there are all sorts hedonistic places to get stuck into in this bucket-list Western European nation.
This guide is primed for those looking to let loose in the home of coq a vin and Bordeaux white. It hops from the English Channel to the Med on the hunt for the towns and resorts that promise oodles of after-dark energy.
Our selection of the best party destinations in France has something for a host of travelers. The salt-washed backpacker bars of Hossegor meet the bar-fringed streets of Paris and the après mecca of Val d’Isere, with plenty more besides. Happy partying…
No guide to the best party destinations in France could possibly miss out on Paris. This is the bumping, buzzing capital of the country, and it has more big clubs and party places than you can shake your morning baguette at. Rather than mention the individual spots (we’d be here for hours and hours), it’s best to consider Paris on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis. So, here goes:
- Le Marais – Probably the original party district of Paris, Le Marais – the onetime home of legendary writer Victor Hugo – is now part LGBTQ+ hub, part café mecca. At night it’s got countless little drinkeries, each with their own unique character.
- Pigalle – The former red-light district of Pigalle has gone straight in recent years, swapping brothels for bumping party places. The Moulin Rouge is still there if you want something a touch risk-ay though.
- Canal Saint-Martin – Hit the Canal Saint-Martin to start day drinking on red wine and cold beer from the kiosks, usually with the local student crowd. This one’s a lot better in the summer months.
- Belleville – The boho area of the city, where you’ll find the rock bars, the underground clubs, and the hipster hangout places.
Of course, there are plenty more nooks and crannies in the French capital to discover on a party mission to the city. This is a metropolis with a population of over 11 million people, after all! The variety of late-night options is pretty daunting. Paris hosts everything from gritty R&B clubs to industrial warehouses that have EDM DJs, rollicking metal dives to chic absinthe bars and more. We’d say that the summer is generally the best time to hit the town for a night on the tiles, since that’s when the backpacking crowd are around.
Lyon is the third-largest city in the whole of France and a good alternative if you’re keen to dodge the booming crowds (and booming prices) of Paris. The town center straddles the winding Rhone and Saone rivers as they weave out from the Alps and the ski resorts across the heart of the country and towards the sea. It’s got a population of well over four million, so there are plenty of humans to fuel those nights on the town.
The Quartier Saint-Paul is the place to begin. It’s the historic core of the city, famed for its narrow alleys (known locally as Traboule) and cobbled streets. But there’s also a fine selection of drinking holes, from quaint Savoie wine bars to rambunctious music pubs that have live bands. There’s even that quintessential Irish bar in case you’re looking for somewhere to cheer on France (ahem!) in the Six Nations!
But we’d say it’s the student population that really fuels the energetic, after-dark side of Lyon. They’re in town between September and June most years, with a short break for Christmas. They tend to steer clear of Quartier Saint-Paul in favor of the hilly area of Croix-Rousse, which rises on a knoll above the heart of busy Lyon in a medley of craft pubs and EDM clubs.
Try not to wake with a hangover everyday of your trip in Lyon though. This is one seriously stunning city with a whopping 2,000 years of history to its back. There’s even a complete Roman-era amphitheater that spreads across the Fourvière hill to the west of downtown, plus all manner of cool Lyonnaise eateries touting local cheeses and charcuterie boards.
Hossegor is hallowed, hallowed ground on the French surf scene. In fact, it’s pretty famous all the way around the globe for its beefy barrels and heavy bomb waves, which usually swing by when the winter storms start doing their thing in the Atlantic around September. But there are waves aplenty in the summer months, too, along with a regular supply of learn-to-surf travelers who come for a vacation that balances wave riding and – your guessed it! – partying.
Most will begin their imbibing at the ocean-view bars that cluster around the main promenade (Rue del Landais). From there, it’s an easy stroll over to Coolin, a boho beer and cocktail spot that has both indoor and outdoor spaces. Later on, you can drift across to the Discothèque le Bakoua, which has bargain drinks deals and pumping DJ shows that go on well into the early hours. BooBoo’zzz is also worth a mention for its chill vibes – there’s even a skate ramp in the bar there!
Overall, we’d say that the atmosphere is pretty relaxed in Hossegor compared to the other best party destinations in France that make this list. The salt-washed town on the Atlantic side of the Landes department is mainly for those who want to chase swell by daylight and glug cold beers with buddies after dark. Oh, but the uber-happening casinos and pumping clubs of Biarritz are never too far away if you want something extra!
The after-ski scene in Val d’Isere is nothing short of legendary. The home of (in)famous La Folie Douce, this resort at the foot of the Savoie Alps has some of the wildest post-slope fun of anywhere in France – nay, anywhere in Europe! You’ll find it tucked into the impossibly gorgeous Tarentaise Valley, at the base of the slopes of the award-winning Espace Killy ski domain.
You’ll whiz down runs of Olympic pedigree when the sun’s shining and then transfer to the bars. There are plenty of them. Start – naturally – in aforementioned La Folie Douce, where the champagne flows and the beers are glugged at the top of the La Daille lift. Then, head down to base station to hit the pumping dancefloors of Cocorico and Dick’s Tea Bar.
Of course, Val d’Isere isn’t the only apres-brimming ski option in France. Nope. There’s Alpe d’Huez, famed for its student crowd and on-piste parties. There’s Megeve, where things take a turn for the jet-setter and you get Michelin-guide eateries next to sleek wine bars. There’s Chamonix, too, a gathering point for winter sports fanatics from all over the world that comes alive with its pubs and clubs for a long ski season between December and March.
Last but most certainly not least: Marseille, France’s second-largest city. A mega three millennia have helped this town expand and expand some more. Today, it’s not just a major port town and a huge part of the French economy as a whole. It’s also a sailing mecca, a gateway to the legendary resorts of the Cote d’Azur, and a bumping megacity that’s home to in excess of four million people.
The summer ushers in the best parties in Marseille, there’s no doubt about that. The whole town booms with visitors, many fresh off boats that are moored in the marinas. As such, it’s the shoreline areas of Vieux Port and the nearby Cours Julien that get the liveliest of all. Head to those and you’ll be overloaded with stylish cocktail places, sunset bars, and tempting French seafood taverns.
There are a whole range of other, more local parts to Marseille that are top-notch for club seekers. We would just say that there are certain parts of the northern districts to avoid, since they are known for higher crime rates. Areas nearer the coast and the city center tend to be the best, especially around the student-led area of Place Castellan.
The other thing we LOVE about Marseille is how it backs up its own parties with prime access to the lively towns of the French Riviera. Cruise east and you could soon be sharing margaritas with celebs in St Tropez or sipping Dom Perignon in jet-setter escapes like Gassin and Antibes. What’s not to love? Maybe the bill at the end of the night? You’ve been warned!
The best party destinations in France – our conclusion
There are loads and loads of places that could make it onto this list of the best party destinations in France. This is a country that’s known for its love of fine red wines and relaxation, after all! Our selection talks about just five possible places for your next hedonism trip, ranging from the ski resorts of the French Alps to the energetic center of Paris.