Could it be that Paris, the city of party-loving bohemians and home of the historic and famous nightlife hot spot Moulin Rouge, is turning into the European capital of boredom?
According the Le Figaro, Paris is no longer a party. Compared to Madrid, London, Amsterdam and Berlin, the City of Lights’ nightlife is dimming drastically. First, there is the issue of cost – nightlife in Paris can be especially expensive! Second, Paris is known to have a tradition of picky entrance selection to its bars and night clubs. Third, transportation seems to be pretty weak. There is the Noctambus, or night bus, which has a limited route (and tends to hold a sketchy crowd of night owls) and the metro, which only runs until 2 a.m. on the weekends.
But these reasons for poor nightlife in Paris are only the tip of the iceberg.
Paris is a very old, very dense city – and residential areas are often intermixed with other offices, businesses, shops and restaurants within the same building complex. Too often, bars and discos are stuck between residential apartment buildings – and neighbors are losing their patience with the close proximity.
In the past few years, new laws have been making it harder for nightlife venues to survive – noise ordinances and a tobacco ban, more specifically. Local residents are getting fed up with the constant noise of party-ers and the lingering of smokers on sidewalks at all hours of the night. Noise complaints and fines have risen drastically and bars are suffering the repercussions – paying expensive fines, being shut down for periods at a time, and now investing in expensive soundproofing.
In order to restore and protect Parisian nightlife, a petition was started in October of 2009. This petition declares that the law of silence will turn the “City of Light” into a European capital “City of Sleep.” My personal favorite argument of the document:
Quel peut être le sens d’une Loi de Santé publique qui aboutit à empêcher les gens de danser?”
What is the sense of a public health measure that leads to a ban on dancing?
It continues to fight the reputation of une capitale morte, or a dead capital, today (See the continually updated Facebook fan page).
So is Paris really a dying city?
In defense, Anne Hidalgo argues that one cannot easily compare Paris with other European cities. For instance, Berlin is eight times larger and less dense – comparisons are not necessarily accurate nor relevant. Mao Peninou, the adjoint chargé des Temps à la Mairie de Paris, claims that Paris is the sixth most festive city in Europe, representing 230,000 employees that work in the heart of the night. He also makes the point that Parisians do not need bars or clubs to have a party spontaneously – how many youth gather together on the banks of the Seine to hang out? (From what I saw during my time studying abroad, quite a lot!)
Planning a trip to Paris? Don’t let this post discourage you! Check out how to experience Parisian nightlife on a budget at this blog.