- March in Paris marks the tender first stirrings of spring in the city of light, and one day that always adds to the ambient cheerfulness is St Patrick’s Day.
It may not be apparent from first glance, but Paris boasts one of Europe’s liveliest Irish expat communities–many of them devoted Francophiles– who’ve made the city their home and planted some of the best aspects of their own culture in the capital. After all, it’s the city where great Irish writers like James Joyce and Oscar Wilde made their homes for a time, and ties between Ireland and France have often been strong.
March 17th is, as a result, no small affair in Paris. French locals and much of the English-speaking community flock to some of the city’s best Irish pubs, enjoying special concerts, meals, and games in honor of “St Paddy”. Meanwhile, if drinking isn’t your style or you’re looking for more family-oriented activities, you can enjoy traditional Irish music, or even head just outside the city limits for a green-soaked parade at Disneyland Paris.
Where to Head: Some Favorite Pubs
I’ve tried many Irish-themed watering holes over the years. Some of my favorites, listed in no particular order, include:
The Green Linnet (8, avenue Victoria, Metro Chatelet or Hotel de Ville) is smack in the city center and offers a laid-back setting, good live music, and a certain Dublin-esque elegance mixed with humility. Just a few blocks away at Metro Rambuteau, Quiet Man (5 rue des Haudriettes) is another favorite, especially for the music-hungry. Heading left bank-ward, and in a more traditionalist vein, try Finnegan’s Wake (9 rue des Boulangers, metro Cardinal Lemoine): an excellent selection of beers and an old-world literary ambiance reign at this address, claiming to be the city’s first Irish pub.
Traditional Irish Music
Craving Celtic sounds for St Patrick? Reserve some time on the evening of March 14th for a spirited concert at Paris’ Irish Cultural Centre. At First Light (pictured above), a group of folk musicians out of Northern Ireland, will be taking the stage at 7:30 pm, yielding whistles, duelling uilleann pipes, and fiddles to bring out the spirit of St Patrick a few days ahead of the official date. Tickets are 10 Euros and should be reserved ahead. (More information and ticket bookings here)
In the Footsteps of Joyce and Others: Take a Walking Tour
Why not start your St Patrick’s Day celebrations with a historical walking tour of some of the places where great Irish writers like Joyce spent many of their days? The Latin Quarter Walking Tour is one great choice, stopping at the Shakespeare and Company bookshop and other storied places favored by expat writers. The Montmartre Walking Tour is another easy and fascinating way to shuttle yourself back to the artistic center of 20th-century Paris.