Tips and Tricks to attending a show in Paris!

  • September 29, 2022
  • Theatre in Paris exclusives
  • Christophe Duranstanti

Translated from the French by Charlotte Wilson and Acadia Klepeis

Are you looking for a guide to attending shows, concerts, and theatre pieces in Paris as well as some general information about attending a classical concert or theatre piece in France? Well, you’ve found the perfect blog! Our team at Theatre in Paris has put together this guide so you can understand the ins and outs of the event world, and hopefully, our tips will help you fit in like a real Parisian!

★ Dinner and a Show in Paris : Yes, it’s possible!
★ Dress Code for Events in Paris
★ Notes for attending a symphony, orchestra, or classical concert in Paris
★ After a show in Paris: The Grand Finale… from the audience!
★ General Information about Attending a Concert in Paris
• Are there any shows that are accessible to English speakers in Paris?
• Can I buy food and drinks at these types of concerts in Paris?
• How should I get to the concert or event?
• Can I use my phone during a concert in Paris?
• Can I take photos during a concert in Paris?
• Can I make noise during a show in Paris?
• Is tipping customary?

Dinner and a Show in Paris: Yes, it’s possible!

Although you can find events going on at all times in Paris, we will focus on the timing of the grand majority of shows. Nowadays with such an emphasis on work, theaters in Paris have adapted their working hours to suit the demands of their clientele.

As such, you will find that plays often begin at 7 pm, or 7:30 pm, in order to allow their audiences to arrive in the auditoriums just after their working day has ended. Otherwise, there are plays that take place later in the evening.

This new timetabling of “reasonable” schedules gives any amateur theatergoer the ability to begin their evening with a show of their choice, and to follow on with dinner afterward, or, equally, to begin their evening with a lovely dinner, before heading to their seat for a performance.

Consequently, you’ll notice that the restaurants nearest to the theaters adapt their dining hours in line with shows.

If the show starts at 7 pm, the diners will arrive around 8:30 pm. If the show starts at 9 pm, you’ll find the customers beginning to wave their credit cards with impatience to attract a waiter’s attention, in order to get to the theater on time. (An amusing little vignette for you to discover, should you find yourself dining in one of these little theater-side restaurants).

As a matter of fact, Theatre in Paris offers you the option to include dinner, champagne, or even tapas with some of our shows! This is a very pleasant way to maximize your evening without unnecessary stress.

The Crazy Horse offers you a delicious dinner at Ginger, located a stone's throw from the famous avenue George V entrance. The show is absolutely full of glamor… this cabaret has had no shortage of celebrity clientele!

La Nouvelle Seine, located in the shadows of the towers of Notre Dame, will make your mouth water with its floating restaurant aboard a boat on the Seine. Enjoy a dinner on the water and a classic cabaret show full of humor!

Finally, Theatre in Paris provides the option to enjoy a tantalizing appetizer if you choose to see a classical concert in the famous Sainte-Chapelle Church!

Dress Code for Events in Paris

And now onto fashion… The theater welcomes Parisian audiences just as they are – that is, in their office wear: suits and ties for theatergoers who’ve spent the day in a bank or insurance office, and something a little more smart-casual for the rest.

For clothing matters, we hardly need to give you any advice, beyond that you should adopt a more chic and refined look if you want to blend in with the Parisian public, or if you choose to differ from it, do so in style. For a more precise guide, read the following suggestions!

Dress Code at a theater in Paris : In Paris, it’s becoming more and more common for people to go to the theater straight from the office. The theater dress code is therefore fairly smart but without too much extravagance.

Dress Code at an Opera or Ballet in Paris : ​​At the Opéra de Paris, the dress code is more extravagant. It has, before now, welcomed a lady dressed in a transparent red top revealing her breasts, paired with high-waisted, pleated trousers, and a gentleman wearing a men’s skirt, a white, double-collared shirt, and a sweater vest… How heads turned to admire those outfits!

Dress Code at a Classical Concert in Paris : As with the genre of music, the outfits may be somewhat unique. Baroque fans may dress uniquely, as may fans of contemporary music. This uniqueness is hidden in the details: the rings on one’s fingers, the hairstyles, that certain je ne sais quoi

Dress Code at a Cabaret in Paris : In a Parisian cabaret, no one’s going to criticize your clothes.

Dress Code at a Jazz Club in Paris : Come as you are!

Attending a symphony, orchestra, or classical concert in Paris

For those uninitiated into concerts, we recommend simply that you applaud when the room applauds.

Generally, orchestral conductors do not like it at all when people applaud in between movements of a symphony. This is a moment for concentration.

On the other hand, it is possible, and in fact recommended, to go completely wild at the end of a work, to applaud rapturously, and to shout “bravo!” whilst stamping your feet, if the work has moved you.

At an opera, it is acceptable to applaud after a particularly well-known and perfectly executed aria or solo.

The more audacious among you will cry “brava!” at a soprano, or mezzo-soprano, after one such deemed to be especially vocally-demanding.

The orchestra’s conductor will often appear elated, at the end of a concert, by the warm reception of the auditorium, and the applause of his adoring public.

The orchestra will rise to their feet, and allow each soloist to bow to the audience. This is undertaken in the order of importance of an instrument in its section.

The decibel level of the audience’s shouts, as well as the duration of the applause, will determine the encores.

For symphonic concerts, encores are rare, but it is not unheard of for the orchestra to play some of the most scintillating movements once more, such as the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No.7.

After a show in Paris: The Grand Finale… from the audience!

HUGE TIP: do not rush to leave during the applause at the end of a concert, whilst the orchestra and conductor are still onstage… This will get you several disapproving looks and you will be missing a huge part of the culture!

Our Anglo-Saxon friends may be surprised to note that the standing ovation is not de rigueur in France. People may applaud “with gusto,” but very rarely stand up collectively in a single movement to mark their intense pleasure.

For such an extreme outward expression of praise to take place, the conductor has to have been excellent, the orchestra perfect, the soloists enough to make you fall in love, and, for an opera, the staging must be exceptional. In the theater, it is much the same: every detail must be perfect from beginning to end, clear, precise, and meaningful.

Whilst the standing ovation is not very common in France, you may instead notice an amazing phenomenon in theaters: once the first round of applause has died down, the audience asks for more, and does so by clapping in unison to show pleasure and admiration.

Everyone has their own way of showing their enthusiasm!

Occasionally, this enthusiasm can be so great that the conductor decides, after three encores, to play a movement of the work again, or that the soloist decides to play a short piece by a composer that they particularly appreciate. This privilege is not exactly rare in France – it can even come about without having had a standing ovation. Our Anglo-Saxon friends call this an encore – which, as luck would have it, translates in French to... encore!

General Information about Attending a Concert in Paris

Are there any shows that are accessible to English speakers in Paris?

At Theatre in Paris, our top priority is to offer shows that are accessible to travelers, tourists, or other audiences who may not speak French but want to learn about French culture.

This is our credo, our reason to exist.

We mainly choose visual or musical shows, classical music, jazz concerts, shows that are 100% in English, or even shows in a different language that are surtitled in English! On top of that, to make sure our audiences know exactly what they are going to see, we make sure to indicate in our FAQs if the show is accessible to all.

In Paris, more and more theaters are trying to welcome international customers and offer surtitles in English for their shows.

In addition to shows that are accessible to all, on our site you will also find shows that are in French only. If you are a tourist or an expat living in Paris, this would be a great opportunity to immerse yourself in French culture, to better understand French customs, and to improve your understanding of the language.

Curiosity doesn’t always kill the cat. Let yourself be won over by the French way of life!

Click here to see all of our Anglophone-friendly shows!

Can I buy food and drinks at these types of concerts in Paris?

Jazz clubs and cabarets often have a connected bar or are close by to a bar, sometimes even with a restaurant.

This is one way in which we can offer you unique theatre experiences.

It is possible to purchase tickets which include a glass of champagne, a glass of wine, tapas, or dinner.

Such is the case with La Sainte-Chapelle, which offers you a unique bundle with its concerts, or too at the cabaret, Le Crazy Horse.

At the Opéra de Paris, we can offer you an exclusive bundle. You can purchase a ticket with a glass of champagne, and exclusive access to a private lounge before or after the show.

Churches often prohibit drinks.

How should I get to the concert or event?

Paris as a capital possesses a vast network of metro lines, with trains every three minutes. It is very easy to find your way around the metro and to understand how it works. For all of the outings that we offer, we supply you with the names of the nearest metro and bus stations. They are given in the FAQ section at the end of the show’s page.

The metro is therefore the preferred method for accessing a theater quickly, without risking a traffic-jam-induced nervous breakdown.

Of course, you could always take a taxi, but it is recommended that you do so after a show, rather than beforehand, as the traffic is less dense later in the evening. After all that, you’re sure to look back fondly on your evening out.

Can I use my phone during a show in Paris?

Most shows in Paris simply ask you to turn off your phone and will tell you so via an often-humorous voiceover announcement.

Can I take photos during a show in Paris?

Usually, you are also asked not to take photos during the duration of the performance, lest you distract the artists onstage.

Can I make noise during a show in Paris?

You ought not to speak during the performance – otherwise, you risk receiving a cold and disagreeable “sshhhh!” from the audience members next to you.

Is tipping customary?

Tips are not mandatory in Parisian theaters. However, ushers will usually expect a small tip of between €2 and €5, which you can give them when they’ve shown you to your seat. Fun fact: the French word for “tip” is “pourboire”, which literally translates to “to have a drink.”