Paris: City of Lights or lights out?

Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:58am EST
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By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Paris, whose wild nightlife drew generations of party goers from Ernest Hemingway to Jim Morrison, is now more notorious for curfews than carousing.

Dismayed nightcrawlers say swelling red tape, nightclub closures, gentrification and po-faced disapproval are increasingly thwarting their attempts to have a good time.

"'Smoke over there, put your glass down here'. We get told off all the time. In short, it's the opposite of what we want when we go out at night," said Marthe Lazarus, a local artist.

At a recent press conference, nightclub, bar and restaurant owners expressed distress over the number of canceled concerts, buckets of water poured over smokers and epithets hurled at anyone who attempted to dance in a bar.

Some say that the very soul of Parisian nightlife is at stake and feel the city is losing ground to London, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin.

"Since about a year, we have been harassed constantly by the police as soon as we make the slightest noise outside. It's really tough," said Morgane de Ferluc, who runs the restaurant l'Emile, close to the Louvre museum in the city center.

"We run the risk of being shut down, which would be a catastrophe," she added.

La Loco, a historic disco close to cabaret theater Moulin Rouge, is turning into a restaurant. Le Batofar, an electronic music hotspot on a barge, and Paris-Paris, another club, have all been shut down due to noise disturbance.   Continued...

<p>A television crew films the Eiffel tower illuminated by a light show to celebrate its 120th anniversary in Paris, October 22, 2009. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer</p>