Expat Survival Guide to Lyon’s Nightclub Scene.

Published: 2019/10/13
Dancers on the floor in The Boat

The Boat. © John H. Glenn

It can truly be a minefield when going out on the town at night. Lyon is a wonderfully polite town by nature, but even it has rough patches. Conducting oneself in a smart and effective way insures a night well spent, rather than wasted. You learn a lot by just going in and getting thrown out of places, but If I could do it over again, I’d rather someone sitting me down and telling me how to enjoy nightclubbing. Lots of spare money and hard-earned time would have saved itself. All obvious universal rules of nightclubs apply to boîtes in Lyon: Watch your drink, go in groups, keep a keen eye on your belongings. With that being said, here are some basic rules for an enjoyable time running around at night in Lyon


With the plethora of city guides which naturally accompany such a brilliantly historical and cultural city as Lyon, you would expect someone to have given a proper map on how to traverse another bastion of the city. Its nightclub scene.

Many an awkward, infuriating, deeply troubling night could have been avoided for me if someone had sat me down and explained to me the rules of engagements in concerns to nightclubs in this city.

All obvious universal rules of nightclubs apply to boîtes in Lyon: Watch your drink, go in groups, keep a keen eye on your belongings. But building off that, here are some basic rules for an enjoyable time running around at night in Lyon.


Shot glasses clinking in Le faute aux ours

Le Faute aux Ours. © John H. Glenn



  •  Give expat clubs a wide birth.

    • One thing I notice while going out is the nasties and most underwhelming clubs and bars in Lyon either have America in the name or Americans in the place. You should make an effort to get out to places where you are a foreigner among locals. Not to a club with the theme of being from another county.
  • Never trust a place with a thick line of dresses and high heels to have any good music.

    • If music is your main desire at night, a line of people in tight-fitting dresses and clumsy shoes are obviously not there to rave. Somehow certain people can dance in high heels, but not everyone.
  •  Making noise outside of clubs, is a sure-fire way to be barred at the door.

    • La pollution sonore is a surprisingly serious problem in some center city districts in France, not excluding Lyon. So naturally, if you contribute, don’t expect to be able to stay for very long outside the establishment. Stay quiet.
  •  Unless you choose your club wisely.

    • Don’t expect to be treated like anything else but what you are to them (the bouncers, bartenders): Large walking money signs. A characteristic of the nightclub business is the draconian way in which they produce their profit. Creating attraction through exclusivity and admitting only those blessed in wealth, looks, or social circles.
    • The good places get away with this by giving back either a special atmosphere or unique product in drink or music. However, the worst of places give nothing back and damn near take everything, Choose smart.


Beer and Shotglasses at Le Faute aux Ours

Le Faute aux Ours. © John H. Glenn



  •  Speak only French, if possible.

    • You are in France. Nothing makes interactions at night when people are inebriated simpler than being able to effectively communicate in the national language. People treat you better if you make an effort to speak in French with them.
  •  Get your priorities in order as to what you want: Music, Socialising, Dance.

    • There are clubs for each desire. Do you want music? Le Sucre, Le Petit Salon. Do you want to meet someone? Go to a bar. Do you want to dance? Le Terminal, L’Ambassade. If you think you can have one of each in a night, don’t hesitate. Find your own favorite spot for each.
  •  Tend to go with friends.

    • Not just as a safety, but as a bonus feeling on the night. If given the choice, never eat alone and drink alone. The same applies to clubs. A tight group on a free night with nothing the next day as close as we come to intimate with others in a fraternal sense.
  •  Return to your favorite club while you still can.

    • If you like a place, keep it in business for the rest of us. Authentically good spots are still a minority and are doomed by the nature of things to surface and become someplace different than when you would go there. Clubs never last forever, enjoy the times at your favorites to the utmost extent.

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