Harlem in Paris : the Birth of Jazz in France (Small Group Walking Tour)

2 hours 30 minutes
Free cancellation
1 - 8
Mobile ticket


Jazz was born in New Orleans....but the Jazz Age flourished in New York & Paris, or to be more precise, Harlem & Pigalle. After WW1, numerous African American artists emigrated to Paris from Harlem, bringing with them a new style of music born in America : jazz. By the late 1920s, there were over 300 jazz clubs, bars and cabarets in Paris, for the most part in Pigalle. This is the fascinating story of the men and women who made Paris a mecca for Jazz, ushering in the Roaring 20s.


  • There will be music, photos & videos throughout the tour

What to expect

This is a typical itinerary for this product

Stop At: Place Blanche, Pl. Blanche, Paris, France

Just next door to the Place Blanche is the location of Josephine Baker's club, called "Chez Josephine". Known as the "Black Venus of Paris", Baker became a French national and lived here from 1925 until her death in 1975.
After starting her career in vaudeville shows in Harlem, Baker arrived in France in 1925 as a dancer for the NY Syncopated Orchestra, accompanied by a young clarinet player named Sidney Bechet. She headlined the orchestra's new show, the "Revue Negre", which was commissioned by the Theatre des Champs Elysées. It was an audacious show featuring 13 dancers, 12 musicians...and Josephine Baker, aged 18 & wearing very little more than feathers. Her erotic dancing fascinated the French & turned her into an immediate star, an icon.

Duration: 10 minutes

Stop At: Rue Mansart, 75009 Paris, France

Next we stop at the bistro where Louis Armstrong would dine after rehearsals in the recording studio just up the street. There he discovered the delights of choucroute (sausage & cabbage) & where he met local Gypsy Jazzman Django Reinhardt.

Duration: 10 minutes

Stop At: rue Pierre-Fontaine, Rue Pierre Fontaine, 75009 Paris, France

After visiting Josephine Baker, we will stop in front of Zelli's, the mythical Parisian cabaret of the 1920s. It was the most popular club in the city thanks to its avant garde jazz music. Here we will "meet" the fascinating Eugene Jacques Bullard, son of a freed slaved from Martinique. He became the 1st African American fighter pilot in history. Fighting for the French, he flew 30 missions and downed 2 German planes, earning a promotion to Corporal & the nickname "Black Jacques". After the war, he learned to play drums and was hired as a musician at Zelli's, where he rose to the position of manager. With backing from Joe Zelli, he opened his own night club, the Grand Duc, where he offered a mix of hot jazz & soul food, becoming one of the most popular clubs in Paris.

Duration: 10 minutes

Stop At: Place Blanche, Pl. Blanche, Paris, France

We will discover the Jazz Ladies & their legends. We meet Bricktop, Queen of Pigalle, who arrived in Paris with $24 in her pocket. After establishing herself, she went on to rub shoulders with royalty & celebrities.
Then we "meet" Valaida Snow, the 2nd best trumpet player in the world (Louis Armstrong's words!). She played 8 different instruments, she sang, she danced and she charmed audiences everywhere. A beautiful and talented woman, she became a star in Europe in the 1930s. In 1940, while playing in Denmark, she was arrested by the Nazis. Saved in a prisoner exchange, she returned to the US a broken woman, but recovered and went on to pursue jer jazz career.

Duration: 20 minutes

Stop At: Rue Victor Massé, 75009 Paris, France

Sadly the club is closed, a victim of Covid. But in front of the club we will hear the story of Alberta Hunter, an extraordinarily talented blues singer. Having lived the Jazz Age in both Harlem & Paris, she abandoned music in the 1940s to become a nurse for 20 years. At the age of 83 she was persuaded to come out of retirement and she relaunched her singing career, becoming a star all over again with her sublime voice.

Duration: 10 minutes

Additional information

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Surfaces are wheelchair accessible
  • Most travelers can participate
  • The tour guide is fully vaccinated. The guide is fully vaccinated.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking

Ticket delivery

You can present either a paper or an electronic voucher for this activity.


For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start time of the experience.
March 2023

Very informative and pleasant experience with Ellen. I highly recommend to anyone who loves jazz and Paris.

September 2023

Ellen is amazing!. She is an amazing storyteller. I’ve been looking forward to this tour with her for a while. She provided pictures, videos, songs of artists and a souvenir booklet, something I’ll always cherish. Joy B.

August 2023

Very well delivered history with nice walk. The iPad added pictures and recordings of these amazing musicians. So good!

June 2023

The tour starts meeting in an old brothel in the red light district Great History lesson and some interesting facts.

March 2023

Ellen was the perfect tour guide. Her extensive research and love for jazz was evident as she shared the Harlem experience in Paris with me and my daughter. I highly recommend this tour that revealed unknown facts about the African-American presence in Paris.

November 2022

This tour exceeded my expectations. I was particularly interested in Josephine Baker. There were so many musicians covered, including many unknown and untold stories of Black Jazz musicians who earned their place on this tour and in our history books. The tour started in a speakeasy-style bar tha...

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