Betting in Paris

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It might seem that the city that gave the world such durable table games as Chemin de Fer and Roulette would still be among the hottest spots on the planet for casino gambling, but nothing could be further from the truth. Macau and Las Vegas are far more attractive destinations for high-rolling Baccarat players, and London has more Roulette wheels per capita than the French capital. In fact, the casino scene in Paris is dominated by private clubs requiring membership, and they don’t advertise their locations in garish neon.

A case in point is the vaunted Le Cercle Clichy Montmartre on Rue de Clichy. It was founded in 1947 by Jean Bauchet as a billiard academy and brewery with a spattering of table games on the side. Now, more than six decades later, the gambling venue still has an Old World atmosphere, with its majestic main hall, high ceilings decorated with moldings, gaming tables overhung with canopies, valet service and two cozy bar areas.

Open daily from 3pm to 6am, the casino gaming space features 14 table games, including Billiards, 21, Multicolor, Poker and Stud Poker. One tip-off that Le Cercle Clichy Montmartre has embraced the 21st century is a table devoted solely to Texas Hold’em, where no fewer than eight tournaments a week take place, along with cash games staked at €1/2, €2/4 and €5/5. The Club has also introduced a poker loyalty program for its regulars.

Because the gaming activities at Le Cercle Clichy Montmartre fall under the rules and regulations of the Association Law of 1901, its activities are subject to several conditions ranging from a code of proper dress and required membership. Fortunately for visitors, membership can be easily obtained at the door in no more than five minutes by presently a currently valid resident card, passport or European Identity along with payment of a prorated annual fee for the calendar year.

In similar manner, the Aviation Club de France on the famed Avenue des Champs-Elysees offers gaming at 29 tables, including Baccarat, Backgammon, Blackjack, Poker and Stud Poker. Tournaments are held weekly and monthly for Backgammon, Omaha Poker and Texas Hold’em. Located on the premises is a French restaurant serving breakfast and dinner, there is valet parking, and the action goes on 24/7.

Over on Avenue de Wagram in the 17th Arrondissement, the Cercle Wagram operates from 2pm to 6am daily, featuring 37 games, two restaurants and a bar. This is the spot for playing Boule and Punto Banco, in addition to Poker, Progressive Poker and Stud Poker. Providing competition in the neighbouring 9th Arrondissement, and offering Banque a tout va and Chemin de Fer as well as Poker and Stud Poker, is Cercle Haussmann on Rue de la Michodiere, with 25 games, a restaurant and a bar open daily from 2pm to 7am.

Smaller private casinos are numerous if harder to find. The Association Cercle Eldo on Boulevard Saint Martin is open daily from 2pm to 6am with just four games; the property has a bar and concentrates primarily on Stud Poker. Meanwhile the Cercle Anglais on Boulevard des Capucines has six tables, and Cercle Central on Rue Frochot has eleven.

Aside from the private casino clubs, Paris is blessed with not one but two racecourses. The Hippodrome de Longchamp has a 2,400-metre track for thoroughbred flat racing in the Bois de Boulogne district just west of the 16th Arrondissement. Its season is divided into three segments: April-May, June-July and September-October. On-site facilities include the Gladiateur and Panoramique restaurants in addition to a full service race book.

The other track in the vicinity of Paris is the Hippodrome de Vincennes. It is located in the Bois de Vincennes to the east of the city, where it features harness racing in March and December. The property has a Grand Hall, a small reception hall with a tobacco centre and three restaurants—Le Paddock, Le Prestige and Le Sulky.

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