Gay Travel Guide to Paris
Gai Paris? Well yes and no. Unlike somewhere like Gran Cranaria you don't go to Paris specifically for the gay scene. Personally I think it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, there is so much to see even if it means being a tourist, to spend all day looking for bars. The best gay clubs are still in London but at the same time there are some nice bars and who can resist the charm of a handsome frenchman.
Paris is one of Europes biggest gay travel destinations with a large vibrant gay community and a constantly evolving gay scene. Gay Paris is also famous for being one of the leading cities for culture, business and politics and is recognized for its defining neo-classical architecture as well as its important role as a major international influence in fashion, gastronomy and the arts. You are spoilt for choose for tourist highlights including the Eiffel Tower, The Arc De Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, The Louvre Museum, shopping on Les Champs Elysees and the Notre Dame Cathedral. There is some stunning architecture and wonderful wide open boulevards for just generally strolling along and well as the River Seine running through the middle of it.
It is safe to say that Le Marais is the predominant gay area of Paris. The gay shops in the Le Marais area offer a large variety of club wear, top fashion brands, and gift shops. The area also hosts many of the cities gay friendly apartments hotel and guesthouse properties. Slightly off the beaten track you will find the touristy Les Halles with the Pompidou Centre, a slightly different and more crowded area offering many gay bars and restaurants. The gay night life of Paris is also constantly evolving with new gay clubs and bars opening on a regular basis. We've listed some of the central Paris' gay friendly bars below.
Getting there has never been easier. With the opening of the channel tunnel, it has never been easier to jump on the Eurostar at Waterloo arriving at Gard Du Nord for a weekend break in Paris. Getting around is easy. The Paris metro is good value and very efficient. Book yourself a cheap flight from one of the many UK airports flying into Paris. The Eurostar makes best sense as you literally arrive in the centre of Paris and can jump on the metro to reach your destination. If you're on a budget, cheap coach travel is always available.
Where to stay
You should be looking for hotels in Le Marais (the gay area of Paris for over a decade now) or close to Les Halles. We can recommend the Hotel de la Bretonnerie, Beaubourg Hotel, (both in the Marais) and Hotel New Candide - close to Bastille (a stone's throw from The Marais District). These hotels are gay friendly, have about 50 rooms and offer a clever combination between the modern comfort and the Parisian hotelier's tradition - 3 stars.
We personally used the Rough guide to Paris and have stayed in a couple of hotels just south of La Rue St Denis. This area is literally a couple of mins walk from a large number of gay bars plus fast food outlets and cafes. We were surprised at how cheap the hotels were compared to London, and although the rooms were basic, the rooms were clean and sufficiant for for sleeping. After all you're here to see the tourist attractions not spend the whole weekend in bed. (or is that the other way round)
Hotels / Gay Friendly Accommodation.
Well, you have now settled and it is time to eat...but wait, this is Paris and you should take part in the famous "Happy Hour" from 7-9 pm at Bar Quetzal and Le Cox, (see listings below).
Restaurant 19, rue François Miron 75004 Paris.
L'Amazonial 3 Rue Saint Opportune. Tel: 014233-5313. Type: Brazilian/International cuisine, Sunday brunch. Clientele: Heavily lesbian and gay. Metro stop: Chatelet/Les Halles. Friendly, queeny, but disgusting food ! does not give a good image of french food !
21 rue Saint Sabin 75011 Paris
Divin. 41 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie. PARIS 75004. France
de Cour Restaurant 3, rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie 75004,Paris
Bar Vagabond: 14, rue Therese. Metro Pyramide. 75001 Paris
Valet de Carreau, 2 rue Dupetit-Thouars, 75003, Paris
Mariages Freres in the centre of the Marais District, rue du Bourg Tibourg 75004. This very exclusive tea house (not gay, but with a large gay clientele) offers the choice of more than 400 different teas, they offer great breakfast and brunch on Sunday mornings. Make sure you book in advance !
Bars and Clubs
So, you are now fed, it is time to try Paris' bars, and there are many of them : over 60 in Le Marais district ! We recommend that you try the Open Cafe (17 rue des Archives, 75004 Paris). It is a good place to start the evening and has the two following advantages: It is in the heart of Gay Marais and offers a display of free gay publications (you will find all you need to know in the weekly "E-MALE" or the monthly "ILLICO" and DOUBLE FACE).
Bars are open late in Paris (till 2 am) so that leaves you plenty of time for bar hopping - It is very hard to advise you on bars as they all cater for different types. The most popular bars are Le Cox, Quetzal, (both great for "Happy Hour" from 7-9 pm), the Banana Cafe, for a young and fashionable crowd, the Piano Zinc, a typical berliner's style cabaret with entrance charge, and a lot more! Please note prices of drinks are expensive with beers generally in the region of £5 a bottle. Better to have a couple of bottles of wine with a meal in a good restaurant.
For sex clubs try Le QG, Le Trap (Mon), and Les Docks (Sun afternoon). For Leather and SM try Le Keller, Le Rude, Mec Zone, and Le Transfert.
An enormous gay complex (900 m2 !) has opened in the centre of Paris. On three different levels, Le Dépôt offers a gay bar, a night club, a video sex-club with cabins and a well equipped hard bar (slings, crosses, cages, showers, uro space, and so on...) Those who know Berlin will immediately think of the mythical Connection. Of course, you'll be able to go from one part of the club to another, or to go only to the hard club.
Night Clubs are never busy before 1 AM, so don't get there too early. For a better understanding of what each Night Club offers on the night you are in Paris, it is best to refer to your free publications.
The most famous Gay Night Club in Paris is, of course, Le Queen (102 Avenue des Champs Elysee), best nights are on Mondays : a disco revival and Saturday: Techno
One good tip about Paris on Week End Nights: Finding a Taxi in the middle of the night is a nightmare. Ask before you leave an establishment where the next taxi rank as this will save you some time. If you stay in the centre, don't worry, everything is from walking distance.
If you are travelling alone in Paris, you might want to visit other establishments. Paris has plenty of sex clubs to offer (from l'Arene to La Luna ( best on Tuesdays) or the Docks, (on Sunday afternoon) but the best thing is to let you discover them by yourself. There soon will be a new place, said to be the biggest of all called The Depot, rue aux ours 75003. On 900 square meter, it will include a disco, several bars, a leather bar and a sex club, all at once!
Another option to spend your Sunday afternoon (especially if the weather is bad and you feel you have done enough sightseeing...) is to try Paris' famous Saunas. Some favourites :
Univers Gym (20/22 rue des Bons Enfants, 75001)- a hot young crowd, IDM (4 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009)- with a great gym room and hundreds of cabins! and ..
Key West (141 rue Lafayette, 75010) - very clean and spacious sauna close to the Gare du Nord.
And what about shopping and culture? Well, Paris has certainly a lot to offer here too. Do not miss out on the Chevignon Shop, the Gallery Lafayette and Le Printemps Blvd Hausmann, the Marche aux Puces of Montreuil. As for culture, how about checking out the Picasso Museum (rue de Thorigny - near Le Marais), The Catacombes (1 place Denfert-Rochereau, 75014) or the Centre George Pompidou in Les Halles (amazing cultural centre - http://www.cnac-gp.fr.)
Well, I hope that you will have found the above of some interest.
Have a good time!
We personally love Paris for a short weekend break. We've been twice in recent years for long weekends. Admittedly living in London makes the journey easy. For someone wanting a tourist weekend Paris has it all. Stunning architecture, fascinating shops, thousands of varied cafe bars and restaurants. The gay scene is admittedly smaller than say London, although Queens on Le Champs Elysees is fun and the boys in Banana Cafe are gorgeous. Go on treat yourself. Stay in for a couple of weekends prior, save your money and treat yourself.
Credits: London and Pascal at www.parismarais.com in helping put this guide together. If you would like to offer any additional information or update any of the information in this guide please feel free to email us.
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