Gay Guide to PARIS
Paris, city of light and arguably one of the most beautiful capitals in the world offers pleasing proportions, stunningly restored monuments, world class cuisine and of course French men… What’s not to love?
Paris attracts visitors from all over the world. Perhaps the finest capital in Europe, it is the birthplace of true romance. Unlike other European capitals, the city was spared most of the destruction wrought during World War 2.
As a gay visitor, the capital offers visitors all of the attractions you might need; endless activities and sights to see during the day and a sexy and dynamic nightlife scene complete with bars, clubs, parties, saunas and more.
French men can be brusque. Just don’t take it personally. They tend to go-out in packs of friends. Strike up a conversation without looking too desperate and you will be fine. French gay men combine a no-nonsense attitude to sex and nudity without forgetting the importance of seduction.
The heart of Gay Paris is located in The Marais on the Right bank. This cluster of neighborhoods north of the Seine includes some of the finest French icons of culture, fashion, art and style. The right bank is made up of 14 arrondissements (districts) that are relatively easy to navigate and will place you in front-and-centre for gay nightlife and close to the city’s famous tourist attractions such as the Louvre and the Champs_Elysees to name just two.
Le Marais is the epicentre of gay life in Paris…
The Marais, formerly a Jewish district that since the late 80′s has become the epicentre of gay life in the city is a district that never sleeps. It is also home to Paris’s Gay Pride which takes place on the 4th weekend in June.
Les Halles, west of the Marais is an even older gay district. The fact is, Paris is quite an expansive city and you will find gay nightlife dotted across the city.
The city is quite compact and walking is normally your best option. For longer distances you might want to try the Velib, the citywide bike-rental system. The metro is the easiest way to travel longer distances, but be aware, at weekends it closes at 2am and so you will need to get a taxi thereafter. Service resumes from 5.30am. The Marais is full of narrow cobbled streets that is the essence of Old Paris. The district is lined with bars, cafes, patisseries, boutiques,theaters and museums all spread out from the central “Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie”. The area is gentile and operates at a more relaxed pace, thanks mainly to the fact that it is pedestrianised.
Les Halles is the other main gay area. Just a couple of minutes from the Pompidou Centre, this former market has become a web of shops and restaurants, The gay bars and clubs are located on Rue Rambuteau and St Denis. The markets return of Thursdays and Sundays on rue Montmartre offering delicious fruits, breads and more.
To experience a real taste of Paris, venture beyond the Champs Elysees and head to the neighbourhoods close to the Sacre Coeur located high atop the city’s hills. You can take a funicular to the top, but before you do, make sure you browse the quirky stores, bars and restaurants nearby not to mention the famous red light district also known as “The Pigalle”. Les Passages is another shopping arcade filed with some amazing boutiques where you can find an authentic souvenir of Paris.
The most popular and recommended clubs and bars to visit – as voted by our editors.
A night out in Paris is not for the faint hearted. Aperitif’s begin round 7.30pm. Dinner is normally eaten between 9 or 9.30pm and finishes at 11pm. Then its after dinner drinks until 12.30 or 1am and then its “disco-time” until 4,5 or 6am depending on where you are and your chosen club’s persuasions. Still not tired? Don’t worry. There are post-6am clubs waiting for you and are open until noon…. or as the French say. “Le After-Hour”.
As we mentioned earlier, gay boys begin their evening at crossroads of rue des Archives and rue Sainte-Croix de la Brettonerie in the 4eme arrondissement in the Marais section in Paris. Open Cafe is a popular spot with those starting a night out on the town. Nearby, Le Cox bar, a bar whose name needs no translation, is always busy with bears, leather guys and more. Close by, “Le Depot”, offers a similar experience day or night with two levels of dancefloors open 23 hours a day and an extensive back room with guys looking for fun. Those looking for more hardcore fun might want to try Impact, where your clothing and inhibitions are left at the door.
Les Marronniers is a charming cafe open very late with a large sidewalk terrace. Raidd a nearby dance bar is famous for its shower shows and French go gos. Finally for something completely different check out Le Tango/La Boîte à Frissons for cheek-to-cheek tangos and more.
Scream Paris is the place to visit on a Saturday Night. Since 1997, this party has been attracting boys from all over Paris and beyond with international DJS, playing on 3 floors.
Saturday night sees more than 12 different theme parties in clubs around the city.
Paris is a sex-friendly destination with more than 40 different sex clubs in the city. The scene has grown rapidly over the past decade. While outdoor cruising, in places like Bois de Boulogne is still popular, Sex venues reign supreme. Saunas are also very popular. Check out the Sauna section for details. One highlight is MecZone. Sex shops are also popular including Boxx Man in Les Halles.
Many of the bars in the Marais have cellars with low lighting, slings, glory holes and cabins. Naked and theme parties take place regularly. Weekend afternoon parties can be as busy as night time events.
Book your Paris hotel well in advance.
Rates tend to climb during peak Season and special events, the earlier you book, the better the rate, last minute deals are hard to find.
Located in Paris, 500 m from Opéra Garnier, Ritz Paris features a selection of bars and restaurants, a fitness center and a spa and wellness center which includes a pool, sauna and massage facilities. The hotel also features a garden
Hotels in Paris are expensive year-round. The earlier you book, the less you will pay. Rooms in the Marais district are small, but charming, thanks mainly to the unique architecture found in this classy arrondissement. Le Pavillon de la Reine is a stunning 4 star hotel features a spa and fitness centre with a hot tub and hammam. It provides free private parking. It is just a few metres from Victor Hugo’s house and the Place de la Bastille is a 5-minute walk away. The Chemin Vert Metro Station is 450 metres from the hotel and gives direct access to Opéra Garnier.
The 3 star Hotel de la Bretonnerie is housed in a former private house dating back to the 17th century. The classic Parisian freestone façade leads to elegant and comfortable living spaces that have retained their period charm and character. The rooms are decorated with stylish furniture; some have exposed beams; others have a view of the lively Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie; and some feature a small living room area.
On the left bank, why not try L’Hotel, located in the historical district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, this 4-star hotel features a hammam and steam room. It offers Baroque-style guest rooms equipped with a flat-screen TV and DVD player. Each guest room in Oscar Wilde’s last home are equipped with a minibar and an iPod docking station. All of the air-conditioned rooms have a seating area and a dressing room.
Entirely decorated by the famous designer Christian Lacroix, the Bellechasse Saint-Germain presents stylish and arty accommodation in the chic and trendy 7th Arrondissement, 400 metres from Solferino Metro station.
From the best cultural excursions to the ins and outs of dining like a Parisian, check out our top tips to exploring gay Paris.
Paris is a city for all of the senses. From Opera to Art, Architecture to French Cuisine, every turn brings a unique a fresh experience. One area not to miss is Montmarte. Situated almost 1,400 feet above the city, it has some of the most breathtaking views of Paris.
A Paris Pass makes getting around the city easy and saves time and money…
The area was made famous by its residents – think Picasso, Dali and Monet, all drawn to the former village due to its lower taxes on wine and spirits. So too were famous french cabaret clubs such as Le Chat Noir and Thee Moulin Rouge. Visit the Sacré Coeur, browse the street art for that perfect painting to remember Paris by and feast on delicious Crepes served fresh on by the local street vendors.
One of the best ways to experience Paris is with the Paris Pass. Save time as you skip the long queues, and save money with free entry to over 60 Paris sights and attractions including with fast track entry at many attractions, such as the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. With your Paris Pass, there is no need to use cash, simply show your pass for fast entry. Choose from a two, four or six day pass.
Take in a river cruise on the Seine. One of the most romantic ways to spend an evening in the city is to sit aboard one of the many barges that make their way up and down the river. We recommend Bateaux Parisiens’ 3 course meal complete with entertainment, orchestra and superb views. Bateaux Parisiens boats have a unique glass roof and panoramic windows, providing unobstructed views of the illuminated riverside sights of Paris.
The cruise departs from the Eiffel Tower and sails along the Left Bank to the illuminated Ministry of Finance building at Bercy. The cruise returns to the lights of the Eiffel Tower via the Right Bank.
French cuisine is one of the country’s most famous exports. One of your fondest memories is likely to be dining out in Paris while taking in the amazing views. Star chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Guy Savoy guarantee a gastronomic experience palates will savor for some time. At the other end of the spectrum, Street food in Paris can be absolutely wonderful– take the case of the Marais district’s famed falafels.
Dining out in Paris is likely to be one of your fondest memories of the city…
Dining out in Paris can be expensive. If you’re on a budget but looking for a good meal, consider trying a “Formule”, a prix-fixe menu that most restaurants offer (especially at lunch, which is when you get the best deals from more expensive restaurants). Usually you have to pick from a more limited menu, but it’s by far the most economical way to get a good meal.
Many top restaurants have much cheaper menus at lunch – an excellent time to sample the chef’s style and to get a table at short notice. Reservations in the evening are recommended. We have shortlisted some of our favourites here.
Paris has more shops per capita than anywhere else in the world. The city is home to the world’s most famous designers. From Porte Maillot to George-V, avenue Montaigne and the rond-point des Champs-Élysées, Paris offers the best in haute couture and ready-to-wear luxury fashion. This is the place for prestigious labels.
With so many shops to choose from, coming up with a top 10 can be a little difficult. Fashion is the national pastime in France. Don’t miss your chance to pay a visit to Comme de Garcons where you can find exclusive designs and colognes that are not exported. When in Paris we always head to A.P.C, the premier store for Denim. Boutiques such as JoJo and Jacenko offer an eclectic range of smart menswear. Looking for an authentic market, then head to the Marias’Lieu Commun a historic neighborhood recently revived by a bustling marketplace.
Although Sunday closing is the norm, some tourist areas are exceptions to this rule: on the Champs-Élysées, with Virgin, the Fnac and Marionnaud; In the Marais district, the numerous clothing and accessories shops in rue des Francs-Bourgeois are open on Sunday.
Galleries Lafayette is a big indoor shopping center not far from the Jardin du Palais-Royal; there are several levels of shops underground at Forum des Halles; and department stores line the busy Rue de Rivoli, near Paris City Hall (Hotel de Ville).
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