The city known as 'gay Paree' lives up to its name. Paris is so open that there's less of a defined 'scene' here than in other cities where it's more underground. While Le Marais is the mainstay of gay and lesbian nightlife, you'll find LGBTIQ venues throughout the city attracting a mixed crowd.

Background

Paris was the first European capital to vote in an openly gay mayor when Bertrand Delanoë was elected in 2001. The city itself is very open – same-sex couples commonly display affection in public and checking into a hotel room is unlikely to raise eyebrows. In fact, the only challenge you may have is working out where straight Paris ends and gay Paris starts, as the city is so stylish and sexy.

In 2013 France became the 13th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage (and adoption by same-sex couples), and polls show that the majority of French citizens support marriage equality. Typically, at least one partner needs to be a resident to get married here. And, of course, there's no end of romantic places to propose.

Drinking & Nightlife

Le Marais, especially the areas around the intersection of rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie and rue des Archives, and eastwards to rue Vieille du Temple, has long been Paris’ main centre of gay nightlife and is still the epicentre of gay and lesbian life in Paris. There's also a handful of bars and clubs within walking distance of bd de Sébastopol. The lesbian scene is less prominent than its gay counterpart, and centres on a few cafes and bars, particularly along rue des Écouffes. Bars and clubs are generally all gay- and lesbian-friendly.

Events

By far the biggest event on the gay and lesbian calendar is Gay Pride Day, in late June, when the annual Marche des Fiertés through Paris via Le Marais provides a colourful spectacle, and plenty of parties take place.

Year-round, check gay and lesbian websites or ask at gay bars and other venues to find out about events.

Organisations & Resources

Centre LGBT Paris-Île de France is the single best source of information for gay and lesbian travellers in Paris, with a large library of books and periodicals and a sociable bar. It also has details of hotlines, helplines, gay and gay-friendly medical services and politically oriented activist associations.

Gay Guided Tours

For an insider's perspective of gay life in Paris and recommendations on where to eat, drink, sightsee and party, take a tour with the Gay Locals. English-speaking residents lead tours of Le Marais as well as private tours of other popular neighbourhoods and customised tours based on your interests.

Best Lists

Gay & Lesbian

Open Café The wide terrace is prime for talent-watching.

Gibus Club One of Paris’ biggest gay parties.

La Champmeslé Cabaret nights, fortune-telling and art exhibitions attract an older lesbian crowd.

Weekend in Le Marais

Shopping Sprees

  • Samuel Coraux Fabulous and occasionally outrageously kitsch creations for guys ‘n' gals by one of Paris’ funkiest jewellery designers.
  • État Libre d'Orange Perfumery that screams Marais hipster, with scents bearing names like Fat Electrician, Jasmin et Cigarette, and Delicious Closet Queen.
  • L’Éclaireur Part art space, part lounge and part deconstructionist fashion statement; fashion for men and women.

Apéros

  • L’Étoile Manquante Trendy, gay-friendly bar with retro interior and fabulous pavement terrace for obligatory after-work drinks.
  • Open Café With a four-hour happy hour kicking off daily at 6pm, how can you possibly go wrong?
  • Le Raidd Has a laid-back lounge-style ground-floor bar.

Gay Hang-outs

  • Café Cox The meeting place for an interesting (and interested) cruisy crowd throughout the evening, from dusk onward.
  • Le Raidd Upstairs is a pulsating den of DJs, dancing, themed parties, raunchy shower shows…
  • Café Voulez-Vous Sassy New York–styled gay bar and lounge with a mellow vibe.

Lesbian Hang-outs

  • 3w Kafé Flagship cocktail bar–pub.
  • La Champmeslé A fixture on Paris' lesbian scene since the '70s.
  • Le Tango Mingle with a mixed and cosmopolitan gay and lesbian crowd.

Clubs

Party Spots Beyond Le Marais

  • Ménilmontant Edgy urban cool.
  • Pigalle Montmartre's sexy southern neighbour.
  • Champs-Élysées Glam bars and clubs.
  • Bastille Lively local vibe.
  • Canal St-Martin Arty, indie venues.
  • Belleville Increasingly hip, multicultural 'hood.

Need to Know

Useful Websites

  • Spartacus International Gay Guide (https://spartacus.travel) Travel site with solid recommendations for gay-friendly accommodation in particular.
  • CitéGay (www.citegay.com) One of the best all-inclusive gay sites, with a heavily political agenda.
  • La France Gaie & Lesbienne (www.france.qrd.org) ‘Queer resources directory’ covering cinema, music, art and more.