The French capital is cloaked in myth and cliché, but one thing's for sure: few places on earth can be gayer than the roads of the intimate Marais and the neon-lit Les Halles districts just north of Notre Dames, reports Adrian Gillan. The city is still coming to terms with the tragedy of the recent terrorism which has ripped apart this most stylish and beautiful part of Europe - but slowly people are returning to a more normal way of enjoying it.
The most popular gay bars in Paris are located in the famous quarter called Le Marais. So where better to settle in than Le Jaja. It's a restaurant located in Le Marais near to the Centre Pompidou. This is very much a foodie's restaurant with modern twists and fresh ingredients.

Cafe Beaubourg has a large terrace with mixed public in opposite of the Centre Pompidou. Just watch all the shopping French boys and tourists go by.

L'Amazonial is a huge, sprawling gay restaurant with great food but variable service stretched to the limits at weekends. Le Gai Moulin provides a more cosy, intimate culinary alternative, but do book.

BARS

Having eaten well it's time to head off for Raidd Bar. This is a trendy gay bar in the very heart of Le Marais famous for its shower. It can be very busy with all kinds of men and is very popular with tourists because every hour or so a hot stripper takes a shower!

The Banana Café is worth avoiding since it's extremely overrated and now a bit passé and frankly somewhat straight-laced - it should relax and forget itself a bit. You couldn't say that about a bar a few streets away - it's the overfull Le Cox stuffed with butch manly men after a stuffing.

The Open Café is one of the largest and most airy meeting points in town, sprawling out onto its corner pavements. Whilst Le Bar du Palmier and Le Tropic Café are both informally chic drinking holes a few doors down from each other. Far more mean and moody is the cruisy Quetzal just along the road, pulling in an older no-nonsense crowd.

But for some really serious man-on-man action, Paris has a wide range of men-only bars with titles like L'Arène, Steel Club, MicManBar, and QG which is nowadays called Krash Bar. This has turned into a cruise bar with cubicles, glory holes and a sling.

Full Metal is a famous cruising and leather bar with two darkrooms. It can be very crowded in weekends. E2O Sex Club - Entre Deux Eaux used to be a bar to where you could bring your mother. However, their Naked Nights became so succesful, they've turned the bar into a nude gay play and cruise club. Le Bunker is the new name for Les Docks and it is now more than ever focussed on hard gay cruising: showers, glory holes, slings, darkroom and cubicals. One Way is a Bear's bar with video room and sling in the cellar.

CLUBBING

For those more innocent clubbing pleasures? Le Queen always used to be to Paris what Heaven is to London - slightly arrogant and vastly over-hyped. And believe me, it's not that hard to get in! Nowadays the club is no longer aimed at a gay clientele and so the crowd is very mixed - they have Ladies nights, Disco Queen nights and an Authentic Deep Night on a Sunday where you can meet a nice crowd listening a very smart selection of DEEP Music.

Le Gibus is stylish yet uninhibited, for your true clubbing crowd, though perhaps now also a bit 'mixed' for some gay tastes. A warning: take out a bank loan to buy your drinks in any Paris club.

A Paris queen at the Paris Queen

SAUNAS & CRUISING

Key West is one of the busiest gay saunas in the world, with queues around the block on a Sunday afternoon! It boasts a vast steam room and an endless warren of cabins and wipe-down mattress spaces. And lots of young'ns. IDM is also worth a visit for steaming away any remaining spare Parisian moments.

If you like cruising in the open air, try the Seine's Louvre Quay between the Pont Neuf and the Tuileries Gardens. Watch out though: it's very exposed - no bushes here - and so somewhat sordid, with occasional police patrols.

WHERE TO STAY

Our hotel partners Booking can advise you on both gay hotels in Paris or gay friendly accommodation in the Gay Marais. You can book easily online from the wide range of suggestions.
www.parismarais.com was created in 2005 by long term residents of Le Marais and is a comprehensive tourist website dedicated to the district. They also offer a choice of privately owned apartments from a single guestroom to a beautiful penthouse with jacuzzi. Studios start at around £360 a week, but you can get big discounts in July and August and there are special offers if you book well in advance.
Rent your own apartment in the Marais district
There are also many other bars, clubs, eateries, saunas, sex shops, boutiques and ladies' venues - enough to fill a novella. But if you try out those suggested here you'll have more than scratched the surface. Oh - I almost forgot to mention it - Paris isn't half bad for romance either, if you're that way inclined, especially walks along the Seine.

And of course, once you've explored Paris there's the rest of France to discover. Le Vieux Donjon is a recently opened gay guest house in a converted historic residence. Beautifully renovated rooms, sauna and pool just 90 minutes from Paris in Pressigny les Pins.

And don't miss out on the gay-friendly Hotel Saintonge just to the north of the city, and every bit as convenient. It's another place to stay that's worth considering.

Adrian Gillan travelled with Eurostar who'll take you effortlessly from London Waterloo to the heart of Paris in just three hours. For information and bookings call from the UK: 03432 186 186 or from outside the UK: +44 (0)1233 617 575. You can also visit www.eurostar.com

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Le Jaja (3 rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie; T: 0033 1 42 74 71 52)
Cafe Beaubourg (43 Rue St Merri, Les Halles)
L'Amazonial (3 rue Ste-Opportune; T: 0033 1 42 33 53 13)
Le Gai Moulin (4 rue St Merri; T: 0033 1 48 87 47 59)
Raidd Bar (23 rue du Temple; T: 0033 1 53 01 00 00)
Banana Café (13 rue de la Ferronnerie; T: 0033 1 42 33 35 31)
Le Cox (15 rue des Archives; T: 0033 1 42 72 08 00)
Open Café (17 Rue des Archives; T: 003 1 48 87 54 02)
Le Bar du Palmier (16 rue des Lombards; T: 0033 1 42 78 53 53)
Le Tropic Café (66 rue des Lombards; 0033 1 40 13 92 62)
Quetzal (10 rue de la Verrerie; T: 0033 1 48 87 99 07)
L'Arène (80 quai de l'Hôtel de Ville; No phone)
Steel Club (23 rue de Penthièvre; T: 0033 1 42 56 49 26)
MicManBar (24 rue Geoffrey l'Angevin; T: 0033 1 42 74 39 80)
Krash Bar (12 rue Simon le Franc; T: 0033 1 48 87 74 18)
Full Metal (40 Rue des Blancs-Manteaux)
2O Sex Club - Entre Deux Eaux (45 Rue de la Folie-Mericourt)
Le Bunker (150 rue St Maur; T: 0033 1 43 57 33 82)
One Way (28 Rue Charlot)
Le Queen (102 avenue des Champs Elysées; T: 0033 1 53 89 08 90)
Le Gibus (18 rue du Faubourg du Temple)
Key West Sauna (141 rue Lafayette; T: 0033 1 45 26 31 74)
IDM Sauna (4 rue du Faubourg Montmatre; T: 0033 1 45 23 10 03)
Le Vieux Donjon (6 Place du Bourg, Pressigny les Pins:T: 0033 2 38 94 97 56)
Hotel Saintonge (16 rue de Saintonge; T: 0033 1 42 77 91 13)

Revised January 2017.

 

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