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. Of course, Paris is beautiful and stylish to all comers all year round, not least in the spring and early summer.
Settle in with a nice cup of French coffee and where better to sip than at your own pink-purpose-built and homely Coffee Shop? And Le Eleven also provides a stylish, youthful caffeine kick-start to your fun-packed gay away day. Peckish already? Le Coffee Shop de l'Open is so much more than just a café, offering good-value food, service and ambience, coming into it's atmospheric own when the sun goes down.

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 book ahead.

BARS

Amnesia is the kind of bar you're unlikely to forget, not least in the basement. 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 the Mixer Bar, a small space where a lot of people cram in for a musical buzz, not dissimilar to the nearby Thermik.

Le Central is one of Paris' oldest gay bars, and pretty dead in truth, as a cursory glance through the windows will reveal. Only go in if you want some quiet. A few streets - yet seemingly a million miles - away is the overfull Le Cox stuffed with butch manly men after a stuffing.

The nicely - if ambiguously - named Feeling Bar somehow needs to reinvent and redefine itself to regain the punters. Okawa is one of Paris' more ambient gay haunts, with candles and class - good for romance. And the Open Café is one of the largest and most airy meeting points in town, sprawling out onto its corner pavements.

Le Bar du Palmier and Le Tropic Café are both informally chic drinking holes a few doors down from each other. And the Rainbow Café is a very straight-forward but fun and busy bar that attracts the gay herd. 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 suggestive titles like L'Arène, Le Banque Club, Les Docks, Mic Man, QG, Le Tranfert and Le Trap.

You can get a special pass for 15 euros, which gives you 65 euros of free drinks together with discounted or free admission to specially selected bars, cruising bars and saunas.

CLUBBING

For those more innocent clubbing pleasures? Le Queen is to Paris what Heaven is to London - slightly arrogant and vastly over-hyped. And believe me, it's not that hard to get in! Le Scorp is more like London's G.A.Y., on a smaller scale - shamelessly tacky but a laugh. Le Gibus is stylish yet uninhibited, for your true clubbing crowd, though perhaps now 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

Hotel Central Marais is Paris' only strictly gay hotel, above the dinosaur that is Le Central bar. It couldn't be better placed but you will need to book up months in advance. You're more likely to get into the gay-friendly Hotel Saintonge just to the north, and every bit as convenient.

can advise you on both gay hotels in Paris or gay friendly accommodation in the Gay Marais. You can book on-line a 3*** or 5**** hotel or one of the 100 apartments in the Marais which they represent.

www.parismarais.com 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 and mention OutUK. Check out for more information
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.

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 08705 186 186 or visit www.eurostar.com

Click here for our Insiders Guide to Gay Paris



THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Le Vieux Donjon (6 Place du Bourg, Pressigny les Pins:T: 0033 2 38 94 97 56) Website
Coffee Shop (3 rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie; T: 0033 1 42 74 24 21)
Le Eleven (11 rue de la Ferronnerie)
L'Amazonial (3 rue Ste-Opportune; T: 0033 1 42 33 53 13)
Le Coffee Shop de l'Open (23 rue du Temple; T: 0033 1 01 42 74 05 15)
Le Gai Moulin (4 rue St Merri; T: 0033 1 48 87 47 59)
Amnesia (42 rue Vieille du Temple; 0033 1 42 72 16 94)
Banana Café (13 rue de la Ferronnerie; T: 0033 1 42 33 35 31)
Mixer Bar (23 rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie; T: 0033 1 48 87 55 44)
Le Central (33 rue Vieille du Temple; T: 0033 1 48 87 99 33)
Le Cox (15 rue des Archives; T: 0033 1 42 72 08 00)
Feeling Bar (43 rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie)
GayParis (Useful Website)
Okawa (40 rue Vieille du Temple: T: 0033 1 48 04 30 69)
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)
Rainbow Café (16 rue de la Verrerie)
Quetzal (10 rue de la Verrerie; T: 0033 1 48 87 99 07)
Le Thermik (7 rue de la Verrerie)
Le Tropic Café (66 rue des Lombards; 0033 1 40 13 92 62)
L'Arène (80 quai de l'Hôtel de Ville; No phone)
Banque Club (23 rue de Penthièvre; T: 0033 1 42 56 49 26)
Docks (150 rue St Maur; T: 0033 1 43 57 33 82)
Mic Man (24 rue Geoffrey l'Angevin; T: 0033 1 42 74 39 80)
QG (12 rue Simon le Franc; T: 0033 1 48 87 74 18)
Le Tranfert (3 rue de la Sourdière; T: 0033 1 42 60 48 42)
Le Trap (10 rue Jacob; No phone)
Le Queen (102 avenue des Champs Elysées; T: 0033 1 53 89 08 90)
Le Scorp (25 boulevard Poissonnière; T: 0033 1 40 26 01 50)
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)
Hotel Central Marais (33 rue Vieille du Temple; T: 0033 1 48 87 56 08)
Hotel Saintonge (16 rue de Saintonge; T: 0033 1 42 77 91 13)

 

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