This guide was updated on November 23, 2019.
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Paris is undeniably one of the most famous cities in the world and a true European capital of culture. Packed with some of the most well-known monuments, art, and history, it’s a must-visit destination for any European traveler. This city of romance is a true symbol of France and one of Europe’s best. Paris is a massive city and it might be overwhelming to some visitors. Where do you start? What do you see? There’s so much available that you could spend weeks here and not even see half of what the city offers. Certainly if it’s your first visit to France, there are a few quintessential things to see and sample like the Effiel Tower and Notre Dame as well as some fine wines, cheeses and desserts. But even for the repeat visitor, Paris doesn’t disappoint. The Marais is considered the gay neighborhood and it’s a great central location to stay. Check out these 100 tips for visiting Paris, with great info on Parisian culture and useful insights into the city.
Transportation & Airport Transfer
Paris has a developed and user-friendly public transport system including subway, regional trains, buses and bike sharing. The subway or “metro” is probably the easiest method to get around town and it goes just about everywhere. Tickets can be purchased at any metro station using the automated machines when paying by debit card or coins. Get a copy of the metro map or download the app on your phone to help navigate. Check out this guide for detailed information on how to use all of the public transportation options in Paris.
Paris has three main airports including Charles de Gaulle and Orly, which are the main international airports in the city. The Beauvais-Tillé Airport is located an hour outside of Paris and is served by budget airlines. The RER line B (regional train) links Paris and Charles de Gaulle (10€ and 30 minute ride) while Orly is best served by RER line B then connecting to the OrlyVal train. (12€ and a 35 min ride). Beauvais-Tillé Airport is served by express bus for 16€. There are several buses including Airport Express buses that also links both main airports.
Gay Hotels and Gay Friendly Accommodation in Paris
Jules & Jim – Located conveniently aside the Metro station between the Marais quarter and Place de la République.
Hotel St. James – 48 suites and rooms, spa, excellent restaurant with garden terrace, and a Library Bar.
Hotel Original – This delightful boutique hotel is superbly located. Prepare to enter the world of poetry and fantasy.
Cosy’s Residence Cadet – if you’re traveling with your pet, this could be the answer to your accommodation nightmare. Additionally receives high marks for location, service, cleanliness, and room quality.
Hotel Amour – perfect for lovers. Voted best Boutique Hotel in 2013 at the Qualitelis Client Contest.
Hotel Paris Saint Honore – gay owned hotel located at 21 rue de Penthievre, it’s a little bare-bones, but conveniently located.
Bed & Breakfast
Guesthouse La Maison Bleue – Receive a gay-friendly welcome from Alain and Christophe. Relax in their brick house (circa 1920) and its gorgeous Parisian garden.
There are many sites for apartment rentals in Paris, with AirBnB probably being one of the most popular. Prices are generally comparable to budget hotels, especially if you’re willing to get a room in a shared apartment.
There are even a few LGBT-oriented booking sites like misterb&b with listings from gay hosts for gay guests where you can either rent a whole apartment or a private room in a shared apartment. Understanding Paris’s gay scene is much more easily done with the help of a local and apartment sharing is one of the best ways to meet someone living in the city who knows how things work, where and when are the best nights to go out, and what places to eat at and which to avoid.
Sightseeing & Activities in Paris
Eiffel Tower – only the most visited monument worldwide, (7,000,000 plus annually) this structure is recognized by one and all.
The Catacombs – Your taxi driver may refer to this as Les Carrieres de Paris but whatever you call it, just make sure you see this exclusive Paris subterranean world. The lines can be massive so try arriving very early and avoid weekends or other popular times.
The Louvre – the Eiffel Tower of museums (most visited) which holds some of the world’s most famous works of art.
Musee d’Orsay – here you will find impressionist paintings and other superb collections.
Notre Dame Cathedral – The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral was badly damaged by a fire on April 15, 2019. Until then, it was still functioning as a Roman Catholic cathedral, it is considered one of the most elegant representations of French Gothic architecture.
Luxembourg Gardens – on a sunny day, there’s nowhere else to be. A stunning way to spend a few hours surrounded by sheer beauty. Bring a bottle of wine with some bread and cheese to enjoy.
Arc de Triomphe – a breathtaking tribute to the unknown soldier and others who fought for France.
Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur) – the city’s highest point, located at the summit of the butte Montmartre (Hill of Montmartre).
Gay Tours in Paris & France
There are tons of tours to choose from when visiting Paris so it’s best to decide what you’d like to see and what level of service you want. Some of our favorites are listed below.
The Gay Locals – Bryan and Craig are expats that have lived in Paris for years who know the ins and outs of everything. They’ve been working as guides for a number of years and have recently extended their offering to feature tours for LGBT visitors. More than just city guides, they have intimate knowledge of the gay scene like which bars and clubs are best and which places to avoid. They offer private gay tours and twice weekly group tours in Paris focusing on neighborhoods like the Marais, the Canal St. Martin, the Latin Quarter, Montmartre, or the old market neighborhood Les Halles. They’ll help you explore the city, local culture and gastronomy in a city that is packed with interesting history.
Restaurants & Cafes
Au Diable des Lombards – average prices and an awesome place to stop for lunch if you’re ‘out’ and about Les Halles.
The Little Red Door Paris – Check out the new bartender from Poland – Piotr! Really nice guy with interesting stories to tell… but all the bartenders are friendly and give great advice.
Des Gars Dans La Cuisine – Every course, a delectable, enjoyable surprise (especially the pavlova or the black rice with scallops). Beautiful atmosphere with chic decor, stone walls, and candlelight.
Who’s Restaurant and Bar – The restaurant area welcomes you every night, featuring “homemade” and fresh products; dishes from 15 € to 28 €. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am.
Mon Jul – receives a 4.6 out of 5-star rating for its good prices and its attentive, friendly service.
TATA Burger – a kitschy burger place with surprisingly good food. Order the double cheeseburger and it might just come out on penis-shaped bun.
Paris Gay Bars & Lounges
Though we’ve been to Paris several times, we have not explored the full nightlife scene as in depth as other cities. We’ve asked our friends Bryan and Craig from The Gay Locals to help us give you the best recommendations. We appreciate their intimate knowledge of the gay scene and hope their recommendations come in handy. Please visit them online, see their great reviews on TripAdvisor or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Open Cafe – when it comes to the evening’s social lubrication (mind out of the gutter please… or not) the 3€ pint until 10 pm and champagne specials and happy hour will serve nicely. Accommodates foreigners, locals, chic, sporty, old and young. Open daily 11am-2am, Friday/Saturday until 3am, Happy Hour: 6pm-close. Address: 17 rue des Archives, 75004 (Metro: Hotel de Ville)
Cox Café Bar – All you have to do is grow out a bit of facial hair to hang out with the guys over beers as the crowd spills onto the sidewalk. Friendly and open, it’s a bar to try at least once while in Paris. Open daily 5pm-2am, Happy Hour: 6pm-10pm Address: 15, rue des Archives, 75004 (Metro: Hotel de Ville)
Duplex Bar – The oldest gay bar in the Marais where you can find affordable wine and beer served to expats and preps or bikers and hipsters. A truly eclectic mix! And…this place also hosts rotating art shows. That means you can count it as a cultural outing. So utilitarian. Open daily 8pm-2am, Friday & Saturday until 4am, Happy Hour: 8pm-10pm Address: 25, rue Michel Le Comte, 75003 (Metro: Rambuteau)
Les Souffleurs – A bit of a dive bar. Slightly hidden but hip and trendy, it’s all about modernity, refinement, and relaxation. Have a drink upstairs before heading down to the small dance floor where the DJ spins all sorts of pop and techno music. Open daily 6pm-2am, Happy Hour: 6pm-9pm Address: 7 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 (Metro: Hotel de Ville)
Paris Gay Clubs & Parties
FreedJ – The ground floor is more loungy than a dance floor. Head downstairs to the basement where the DJ plays the Gaga and Rihanna tracks that keep people moving A glassed-in smoking room caters to those who still indulge. Open daily 6pm-4am Address: 35, rue de la Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 57004 (Metro: Hotel de Ville)
Le Cud – The party gets going around 2 am. This is the absolute late night stop for the gay Paris vacationer. The ground floor has a few seats and a bar, but the large vaulted cellar is the big draw. Expect to leave accompanied when the metro opens up at 5:30 am. Open daily midnight-6am, Friday & Saturday until 7:30 am. Address: 12, rue des Haudriettes, 75003 (Metro: Rambuteau)
La Boîte à Frissons – If you arrive too early and wouldn’t know it’s a gay club. But head here late and you’ll find one of the city’s friendly, most fun, and most laidback dance floors on weekends nights. All ages, all gay-friendly genders, and heteros, all styles of dance and all music types (except techno) until 5 am. Watch for theme nights! Open Friday/Saturday midnight-6am Address: 13, rue Au Maire, 75003 (Metro: Arts et Métiers)
The party scene is constantly changing and there are many pop-up parties around town. This list includes the regular three monthly parties worth checking out. Remember that soirées start around midnight and don’t get busy until 2 am. Check their websites for dates and details.
Crazyvores / Folivores – This must-attend monthly party is held at the historic theatre called The Bataclan. A large dance floor is perfect for dancing with friends or looking for a cute boy. It’s a mixed crowd with some girls, but mostly a place for guys to let loose. Entrance includes a drink! Address: 50, Blvd Voltaire, 75011
Doctor Love – This party is held at Club Haussmann near Paris grand boulevards. You can expect to have your photo taken by Dr. Mylène, the woman who organizes this monthly party. Dress down but look good since the crowd tends to be a little trendier than most. Opens at 11:30 pm. Address: 23, rue Taitbout, 75009
Cruising & Men Only
L’Impact – 16€ entrance or 10€ if you’re under 30. The downstairs portion awaits you and, well, whatever you want to do. Check their website for special evenings, like 2×1 night or Tuesday’s “Horse Men” soirée. Address: 18, rue Greneta, 75002 (Metro: Réaumur – Sébastopol)
Secteur X – Free entrance and nice bartenders. Lots of surprises downstairs – condoms and lube are readily available. You can enter clothed, but you probably won’t stay that way. Address: 49, rue des Blancs Manteaux, 75004 (Metro: Rambuteau)
Le Depot – This bar charges 15€ entrance. It may not be free, but it has Paris’s (and perhaps Europe’s) largest backroom. All sorts of naughty deeds happen in the rooms and halls of this labyrinth. Address: 10, rue aux Ours, 75004 (Metro: Étienne Marcel)
Sun City – Very popular and huge 100% gay sauna. Address: 62, boulevard de Sébastopol, 75003 (Metro: Étienne Marcel)
Gym Louvre – A sauna where you can go work, but let’s be honest…that’s not why you come. Address: 7Bis, rue Louvre, 75001 (Metro: Louvre – Rivoli)
Popular Events in Paris
Marche des Fiertes LGBT (Paris gay pride) – One of the most exciting cities to celebrate LGBT Pride is Paris. Liza Minnelli certainly thought so in 2009. This year, 2015, June 26th – 28th marks the extravaganza.
Day Trips from Paris
Versailles – A grandiose castle, yes, but don’t miss the water shows and gardens. Easy to get to by train RER C and takes about 30 mins for €3.50 euros per ticket. Taxi: 45 minutes and expensive.
Giverny – A true insight into Monet’s lifestyle. Taxi: 1 hour 12 minutes; or by train to Vernon (45 minutes), then a local bus/shuttle or taxi (9 minutes) to Giverny. Local tip – rent a bike at the café in front of the train station to reach the gardens instead of taking the local bus.
Mont Saint Michel – Perhaps not doable in a day but still worth the visit. Because there is no direct train service from Paris to Mont St. Michel, take the train to Pontorson and then a bus the rest of the way to Mont Saint Michel; Taxi: 4 hours. 15 minutes; though daunting, renting a car may be the cheapest way. Train routes can be found here. Metro routes here.
We’d like to give a special thanks to Craig and Bryan from The Gay Locals. Without them and their valuable local insights and awesome photos, this guide would not have been possible. Please check them out as they are highly recommended. See for yourself on TripAdvisor – they’ve got 5 star reviews!
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All photos courtesy of The Gay Locals unless otherwise noted.