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Paris is full of treasures, but Le Marais is a shining jewel in the City of Light. Spanning across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, this centrally-located neighborhood has become very popular with...
Paris is full of treasures, but Le Marais is a shining jewel in the City of Light. Spanning across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, this centrally-located neighborhood has become very popular with both locals and tourists alike, and is now widely considered the gay area in Paris. However, it was far from being the Paris gay area when it first established its stronghold in the late 70s.
Take advantage of public transport as the narrow streets are not ideal for motor traffic. To reach Le Marais, get off at the metro stops Saint-Paul, Hôtel de Ville, Rambuteau or Arts et Métiers. Don’t bother with a map or a smartphone, just wander the cobbled streets stress-free and get a little lost. Let yourself be guided by the maze-like feel, and take in the timeless architecture of this iconic gay neighborhood, Paris.
Strolling through Le Marais is a real breath of fresh air: an escape from the hustle and bustle of the main city. You may even wonder if you've actually left Paris, and are instead spending your gay holiday in the South of France. Despite its relaxed charm, Le Marais has a palpable, cosmopolitan atmosphere that continues to attract gay and lesbian travelers. The gay community mixes with the Jewish community, as well as local artists, who also have a strong presence in the area. Wander past authentic felafel joints which somehow meld seamlessly into hip gay bars, and admire all the locals going about their day with true Parisian finesse.
Shopping and culture in Le Marais
If you want to do some shopping, even the biggest fashionista will be starry-eyed in Le Marais. This gay area in Paris offers a mix of specialty boutiques, luxury labels and thrift shops that are catered to varying tastes and budgets. Even the most discerning are sure to find what they’re looking for at BHV (36 Rue de la Verrerie), where everything needed for a man’s wardrobe is spread over four floors. Word has it that you can also do the odd bit of gay cruising in the DIY department! Find out for yourself.
If you enjoy watching guys walking down the street, head to Des Gars dans la Cuisine (72 Rue Vieille du Temple, 3ème) where Gil and Jean-Jacques will be more than happy to welcome you to their restaurant. If you want some absolute originality, go and discover the evocative 'DSK', a specialty burger offered at Tata Burger (54 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie). This is a popular gay restaurant in the heart of Le Marais, serving up top-notch burgers on explicitly-printed placemats. Enjoy pop anthems played thorughout, and exchange banter with the friendly waiters.
Once your stomach is full, finish up your shopping with some sexy underwear at Les Dessous d’Apollon (8 Rue de Moussy). You’ll find all your favorite brands, from Andrew Christian to Garçon Français.
The best gay bars in Paris
Now it’s time to immerse yourself in the gay nightlife Le Marais has to offer! For an aperitif, start at one of the many wine bars such as Le Barav (6 Rue Charles-François Dupuis). To continue the adventure, head to the Cox, a pillar of the Marais, or Open Café for its happy hour. Just don’t expect to find a seat on the packed terrace...
Continue to Raidd Bar (23 Rue du Temple), where its performers and a novelty shower have a certain reputation in Le Marais. For the ultimate viewing pleasure, go on a Thursday, where the guys keep their undies wet all night long. Be careful, though, you can only touch with your eyes! If singing is more your thing, head to L’Enchanteur (15 Rue Michel le Comte) and make it a night of karaoke.
After you’ve recovered from your night out, head to Marché des Enfants Rouges (Rue de Bretagne), the oldest outdoor food market in Paris. Here we suggest grabbing brunch, a popular activity amongst Parisians. This is scenically positioned on the fringe of the main Paris gay area, and it offers a slightly calmer ambiance. Outdoor seating is the vibe here, so be sure to check the weather before visiting!
L’Estaminet des Enfants Rouges (39 Rue de Bretagne) is located in the middle of the market, and gives you the impression of being in a small village - a definite change of scenery. If the ambiance is too hipster, there’s Dôme du Marais (53 bis Rue des Francs-Bourgeois), known for its amazing décor, or the Who’s (14 Rue Saint-Merri). In any case, Le Marais is bursting at the seams with food and beverage venues, and whether gay or not, you'll surely be satisfied with a meal in this charming gay neighborhood.
To end your weekend on a cultural note, stop by the Picasso National Museum which contains over 5,000 pieces of the artist's work. Nearby Place des Vosges is also worth visiting thanks to its sculpted and lush gardens that attract the masses on sunny days. Take your shirt off, take a nap, and recharge for round two in the evening. What's more, you may even get the opportunity to mingle with some other local gay guys while soaking up some rays. So if you are looking to experience the charm and wonder of Paris' gay area, pencil in a vist to Le Marais.