Paris is full of treasures but the Marais is a jewel in the City of Light. Spanning the 3rd and 4th districts, the neighborhood has become one of the most popular in Paris. However, it was far from being a gay area when it established its stronghold in the late 70’s.
Take advantage of the public transport as the narrow streets are not ideal for motor traffic. Get off at the metro stops Saint-Paul, Hôtel de ville, Rambuteau, ou Arts et métier. Though it doesn’t matter as the Marais is a neighborhood you can wander stress free. Don’t wield a map or smartphone—get lost a bit and let yourself be guided by the maze created by the Medieval streets and take in the timeless architecture.
In strolling the streets, you might ask yourself if you just left Paris ! The neighborhood is an escape from the hustle and bustle of Paris, a real breath of fresh air. The Marais has a palpable cosmopolitan atmosphere, where you feel very comfortable. The gay community blends with the Jewish community as well as local artists, who have a strong presence.The neighborhood is very lively. Treat yourself to a bit of shopping, where the most fashionista will be happy. The neighborhood offers a mix of specialty boutiques, luxury labels, and thrift shops. For the pickiest, they are sure to find what they’re looking at the BHV (36, rue de la Verrerie 4ème ) where everything needed for a man’s wardrobe is spread out over 4 floors.
Then walk to the numerous art galleries located throughout the Marais. The walls are genuine artists’ canveses. Want some originality ? go and discover the evocative « DSK » a specialty burger offered by Tata Burger (54 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 4ème). Or if you enjoy watching guys walking down the street, then 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. Once your stomach is full, finish up your shopping with some « sexy underwear » at Les Dessous d’Apollon (8 rue de Moussy, 4ème). You will find all your favorite brands from Andrew Christian to Garçon Français.
Now it’s time to immerse yourself in the nightlife the Marais has to offer, where the gay bars paris are countless. For an aperitif, start at one of the many wine bars such as Barav (6 Rue Charles-François Dupuis, 3ème). To continue the adventure, head to the Cox, a pilar of the Marais, or Open Cafe for its happy hour. But don’t expect to find a seat !
Continue to the Raidd Bar (23 Rue du Temple, 4ème), Where the shower and its performers have a certain reputation. 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. And for those who like to watch and observe, the Spyce (23 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie) offers an evening of cabaret, Burlesque style each Wednesday night.
After you’ve recovered from your night out, go to the Marche des Enfants Rouges (rue de Bretagne), the oldest outdoor food market in Paris. Now time for brunch, a popular activity amongst Parisians. L’estaminet des enfants rouges (39 Rue De bretagne, 3ème) in the middle of the market, gives you the impression of being in a small village—a definite change of scenary. If the ambiance is too hipster, there is the Dome du Marais (53 bis rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 4ème) known for its amazing decor, or the Who’s (14 rue Saint Merri). Book in advance !
To end your weekend on a cultural note, take advantage of the historical Marais. The Carnavalet Museum (23 rue de Sevigne), which traces the history of Paris. The Picasso Museum has finally reopened. Also visit Places des Vosges with its sculpted and lush gardens that attract the masses on sunny days. Take your shirt off, take a nap, and recharge for the evening.