Gay Vacations in Paris, France

Windmill at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France
The Moulin Rouge in Paris, France (Corbis)

Paris Highlights

  • Learn your arrondissements. Paris is organized into 20 districts called arrondissements, starting with the first (1er) in the city center, and spiraling out in a clockwise fashion. Le Marais is made up of parts of the 3e and 4e arrondissements.
  • Find the artsy areas. What would Paris be without its artists and their 'hoods? But the areas you’ve heard about being artsy—Montmartre, Montparnasse, and Le Marais—have long since evolved into expensive neighborhoods. Now you need to go to the 11th arrondissement, a blue-collar neighborhood between Le Marais, Menilmontant, and Republique.
  • Hotel rooms can be had in summer. Most travelers who have never even been to Paris have heard that July to August is the worst time to visit, since Parisians vacate the place and businesses close. Still, it's when most Americans visit. You will be able to find hotel rooms during this time—since French visitors and major conventions are both absent. Just keep in mind that budget hotels can get booked up by students on holiday, and most Parisian hotels don't have air conditioning if a heat wave hits.

The City of Light is held close to many travelers’ hearts. They speak about it in hushed tones, with reverence, like the Holy Grail of tourist destinations. And for good reason: This perfectly planned, meticulous, and sparkling city seems ready-made for its close-up. It harbors so many iconic wonders—the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre-Coeur, the Champs Elysees—that it seems as though you have already visited before you even set foot in the place. Sure, Paris can seem imperious and arrogant, but what other places in the world could honestly say they earned that right?

Paris has had an openly gay mayor, LGBT civil unions, and a happening gay scene that, in true French style, makes up in quality what it may lack in quantity of establishments. The heart of gay Paris is one of its oldest areas, the former Jewish district of Le Marais (it means “The Marshland” from the days before the neighborhood was drained). Here you’ll find gay hotels, restaurants, and bars, but the gay scene is really sprinkled throughout the city as a whole, from saunas near the Louvre to lesbian bars near Bastille. And the lesbian scene, while still dwarfed by the males, has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.

The best part about Paris is the walking—strolling past cafes in the formerly bohemian area of Montmartre, watching the boats slip by on the Seine. Meander around the open-air marches to peruse the fresh food products. Or simply lay out your towel during summer on Tata Beach, the gay section of the Paris Plage on the Right Bank.


Published: 16 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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