Paris wears a thousand faces. For one thing, its architecture includes a bit of everything: Roman ruins and medieval byways in the Latin Quarter, the grandiose halls of the Louvre (a former palace); the Eiffel Tower, that ambitious 19th-century monument to progress; and the Centre Pompidou, hinting at late-20th-century unease with its exposed ducts and wiring.
Its neighborhoods are just as diverse. The major gay neighborhood, and the one that never sleeps, is the Marais, a once primarily Jewish district that since the 1980s has been known for its many gay bars, lounges and sex clubs. It's the home of Paris's Gay Pride, held the fourth weekend in June. Les Halles, to the west of the Marais, is an even older gay part of town, but in truth you'll find a smattering of gay nightlife in most sections of of the central city. Paris is one of two major European cities that have elected openly gay mayors, Bertrand Delanoë, along with Klaus Wowereit in Berlin. Each was elected in 2001, and Delanoë was then reelected in 2008 for a new six-year-term. As Delanoë retires in 2014, Paris is set to have a woman mayor for the first time ever, because both candidates are female.
Nearly every international airline has flights into Charles de Gaulle (also known as Roissy). The secondary, smaller option is Orly. Both airports are served by bus, taxi and train. One easy way to get downtown is on a shuttle bus of Les Cars, operated by Air France from each airport. The onboard fare for the trip downtown runs between 12.50 to 17.50 euros, depending on the destination. Between the two airports it's 21 euros. Buying ahead online saves a bit. Another option is the RER B train, with frequent service between CDG and Châtelet Les Halles for 9.75 euros, a trip of about half an hour. From Orly to Châtelet Les Halles it's 11.65 euros on the same RER B line. Prices are as of January 2014.
Eurostar cross-channel trains from London Pancras come into Gare du Nord, Europe's busiest train station, also on the RER B line, and with lots of Metro connections. SNCF, the French national railways, also has trains arriving from northern France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. At the nearby Gare de l'Est SNCF high speed TGV trains arrive from other regions of France, and Germany. Gare de Lyon, Gare d'Austerlitz, Gare Montparnasse, and Gare Saint-Lazare are the other major stations.
For more leisurely trips, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) offers one to six day luxury rail exursions between Paris, London, Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest, Prague, Venice, Vienna and Istanbul; including sleeper cabins, and fine dining, on beautifully restored 1920s era cars.
For information about bus and coach connections to other French and European cities, see the AboutFrance pages.
Central Paris is compact, which means walking is often the best way to get around. Another option for small distances is the citywide bike-rental system, Velib. It takes some getting used to, but it's worth the hassle to enjoy the 440 km (270 miles) of cycle paths and routes in this city.
The Paris metro is also a highly practical way to get around, but with service ending around 2am on Friday and Saturday and an hour earlier other days, you'll need to take a taxi if you don't want to make an early or very late night of it. Service re-starts at about 5:30am, which suits many club-goers just fine. Bus routes are a bit more complicated, but those that run along the river are easy enough to figure out, and offer more scenic views than you get underground. For city transit information in French, English, and several other languages, see Ratp.fr
For scenic cruises on the Seine see Bateaux Parisiens or Bateaux Mouches, each offering lunch, dinner and sightseeing tours aboard one of their many river boats.
What to see
Centre Pompidou. Richard Rogers' and Renzo Piano's erector set of an art museum wears its 1970s stylings proudly.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery. The final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and Proust is a must-see for anyone interested in queer history and literature.
Notre-Dame. Its 12th-century spires, bell towers and gargoyles can't be beat for over-the-top Gothic allure.
Louvre. It's the home of the Mona Lisa, but that's just the start -- plan your visit like a military operation to avoid masterpiece fatigue.
Living la vie en rose
For hundreds of years, Paris has served as a kind of pressure valve for the rest of Europe and North America, welcoming with open arms (and sometimes other body parts) various oddballs, outcasts and sexual outlaws.
It was in a rundown Latin Quarter hotel that Oscar Wilde lived (and finally died) after being exiled from England. And it was on the stages of the Folies Bergere and other theaters that Josephine Baker, after leaving the racist US of the 1920s, found fame, first as an exotic dancer and then as an all-round diva.
After World War II, Paris became a much sought after place for American artists seeking to escape the stifling climate back home. It was here, for instance, that James Baldwin wrote Giovanni's Room, his tale of a white American boy who falls in love with an Italian waiter.
Even for artists who never actually took up residence, Paris sometimes served as a kind of surrogate birthplace for their work. The pioneering Olympia Press published mainly dirty books with titles like The Sexual Life of Robinson Crusoe and There's a Whip in My Valise, but its founder's tastes were broadminded enough to print immortal (but also dirty) classics like Naked Lunch and Lolita.
Of course, Paris wasn't just a place for highbrow art -- the city could (and still can) get down and dirty with the best of them. The last half of the 19th century through World War II was a boom time for Paris whorehouses, and during this time the city was sometimes called "Europe's brothel." Perhaps the most famous establishment was Le Chabanais, at #12 on the street of the same name, near the Louvre. The women here attracted artists (like Toulouse-Lautrec and Dali), heads of state and film actors -- including Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Mae West and Marlene Dietrich.
Gay brothels, though less common, were not unknown. Proust himself was rumored to have been devoted to the all-male Hotel Marigny and, in fact, may have been a silent investor. Bordellos were so numerous they even had their own Michelin-style guidebook, called the Guide Rose. Its listings detailed maisons closes and their specialties, some designed to appeal to kinky priests, others to fans of SM.
Legal brothels don't exist in Paris today -- the 1,400 still running in 1946 were banned in a post-war cleanup effort -- and Paris is no longer the land of would-be Hemingways and Gertrude Steins. Still, as you wander its storied streets, it's worth keeping in mind a time when the whole world seemed to be knocking on Paris's door, looking for a good time.
Marais -- the gay village
For gay visitors the quartier of narrow streets called Le Marais (the Marsh) epitomizes Old Paris. Lined with cafes, restaurants, bars, boulangeries, patisseries, boutiques, theaters, and museums, it's been tres gai for years. Many come to shop, cafe-sit, cruise or watch the parade. The central artery is la rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, where cars are restricted, making room for a calmer pedestrian pace.
From Le Marais, Les Halles is a two-minute walk beyond the Pompidou Center. Paris's central market in centuries past, Forum des Halles is now a teeming subterranean complex of shops and restaurants and even a public pool. The surrounding streets are filled with bars, boutiques, card shops, discount leather and shoe stores, porn arcades, internet cafes, and American fast-food joints. Down the pedestrian streets of Rambuteau and St Denis are several popular gay establishments.
Above Les Halles, remarkable cafes and restaurants sit amid venders selling flowers, fresh bread and pastries, fish and fowl, and fruits and vegetables. Open-air market stalls are set up on Thursday afternoons and Sunday mornings on rue Montmartre just beyond the grand terraces of corner brasseries. On rue Montorgueil the epiceries, or grocers, resemble boutiques in quality and abundance
The 'real' Paris
Everyone knows of the Champs Elysees, or the Left Bank, but quintessential Paris is said to reside in the neighborhoods surrounding Sacre-Coeur, the iconic basilica atop one of the city's few hills. The historical marker celebrates the district's habitation since the time of Druids. Near the base of the funicular is a neighborhood of many bargain stores, bars and restaurants, and close by, the Pigalle red-light district.
Around the Place de la Bastille area are many more small shops, restaurants and bars. Les Passages are two dozen surviving 19th-century covered shopping arcades filled with quirky little boutiques.
The French love films from everywhere around the world, in many languages, of many periods. The area around Centre Pompidou has several legendary cinemas.
Forum des Images, in Forum des Halles, showcases the best film directors in screenings at affordable prices.
Cinema UGC Cine Cite, also in Forum des Halles, has over 20 screens and shows many English-language films.
MK2 Beaubourg (50 rue Rambuteau), features films from many lands in a complex of small cinema rooms, on the pedestrian street beside the Pompidou Center.
Cinefil Cinema Le Nouveau Latina (20 rue du Temple), located just across from bar Raidd, features original Spanish or English language titles.
The grand decor & gigantic screens of Cinema Grand Rex (1 bd Poissonniere), and Gaumont Opera Premier (32 rue Louis Le Grand), hark back to an older Paris.
Theaters abound in Les Halles and Le Marais. Twenty of these are listed at Parismarais.com, including one that houses a permanent circus, the Cirque D'Hiver Bouglione (110 rue Amelot) with shows year-round.
Sights & Museums
Purchase tickets to monuments and museum ahead of time to avoid the lines. Try your hotel, tourist offices, Parismuseumpass.com (free access to 60 museums with no queues at €42 for 2 days/ €56 for 4 days/ €69 for 6 days), or the website of each museum.
Home to the Mona Lisa, the Louvre is all you've heard multiplied a hundred fold. Wear comfortable shoes and consider visiting Wednesday or Friday evening, when it is less crowded and open until 10pm.
Pompidou Center has contemporary art, photography, film, and music. Definitely make time for the 6th-floor restaurant, which has a view of the rooftops.
Musee Carnavalet (23 rue de Sévigné), has 17th- century rooms, an interior garden and a bookshop.
Other museums worth checking out include: Musee National Picasso (5 rue Thorigny), Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais (3 av du General-Eisenhower), and Le Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (36 rue Geoffroy).
Staying on budget
A reputation for sky-high prices and fluctuations in exchange rates shouldn't discourage visitors. Good rooms can be found off-season for 59 to 79 euros, even at the city center. Short Metro or bus hops can introduce you to neighborhoods outside the tourist zones where you'll find real Parisians. But even at the center, a few euros will buy a seat at one of many splendid terrace sidewalk cafes for coffee, conversation, or merely watching Parisian street life.
Not counting a splurge or two for truly memorable meals, you can reduce daily costs by sampling the abundance of inexpensive street fare, from sidewalk crepes or pizza slices, to quiches and fresh sandwiches on crusty bread from any of the ubiquitous bakeries for 3-4 euros -- or delicious brasserie omelets for 5-6 euros. Also take advantage of Asian take-outs and Middle-Eastern fast food. These, along with bread, cheese, fresh fruit and pastries, to be found on almost any downtown street, can more than sustain you for amazingly little money.
Media and Resources
QWeek / L'Agenda Gay is a magazine/website to keep up with the busy Paris gay scene, with an online reader to get a head start before you arrive.
Prends-Moi is a website for "sexualités gay" with essays and graphics. Tribu Move and Sensitif are two gay glossy lifestyle freebies. All three have online readers to see the latest issues and archive back-issues.
Tetu Magazine is France's national gay glossy, full of interesting essays, insightful reviews, dazzling photos, plus bar and party listings.
Agenda Q focuses on the fetish/leather/sex club scenes, but you now have to sign up to access the site.
France-Voyage.com is a guide to tourism in 6 languages, with suggestions on interesting local sites and curiousities, plus side trips all over France.
Understand France, an American expat website, has tips on getting around Paris, where to find odd items, or essential/ emergency services, plus hints for better cross-cultural communication.
Internet access can be found at hotspots all over Paris, but most require personal registration. Shops with their own computers for getting online are easy to find around Les Halles and the Pompideau Center, with several on boulevard de Sébastopol.
For discreet access to x-rated internet sites and Espace Jockstraps chat lines, see the guys at Boxxman video boutique and sex club, 2 rue de la Cossonnerie, Les Halles.
Inexpensive internet phone calls can be made from the tiny WorldCom internet shop at 35 rue Saint-Denis, just north of rue des Lombards, located between Forum des Halles and Châtelet Metro station.
For La Poste in the Les Halles area there are post offices at 259 rue Saint-Martin (at rue Saint-Denis), and 27 rue des Lavandières Sainte-Opportune (Châtelet), plus a larger one at 52 rue du Louvre (at rue Étienne Marcel). in the Marais there's an office at 10 rue de Moussy (off Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie). Besides mail services they offer phone cards and mobile phones.
If your hotel can't do it, get boarding pass printouts, photocopies, or faxes sent or received with the helpful staff at Office Depot, at the corner of Sébastopol and Étienne Marcel, near Forum des Halles.
For a city map with locations and website links to gay businesses, entertainment venues, museums and other places of interest, see our gay Paris map & listings pages. For some photos from around the City of Light see our gallery pages.
The choices are countless, but book ahead online for better prices. We list over 50 hotels and guesthouses on our map pages. Below is sample of a few in central Paris:
Hotel Louvre Richelieu (51 rue de Richelieu; 01 4297 4620), rooms near Opera, Palais Royal Gardens, Louvre, Galleries Lafayette; gay-friendly, multi-lingual staff, WiFi, breakfast.
Hotel Beaumarchais (3 rue Oberkampf; 01 5336 8686) 31), rooms and junior suites, quiet interior courtyard patio, extended hours buffet breakfast, WiFi.
Hotel Jacques de Molay (94 Rue des Archives; 01 4272 6822), Marais gem by the park and shops of rue de Bretagne; light breakfast, WiFi.
Hotel Villa Mazarin (6 rue des Archives; 01 5301 9090), elegant Hotel de Ville area option near gay district, Louvre and Orsay Museums; 35 rooms, WiFi, La Table fine dining restaurant,
Hotel Mondial (22 rue du Grand Prieure; 01 4700 9344), a classic near Place de la Republique; singles to four-person rooms, cable TV, WiFi.
Jules & Jim Hotel (11, rue des Gravilliers), new hotel, bar and courtyard, cocktails, music, photography exhibitions, art happenings, parties. 23 rooms overlooking the roofs of Paris, buffet breakfasts, WiFi.
CLOSED - Hotel Central Marais (2 rue Sainte-Croix-de- la-Bretonnnerie), long-time, exclusively gay guesthouse above their own bar.
Parisian Home (12, rue Mandar; firstname.lastname@example.org), short-term furnished apartments and studios in Marais district, the Champs Elysées and other areas, budget to deluxe, 2-6 person occupancy, kitchens, TV, WiFi.
Bars, Clubs, Cafés, Les Halles/Marais
Le Banana Cafe (13 rue de la Ferronnerie), young gay and mixed crowd, mostly guys and friends; affable staff, energetic go-go dancers, Oriental Sessions Middle-East/Asian music nights, quieter chill-out piano bar downstairs.
Bears' Den (6 rue des Lombards), warm and welcoming bear crowd that spills out onto heated terrace, packed and cruisy basement dance floor, dark nooks for playing.
Cox Cafe Bar (15 rue des Archives), mostly men's bar, DJ sets, popular happy hours until 10pm, crowd spills onto sidewalk in good weather.
CUD (12 rue des Haudriettes), neighborhood bar, mostly men, hot and shirtless dancing throng in basement.
Depot (10 rue aux Ours), Addikt Club dancing, basement cruise complex, diverse male crowd. Friday Total Beur Arab nights; Saturday House, Pop Electro RnD parties; Sunday 7-10pm T-dance, then dance/cruise until 6am; weeknights cruising, cabins and darkroom play.
Duplex (25 rue Michel le Comte), youngish crowd, nightly 8pm-2am, weekends until 4am; artwork expos, house and jazz music.
Gossip (16 rue des Lombards), cafe/ restaurant on busy pedestrian street, gay-popular covered terrace; men, women young and chic mix; breakfast, brunch and cocktails, WiFi access.
L'Enchanteur (15 rue Michel le Comte), comfortable pub on two levels, men/women mix, karaoke, cabaret, video jukebox; nightly except Wednesday until 6am.
L'Imprévu Cafe (9 rue Quincampoix), cozy ambience, mismatched decors, nightly Latino-California coffee shop, cocktail bar, and hip cosmopolitan bistro behind thick red curtains.
Feeling Bar (43 rue Ste-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie), hole-in-the-wall neighborhood gay favorite, men/women mix.
Free DJ (35 rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie), small bar, nightly DJ sets, weekend dancing downstairs until 4am, Sunday Mass until 3am.
Full Metal (40 rue des Blancs Manteaux), very crowded testosterone-charged men's leather/ fetish cruise bar; Monday Cockring Only nights, black-outs, sneaker and uniform nights, bear events.
Kent'z (2-4 rue Vauvilliers), Art Déco chic gay bar n Les Halles, cozy 1920s decor, armchairs and sofas, open late.
Bar Mic-Man (24 rue Geoffroy l'Angevin), friendly men's bar opposite Pompidou Center, regular-guy cruising, steamy basement sex, cheap drinks.
One Way (28 rue Charlot), long-time regular men's bar, fills up early, open late weekends, cruisy basement, smoking area, theme nights, 20-year cap collection.
Open Cafe (17 rue des Archives), always busy at the central crossroads of the Marais; cute servers, coffee and cocktails, light meals, sidewalk tables.
The Labo (37 rue des Lombards), day and night gay sports and karaoke men's bar, varied music, special parties, large terrace on pedestrian street, theme nights, former Wolf site.
Les Pietons (8, rue des Lombards), friendly little tapas/cocktail bar and restaurant on busy pedestrian street, Sunday brunch, Spanish spoken, walls nicely tiled.
Raidd (23 rue du Temple), nightly nude shower-dancer hunks, DJs, extra dancers on Wednesdays; packed most nights with handsome mostly male crowd, basement lounge, buff and shirtless staff.
Sly Bar (22 rue des Lombards), new upscale gay men's cocktail lounge, DJs, dancing, Mister Sly contests.
Snax Kfe (182 rue Saint-Martin), tranquil bar and restaurant, nice terrace, noon to 3pm breakfast, polyglot staff, near Pompidou Centre.
Spyce Bar (23 rue Ste-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie), upscale, popular cocktail lounge/warm-up music bar, lively cabaret shows, mostly men, sexy go-go dancers, DJs, special theme parties.
Le Velvet (43 rue Saint-Honore), chic gay-friendly bar/cocktail lounge on two levels, DJs, snacks, 5pm happy hours, young mixed crowd.
Ze Baar (41 rue des Blancs Manteaux), two-level bar and restaurant, convivial mixed crowd.
Bars & Clubs, Beyond
Artishow (3 cite Souzy; Place de la Nation), drag cabaret dinner shows, 20 original musical numbers per show, seven artist/ performers.
L'Insolite (33 rue des Petits Champs; Pyramides), drag cabaret dinner club, Wednesday-Sunday disco dancing, 11pm-5 or 7am.
Cabaret Chez Micho ( 80, rue des Martyr, Pigalle), long-time drag cabaret showbar, nightly dinner spectaculars, by reservation; un spectacle inoubliable!
Cafe Moustache (138 rue du Faubourg St Martin; Gare de l'Est), local guys' cruise pub, backroom with cabins, porn videos; leather and sports nights, Sunday buffet from 7pm.
Rex (5 bd Poissonniere; Quartier de la Place Vendôme), young, mostly straight crowd, trendy music and performances in old cinema building.
Backrooms, Sex Clubs & Cruise Bars
The French enjoy sex as much as they do discussions of politics or religion over good food and wine. Sex in public, or in private clubs, has a long Parisian history. The many dark nooks and subterranean crannies have provided discreet areas for sex play far into the past. Outdoor cruising, in places like Bois de Boulogne, are a long-standing tradition, but can be risky.
Besides the many saunas, a variety of bars porn stores and sex clubs provide sexual opportunities not only at the center, but in outlying neighborhoods too. It's worth the trip to Metro Anvers to visit MecZone, a club proud to stand a little apart from the throng. Others like MicMan are right at the center. Shops, including Boxx Man in Les Halles, are alternative places for sexual encounters. Some outright sex clubs, with naked-always policies, can be less impersonal than the zombies in the hall vibe of some saunas or porn shops.
Many bars around the Marais feature ancient stone arched-ceiling cellars, with low lighting and flickering videos -- and men in heavy sex play. Slings, glory holes, cabins and piss benches may also be provided.
Each place has its own ambience. Some are always naked, or have fisting events or nights for piss aficionados or sneaker sniffers, and some have showers, (but most don't). Condoms and lubes are usually at hand, sometimes even gloves and enema kits. Weekend afternoon parties can be as popular as the late night events.
Backrooms: Marais/Les Halles
Depot (10 rue aux Ours), city's largest sex club, basement black-out areas, cabins, younger crowd than usual; weekend dance club, big Sunday tea dance.
Full Metal (40 rue des Blancs Manteaux), cellar with military theme, slings, jail, cabins, and piss bench. Parties include sneaker sex, uniform or leather nights, and cockring-only attire.
L'Impact (18 rue Greneta), all-nude bar and sex clud mixes both tourists and locals at the center of everything; orgy bed, sling rooms, open cabins, glory holes; Sunday Tea Sex naked nights with 9pm buffet.
Krash (12 rue Simon Le Franc), Marais gay fetish, cruise and sex club; total-black-out, rubber, leather, sports, naked and underwear party nights - the former QG bar.
Le Mensch Sex Pub (34 rue Charlot), nightly sex club at old Glove site, S/M-bondage, fisting, g-showers, slings, leather, latex nights.
Mic-Man (24 rue Geoffroy l'Angevin), small local's bar right across from Pompidou center, hot cellar playroom with hard-core videos; busy all afternoon and into the night -noon-2am.
La Mine (20 Rue du Plâtre), Marais men's cruise/fetish bar; leather, latex, uniform, and sneaker fetish events.
Next (87 rue St. Honore), sex complex, labyrinths, cabins, slings, showers and video salon seven days a week, non-stop on weekends.
SEcteurX (49 Clos des Blancs-Manteaux), men's sex club, adult fantasy role-playing, cruise bar; leather/ fetish and piss nights.
Backrooms: beyond center
Bunker (150 rue Saint Maur; Place Republique), sex club with naked, leather, sports, rubber, underwear nights; private cabins, darkroom, slings, glory holes, prison cells, and extreme action.
Entre Deux Eaux (45 rue de las Folie Mericourt, Oberkampf), pleasant, snug, welcoming bar and sex club where being naked feels comfortable, natural and playful; regulars are newcomer-friendly.
Keller (14 Keller), long-time Bastille bar reopened, men-only sex club; naked, bondage, leather and fetish nights/sex parties.
MecZone (27 rue Turgot, Anvers), nightly neighborhood men's pub in the Butte Montmartre, sociable encounters, friendly bar staff; dark cellar playroom with slings, and naked weekends that get down to basics. Celebrated 23 years in 2014.
Steel Club (23 rue de Penthièvre), no dress-code cruise bar near Élysée Palace, 4-level hard-core men's sex club, old Banque location; fantasy rooms, glory holes, cabins, videos, cage, slings, showers, smoking area.
Dancing: smaller clubs
The city's dance clubs generally operate from midnight to dawn. Some are in les boites de nuit -- tightly packed basement rooms. Others take place in large venues drawing massive weekend crowds. Local gay magazines, websites and flyers keep you posted on special events.
Club 18 (18 rue de Beaujolais) hot, energetic young guys' dance scene, open Fridays and Saturday midnight until 6am; foam parties, special pre-holiday nights.
CUD (12 rue des Haudriettes), mostly men, then mixed when dancing begins after midnight; hot, sweaty, shirtless.
Free DJ (35 rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie; Marais), small bar, weekend dancing downstairs until 4am.
Dancing: larger clubs
La Boite a Frissons at Tango Ballroom (13 rue au Maire) Friday/ Saturday all-ages gay dance nights, tangos, waltzes, cha-chas until 1am, then '70s, '80s pop hits. Sunday Tea-dances
Club 79 (22 rue Quentin Bauchart), special Sunday gay Fluid /Under T-Party after-hours dance parties, 10am-9pm.
Depot (10 rue aux Ours) Friday and Saturday dancing from 11pm until 8am, mostly young crowd, men-only, on two floors, cabins and labyrinth. North African Saturdays, Sunday tea dances from 5pm.
Le Queen (102 av des Champs Elysees), mixed crowd, gay-friendly, large dance club, open nightly; gayest Sundays for El Domingo Loko. Constantly changing theme nights include burlesque shows and performances.
Love is Mylène (LIM) at Les Planches Club (40 rue du Colisée), periodic gay Tea-Dances, vintage music, Pop classics.
Mix (24 rue de l'Arrivee), monthly venue for gay Happy-Pulse soirées, usually last Saturdays, huge dance club beneath the station at Montparnasse.
Le Rive-Gauche (1, rue du Sabot), large mixed dance club near St-Germain-des-Prés, women's nights Saturdays after 11pm.
Scream (18 rue du Faubourg du Temple), popular gay Saturday 18+ dance parties on 3 floors; star DJs, various music styles, House to Pop; lounge bar, men-only dark cruise area, porn movies.
Dancing: after hours
Wake-Up at Theatre Rouge (77 rue JB Pigalle), weekly Scream afterhours dancing, 7am-1pm Sundays.
For info on some irregular dance parties see the websites of Beardrop, and LIM. Most big dance parties in Paris close down for the summer from July to mid-September. August is the traditional vacation month when almost everyone leaves town except tourists and those who host them.
Paris saunas with competition from the many backrooms, must offer something more. Many have hammams, the Turkish ritual baths mixing dry sauna, steam, massage, and time-out relaxation. Sexual adventures are provided for with dark rooms, mazes, and cabins. Bars, cafes, internet lounges, and work-out areas are also common. Most here are day saunas, busiest in the late afternoon to early evenings.
Bains Montansier (7 rue de Montreuil, Vincennes), gay men's sauna well out of the center, 30-foot pool, popular with bears.
Bains d'Odessa (5 rue d'Odessa, Montparnasse), 1895 classic facade, sauna/bar, cabins, maze, darkroom, massage, WiFi, no-attitude all-male patrons include bears.
Gym Louvre (7 rue du Louvre; Les Halles), full sauna facilities, full gym with trainers, cafe, lots of toned bodies running around an immaculately clean and modern facility; sex zone cabins, video cinema, glory holes, sling.
Euro Men's Club (8-10 rue Saint-Marc; Bourse), three levels, mostly older guys crowd, pool, Jacuzzi, hammam and sauna, cabins, cinema; tea bar/lounge, theater, smoking room.
Hammam Boulevard (23 rue des Jeûneurs; Bourse), five night men's sauna, mixed Wednesdays and Sundays; young guy discounts, traditional hammam/sauna services, massage, scrubbing.
IDM Sauna (4 rue du Faubourg Montmartre; Opera), busy, popular hamman/sauna club just beyond Les Halles; varied mix of guys, gym/workout area, theater, small pool, naked nights, Sunday food and drinks.
Key West Sauna Club (141 rue Lafayette; Gare du Nord), among the biggest and best endowed of gay men's facilities, on four floors. Huge spa, saunas and pool, bar, TV lounge, cabins, darkroom, naked parties, smoking zone.
Riad (184 rue des Pyrenees), sauna, hamman, pool, bar, exotic ambience, varied clientele, several massage techniques. A bit out from the center, but worth the trip.
Sauna Atlantide (13 rue Parrot; Gare de Lyon), mixing all genders and sexual orientations, for those who like to experiment across the great divides.
Sauna Mykonos (71 rue des Martyrs), cozy homo enclave in otherwise mostly hetero Pigalle, patrons always naked; sauna, hammam, cabins, sling, glory holes, videos, juice bar.
Steamer (5 rue Dr Clemenceau), small and funky sauna on the Left Bank, fun for meeting local men who don't venture far from home; sauna, hammam, cabins, video room, bar.
The three night saunas are open overnight until dawn.
King Sauna (21 rue Bridaine), near Place de Clichy, all steam/sauna facilities, plus cabins, darkroom, glory holes, snack shop; mellow clientele loves to sprawl in their popular TV lounge.
Sun City (62 Boulevard de Sebastopol), vast Marais facility on three levels attached to Le Depot sex club. India-inspired decor, giant Ganesh at the entrance, full sauna facilities, dark rooms, cabins, beautiful pool, and bar. Sometimes better for voyeurs than sex-pigs if pretty patrons get picky.
Tilt Sauna (41 rue Sainte Anne), France's first gay sauna since 1974, near Palais Royal amid the many Japanese shops and restaurants, open all day and all night; steam, sauna, cubicles, sling, backroom, glory holes and porn videos.
French cuisine stands atop the world and Paris sits at the center. Locals crave not only their native foods in the bistros, brasseries and fine restaurants, but also those of other cultures, from every nation and tradition. These include familiar American, Italian, Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and South Asian fast foods, and Spanish tapas, as well as their own crusty bagette sandwiches and a rich variety of quiches and brioches on offer in any boulangerie. Brunch, American-style, is now popular here too. As they say of New York restaurants, you'll never have time to try them all. We list a few below, and as many again on our restaurant map page - but it's a joy to explore as you go.
After cocktails, Parisians head out to eat. In the continental style there are often two designated seatings, at 9pm and 11:30pm.
48 Condorcet (48 rue Condorcet, Anvers), intimate setting, homey countryside ambience, modern cuisine prepared by chefs who know their stuff and care enough to do it right. Daily 7pm-midnight.
Au Chien Qui Fume (33, rue du Pont Neuf, Les Halles), since 1740, traditional brasserie seafood and shellfish, fresh oysters, foi gras maison.
Aux Trois Petits Cochons (28, rue La Vieuville, Abbesses), superb classic French cuisine and fine wines, excellent service, solid reputation. A longtime popular gay favorite, they recently moved to Montmartre from Les Halles.
L'Alivi (27 rue du Roi de Sicile), known for traditional Corsican cuisine and wines; well reviewed but moderate prices, indoor or patio seating.
Le Gai Moulin (10 rue Saint-Merri, Marais), traditional 3-course menu French cuisine; engaging host sometimes plays the piano and sings.
Les Affranchis (5 rue Henri Monnier, Anvers), relaxed ambience, traditional French neighborhood bistro, near Place Pigalle.
Une Poule sur un mur (5 rue Marie Stuart), classic Parisian cuisine with a twist, modern vibe in relaxed setting, good wines.
4pat Restaurant (4 rue Saint-Merri, Marais), gay cafe, lunch, brunch and dinner, "pasta phenomenale."
Amazonial (3 Rue Ste-Opportune, Les Halles), French traditional bistro, simple brasserie fare, large terrace, 8:30 morning coffee, evening cocktails until 1:30am.
Arena Cafe (29 rue Saint Denis, Les Halles), gay-friendly brasserie bar and cafe, people-watching central terrace; late food service, even later drinks.
Au Rocher de Cancale (78 rue Montorgueil, Les Halles), 1846 bistro, plat du jour, salads, burgers, dinner, daily brunch, drinks, heated terrace, WiFi.
Aux 3 Escales (12 rue Quincampoix, Les Halles), casual cocktail bar, whiskey, rum, beer and 25 tapas menu; open weekends until 2am.
Brasserie Bofinger (5-7 rue de la Bastille), famous landmark by Place de la Bastille, founded in 1864 and considered "the most beautiful brasserie in Paris." Traditional Alsatian meals, also with seafood stand and take-away.
Breakfast in America (4 rue Malher, Marais; and 17, rue des Ecoles, Rive Gauche), American breakfast eggs, pancakes, bagels; burgers, wraps, club sandwiches, chili con carne, cheesecake, and real milkshakes.
Cafe Beaubourg (43 rue St Marri, Beaubourg), well-situated terrace overlooking the Pompidou throng, good food and service; a bit pricey but a pleasant place for coffee or drinks.
Diable des Lombards (64 rue des Lombards, Châtelet-les-Halles), Franco-American restaurant, perfect for late sleepers, American-style brunch served until 6pm every day; also tapas, sandwiches, burgers, steak frites, full bar.
Gentle Gourmet Café (24 boulevard de La Bastille, Bastille), breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, and take-out; entirely vegan, mostly organic seasonal gourmet creations, home-made ice-cream, pastries.
Happy Days Diner (6 Sq Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie), American 50's style burgers, hot dogs, shakes, Sunday brunch until 5pm; jukebox.
L'Ange 20 (8 rue Geoffroy l'Angevin; Marais), gay-friendly bistro, open daily except Monday for dinner, French wine at good prices; Sunday brunch.
Le Petit Prince de Paris (12, rue de Lanneau, Marais), warm and cozy, gay-friendly 1450 tavern, fine traditional French cuisine and wines.
Lezard Cafe (32 rue Etienne Marcel) big sprawling gay-friendly cafe and bistro, with large heated sidewalk terrace.
Loup Blanc (42 rue Tiquetonne) relaxed vibe, specialties of grilled meats, unique mix of world cuisine, a gay favorite every night until midnight with a popular Sunday brunch until 4:30pm.
Ma Bourgogne (19 place Vosges; Marais), famous, traditional bistro breakfast, lunch, dinner, 8am-1am; Aveyron cuisine, regional wines.
Monjul (28 clos des Blancs Manteaux, Marais), creative and innovative French gourmet cuisine, celebrity chef.
Ozo (37, rue Quincampoix) freshest meat, poultry and fish filets, individually cooked in sauce or seasoning of your choice. Also grand Sunday brunches until 4:30pm.
Pink Flamingo Pizza Marais (105 rue Vielle du Temple, Marais), unusual artisan pizzas named after interesting people; Parisian flair, fresh perspectives.
Riad Nejma Restaurant (141, rue St Martin, Beaubourg), cuisine, exotic decor and ambience of Morocco; seven private dining salons, patio, dancers.
Stuart Friendly (16 rue Marie Stuart), popular gay/hetero-friendly tea and coffee salon for lunch, dinner and brunch, served in modern minimalist decor setting.
The Studio (41 rue du Temple, Marais), Tex-Mex favorites and house specialities, 10am-midnight, tapas bar, brunch; terrace seating.
Le Who's (14 rue Saint Merri), bar/restaurant open daily/nightly noon to 6am, Saturday and Sunday brunch, gay-central between Les Halles and Le Marais, old Curieux Spaghetti site.
Legay Choc (45 rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie, Marais) handmade breads, irresistible quiches, cakes and tarts of many flavors; penis-shaped bagettes, brioches, and meringues sell out fast.
Le Pain Quotidien (17, rue des Archives, Marais), tasty, generous portion, nicely priced made-to-order sandwiches to go.
Pizza Rustica (36 rue Montorgueil), pizza squares for 4-5 euros, many topping choices, open to 2am. Also at Forum des Halles and St-Michel.
Victor 1920 (33 rue Rambuteau), artisan sandwiches, pies, tarts and other sweet & savory take-out treats, for those on the run in the gayborhood.
Shopping: Sex Leather and Fetish Boutiques
Les Halles and Le Marais are famous for sex shops and peep shows, particulary along rue Saint Denis. Look for rainbow decals, but check the following shops first.
Boxxman (2 rue de la Cossonnerie), gay magazines and comics, sex toys and accessories, wide selections of video DVDs; cruise club video booths, unfiltered internet.
BMC Video (21 rue des Lombards), sex toys an accessories, a wide range of gay DVDs, large selection of preview options in private booths.
Club 88 (88 rue Saint-Denis), mixed sex shop toys and accessories, gay DVD section with cruisy booths.
IEM (16 rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie; 43 rue de l'Arbre-Sec), big gay DVD section, sex magazines, books, comics, guides, toys, accessories, underwear, plus latex and rubber attire and gear.
JV Cuir (18 rue des Gatines; Gambetta), leather boutique, tailoring, pants, jackets, BDSM and fantasy gear.
Mister B (24 rue du Temple), leather, rubber, fetish attire/gear, accessories, toys, magazines, DVDs; from famous Amsterdam retailer.
New Millenium (37 rue Jean Pierre Timbaud; place de la Republique), sex shop, DVD videos, books, fetish toys, gear, clothing.
Rex Fetish (42 rue de Poitou), serious fetish, leather and latex gear, body enhancements, accessories; DVD videos.
Boutique Charles Chocolatier (15 rue Montorgueil; Les Halles), chocolate confections of all kinds, candies, hot chocolate, artisan ice cream.
Boy'z Bazaar (5 rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie), many labels of fashionable club attire, cute staff and customers.
Gelati d'Alberto (12 rue des Lombards, Beaubourg), artisan Italian sorbets & crèmes glacées.
Jean-Paul Hevin Chocolatier (231 rue Saint-Honore; Louvre), cocoa aficionado heaven, excellent bitterness, unexpected flavors.
La Fermette (86 rue Montorgueil; Les Halles), fine cheeses for sale since 1895, wide selections, helpful staff.
Le Bazar De la Mode (22 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie; Marais), brand name fashions of the world, disount prices.
Le Repaire de Bacchus (88 rue de Montorgueil, Les Halles), retail wines from France, Spain, Italiy, Portugal and elsewhere.
Lucky Records (66 rue de la Verrerie; Marais), new CD music releases, perfect condition used and collectors' items.
Mike Sweetman (17 boulevard Raspail; Jardin de Luxembourg), men's fashions, formal, casual, beach and designer underwear.
Patisserie Traiteur Stohrer (51 Rue Montorgueil; Les Halles), good stuff since 1730, sandwiches, pastries, confections, meals to go.
PierreTalamon (15 rue du Temple), one of many local shops with the latest fashions for Parisian males.
Space'Hair (10 rue Rambuteau,) fashionable gay-friendly hair salon for men and women; plays great music too.
Sunlimited (3 bd. de Sebastopol), to banish wet gray days from your mind, tanning facilities and special events.
Berkeley Books of Paris (8 rue Casimir Delavigne, place de l'Odéon), high quality secondhand books in English; US and British publishers.
Gallerie Au Bonheur du Jour (11 rue Chabanais), classic male erotic photo books, prints and drawings gallery. Not far from Jardin du Palais-Royal.
Les Mots a la Bouche (6 rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie), overflowing with gay literature, graphics, and photo books on two levels. Their windows alone provide an education for passers-by. Browse online at Motsbouche.com
Ofr. (20, rue Dupetit-Thouars; Carreau du Temple), bookshop and art gallery, exhibitions, events, guest authors and artists.
The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore (22, rue St Paul; Marais), English-language bookstore, literature and serious reading.
San Francisco Book Company (17 rue Monsieur le Prince; Rive Gauche), new and used English-language books.
Shakespeare & Company (37 Rue de la Bûcherie; Rive Gauche), bookstore, reading library, English-language literature.
Violette and Co Bookstore (102, rue de Charonne; Charonne), gay-friendly women's bookstore and gallery.
Shopping Centers & Department Stores
Au Bon Marché (22 rue de Sèvres, Rive Gauche), très chic department store, large épicerie grocery with wide selection of international foods.
BHV Marais (36 rue de la Verrerie), large department store off rue de Rivoli, Hotel de Ville; men's and women's fashions, cosmetics, home furnishings, grocery store, bakery and restaurant.
Carrousel du Louvre (99 Rue de Rivoli), underground shopping mall beneath the Louvre; Apple store, men's and women's fashion, jewelry, books, music, gifts; cafes and Restaurant du Monde cuisines of the world.
Galleries Lafayette large indoor shopping center not far from Jardin du Palais-Royal; shops, restaurants, services.