Visiting Paris for the first time? Then our essential travel guide for gay travelers is for you.
Before the first French Revolution, gay men convicted of sodomy were routinely burned to death! Thankfully, homosexuality was decriminalised in 1791, although gays and cross-dressers were still considered immoral and continued to be subject to harassment.
In 1945, The Vichy government introduced further discrimination by raising age of consent for homosexual relations to 21 (compared with 15 for heterosexuals). This was repealed in 1974 when the legal age of consent was set at 18 for everyone (subsequently reduced to 15 in 1982).
Civil Solidarity Pacts were introduced in 1999 for both unmarried opposite sex and same-sex partners. This registered partnership offers most of the legal rights and protections of marriage. Same-sex partnerships conducted abroad are generally not recognised. For example, a UK Civil Partnership is not recognised in France. Conversely, a same-sex marriage in Netherlands is recognised.
Whilst the National Assembly recently voted against legalising same-sex marriage, France is considered to have a very liberal attitude towards a very open lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Paris, the capital city of France, has over 2 million people living in its center and about 12 million in the whole metropolitan area.
Paris one of the world’s leading business centers and is greatly influential within the fields of art, culture, fashion and design. The city boasts some of the world’s most famous landmarks and attractions and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in mainland Europe.
The Paris gay scene is one of the largest in Europe. The city offers some of the best choices of gay and gay-friendly venues to be found anywhere. The gay center of Paris is within Le Marais (“The Marsh”) - one of the most historic districts in Paris. It is home to a growing number of gay bars and late night venues on and around Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie and rue des Archives. Gay life is not limited to Le Marais – there are gay bars and other venues spread all over Paris.
Paris has three international airports.
Charles de Gaulle International Airport
The largest airport, located to the northeast of Paris and served by major carriers from around the world. Arriving passengers should make a careful note of which terminal they have arrived at as the two railway stations serving the three terminal at the airport give no clues as to which airlines are at which terminal.
The best way to travel to and from the airport is by train. The RER Line B has stations in Terminal 3 (from which you take a free shuttle to terminal 1) and Terminal 2. Trains depart every 7-8 minutes. The trains stop at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Port-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire.
Orly International Airport
Located southwest of Paris and mostly used by European carriers flying to other European destinations. It has two terminals.
Orlyval Light Rail can be used to transfer between the two terminals and and the RER Line B at Antony from which you can travel on to Paris and, if required, to Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Beauvais (Aéroport de Beauvais Tillé)
Located to the north of the city and mainly used by low-cost carriers including Ryanair. A one-hour bus transfer service is available from the airport to the Metro at Porte Maillot station.
Paris has excellent high-speed rail connections to destinations across Europe including the UK (by Eurostar – through the Channel Tunnel). If you are travelling to or from Paris to another European destination, then do consider travelling by train.
Paris has one of the best public transport systems in the world. The Metro has 16 lines that operate between 05:00 and 00:30 (01:30 Saturday nights). Trains arrive every few minutes. Metro stations are marked with a ‘M’ sign.
Single tickets or a carnet of ten tickets (cheaper) can be purchased at any station. A ticket can be used for any journey on the Metro (or bus and tram) within a two-hour period. One-day tickets, weekly and monthly passes are available, however the carnet of 10 tickets is usually best for tourists. Don’t lose your ticket as it may be inspected at any time – particularly just after you have entered the station.
Be aware that it can be difficult travelling on the Metro if you have a lot of luggage – particularly if you have to change lines to complete your journey.
The cheapest and frequently the best way to get around town.
France is within the Schengen visa area. If travelling from outside Europe, you should check to see if you require a Schengen visa.
France is part of the euro. Cash dispensers are widely available. You may be asked for photo ID if paying with a credit or debit card in a shop.
One of the world’s biggest and most important museums and art galleries and home to the famous Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Masterpiece of Gothic architecture that dates back to the 12th century.
Instantly recognisable symbol of Paris and one of the most visited monuments in the world.
Famous river that flows through the heart of Paris.
Arc de Triomphe
Symbol of national pride and one of the most important landmarks in the city.
Museum containing the world’s greatest collection of Impressionist paintings.
17th-century garden-promenade-turned-avenue and a major shopping street of Paris.
Finest royal chapel in France featuring an exceptional collection of stained-glass windows.
Place des Vosges
Paris’ oldest public square with a manicured central park surrounded by beautiful 17th century townhouses.
Boulevard St. Germain
Historic street famous for its range of old cafés.
Place de la Bastille
District of great historical significance and symbolic value for France.
Trendy district (3rd and 4th) which is the gay heart of Paris and home to some of the city’s oldest buildings.
Historic area famous for its many artists’ studios and cafés.
Former central marketplace that is now an underground modern shopping area.
Historic left bank area famous for artists’ studios, music halls, and cafés.
Château de Versailles
France’s most exquisite chateau on the outskirts of the city.
Our selection of some amazing Paris hotel bargains. Exclusive reviews for gay travellers.
Our master map of gay Paris! Zoom and click on your favourite venue.
Want to play harder? Check out the fabulous Paris cruise club scene.
Paris knows how to party! Here’s what you need to know.