By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—
It’s the weekend (or a Tuesday, no difference) and Paris’ Marais neighborhood is a cheapo haven for a gay night out on the town. From long happy hours to cover-free dancing, there’s no reason to empty your pockets.
Happy hours galore
The Marais, French for “swamp,” is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris, located primarily between the St-Paul and Hotel de Ville Métro stations. Studded with free cultural attractions (Musée Carnavalet, Pavillon d’Arsenal, Victor Hugo House, etc.) it is also the historic Jewish, gay, and more recently Chinese neighborhood.
A walk down rue du Temple, rue des Archives, or rue du Vieille du Temple will take you into the heart of the gay district. The three streets run parallel and streets perpendicular to them are filled with endless watering holes, cafés, and nightspots catering to a largely male clientele.
A night on the town can easily start at the Open Café on rue des Archives. Happy hour pints of beer are a great way to get things going (€3.70, 6-10PM). (17 Rue des Archives, 75004)
After Open’s happy hour ends, hop around a bit, maybe to Banana Café. The Josephine-Baker inspired bar on the edge of the Marais, in the adjacent Châtelet neighborhood, serves up happy hour until 11 p.m. (€3 pints, 6-11 p.m.). If you’re in the bar before 11 p.m., you’ll be able to skip the cover to go dancing downstairs where the party continues. (13 Rue de la Ferronnerie, 75001)
If you’re not ready to dance, head back into the heart of the Marais where happy hour starts up again at Le Feeling, with €3 brews available until midnight (€3 pints, happy hour 7-9 p.m., then 11 p.m.-12 a.m.). Beware of – or marvel at – the Turkish toilet. (43 rue Sainte-Croix la Bretonnerie, 75004)
Dancing and Mingling
If you’ve had enough to drink and want to experience more gay nightlife, the streets branching off rue des Archives are your best bet for mingling and dancing.
FreeDJ, located between Open Café and Le Feeling, has no cover and two floors of dancing. Upstairs most people are simply waiting for the coat check while downstairs the cave bar plays all of the Lady Gaga and Rhianna that you could want. These are tiny Medieval Parisian buildings, so be prepared to get cozy on the dance floor. (35 rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004)
Across the rue des Archives from the Open, Spyce, one of the newest additions to the Marais, offers €2 half-pints if you’re in by happy hour (€2 half pints, 6-10 p.m.). If not, it still has all the people watching you’ll need. (23 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004)
Across the street, terraces fill up (even on colder nights) at the aptly named Cox on rue des Archives with a mixed set. (15 Rue des Archives, 75004)
A younger set can be found at Raidd Bar on rue du Temple, featuring a live shower performance by some of the healthier-looking locals. All three of these choices are free to enter, however, trying to enter these dance bars with large groups of girls can be a problem, and bouncers might refuse the ladies. You’ve been warned. (23 Rue du Temple, 75004)
To finish the night, Duplex is a laidback hangout to mix with locals over a beer or two (only €2.80 for a half pint). (25 rue Michel-Comte, 75003)
Dancing and mingling can also continue until the wee hours of the morning downstairs at nearby Cud, though drinks tend to be pricier. (12 rue des Haudriettes, 75003)
By 5 a.m. you’ll be wondering why anyone ever told you to go to Queen on the Champs-Elysées…
Your favorite gay bars in Paris?
Do you have a favorite bar to add to our list? Have any comments about the bars mentioned? Share with us in our comments section.
Also in our guide: If you’re heading to Paris soon and are looking for affordable accommodation, check out our hotel reviews posted in our Paris guide, with many listings in the Marais. Read more in our Paris hotel guide.