Ah, Paris…the City of Love…it’s no surprise then that plenty of travelers– couples or not– come to this French capital to experience romance. From the elegant Haussmann architecture to the narrow, cobblestone streets littered with cute cafes and patisseries, there’s the opportunity to bask in the city’s beauty with a loved one.
I’m sure many people are seduced by the idea of Paris, and they come either to study abroad, visit, or try the expat life– in the back of their mind, they hope to meet a “special someone” here, to live out their French fantasy in life. After all, who wouldn’t want to fall in love with a charming French person, let alone a Parisian?
While this could be said for heterosexual couples, there are also just as many opportunities for LGBT people to find love. Spread throughout the city are plenty of bars for those who are queer, meeting others who are just like them. There are lots of gay bars in the heart of town (especially the Marais district), so I’ve known many of my gay friends who’d gone during our study abroad summer.
I had the opportunity to head out and check a few out during my time in Paris just last week on vacation. As I identify as part of the LGBT community, I was more than curious to see how it’d be different from the “regular” bars and clubs I’ve frequented (usually catered to straight people). While I wouldn’t say that anything crazy happened on my nights out, I’m glad to have checked out a few, and I hope to visit more the next time I’m in Paris.
Any case, here’s a list of some LGBT bars I’ve been to so far. Should you want to visit these places, I highly encourage you to do so!
LGBT Bars in Paris
1. Rosa Bonheur (Buttes-Chaumont)
This distinctive bar greatly reminds me of a German biergarten, as it offers a warm, welcoming terrace where one can sip and mingle with friends and strangers. Situated in the sprawling Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, it’s literally tucked away from the city noise as one can relax in nature with a drink in hand. It also happens to be a lesbian/feminist bar, so you’re bound to see plenty of women (many in their 20’s and 30’s) there.
I didn’t stay too long, as I only got a drink with a friend before we bounced. But I really did like the atmosphere, as the colorful fairy lights outside on a cold November night made me feel all fuzzy inside. Definitely would return!
2. La champmeslé (Palais Royal)
First opened back in the 1980’s, la champmeslé is the oldest lesbian bar in Paris. It’s situated close to the heart of the city, near the Opéra and Palais Royal. Besides welcoming WLW, it’s also open to gays, trans, and queer people. It’s a small bar, somewhat dimly-lit, and it has some of its 80’s charm with the posters and decor.
I admit, I wasn’t very into la champmeslé when I visited. It was partly due to the fact that I just came too early (after dinner, around 19:45), and usually it gets hopping the closer to midnight. As it was too early, only the local customers were in. The owner/bartender (Josy) was pleasant enough as I got a glass of wine, but I found the local customers, who were much older, too loud and crass. While it’s fine to be comfortable at the bar, I didn’t like how their conversation was going, basically complaining about their latest run-in with homophobia (particularly from Arabs), and I didn’t like how they were smoking inside. Perhaps I’ll give la champmeslé another chance, another time (and later in the night), but until then, I just had one drink and left.
3. La Mutinerie (Beaubourg)
Following my quiet visit to la champmeslé, I decided to give LGBT bars another chance and try my luck at la Mutinerie, a lesbian/trans bar and club near Etienne-Marcel. Upon entering, I saw that it was already hopping at 20:40, and I found it to be a bigger establishment with an eclectic bunch of locals, foreign visitors, expats, and everyone in between. Drinks are reasonably-priced, as I got a glass of wine for 3,50 euros.
I would have to say that la Mutinerie was my favorite LGBT bar I’ve gone to, as I actually got to meet people, chat and dance with them, and experience a good time out. I also may or may not have seen some, erm, interesting things go down as the night progressed, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It attracts a younger crowd, which is good for the lively, dance atmosphere. Would definitely come back!
4. The Labo (Châtelet)
There isn’t much to say about this bar, since I literally stumbled upon it by accident, and I stayed no more than 5 minutes. Apparently, I wasn’t aware that it was a gay bar until I saw men smooching: I came in while celebrating Halloween with a few *straight* friends, and we were looking for a bar that wasn’t super-packed in the heart of the city. I thought The Labo looked kind of cool from the outside, and I thought that the atmosphere inside, despite it being utterly-packed, was colorful and fun.
I think the Labo is more so for gay men (which I’m not), but I’m sure that anyone who’s part of the LGBT community is welcomed. Maybe I’ll check it out again the next time I’m in Paris, but not before I check other LGBT bars in town!
…and that’s about it! These are some of the LGBT bars I’ve checked out in Paris so far. I’m sure I’ll check out more the next time I’m in town, and I hope to have fun all the same. Thanks for reading, and have yourself a good day (or night!).
— The Finicky Cynic
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