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EXCLUSIVE | Paris: Introduction

EXCLUSIVE | Paris: Introduction

This Travel Guide was last updated 4/08. There may be places that changed since then. Call ahead, and please let us know about any corrections or new places of interest.

Ah, Paris. Say it with a French accent, and your heart begins to stir. There is something indescribable about Paris that trumps the other world capitals. Even the staunchest New Yorkers harbor a touch of Paris envy. It is easy to point out some of the things that make Paris special: The way it preserves a rich historic past while embracing the new. The scenic grandeur of its gardens, the endless treasures in its museums, and the effortless sense of style of the Parisians. The phrase je ne sais quoi is so popular because it just isn't possible to describe exactly why Paris is so magical.

For gay travelers Paris is keeping pace with the times, as new restaurants, bars, and clubs continue to open alongside many old favorites. The heart of gay Paris is one of its oldest areas, Le Marais (meaning "The Marshland," from the days before this part of town was drained). This is the old Jewish quarter and still home to a thriving Jewish community that is fascinating and at times amusing (consider dining at Le Mazel Tov Salon de Th?).

But as with Greenwich Village or West Hollywood, it is gay life that defines Le Marais. Nearly all its restaurants, hotels, shops, and caf?s count gay men and lesbians among their clientele, and many are predominantly gay. While gay life is particularly visible and concentrated in the Marais, you'll find it all over the city, which you'll find as welcoming and friendly as any other world capital.

Whether you have never been there before (Est-ce possible?!) or are contemplating yet another trip, we're happy to report that now is as great a time as any to go to Paris. Some big things may have changed since your last trip, if there was one. Probably the most noticeable thing is the smoking ban, which went into full force in 2007. It is now illegal to smoke in public places like restaurants, caf?s, bars, and most indoor waiting areas. Shocking as it may seem, people follow the rules, and many seem to be very happy with this change, although most caf? owners tend to disagree as they believe it hurts their business.

And while the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy has created waves of anger among some, the people still go to work -- when they're not protesting or waiting for a transport strike to end. So despite the economic change he promised, many people seem just as idle as ever, which proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Altogether, virtually everything you've ever dreamed about Paris (or most of what you remember) is still true. Allons-y...

Related Articles:
Paris: Where to Stay
Paris: Where to Eat
Paris: Where to Play/Meet
Paris: What to See and Do
Paris: Resources

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