PRIMARILY MEN -- BARS
In Paris, one goes out for an aperitif around 7:30-8 p.m. Dinner is from 8:30 or 9 p.m. to around 11 p.m.; after dinner one grabs a few drinks at a bar until about 12:30-1 a.m.; from around 1 a.m. to 4, 5 or 6 a.m. is disco time and 6 a.m. till noon is le after-hour.
Start your early evening off at l'Open Caf? (17, rue des Archives, 4e; +33-1-42-72-26-18), the classic watering hole of gay Paris, open for years and still a popular local and tourist favorite. Grab a seat and a beer and enjoy some of the best people watching you'll experience in gay Paris.
Le Carr? (18 rue du Temple, 4e; +33-1/44-59-38-57) is a chic bar and restaurant with fashionable clients and ultra-modern (dare I say postmodern?) d?cor: to welcome the warm spring air the manager covered all the outdoor tables with actual living grass. Eat dinner here until 1 a.m. on the terrace and watch all the people walk up into the depths of the Marais. Or just get a drink, bob your head to the music, and observe the young and pretty clientele, who will be neither snobby nor super-friendly -- just typical French.
The Banana Caf? (13, rue de la Ferronnerie, 1er; +33-1-42-33-35-31) is popular with a dressy, hip, and somewhat snobby crowd and features New York-style go-go boys on the bar. In more recent years Banana Caf? has gotten less and less gay. Around the block, the bar-bistro Tropic Caf? (66, rue des Lombards, 1e; +33-1-40-13-92-62) caters to a hip, young crowd with many regulars. Open very late. Down the block from Tropic Caf? is the recently redecorated Le Palmier (16, rue des Lombards, 1e; +33-1/42-78-53-53), which features regular DJs through the weekend. Although no longer a true "gay bar," the clientele is decidedly mixed.
At Le Duplex (25 rue Michel le Comte, 3e; +33-1-42-72-80-86) a crowd of 30-something artistic types have their regular outlet. Not just a bar, but also a salon (the discussion kind) and an art gallery, the owners feature the work of contemporary artists each month. The music is loungy, and you may hear world music and "jazz-house" instead of techno. The whole overall ambiance is lively, with comfort and style. Duplex's owner started the first gay bar in Paris in the late '70s.
The Philippe Starck-designed Caf? Beaubourg (43, rue St Merri, 4e; +33-1-48-87-63-96), a stylish two-level caf? facing the Centre Pompidou, caters to the gay chic, aspiring-artist and celebrity crowd. Great people watching at any time of the day, the morning breakfast is where you're most likely to run into locals. Wear something fancy and hip at night, and perhaps some see-through linen at breakfast. A very popular weekend spot is Le Quetzal (10, rue de la Verrerie, 4e; +33-1-48-87-99-07), where an all-ages crowd squeezes into the rather small space. Popular top 40s type songs play.
L'Amnesia Caf? (42, rue Vieille du Temple, 4e; +33-1-42-72-16-94) is always crowded as it is a popular staple of the Marais. Open 10 a.m. until 2 a.m., you can get lunch (or brunch) from 11 a.m. till 4:30 p.m. During happy hour it fills up very quickly with people who work in the area. The tiny basement becomes "l'Amn?-Club" after 8 p.m. and though it can get kind of cruisy, the atmosphere is still convivial.
Around the corner Mixer Bar (23, rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, 4e; +33-1-48-87-55-44) is a consistently popular destination, with live house DJs and a mixed crowd. Bringing in both gay men and lesbians, a prerequisite for employment at this bar appears to be extreme attractiveness. It functions as a club, on a very small, and often crowded scale. For those who enjoy big crowds and clubby atmosphere, Raidd (23, rue du Temple, 4e; +33-1-42-77-44-08) is the place for you. A bar with an outdoor terrace during the day, at night the beats get heavier and a very crowded dance party ensues. The clientele consists of a fairly snobby collection of boys, ranging from "almost-too-young" to "getting-too-old-for-those-pants." A must visit for those who enjoy the Chelsea scene; most nights have go-go boys taking showers behind a glass wall.
Okawa (40 rue Veille-du-Temple, 4e; +33-1-48-04-30-69) is a cozy bar with some rather expensive drinks, but also some great planned soir?es. They have organized live music, magic shows, and cabaret nights featuring drag queens. Connected to Okawa on the other side of the corner is the accompanying restaurant Equinox (35 rue des Rosiers, 4e; +33-1-42-71-92-41), run by the same team. Meals here are tasty and a bit expensive, but you won't need to go looking for nightlife after!
A gay couple has owned Le Clauzel (29, Rue Clauzel, 9e; +33-1-45-26-08-96) for eight years, and it is known as a normal caf? du quartier, as well as a gay hangout (you can't miss the rainbow flags), and the resting spot of local transvestites on their evening rounds or in between acts at Madame Arthur. Yet despite its egalitarian nature, the local magazines don't put it in their listings, and SNEG (the French HIV/AIDS prevention society) doesn't send any free prophylactics, like they do to every bar and sex club in the city. Why? The couple believes it's because they're not "hip" or in a "hip/gay" location. All of this is a shame because the caf? is adorable and very welcoming. With little dogs running around and locals coming in just to say hello, being there makes you feel oh-so French. If you were worried about "fitting in" while in Paris Le Clauzel is the perfect place: outside of the gay ghetto, there's no pressure to impress anyone; just have a good time.
Oh Fada! (35, rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, 4e), originally opened by the same team that promotes the "Follivores," nights, is located on one of the Marais' most popular corners and populated by a friendly crowd of mixed ages. Although it was recently sold to the group that runs le Cox (see below), the location still self-describes as "atypique." This is meant to attract those who were tired of gay-ghetto snobbism but still want cute bartenders. With the new management, they may not be so "atypique," but the place is still fun. Live DJs Thursdays through Sundays.
Le Central (33, rue Vieille du Temple, 4e; +33-1-48-87-99-33), is the granddaddy of gay bars in the Marais. An old bar with some young clientele, it is situated under the only gay hotel in the Marais (see Where to Stay). Speaking of history, Akhenaton Caf? (12, rue du Pl?tre, 4e; +33-1-48-87-02-59) is a quiet bar located where the first Marais gay bar originally stood.
After dinner, head to Le Cox (15, rue des Archives 4e; +33-1/42-72-08-00), still going strong as meeting place of butch gay thirty-somethings with shaved heads and leather jackets. Le Cox's d?cor changes every month or so and features seasonal themes.
In Les Halles, The Bears' Den (6 rue des Lombards, 4e; +33-1-42-71-08-20) is, well, a den for bears to lurk, with a terrace, bar, lounge, dance floor, and tiny backroom. This is the most well-known bear hangout in Paris. Down the street you can move on to Wolf (37 rue des Lombards, 1e; +33-1-40-28-02-52) a newer bear-themed bar that plays on one of the newer additions to our gay lexicon, the "wolf" (an aggressive "otter").
The One Way (28, rue Charlot, 3e; +33-1-48-87-46-10) is a cruisy neighborhood bar also catering to bears and their friends. While some of the other cruise bars can be somewhat intimidating, this one won't judge you if you don't fit the standard "bear" image. Things can get a little hot, considering the straps of leather hanging off the walls. There is a basement back room with a mirrored urinal, a video room, and sling.