Best LGBTQ+ Areas in Paris
*For the purpose of this article I will use the term ‘gay’ as an umbrella word to include all who identify as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersexual, asexual and allied groups.
In terms of greater Europe, France has always been one of the frontrunners when it has come to LGBTQIA+ rights and equality. Every year, Paris holds one of the biggest Pride festivals in the whole continent with people traveling far and wide to be part of it.
For the most part, Paris is a space of acceptance and inclusion. So long as you’re not harming another person you’re pretty much left to your vices and encouraged to enjoy and take part in that with which you identify.
The nature of cities, however, is usually for certain zones to be slightly more progressive than others. While Paris may be a safe LGBTQ +space overall, you’re not about to head to Menilmontant to find a plethora of gay bars.
In this way there are specific areas in Paris that simply boast more for the gay community than other neighborhoods are able to at this time. Here are the areas and arrondissements best supporting the LGBTQ+ lifestyles and what to do when you get there!
1. Le Marais in Paris
Le Marais has been at the forefront of the gay equality movements since the very beginning. I believe we owe it to the very nature of the neighborhood for being a hub for creativity and free expression.
Situated on the Right Bank across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, Le Marais is a place for the gays, the artists, the travelers, the “tourists”, the locals and even the students. It is Parisian culture inclusion at its best; a melting pot for all with a decent heart and an open mind.
The street life is the first thing you’ll notice once in Le Marais. Aside from the many free guided walking tours going past, there appears to always be something happening or something to watch/ take part in while roaming through the cobblestone alleys.
Street art is a big part of Paris culture; Le Marais is a hub for this as well. So long as the weather permits it, buskers, painters, graffiti artists and even mimes take to the streets and entertaining audiences throughout the day.
Rue des Rosiers is the most famous and diverse street in Le Marais & definitely the place to be if you’re looking for entertainment. Here all walks of the community are welcomed together with restaurants, bars, shopping and museums.
COX over on Rue des Archives is an institution when it comes to the Le Marais LGBTQ+ scene. It opened back in 1995 and is still the most popular spot on the block. Their happy hour is widely favored; get there before 7pm if you prefer to sit when on a night out.
2. The Latin Quarter in Paris
The Latin Quarter is another name for the 5th arrondissement of Paris. It gets this name from being a University town, and back in the day Latin was one of the main subjects taught in Universities around Europe.
Being a University town, the area is predominantly filled with student life and a vibrant street culture.
LGBTQ+ community issues and the progression of society in general tends to commence discussion in student based spaces. This district is therefore automatically more progressive and inclusive when it comes to LGBTQ+ spaces in Paris.
It’s easy to get lost in this neighborhood for an entire day as the day attractions are equally weighted to the evening ones.
The Cluny Museum also calls the Latin Quarter home. This museum is comparable to the Louvre and holds some of the finest pieces of art in the world. Not far away from the museums is the Pantheon of Paris; where the remains of the individuals considered influential to France are kept.
In the Sorbonne suburb of the Latin Quarter there is a restaurant called Le Petit Prince de Paris that attracts the LGBTQ+ community in its droves. The restaurant prides itself on being an inclusive space for all and keeps it’s doors (and kitchen) open until late in the evening so as to cater to all who arrive.
The Latin Quarter is the kind of neighborhood where roaming the streets without much of an end plan usually works in one’s favor. The crowds that spill out of the cafes and bars hover in the streets and it becomes quite easy to identify which space you’d be comfortable joining and which you’d prefer to avoid.
The Latin Quarter is also the district in which Paris’ Botanical Garden officially falls. The space is open to the public 24/7. Throughout the year the park is used to host a number of LGBTQ+ community events such as group gatherings and fund raisers.
3. Montmartre in Paris
Being the core of the Bohemian and sexual revolutions, it comes as no surprise that LGBTQ+ scene makes up a prominent part of the 18th arrondissement.
Years ago, Montmartre was the place where the most expressive and fabulously risqué individuals wanted to be. The district valued artistic expression and radical self-identification. It was a space where the most weird and wonderful people from all over Europe could exist in a safe and collaborative environment.
This is still the energy of Montmartre to this day. It is a vibrant neighborhood that values the arts and the finer things in life.
Au Clair de Lune is a bar/restaurant in the Montmartre neighborhood that is loved by the LGBTQ+ community. Great for some coffee and cake during the day, or a delicious pizza in the evening accompanied by great music and hospitality.
Another place well loved amongst the gay community is Aux Trois Petits Cochons over on Rue la Vieuville. The restaurant makes a point of welcoming all into their space. Here, you’ll enjoy traditional French cuisine and some of the best foie gras in town.
The historic nature of Montmartre makes it a neighborhood full of fascinating stories. Guided tours are the best way to ensure that you leave no stone uncovered during your exploration — they are also great ways to meet likeminded individuals who are also in search of the districts hot spots .
In the south west of Montmartre, just slightly down the hill, there is an attraction known to the locals as the Mur des Je t’aime; or The Wall of Love.
This is a 40 square meter panel of wall that features the phrase “I love you” in over 250 different languages. Every day thousands of visitors come through this space and attempt to identify their language of choice amongst the masses.
In a general societal context, the I Love You wall is a beautiful display of comfort and acceptance. In a gay societal context the wall can be seen as a reflection of the essence of what is required from the world in order for all areas to always be safe for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Take some time here to appreciate the work of the wall and all that it stands for. It’s street art like this that exists to create a kinder and more tolerant world for us all to exist in.
4. Oberkampf in Paris
Oberkampf is an exciting and relatively new area on the gay radar. It originally began as one main road near the Bastille neighborhood; over time the popularity of the venues drew more crowds causing Oberkampf to slowly spread into a district of its own.
From thrift shopping, to interesting cinemas; cafes to live music venues — there is always something fun happening in this part of town.
The area of Oberkampf is filed with hostels and naturally tends to attract much younger crowds when it comes to street life. That being said, there is absolutely no discrimination against anyone regardless of their age, race or sexual orientation.
Oberkampf as an area is tiny. You’ll make your way from one side to the other in under an hour having passed all of the notable attractions of the place.
What really drives people to this district is a little venue thats been around since 2004 called Entre deux Eaux. Disclaimed: this is a nude bar. Patrons to Entre deux Eaux get to be part of an escapist world where nudity is embraced and encouraged. If you’re not expecting this, showing up here can be somewhat of a rude awakening.
Café Oberkampf is on the main strip and has an ‘all love and all welcome’ policy from their staff to their patrons. A beautiful space for a breakfast or brunch where you’ll meet likeminded individuals.
Since street culture makes up a large part of the Oberkampf area it is not uncommon to find rallying or awareness groups in the main streets raising discussion on things such as gay rights. Amongst them you’re likely to find animal cruelty activists as well as child welfare societies.
5. Montparnasse in Paris
Like Oberkampf, Montparnasse is an up and coming district in Paris in which the residents take pride in being welcoming and accepting of all who visit their part of town.
Similar to how Montmartre started, a few years ago Montparnasse became the hub for artists and penniless individuals who sought to move to Paris. The rent was cheap, the location was somewhat central and the nightlife wasn’t bad either.
The neighborhood was the hangout of choice for some of the early artists we hold dear to this past century. Hemingway, Dali and even Picasso would frequent the cafes and public spaces of Montparnasse as this was where their fellow artists preferred to come together.
Today Montparnasse is still an open book for the gay community. A welcoming hub to all who desire to be part of the spaces that make up this part of Paris.
The Bear’s Den is seen as an unmissable attraction in terms of the gay community in this area. The staff are wonderful and always keen to chat about LGBTQ+ events happening in the area that not everyone may know about.
While enjoying the gay friendly scenes in Montparnasse take some time to experience the iconic attractions in this district as well. Montparnasse tower can be seen from across the Parisian skyline — make your way to the very top for one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city.
The Cartier Foundation is a Montparnasse attraction that brings hundreds of people to the area each day. It is a contemporary art space that hosts temporary exhibitions by aspiring artists from all over Europe.
The foundation makes a point of incorporating LGBTQ+ centered exhibits or works made by artists who identify under the LGBTQ+ brackets. You can find an itinerary for their upcoming exhibitions on their website.
Gay or not theres one part of Montparnasse that we can all enjoy together: the crepes!
Montparnasse is known for being the best place in Paris to enjoy this French treat. Throughout the streets you’ll find vendors and creperies that serve them up fresh with all the toppings you can imagine.
If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community and will be traveling through Paris then make use of this neighborhood guide to navigate your way safely around town. If you aren’t part of the LGBTQ+ community but are interesting in being part of the inclusive spots around Paris then the above remains relevant.
These may be the five most popular areas in terms of LGBTQ+ community in Paris, but they are not the only ones. As you move through the rest of Paris you’ll come to learn what an inclusive space they city it; the city of love, through and through.