From fancy cocktail clubs to pristine cafés, Paris has it all in terms of nightlife. Sometimes, however, you just want to hang out with the guys and stand around with a few pints of Heineken. At least that’s how it goes in Parisian gay bars.
Gay nightlife in Paris isn’t necessarily the most talked about option in the media. Maybe it’s because women are often shunned from some of its venues. Maybe it’s because the days of Le Queen on the Champs-Élysées are over. Still, there are more than enough options to have a gay old night on the town, no matter what your interests.
So where do we even begin? Typically, any of my nights out with friends will start somewhere in the Marais. It may seem predictable to start in this traditionally “gay” district, but the bars – and thus men – are all hanging out there. Tourist and locals alike can be found on the terrace of Open Café or nearby Café Cox.
The drink of choice? Beer. And none of this craft business, unless you go someplace fancy. Expect Heineken. Happy hour at Café Cox runs from 6-10, while Open Café stretches it out until midnight Monday through Thursday. To find pints under 4 euros in Paris in any other neighborhood won’t be quite as easy. Of course gin and tonics or even Champagne are available, but remember, you go to the gay bars more for the people and the ambiance than for the quality drinks.
After a few rounds, the crowds at the bars start to break off in different directions. The wiser men might grab a quick burger at Tata Burger before moving on to more drinks. I usually push forward to the next bar.
If I’m looking for a chill night without much fuss, I’ll head to Duplex, the oldest gay bar in the Marais. Here, the close quarters make conversation easy among the guys crowded around the bar. It’s the kind of place where I’ll bump into friends, or maybe even a tourist from some remote corner of the world. Either way, conversation tends to flow easily here.
On other nights, however, when I want to have a bit more fun, I’ll lace up my dancing shoes (note: any of my shoes) and make a beeline for Tango, still in the Marais near Arts et Métiers. Be sure you time it right, though. This dance hall actually features tango dancing until about midnight, when they flip the switch to Madonna, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga. Pop music takes over the speaker system as the dance floor turns into one big party. It’s friendly and just kitschy enough, with the elusive Parisian drag queen making an appearance from time to time. Drinks aren’t too expensive, and the cover charge is only 9 euros.
Afterwards, if I’m still up for it, the party continues into the wee hours of the morning at Cud, an awful name for a deliciously divey dance bar in the heart of the Marais. It can get a little claustrophobic dancing under the vaulted ceilings in the cellar, surrounded by strangers shrouded by the fog machine while club music drowns out most conversation. It’s not as glamorous as Sex and the City makes gay clubs look, but it has its own charm that I just can’t refuse.
By the time I make it to Cud, I usually know that means it’s the end of the evening, or the beginning of the day, depending on the time. From there it’s time to walk it all off, exiting the Marais and leaving the boys behind. At least until tomorrow night, right?
Open Café, 17 rue des Archives, 75004; Métro: Hôtel de Ville; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 72 26 18
Café Cox, 15 rue des Archives, 75004; Métro: Hôtel de Ville; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 72 08 00
Tata Burger, 54 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004. Métro: Hôtel de Ville; Tel: +33 (0)1 48 87 48 71
Duplex, 25 rue Michel le Comte, 75003. Métro: Rambuteau; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 72 80 86
Tango, 13 rue au Maire, 75003. Métro: Arts et Métiers; Tel: +33 (0)1 48 87 25 71
Cud, 12 rue des Haudriettes, 75003. Métro: Rambuteau; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 77 44 12
Written by Bryan Pirolli for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.