By ROBERT ELIAS DEATON
Romance is in the air in Paris—from the architecture to the food to the sexy, exciting people that strut down the rues as if on the catwalk of life. Discovering the real Gay Paris is an exciting event that will leave you charged, re-energized and smiling ear to- ear.
Your adventure begins and ends at L’Open Café (17 Rue des Archives), a bar that doubles as an eatery, starting at 11:30 in the morning. This is the place to people-watch early in the day, and late at night. It’s at the intersection of Rue des Archives and Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, in the heart of the gayborhood, Le Marais. The closest Metro to this point is the Hôtel de Ville station. Enjoy some food, the passing view, and a few drinks, and get set to bar crawl the entire night away.
The nearest bar to L’Open Café is Le Cox (15 Rue des Archives). This small and smelly beer dive has the distinction of having the longest Happy Hour in the area (from 6-9 p.m.). Liquor up on the cheap and then keep on moving.
Should you need a full-course dinner during your pub crawl, do not hesitate to try the relatively new Café Voulez-Vous (18 Rue du Temple). The restaurant is run by the legendary Thibault Jardon, who ran the Les Bains Douches before it shut down, and was the artistic director of the iconic Queen nightclub on the Champs Elysée (now a straight club.)
One of our favorite hangouts in the neighborhood has long been the Banana Café (13 Rue de la Ferronnerie). Here you’ll find the Banana Boys, go-go dancers so smooth they’ve either just come from a bikini wax or have genetic hair loss. Either way, they are young and beautiful and prancing for your benefit on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The rest of the week, the Banana is a cute local hangout with a tropical theme.
Should you pass the Eagle (33 Rue des Lombards), forget any preconceived notion you might have of the leather bars that populate so many gay areas around in globe. In Paris, the Eagle is as homogenized as whole milk, and is more a flashy dance bar with house music and expensive drinks.
If a place packed with hot bodies, rubbing sweat to sweat is your scene, look no further than Freedj (35 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie), the popular club of choice this season for the pretty boys who are peaking in both beauty and muscle. If you’re unfortunate enough to be doing neither, you’ll get the once-over at the door and may or may not gain admission—it’s that kind of place.
Far less picky, and far more friendly is the Duplex (25 Rue Michel Le Comte). The attitude is laid-back, welcoming, and popular for that very reason, which, for many, is quite enough, thank you.
If you are of a certain age, and still feel the need to mix and match in open competition, there is always either Alex’s (2 Rue de Marivaux) or MicMan Bar (24 Rue Geoffroy l’Angevi)—two places where mature is in. If size matters, the largest gay dance palace is Raidd (23 Rue du Temple), where busy, loud and pricey is a way of life. Great music is always on tap here, so prepare to hit the floor keeping pace with the crowd.
Finally, Daddies aren’t forgotten completely in Paris. Your spot of choice is Bear’s (6 Rue des Lombards), a honey pot for bears, chubbies, Daddies, and those who love them. Vive la difference!
Robert Elias Deaton is a world-traveling epicure who enjoys the finer things.