This article was published on July 2nd, 2017
The City of Lights has always been a fantastic destination for LGBT travellers. The fashion. The architecture. The food. The culture. The men. The Capital of France has reigned supreme for years as the most visited place on the planet, and for good reason. The best time to visit this stunning metropolis, the summertime, is here. And Paris is waiting with open arms to show you the finer French way of life.
Known for its world-renowned museums stunning streets, and awe-inspiring views, Paris has a little something for everyone. Make like a French fashionista and start your Parisian experience in the über gay Marais. It’s where you will find the adult gay coloring book, Knichki Pichki, which is taking Europe by storm. The gayborhood hugs the Seine River and offers ample shopping in nearby St. Germaine des Pres, modern and old museums including the Pompidou and Musee Dorsey, world-class eateries, and enough people watching for days. The Marais is a fabulous spot to make like a true Paris resident, grab some espresso or vino, and watch the hordes of decadently dressed citizens as they strode down the avenue like it’s a catwalk.
Next, cross over the seine on foot to feast your eyes upon one of the most famous buildings, let alone cathedrals in the world: Norte Dame. On its own island that has been the center of Paris for over a thousand years, this medieval, gothic cathedral dates back to the 12th century and still holds church services today. Inside the stunning architecture and stain glass windows make the tour worthwhile, as Notre Dame has held its significance as the center of French life for a millennia. Nearby cathedral Sainte-Chappelle is also famous for its stained-glass windows and stunning gothic features.
From Notre Dame, make your way across the bridge to Isle St. Louis, the oldest continuous area of the city. You’ll find 500-year-old cheese shops and some of the best gelato in the country. Head south and cross the Seine to admire front facing views of Notre Dame and the western part of Paris. Once to the south banks, make a stop to the Old Shakespeare bookstore, a famous library of books for sale, where daily readings and famous authors from all over come to do book signings.
Head towards the nearby Latin Quarter, which features some of the oldest architecture in the city. You’ll find 900-year-old synagogues in amongst the narrow medieval streets, and some of the best restaurants and cafes in town. The nearby Pantheon and Luxembourg gardens make amazing places for a picnic and people watching. Head northwest on Boulevard St. Germaine until you can see the Seine again.
There, on the banks of the river, lies the most famous museum in the world. The Louvre, which used to serve as the royal palace prior to the French Revolution, houses antiquities from all over the world, including its most famous resident: the Mona Lisa. The Museum itself is as beautiful as the art within it, so plan on spending hours or even an entire day at the extraordinary Louvre.
For the darker side of Paris, venture over to the underground catacombs or Pere Lachaise Cemetery. The former, known officially as the Catacombs of Paris, is a series of underground ossuaries, rooms and structures meant to house skeletal remains, beneath the city of Paris. The Catacombs make up an underground tunnel network that houses the remains of an estimated 6 million Parisians, making it the largest burial ground in the world. Some walls and archways within the Catacombs are made entirely of skulls and bones.
On a more romantic note, one cannot leave Paris without getting a blessing one of its many residence, most importantly, Oscar Wilde. It is supposedly good luck to kiss the grave of the famed gay writer, though no longer an easy feat to achieve without standing on some tombs. Venture to Pere Lachaise Cemetery to see the final resting place of Oscar Wilde and some of its other famous inhabitants, including Jim Morrison, Frederic Chopin, and Edith Piaf to name a few among hundreds of famous French graves.
For a more upbeat experience, take the famous Paris Metro or hail a taxi to one of the most famous streets in the world: Avenue des Champs-Élysées. You’ll find the most extravagant designer clothing and couture fashion houses on this billion-dollar boulevard. The 5th avenue, Robson Street, St. Catherine’s Street, or Rodeo drive of the French Capital, if you’ve got expensive taste, this is where you’ll find some fabulous shopping.
Avenue des Champs-Elysees is amazing people watching, too, but the crown jewel of this famous avenue is the Arc De Triomphe that resides at its western end. Building began in 1806 of the 50-m arch and it was built to commemorate and honor the soldiers who fought in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Tours within the Arc offer fantastic views of the city, as it was designed to serve as one of the city centers.
No visit to Paris is complete without visiting the most recognized building in the world. The Eiffel Tower stands at the western end of Paris and can be seen from anywhere in the city. Standing like a lighthouse guarding over the city, the Eiffel Tower has daily tours where visitors can either climb all the way to the top or take a series of elevators to its three main platforms. One can see the entire city from the top of the tower, which features 360 degree views. Newly opened in 2017, it is now possible to zip line down if descending the nearly 200-year-old iron stairs isn’t your forte.
Paris is a city beaming with art, history, and culture, that there a multitude of other things to do. The cathedral Sacre Coeur is another famous church that sits atop a hill overlooking the city like a wise owl. Strolling through nearby Montmartre is an amazing evening walk. Visiting the tower where the Bastille once stood. Getting a street side crepe filled with ham and cheese or Nutella and banana, if you’re feeling decadent. Sitting on the Seine at night, with a bottle of wine, looking at the reflection of the city lights on the water like fairy dust or strolling through the streets with a baget for hours and hours can also be very fulfilling.
Whatever is your flavor, Paris has a little something for everyone. Presented in the most lavish, gorgeous, and extraordinary ways as possible.
Paris: nous t’aimons