France may be going in a more conservative direction, but (some would say as per usual) Paris and its citizens counteract this national trend.
The world’s most visited city remains tolerant and the capital is a hot contender for the title of Europe’s gayest city, together with Berlin and London.
Spreading across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, Le Marais is a multicultural hub in the city’s heart, hosting a large Chinese population, the Jewish quarter and, located in the South West of the district, with its borders defined by Sainte-Croix de le Bretonniere and rue des Archives, a thriving gay quarter.
In the 1980s, the LGBTI community began to turn the former aristocratic quarter into their home; today, an estimated 46% of France’s gay men live in the capital, with 40% of gay-focused or –owned businesses located in Le Marais.
A sign of Parisians embracing their city’s gay culture was, no doubt, the installation of an openly gay mayor (one of the first in Europe), when they elected Bertrand Delanoe – whose campaign was built on many things, but never put his sexuality into the spotlight.
As fashionable as Paris itself, the Marais boasts over 300 gay venues, according to locals, ranging from bars and restaurants to gyms and saunas.
Nights out usually start by meeting at a friend’s, before going for a leisurely dinner, which we hear can, in classic Parisian fashion, take two or three hours – after dinner, it’s time to hit the clubs.
Lining the rue des Archives, there a club for every taste, from hip little bar Les Souffleurs to the vaulted cave dancefloor of Le CUD Bar, which starts to really come alive well after midnight, when other bars start closing.
And as the Metro (much like the London Underground) only runs until shortly after midnight, there’s only one thing to do: party until 5:30am, when the trains start running again.
Of course, there’s more to Le Marais than just a good night out and a closely knit, but very welcoming, gay community.
The winded, cobbled streets – bringing you closest to the feeling of medieval Paris – play host to a mix of boutiques, hip designers, wine shops and traditional bakeries, set against fashionable art galleries and museums.
On the Place des Vosges, Paris’s oldest planned square, No. 6 was formerly home to Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables; today, it’s a museum devoted to his life.
Stroll up the Rue des Rosiers to find yourself in the Jewish quarter, also known as Pletzl, once Europe’s largest Jewish community; packed with delis, old hamams and restaurants, the streets will catapult you head first into the lively community – unless it’s Saturday and the Pletzl observes Shabbat.
As its commercial and cultural background make it a very popular place to live, property prices in Le Marais stand slightly above the Paris average.
Buyers are looking at an average price of €7,198 (£5,284.11, $8,072.81) per square meter, while rents clock in at €28.96 (£21.25, $32.47) per square meter per month.