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A Weekend In Paris

Gay Paris, the city of lights, the city of romance, of fine wine, cheese, and pastries...it's the ultimate historical vacation destination. The most visited city in the world is naturally diverse, so grab your favorite pair of comfortable walking shoes, pack a bag and get your jet set for la visite tres chic
Sure, you could climb up the Eiffel Tower, but with a four-hour-plus wait, a better use of time might be strolling the surrounding neighborhoods while keeping your eyes peeled to see the tower's phallic self  poking up between buildings from every angle. You’ll surely want to take a romantic walk along the River Seine at sunset, passing the Church of Notre Dame while holding hands with your lady (lean in for a kiss as the sun hits the horizon). Of course the Louvre and the Georges Pompidou National Modern Art Museum are big draws, but whatever you do, do not miss the gayest streets in Gay Paree’s très chic gay quarter, Le Marais (parismarais.com/gay-guide-paris.htm): rue Ste-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie, rue des Rosiers (half queer, half kosher), and rue des Francs Bourgeois. Stop by the first LGBT bookstore in Paris, Les Mots à la Bouche (6 rue Ste-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie, 01 42 78 88 30, motsbouche.com) to flip through a copy of La Dixième Muse or Lesbia Mag to find current circuit party ads. If you’re “in the mood” head over to the lesbian-owned lingerie and sex toy shop Dollhouse (24 Rue du Roi de Sicile, 01 40 27 09 21), with two floors to tickle your fancy.

WHAT TO SEE

Visit the Père Lachaise Cemetery (metro stops Père Lachaise or Phillipe Auguste), the final resting place of Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. The squeamish can take a virtual tour of their favorite dead celebrity’s tomb at pere-lachaise.com. The boldly romantic will end by packing a picnic lunch and a bottle of Bordeaux to enjoy after a gorgeous hike through the rolling cobblestone paths.

Exhausted? La Mosquée (39 Rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 01 43 31 38 20, la-mosquee.com) is an actual Mosque, a haven within the city complete with outdoor tea salon and restaurant, Souk (market), gift shop and Hammam (spa/bath house) with women-only days on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Single spa treatments are available, or purchase a $81 package that includes entrance, a scrub, 30-minute massage, soak and some mint tea.


WHERE TO EAT


You’ll have to try really hard to get a bad meal in Paris, a city that takes eating and drinking very, very seriously. Stay away from restaurants with menus in English taped to the front door, or that are next to a shop that sells Eiffel Tower paperweights. How inauthentic! Sidewalk cafés are good for a quick sandwich or salad to go with your people watching, but true Parisian restaurant is a must.
 
La Fontaine Gourmande (11 rue Charlot, 01 42 78 72 40) is a lesbian-owned gourmet French restaurant open for lunch (except Sunday) and dinner. Dinner averages $40 per person, not including alcohol.

Le Sofa (21 rue Saint-Sabin, 11th, 01 43 14 07 46) is a mixed (but mostly lesbian) bar and restaurant serving international cuisine. Happy hour is from 6 to 8pm nightly. Fixed menus start at $32.

This city is spilling over with incredible crêpe vendors and bakeries. Thus, it is mandatory while in Paris to suspend all diets, and to pull over for a sugar and lemon or chocolate and banana crêpe, or a beautifully sculpted croissant at least once a day. Since you’ll be walking for hours on end, you’ll deserve it.


WHERE TO PARTY

The three most popular lesbian bars are within about 50 paces of each other, at the intersection of rue des Écouffes and rue du Roi de Sicile. At the 3W Kafé (8 Rue des Écouffes, 01 48 87 39 26, 3w-kafe.com) the young and stylish cruise each other. DJs spin on two floors Friday and Saturday, with theme parties on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights. For a break and a bite to eat, cross the street to Les Jacasses (5 Rue des Écouffes, 01 42 71 15 51), a comfy pub-style bar owned by 3W that serves beer, pizzas and paninis until 2am (nightly except Monday). NYX (30 Rue du Roi de Sicile, nyxclub.fr) is a happy medium, a danceable, loungeable and cruisable bar/club, with an online calendar of special parties and DJs.

After barhopping the Parisian triangle, venture further out to the most historic lesbian venue tucked away in the deliciously seedy side streets of the Montmartre district, Chez Moune (54 rue Pigalle, 01 45 26 64 64). This “cabaret feminin” was founded in 1936, and remains an eclectic mix of dance club, strip club and exotic burlesque show.

Late Saturday nights are for Lip’s (12 rue Quincampoix, pinkyboat.com). It’s one night a week only, free before 11pm, $20 after. You’ll see and be seen, dance and watch go-go dancers, and party until sun-up. Go online to reserve a table for five with bottle service for $140.

La Champmeslé (4 Rue Chabanais, 01 42 96 85 20) is a well established, cush lesbian bar in a vintage setting, with art exhibits and nightly parties including cabaret, SM and literary themes, open every night until dawn (except Sunday).


WHERE TO SLEEP

During the low-traffic times of the year (February and March, August, and to an extent, the autumn months), you can often book spacious and luxurious hotel rooms online for a huge discount. Keep in mind that one star means hostel, two stars are dormitory style rooms, and three stars range from tiny and clean to glorious and chic.

Au Triangle d'Or (06 87 46 27 71, site.voila.fr/pa-ris.bayonne) is a collection of privately owned, centrally located, gay-friendly properties. The bed and breakfast runs $55 to $70 per night, and apartments for one to three people at $70 to $110 per night.

Hôtel Danemark is a charming and friendly three-star boutique hotel on a quiet street near the largest public park in Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens. The décor is kitschy modern, with exposed brick walls that hang fine art and hand-blown colored glass vases. Rooms run from $180 to $233 per night.

Hôtel Le Clos Médicis (56 rue Monsieur-Le-Prince, + 33 (0)1 43 29 10 80, closmedicis.com) is another three-star accommodation, conveniently located near the Gardens and the Panthéon. It’s a beautifully modern hotel with a professional staff. Double occupancy rooms range from $270 to $340 per night.

Make the most of your 48-hour jaunt so you can sleep the entire seven-hour flight home, and be back à travailler come Monday morning.
Rachael Sage
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