Paris for lesbians
A week in Paris, 7 things you should definitely do
How not to fall in love with Paris, the city of love, baguettes, impolite waiters and sex-shops ? In order to help you find the best places and enjoy your stay, here is a small guide to the most cheerful bars, delicious restaurants and fancy places of the City of Light, written by a lesbian, member of the Barbi(e)turix team, and wannabe ambassador of the "french elegance". Let's get drunk girls!
Paris is one of the european cities boasting the greatest numbers of lesbian parties. Itinerant but regular, they take place in the most famous clubs of the capital. However, there is only a handful of lesbian bars, most of them in the Marais, the historical gay neighborhood.
Since many bars, restaurants and shops are open on Sundays, Monday has become something of a new Lord's Day. Most places are closed, so it's definitely the best time to get your fill of history and culture : go and see the Eiffel tower, visit the renovated Orsay museum, have a stroll in the Tuileries garden and round it off by sampling expensive macarons at Ladurée.
Had enough touristic shit ? Great, it's time for the real Paris now ! The first thing you should know is that Paris is actually divided in two. The rive gauche, on the left side of the Seine, is the uptown Paris, boasting 5 star hotels, the upscale department store Bon Marché, historical museums and a host of embittered bourgeoises. The rive droite is the popular, trendy and bustling neighborhood. It’s the place to go if you are looking for fashion concept stores, alternative hotspots, concert halls, street food restaurants and bearded hipsters.
Tuesday would be a perfect day for a small trip to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the arty student neighborhood. You can blow your budget on an overpriced coffee at the famous Café de Flore, or just soak up the poetic atmosphere. Stroll through the Luxembourg Garden to the Sorbonne and check out the beautiful and trendy literature undergrads. After that, walk along to the area around the rue Mouffetard, a very typical cobbled street full of cheese shops, butchers, bakeries and wine shops, tiny restaurants and noisy, bustling locals.
Time for a gay tour of the Marais. Start in the fashionable Haut-marais, with lunch at the Marché des enfants rouges, a charming hidden food market right next to the rue de Bretagne. Enjoy a delicious tajine or a french speciality like tartare with french fries at L'Estaminet, a restaurant run by two lesbians. Walk down to the gay area by way of the rue des Archives, known for its nice clothes stores, art galleries and french designer boutiques.
Three lesbian bars are located in the rue des Écouffes, next to the jewish neighborhood : Les Jacasses, 3W and So What. The first is a small and unpretentious bar, mostly frequented by ladies in their thrities and forties. Across the street, the 3W Kafé welcomes young dykes in a club atmosphere : pink and green neon lights, cocktails, and commercial music. If, like Shakira, your hips don't lie, it’s the place for you! The last one, So What, opens at 11 PM. Parties there take place in a cellar, for maximum cosiness and intimacy (nudge nudge, wink wink).
Near the Beaubourg museum, La Mutinerie, a militant and queer bar, offers cheap beers, funny concerts and performance, billiards and workshops. For a more romantic atmosphere, the Acte 3 is only two minutes away. Sabine, the owner, mixes outstanding cocktails in a cosy and refined atmosphere.
You can end your day by enjoy a burlesque show at Pretty Propaganda . This extravagant feminist show organized every wednesday by ex-cheerleader Louise De Ville, offers drag kings performances, funny burlesque sketches, and sexy strip-teases.
Great day for some cultural exploring. The Palais de Tokyo, a sort of rebellious wasteland in the very chic sixtieth arrondissement, offers eccentric and unexpected exhibitions across its 22000 m2. Tokyo Eat, the restaurant inside the museum, is a nice place to have lunch, with its designer furniture, good djs, sophisticated meals and delightful desserts.
If you're a lipstick healthy lesbian, you should definitely see the new Crazy Horse show featuring pop-star Conchita Wurst ! The cabaret is just a couple of minutes away, but you'd better book in advance.
If you're up to dancing, check out the JEUDI OK parties taking place every Thursday at the Social Club. Each week, a different band is invited to take possession of the club for a thematic queer party, and each edition brings its share of surprises.
"Friday I'm in love !" (yes, I used to be a Cure fan). It's time for the cliché romantic walk in Montmartre. As a born Parisian, I advise you to begin your stroll behind the Sacré Coeur if you want to avoid the hordes of tourists and souvenir sellers. Get off at the Lamark-Caulaincourt Station and walk up the Junot Avenue, where the famous illustrator Francisque Poulbot once lived. You will discover the house of Dalida, the Montmartre cemetery, old cancan bistros like Lapin Agile or Moulin de la Galette, and most important of all, the real Moulin Rouge (which is actually a gloomy and ridiculously tiny windmill).
Once at the Sacré Coeur, admire the view and imagine yourself as Amélie Poulain hiding clues for you lover. At the top of the stairs, turn right into the Abbesses district. This place is almost too parisian to be real : a wooden carrousel, a lovely church, cobbled streets… Back to reality on the Pigalle boulevard, the sex-shop heaven, offering a dizzying array of X-videos, peep show rooms, hostess bars and old freaky clients. The perfect opportunity to buy your girlfriend a nice nurse outfit.
If you’re very lucky, you’ll be in town when Barbi(e)turix, the coolest lesbian collective ever (well, I’m part of it, but nevermind) throw one of their huge dyke parties, the legendary Wet for me. The more the merrier, right ? Roughly every month, 1500 girls fill La Machine du Moulin Rouge for an electro party showcasing only female artists. Girls dancing, girls kissing, girls topless on the stage, girls in the corners, girls from floor to ceiling. GIRLS EVERYWHERE.
As it’s highly probable you'll be drunk on Saturday morning, you’d better avoid the center of the city, which is excessively packed on weekends. You can go for a small walk in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery and think about the meaning of life, the state if your poor liver, and your life of debauchery… The east of Paris is a working-class area but an extraordinarily welcoming place. You can enjoy the nice street-art masterpieces of Belleville and have a cheap but delicious lunch in the Chinese district.
For a lesbian Saturday night, go to rue Oberkampf, nicknamed the "thirst street". Once a month, Sophie and her team organize La Kidnapping, a crazy dyke party in a small bar run by old bikers. It's almost too silly for an adequate description. Some of the things you should expect : pogos, food battles, terrible sound quality, slap contests, famous djs, and off-the-wall humor.
For a lazy Sunday afternoon, I recommend a brunch at La chambre aux oiseaux, a over-cute tearoom decorated with flecked furniture, where a bunch of lovely waitresses will serve you creamy carrot cakes and delicious latte. After that, you can stroll along the Canal Saint martin, a trendy and calm neighborhood by the water in the tenth arrondissement, full of art book shops, antique dealers, bakeries and more… If the pretty girl you met last night answers your phone calls, take her to the La Candelaria, at République, for one last tequila before you leave.
Did I talk about alcohol too much ?
Lubna L. is part of Barbi(e)turix, a french website dedicated to feminine and dyke culture, with a girly free fanzine distributed in bars, clubs, galleries & concept stores, and the organiser of the biggest dyke party in town (WET FOR ME)! She lives and works in Paris.