Paris, known as widely as the City of Love, is an internationally-renowned center of culture, art, cuisine and fashion. It is not just the capital of France but the center of its LGBT community as well. It has earned this title through the years for its tolerance and permissible attitudes.
Today, the city is home to the country’s only officially-organized gay neighborhoods; from 2002 to 2014, the mayor of Paris was an openly gay man; and Paris publishes one lesbian and two gay male magazines. Strong anti-discrimination laws protect LGBT-identifying individuals in all aspects of French society.
A poll from 2013 indicated that three-quarters of French people wanted universal acceptance of homosexuality, and a majority of the nation supported same-sex marriage. As far back as the 1990s, almost half of male French residents who identified as gay lived here.
The neighborhood of Le Marais is the gay mecca of Paris and well worth a visit for its well-stocked bookstores and lively party scene.
It is true that Paris gay life does not fall in the ‘trendy’ category as those of cities like New York and Sydney. However, the beauty of the city’s heritage makes it a must-see for any traveler.
What more is there to say about an art museum if it houses the Mona Lisa? The characteristic Louvre pyramid hides many other priceless art treasures, too. The Musee d’Orsay is another unmissable destination for the art lover. Paris boasts some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks. The Eiffel tower stands proudly near the city center, visible from all corners far and wide. The majestic Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon and standing at the center of twelve radiating avenues is a major tourist draw. The Notre Dame Church, where painter Claude Monet was baptized, is one of the most stunning and awe-inspiring examples of neoclassical architecture in the world. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic Church with equally beautiful design, and features statues in its grounds of French heroes like Saint Joan of Arc.
Many cities have tried to replicate Parisian cafe culture but the original is by far the best. Few places can make drinking coffee, casual dining and watching people such a wonderful pleasure.
The reputation of French cuisine is due in no small part to the natural proclivity the French have for gastronomical excellence – fine dining is an established French institution.
France is also known for haute couture and many of the world’s leading clothing and accessories bands can be found on the Champs-Élysées. Other non-clothing outlets complete this upscale shopping neighborhood. It is great for gawking and people-watching even if you do not intend to purchase anything.
The inclusiveness of Paris is legendary. However, an increasing number of suburbs have recently seen a drastic increase in the immigrant population. They might not display the traditional Parisian tolerance – Paris’s gay mayor was stabbed by one such person – caution is advised in such areas.