Paris by day and by night
September 5, 2018 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Two friends and I are going to Paris! I'd love some specific recommendations on nightlife activities (for three gay men) as well as daytime activities meeting my interests (urbanism, food, immigration, history among others).

I speak French, although my friends do not.

We're three (single) gay guys in our late 20s/early 30s and would love some suggestions on gay/gay-friendly nightlife, both in the calmer bar/cocktail vibe as well as more club-like venues to go dancing. Aside from gay-specific stuff, any recommendations on quiet wine or cocktail bars would also be appreciated!

I've been to Paris before so I don't need help with the A-list sights. Otherwise, my interests include:
- Architecture/urbanism/transportation (I'm the author of these questions)
- Food markets, kitchenware shops, and boulangeries/patisseries
- Immigration and history
- Bookstores (French-language only -- we all live in the US)
- Museums or stores that cover any of the preceding subjects

To give a sense of stuff I've liked elsewhere, I'm a Tenement Museum member and enjoyed the Museum of the City of New York in NYC, and loved Borough Market and the Transport Museum in London.
posted by andrewesque to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Musée des Arts et Métiers was really cool and the métro stop by the same name was very cool too. Cluny-La Sorbonne was also a beautiful station.

As for pastries, vert canard very kindly made this map of David Lebovitz recommendations.
posted by veggieboy at 11:34 AM on September 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Well for urbanism and urban planning, you can't do better than the Paris Sewers. Water and sewage management through the ages, and way more interesting than it has any business being. (Aaagh, on searching for the link, I find that it's closed for renovations until 2020. Another time.)

The Musée des plans-reliefs has 3-D maps and models, mostly for military purposes. I haven't been, but it might scratch your itch of public planning and large works planning.

There's the Musée national de l'histoire de l'immigration (I swear Paris has museums for everything under the sun), whose tagline is "200 years of the history of immigration in France."
posted by Liesl at 11:36 AM on September 5, 2018

Food markets, kitchenware shops, and boulangeries/patisseries

GET YOURSELF A COPY OF THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY. Clotilde Dusolier is better known as a food/cooking blogger, but that book is sort of a food-oriented guidebook, with her recommendations for restaurants, cafes, food markets, kitchenware supplies, patisseries, boulangeries, candy shops, butchers, chocolatiers, basically anything food-related. I used it as my bible during my first trip, and while I apparently had an older edition (some of her recommendations had permanently closed when I holed up), there was still enough there to steer me into some lovely discoveries.

Some that stand out:

E. Dehillerin is a cookware wholesaler that also sells retail to the public. The shopping experience is a little funky - you don't always see the prices on the item itself, because the shop is predominantly a wholesaler; for the bigger items items you have to ask the price and they will look it up for you. Smaller items usually have the price listed on the item themselves. But they have a wide range of things and the staff has gotten used to clueless tourists who don't understand "why doesn't this pan have a price listed on it" and you can get very good deals.

G Detou is a specialty baking/cooking supply shop, specializing in funky specialty ingredients. Emphasis on the baking. You can get all kinds of funky candied fruit and herbs, different kinds of caramel, a staggering array of chocolate for different baking uses, specialty flours, sugars, salts, condiments, etc. It may be accidental, but the name is a bit of a pun - it sounds like "J'ai de tout", or "I have everything", and yeah.

Izrael is the nothing-but-spices version of G Detou. It's pretty close to E. Dehillerini, too.

The Marche D'Aligre is like a farmers' market next to a flea market with an indoor market right next door and is surrounded with bistros and wine bars. The last time I was in Paris I ended up actually landing a date with a dude, and cooked up ratatouille in an AirBnB kitchen using vegetables I'd picked up at the Marche D'Aligre that day; for dessert I picked up something from Ble Sucre, a boulangerie and patisserie near the Marche D'Aligre. The date went....very well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on September 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh, and Clotilde's blog also has a section with links to her various food in Paris posts, which cover everything from her top 6 best croissants to what not to do in a chocolate shop, and she has a map covering the restaurants and shops that have most caught her eye over the years; the map is regularly updated.

Clotilde is a fantastically charming writer, too, and also offers guided tours of her own neighborhood (Montmarte) if you want to splurge.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:25 PM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Le mots à la bouche is a cool queer bookshop in the Marais.

You can't miss miss the Jeu du Paume current shows! Gordon Matta-Clark, Bouchra Khalili, and Daphné Le Sergent. They nicely fit your interests. They end on September 23 tho.

I enjoyed visiting Le Grands Voisins. "Nestled in the 14th arrondissement in the south of Paris, this 4 hectares multi disciplinary space lies on the grounds of a former hospital and brings together small charities, entrepreneurs, artists and even refugees and individuals in need of a home to innovate together while being one of the coolest place in Paris to unwind with a beer after a hard day at work." (description from here).

You've probably gone to the Palais de Tokyo before, but I'd recommend a guided visit to the bowels of the museum, the Lasco Project. The 10 pm one is best, the museum gets sort of empty and it feels really nice to be sometimes by yourself in the enormous spaces.

Bon voyage!
posted by TheGoodBlood at 12:37 PM on September 5, 2018

Do not miss Le Dépôt, it’s a sleazy gay cruise club, but could be fun if you like that kind of stuff.

There are a few bars in Le Marais, probably reviewed on the Internet, although my impression is that gay bars are no longer as much the staple fare of a respectable gay man as they were back in the day. Several websites will point you to events and soirées held during your stay.

Still in Le Marais, there’s a bookstore you want to visit. It’s called Les Mots A La Bouche and they carry a lot of the, post WWII, first authors to touch the subject of homosexuality in French (Jean-Louis Bory, Dominique Fernandez, Roger Peyreffite, Jean Genet, etc... not sure if I should count André Gide). The owner was quite knowledgeable but it’s been a looooong while since I last visited.

I’d also recommend the Musée du quai Branly.

Otherwise, just Google your way, really, since new joints pop up all the time and this early fifties gay man 👇🏿 trying to be useful is probably way out of his depth anyway. Amusez-vous bien !
posted by Kwadeng at 12:57 PM on September 5, 2018

In today's NYT 36 Hours in Paris, (read the whole thing, it's pretty good), they mention the Pavillon de l'Arsenal which also looks right up your alley. It's an interactive museum of the architecture and city planning of Paris.
posted by Liesl at 7:46 AM on September 6, 2018

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