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The capital city of France has over 2 million people living in its centre and about 12 million in the whole metropolitan area.
Paris is one of the world’s leading business centres and is greatly influential within the fields of art, culture, fashion and design. The city boasts some of the world’s most famous landmarks and attractions and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in mainland Europe.
Before the first French Revolution, gay men convicted of sodomy were routinely burned to death! Thankfully, homosexuality was decriminalised in 1791, although gays and cross-dressers were still considered immoral and continued to be subject to harassment.
In 1945, The Vichy government introduced further discrimination by raising age of consent for homosexual relations to 21 (compared with 15 for heterosexuals). This was repealed in 1974 when the legal age of consent was set at 18 for everyone (subsequently reduced to 15 in 1982).
Same-sex marriage has been legal in France since May 18th, 2013. It is the 13th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. The legislation applies to metropolitan France as well as to the French Overseas departments and territories.
The Paris gay scene is one of the largest in Europe. The city is home some of the best choices of gay and gay-friendly venues to be found anywhere.
The gay centre of Paris is within Le Marais (“The Marsh”), one of the most historic districts in Paris. It is home to a growing number of Gay Bars and late-night venues on and around Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie and rue des Archives.
Gay life is not limited to Le Marais – there are gay bars and other venues spread all over Paris.
Paris has three international airports.
Charles de Gaulle International Airport
The largest airport, located to the north-east of Paris and served by major carriers from around the world. Arriving passengers should make a careful note of which terminal they have arrived at as the two railway stations serving the three terminal at the airport give no clues as to which airlines are at which terminal.
The best way to travel to and from the airport is by train. The RER Line B has stations in Terminal 3 (from which you take a free shuttle to terminal 1) and Terminal 2. Trains depart every 7-8 minutes. The trains stop at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Port-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire. Tickets are €10 (2016) and journey times are around the 30 minute mark.
A taxi from the airport to the city centre will cost around €50 (more at weekends and late at night) and is the only way into the city centre after 1am (other than a less frequent bus service).
Orly International Airport
Located southwest of Paris and mostly used by European carriers flying to other European destinations. It has two terminals.
Orlyval Light Rail can be used to transfer between the two terminals and and the RER Line B at Antony from which you can travel on to Paris and, if required, to Charles de Gaulle Airport. A ticket for RER and Orlyval costs €12.05 on the day but there is a reduction if bought in advance. A taxi from Orly International Airport will cost around €35.
Beauvais (Aéroport de Beauvais Tillé)
Located to the north of the city and mainly used by low-cost carriers including Ryanair. A one-hour bus transfer service is available from the airport to the Metro at Porte Maillot station. It costs €17 if bought at the airport but is cheaper if you buy in advance.
Paris has excellent high-speed rail connections to destinations across Europe including the UK (by Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel). If you are travelling to or from Paris to another European destination, then do consider travelling by train.
Paris has one of the best public transport systems in the world. The Metro has 16 lines that operate between 05:30 and 00:40 (01:40 Saturday nights). Trains arrive every few minutes. Metro stations are marked with a ‘M’ sign.
Single tickets or a carnet of ten tickets (cheaper) can be purchased at any station. A ticket can be used for any journey on the Metro (or bus and tram) within a two-hour period. One-day tickets, weekly and monthly passes are available, however the carnet of 10 tickets (€14.50) is usually best for tourists. Don’t lose your ticket as it may be inspected at any time, particularly just after you have entered the station.
Be aware that it can be difficult travelling on the Metro if you have a lot of luggage, especially if you have to change lines to complete your journey.
Walking is the cheapest and frequently the best way to get around town.
Most gay visitors stay in Le Marais gay district or near the Champs Elysées area.
Louvre Museum – one of the world’s biggest and most important museums and art galleries and home to the famous Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo.
Notre Dame Cathedral – masterpiece of Gothic architecture that dates back to the 12th century.
Eiffel Tower – iconic symbol of Paris and one of the most visited monuments in the world.
River Seine – famous river that flows through the heart of Paris.
Arc de Triomphe – symbol of national pride and one of the most important landmarks in the city.
Musée d’Orsay – museum containing the world’s greatest collection of Impressionist paintings.
Champs Elysées – 17th-century garden-promenade-turned-avenue and a major shopping street of Paris.
Sainte-Chapelle – finest royal chapel in France featuring an exceptional collection of stained-glass windows.
Place des Vosges – Paris’ oldest public square with a manicured central park surrounded by beautiful 17th century townhouses.
Boulevard St. Germain – historic street famous for its range of old cafés.
Place de la Bastille – district of great historical significance and symbolic value for France.
Le Marais – trendy district (3rd and 4th) which is the gay heart of Paris and home to some of the city’s oldest buildings.
Montmartre – historic area famous for its many artists’ studios and cafés.
Les Halles – former central marketplace that is now an underground modern shopping area.
Montparnasse – historic left bank area famous for artists’ studios, music halls, and cafés.
Château de Versailles – France’s most exquisite chateau on the outskirts of the city.
France is within the Schengen visa area. If travelling from outside Europe, you should check to see if you require a Schengen visa.
France is part of the euro. Cash dispensers are widely available. You may be asked for photo ID if paying with a credit or debit card in a shop.
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