In France, it has been legal to engage in same-sex sexual activity since 1791, though it took until 1982 for the age of consent to be equalised to 15 years old. Although in many ways France is perceived to be progressive when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, there is still some way to go before complete equality will be achieved. There are anti-discrimination and hate crime laws to protect gay individuals from ill treatment. Gay couples cannot marry, but they can enter into a civil solidarity pact, though this does not bestow them with exactly the same rights as straight couples obtain from marrying.

Same-sex couples cannot adopt and do not have the same access to IVF and surrogacy as straight couples do. Of course, if you’re only travelling through France this probably won’t be an issue! However, it is always good to know the types of attitudes that exist in a country and, quite often, legislation is a useful starting point. In real life interactions, however, you may encounter those who are not exactly tolerant of people who adopt different lifestyles in France, as well as elsewhere. This should be less of a problem in the big cities where gay communities have evolved and where there is perhaps greater diversity than in the provinces.

Where do you start then? Well, obviously Paris is the ideal place to visit if you want to experience French gay culture. Marais is a fashionable area of Paris known for its gay friendliness and so you will be able to visit the numerous art galleries, trendy restaurants and fashion houses if any of these are your thing. Even if they’re not, you will also find that there many gay bars, clubs and cabarets where you can get a taste of gay nightlife in France, as well as gay-friendly shops and hotels.

There are also events that are held in the city to celebrate gay culture and raise awareness about gay issues. Paris Pride is the largest event to be held in the capital and takes place in June, giving marchers an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to LGBT issues. L’Existrans is another popular event that was created to highlight the contribution of the transgender community and to campaign for a better standard of medical care for transgender individuals. Solidays is an organisation that raises awareness of the fight against AIDS and there are a number of different musical events held throughout the year in order to do this.

Outside of Paris, it might be worth taking a trip to Nice if you want to experience some more of what France has to offer the gay tourist. Not only do you get the Mediterranean climate, you will also find that the rainbow flag adorns a wide variety of establishments including bars and restaurants. The gay presence is particularly prevalent in the Grosso Quarter and the nightlife is renowned! Nice is also home to the gay and lesbian film festival, In and Out, where you are able to watch a wide range of gay-related films between April and May.

On the whole it may appear that French gay culture is more reserved than in other European countries, perhaps because sexuality is considered to be a private issue. However, there are still areas where you can experience a more flamboyant side to French life. Plus, many of the major French cities have some kind of celebration of gay pride. As well as Paris Pride, there are Gay Pride marches held in Lorraine, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille and Montpellier. Although it may be less evident than in other European countries, there is a gay community in France and plenty worth exploring.

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Manoir Montdidier Bed and Breakfast and Spa , Montdidier
La Mariette Gay Guesthouse , Lieu dit La Mariette
La Ferme des Citronniers , Langlois
Agde Apartment , 1 Place de la Glaciére

The Villages Group , 72 rue du Faubourg St Honore