Recently we were asked if there was a substantial gay community in the south of France. The short answer to that is “yes.” The long answer concerns the tolerance and acceptance by the French of the LGBTQIA+ community everywhere in France.
I’ve struggled with the acronym myself and it’s always changing…or adding on letters—LGBTQIA+. It’s used to designate the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and the Asexual community.
I am not a member of this community, but have always been surrounded by others who are and have never viewed it (or them) as different than anyone else. (In fact, my “gaydar” is so bad, that my ex-husband was struggling with his own designation and I didn’t have a clue during our 20 years of marriage!)
There is one difference that is absolutely true, however: Full-time employed gay men earn, on average, 10 percent more than straight men and same-sex married couples (in the US) and have a 27 percent higher median household income than heterosexual married couples. This difference is due to the higher earnings men make over women. (Source: Wikipedia.org)
We always joke that one must follow the gay community when investing in property. The notion that gay men moving to a particular neighborhood can stimulate an uptick in real estate prices has been a long-standing idea. According to a study conducted by Duke University, there are two primary reasons behind this phenomenon.
Firstly, the presence of a gay community tends to enhance the aesthetic appeal of a neighborhood. Secondly, their inclusive and open-minded culture fosters the proliferation of innovative ideas and entrepreneurial activities, leading to higher incomes, which subsequently contribute to the escalation of housing prices. This dynamic is exemplified, for instance, in cities like San Francisco. Interestingly, though not addressed in the study, a third noteworthy point is that historically, this demographic has often been deterred from raising children, either due to scientific limitations or adoption barriers. Consequently, they tend to have higher disposable incomes, which can also influence property values positively.
The bottom line for us is that because of all that disposable income, open-mindedness, and lack of children (except for pets!), we have a lot of gay clients investing in France!
Paris is particularly Gay Friendly, and my neighborhood (Le Marais) is the heart of the community. The city has been this way since the early 20th century, but the neighborhood became gay popular in the 1980s. Prior to that, in the early 1900s, LGBTQIA+ gatherings took place in Montmartre and Pigalle. In the mid-20th century, the LGBTQIA+ hub shifted to Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the sixth arrondissement. By the 1960s, Rue Saint Anne in the first arrondissement became its focal point. Today, the Marais proudly claims its status as the LGBTQIA+ center of Paris and is globally recognized as a “gayborhood.” The first gay bar opened in 1978 and “The Duplex” (25 Rue Michel le Comte, 75003 Paris) established in 1980, stands as the oldest surviving LGBTQIA+ bar in the Marais.
Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris from March 2001 to April 2014, was one of the first major French politicians to announce that he was gay, which he did during a 1998 television interview before being elected mayor. In fact, a lot of French politicians are gay: at present, there are five in the cabinet, 10 in the parliament and 7 mayors (Source: Wikipedia.org, but not sure how up-to-date this is!).
France ranks 17th on the Spartacus Gay Travel Index, a global comparison that considers factors such as anti-discrimination laws, marriage and civil partnerships, LGBTQIA+ marketing, anti-LGBTQIA+ laws, local attitudes, prosecutions, and homicides. But, France trails behind Germany, the UK, Spain and Denmark. In contrast, the United States ranks much lower on the list, in 35th place!
In Nice, the gayborhood is near the Old Port, in what they call “Le Petit Marais Nice.” Rue Bonaparte is the best place to head if you are unable to decide on what to do where you will find the highest concentration of gay bars, cafés, and gay-owned businesses in the city. The nearby square, “Place du Pin,” is also a popular gay hangout.
It surprised even me, but Montpellier carries the distinction of being referred to as France’s second LGBTQIA+-friendly hub, following in the footsteps of Paris. Founded in the eighth century, Montpellier is a relative newcomer compared to its ancient neighbors such as Nimes, Arles, and Beziers. Today, it stands as one of France’s fastest-growing metropolitan centers, seamlessly blending bold contemporary architecture with its medieval heritage. The universities in Montpellier plays a significant role in this dynamism, driving the average age down to under 25 for half of the population. Notably, the beach is just a stone’s throw away, approximately a 25-minute drive or accessible by bus. Here, you have a range of options, including LGBTQIA+-friendly spots, nudist beaches, speedo-clad sunbathing areas, and family-friendly shores.
(But, I’m not a big fan of Montpellier for a few reasons—one of which might seem very silly, but it has to do with color! Believe it or not, the official city color dictated by the Bâtiments de France for the windows and doorways is GRAY, known as “Gris de Montpellier.” I always wondered why I felt depressed when I was in Montpellier, and that answers it for me! How can a city choose gray as a color? It is beyond my comprehension!)
So, if you’re wondering what it’s like to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community in France, and where it’s best to hang your chapeau, then I’d imagine you’d be happy and safe just about anywhere in France. But, we do have recommendations! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn where. Visit our website to book your consultation today to discover the best places in France to live!!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian at Gay Pride in Paris with her parading American friend, Andrew G.
P.S. If you missed yesterday’s Après-Midi in Paris, don’t despair! You can read all about it, see the photos and watch the video by clicking here.