Lille is France's fourth largest city and boasts a sizeable gay scene just two hours from London. If you live in the South it's closer than Manchester and wherever you are in the UK, it's the perfect Gallic gay spring break away, says OutUK's Adrian Gillan.

Tired of attitude in Paris? Bored with Brussels? Then follow the boys in the know to Lille near the French border with Belgium and get the best of both worlds, without the crowds. The city is steeped in history from real-life musketeer d'Artagnan to General de Gaulle and from Louis Pasteur to the Battle Fields of Flanders. Lille houses a library and research institute called GKC (Gay Kitsch Camp!) for the study of gender pluralism and currently 42% of the local population is under 25, so if you're over thirty you're in a minority!

There is a real atmosphere of civilisation throughout Lille and in just ten minutes you can walk from the Gare-Lille Europe, where Eurostar glides in, to the beautiful Grand Place.

Then it's just another five minute jaunt north into the Vieux Lille, the Old Town, and the gay cluster around the rue Royale and the rue de la Barre.

rue de la Monnaie in Lille's Old Town


Le Privilege is a full on gay bar in the Rue Royale with regular DJs and extraordinary interior design with its chandelliers, clocks and lighting rig. It is one of few exclusively gay bars in the city and as a result, gets pretty busy after midnight. If you walk past the bar and stools, there’s a more subdued upstairs and downstairs seating area where there is table service. Just around the corner, L'Autrement Dit may not have the widest beer choice, but it's a nice bar with a terrace and cellar.
Le Sébasto in the Rue Inkermann is a simple tobacco bar, whilst Chez Ma Tine is all about its friendly staff and their good range of drinks. It's a very cute little side street alongside some nice old buildings.

Back on Rue Royale, Quai Des Bananas is making a name for itself having been around since 1997, and they have certainly developed the art of celebration in all its forms. It's a cocktail bar in a speakeasy style with 1950-70s music, and just occasionally 80s pop culture mixed with an Hispanic flavour. They trade on their originality and style.

Chillin on the bar scene of Lille
If you like things really mixed then lots of 'strays' pass the time in trendy gay-friendly venues with good food like Le Bistrot du Nouveau Siècle.
Barman Arnaud is one of the tasty treats of Lille Le Bayard in the Rue Nationale is a gay friendly coffee bar run by Véro and Arno - the boss and her brother. It has a relaxed atmosphere and is a great place to meet friends - they have shooter and cocktail specials which you shouldn't miss out on.

Cabaret La Bonbonnière opened in 2011, and is now regarded as the must-go cabaret venue in Lille's city centre. It attracts a growing clientele enjoying loads of great performances, fine costumes, glittering stones and sequins, and plenty of fun.

Silom is a vibrant LGBTQIA+ bar found on the Rue Nationale with DJ sets, pop tunes, and captivating drag queen shows. Be sure to try their Jungle Passion cocktail when you visit! They also have special events every week.


J'en Suis J'y Reste is the Centre Lesbien Gay Bi Trans Queer Intersexe et Fèministe (LGBTQIF) de Lille Hauts-de-France. It has existed for more than 20 years, and it is one of the first LGBTQIA+ places in France. It is now part of the history of Lille and over the years, has actively contributed to the benevolent coexistence of very different people. The space offered by this place allows people who experience systemic violence on a daily basis to be visible, supported and heard. The pride themselves of their friendly welcome. Le Refuge accommodates and supports young LGBT+ people, aged 14 to 25, rejected by their parents, driven out of the family home, because they are homosexual or trans and/or questioning their identity.


And it's not far to go if you want to walk off some horn and take things fresh. The main cruising ground is at the end of the rue de la Barre towards the historic Citadelle fortress. The bushes aren't the only things lush in the Jardin Vauban. Or you can pop over the canal-cum-moats to the Bois de Boulogne park, around the edges of the Champ de Mars car park and amidst the buttresses of the castle's ramparts.
Le Sling is located in a former factory over 300 sqm and on 3 levels in the Rue Jean Jaurès. It's 100% about guys and the best known crusing and fetish club in Lille. Lights, equipment, music and everything is designed for a decidedly underground atmosphere, making it conducive to all your favourite fetish fantasies. They have 10 cabins, 4 cells, 2 dark rooms, 10 glory holes, 5 slings, a royal room with leather armchair and a St Andrews cross which allows the arms, legs, waist & chest of your man to get tied up. The club has jock fetish nights, naked events, incognito sessions, naked horse evenings (for the bigger boy) and much more.

There are also two saunas that battle it out for all our queer attentions:

Sauna Les Bains were the first, and now they claim biggest, all male bath house and bar in Northern Europe. They have two large spas for 8 and 16 guys at a time, a pool with three whirl-bath spots, another to swim against the stream and one to lay around comfortably under a waterfall. There's also a gym, sauna and sun-deck, tanning beds and a relaxing massage available.
Photos: Sauna Les Bains in Lille
Also located in the Lille Moulins district, Le Sauna Soho is close-by Le Sling. It's known for its exemplary cleanliness, good decor and pleasant welcome. Their wet area includes a steam room, sauna, 2 jacuzzis and baths. There's a play area, consisting of cabins, backrooms and dark corners, spread over three levels connected by stairs. There is also an attractive terrace and solarium, a bar with snacks and a small gym. In an adjoining building, there is a massage room, a UV cabin and a smoking room. They attract a varied clientele with a majority of guys around 30-40 years.


Adrian travelled with Eurostar who'll take you effortlessly from London Waterloo to the heart of Lille in two hours. For information and booking, phone 03432 186 186 or visit

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Cabaret La Bonbonnière (157 Rue du Molinel; T: +33 3 28 53 09 14; Website)
Chez Ma Tine (34 Rue des Bouchers; T: +33 6 68 58 74 63; facebook)
J'en Suis J'y Reste (19 Rue de Condè; T: +33 3 20 52 28 68; Website)
L'Autrement Dit (14 Rue Royale; T: +33 3 20 51 02 22; facebook)
Le Bistrot du Nouveau Siècle (11 Place Mendes France; T: +33 3 20 15 17 67)
Le Bayard (153 Rue Nationale; T: +33 9 64 12 45 61; facebook)
Le Refuge (7 Rue du Vert Bois; T: +33 9 81 45 36 39; Website)
Le Privilege (2 Rue Royale; T: +33 3 20 21 12 19; facebook)
Le Sauna Soho (10 rue de la Madeleine; T: +33 3 20 07 87 00; Website)
Le Sébasto (47 Rue Inkermann; T: +33 3 20 54 96 32)
Le Sling (32 Rue Jean Jaurès; T: +33 3 20 58 04 97; Website)
Quai Des Bananas (84 Rue Royale; T: +33 6 45 80 46 43; Website)
Sauna Les Bains (52 rue de Cambrai; T: +33 3 20 53 02 02; Website)
Silom Bar (138 Rue Nationale; T: +33 7 65 78 44 40; facebook; Instagram)

Revised March 2024.


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