Gay Lyon guide: the best gay bars, hotels, clubs and saunas
We love Lyon because it has a mix of everything. As well as a fun gay scene, it is also famous for being the foodie capital of France and for having many UNESCO listed buildings.
The majority of the gay nightlife of Lyon is located in the Presqu'île. This is the area where the two rivers, the Rhône and Saône meet, forming an island-like peninsula. The southern section of the Presqu'île is the confluence point of the 2 rivers, and is more residential. The northern end of the Presqu'île is where the majority of the gay scene is, particularly between Place des Terreaux and Cordeliers. In this area, it is not uncommon to see same sex couples walking the streets holding hands.
Following our many trips to France's gastronomical capital, we've put together our gay guide to Lyon including the best bars, clubs, cruising clubs, saunas, events and places to stay.
Table of Contents
Gay bars in Lyon
Regardless of the season, the gay bars of Lyon are always a lot of fun, particularly as there is a large student population in the city. In the summer, the gay crowds spill into the streets outside. In the winter months, it's super cozy with everyone buried inside the bars, clutching a cup of mulled wine. These are some of our favourite gay bars in Lyon:
- La Ruche: one of the staple gay bars of Lyon. We love coming here for a few drinks to start the night, especially in the terrace area. La Ruche is located at 22 rue Gentil, 69002 and is open everyday from 5pm to late.
- XS Bar: another staple gay bar in Lyon, albeit a lot smaller than La Ruche. XS is always a fun place to visit with a young local crowd. It is located at 19 rue Claudia 69002 and is open everyday from 5pm till late.
- It Bar: this is a late opening gay bar in Lyon, perfect for those who love 80s music. It is located at 20 Bis Montée Saint Sébastien, 69001 and is open Thursday-Saturday from midnight to 4am.
- Drôle de Zèbre: this dinky little cafe is a great place to come for a coffee. The morning happy hour is awesome because they have coffee priced at €1 until midday. It is located at 6 rue de Cuire and is open Monday to Saturday from 10am till 1am.
- L'Étoile Opéra: a gay friendly Bohemian cocktail bar, which also serves tapas. It has a cool outside terrace, which is a nice place to chill on a sunny day for cocktails. Opéra is located at 26, rue de l'Arbre Sec and is open everyday till late.
- Le Broc Bar: one of our favourite cafes/bars to hang out. It's always full of cute local Lyonnais guys and has a large outdoor terrace. During the winter months they make it really cosy by handing out blankets to guests. Le Brock is located at 20 rue Lanterne, 69002 and is open everyday from morning till around midnight.
- Chapelle Café: is a gay friendly trendy cafe/bar. Although it's not exclusively gay, everyone is welcome. It's a great spot to marvel at the gorgeous views of the Fourvière Hill. Chapelle is located at 8, quai des Célestins and is open everyday from 9am.
Gay clubs in Lyon
There are a handful of gay clubs in Lyon located mainly in the northern end of the Presqu'île unless stated otherwise:
- Garçon Sauvage: a huge colourful monthly queer party. Imagine lots of drag queens, colourful twinks, beautiful bears and lots of glitter beards, and more, all mixed together. It has 2 rooms, one for electro-house music, the other for pop/disco. Check out the Events section on their Facebook page for details of the next party. Garçon Sauvage usually takes place at “Le Sucre” which is at 50 quai Rambaud, towards the southern end of the Presqu'île near the Confluence.
- United Café: (aka UC) the oldest gay club in Lyon. It has a themed event each evening ranging from drag, karaoke to electro dance. It always gets busy at UC, attracting a young twinkish crowd. UC is located at Impasse de la Pecherie, 69001 and is open everyday from midnight until around 5am the next day.
- Factory Club: open only on Saturday evenings. It has everything you'd expect in a gay club with live DJs, Go-Go dancers, drag queens, sexy topless guys, laser shows and more sexy topless guys (see video below)! Factory is located at 73 rue du Bourbonnais, 69009, which is outside of the Presqu'île in the 9th Arrondissement. It is open only on Saturdays from 11:30pm till 7am the next morning.
- Impérial Discothèque: this is the best electronic music gay club in Lyon. It has 2 dance rooms, one popular with twinks, the other more techno orientated. Imperial is located at 24 rue Royale and is open only on Friday and Saturday from 11pm till 7am the next day.
Gay sex clubs and cruising in Lyon
There are several well known gay sex clubs in Lyon. If you want to shop for your cruisy night out, check out DOGklub at 12 rue Romarin, open Monday to Saturday from 12:30-19:30.
The 2 most popular gay sex clubs in Lyon are:
- Premier Sous-Sol: has 2 floors for dancing and playing, which includes a dark room, maze, cabins and more. It is located at rue Puit Gaillot 7, 69001 and is open everyday from 2pm till 4am the next day (7am on Sunday mornings).
- Le Trou: means “the hole” in French, has themed events like “Jockstrap Day”, “All Naked”, “Free for Under 26s” and “BlackOut Night”. It is located at rue Romarin 6, 69001 and is open everyday from 2pm till 2am the next morning (5am on weekends).
Gay saunas in Lyon
The gay saunas are mainly based in the northern end of the Presqu'île close to the gay nightlife of Lyon.
- Le Sun: allegedly the largest gay sauna in Europe. It has a large Bollywood(!) inspired maze as well as a gym, swimming pool and bar. Le Sun is located at rue Sainte-Marie des Terreaux 3, 69001, and is only open 3 days a week: Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays from midday to around midnight.
- DoubleSide: this sauna is very popular with young gay guys because they offer discounted entry to under 26s. Unlike Le Sun however, it is open 7 days a week from midday to 1am (5am on weekends). DoubleSide is located at 8 rue Constantine.
- Oasis Club Sauna: unique in that they offer a trans day on Tuesdays called “Mardi Travestis“. Oasis is located at rue Coustou 1 and is open everyday from midday to 9pm (3am on weekends).
- Sauna Hammam Bellecour: smaller sauna with a more discreet location at rue Simon Maupin 4. It is open everyday from midday to 10pm (on weekends until midnight).
Gay friendly hotels in Lyon
France is one of the most gay friendly countries in the world, so you are unlikely to ever have any issues booking a double bed or feeling unwelcome as a gay traveller in most parts of the country, particularly in Lyon. These are our favourite gay hotels in Lyon based on our personal experience, as well as recommendations from fellow LGBTQ travellers:
Cour des Loges – luxury 5* hotel
This is one of Lyon's most luxurious hotels and super gay friendly. The Spartacus Guide recommends it, as well as our gay friends living in the city who come here to celebrate very special occasions. It's gorgeous, grand and nicely located in Vieux Lyon (Old Town), so you have all the touristy sightseeing highlights on your doorstep.
The other big highlight here is the highly rated inhouse Michelin starred restaurant of Paul Bocuse, which is definitely worth trying, even if you're not staying here. If you're heading to Lyon for a romantic, special occasion, this is definitely the place you want to stay, especially if you're a foodie.
Rooms at the Cour des Loges start from $280/€243 a night. You can check availability and prices here.
Collège Hotel Lyon – medium budget
Collège Hotel is a very unique place to stay in Lyon because of its quirky collegiate school-themed decor. It is well located, walking distance to both Vieux Lyon and the gay nightlife, reasonably priced and always welcoming to us as a gay couple.
It has cute signs warning pupils not to spit on the floors, the TVs in the rooms are embedded in a blackboard, and the welcome pack comes in a pupil’s pencil tin. Also, the (very generous!) buffet breakfast is served in the “Salle de Professeurs” where you almost expect a gowned schoolteacher to emerge with a cane to hand!
Rooms at Collège Hotel start from $136/€118 a night. You can check availability and prices here.
Hotel des Artistes Lyon – romantic boutique hotel
This is a 3 star boutique hotel located walking distance to both Vieux Lyon and the gay nightlife. It's geared towards couples, and warmly welcomes same sex couples.
Rooms at Hotel des Artistes start from $145/€126 a night and include a buffet breakfast. You can check availability and prices here.
Misterbnb – budget option stay with a local
Lyon is quite an expensive city, so for quick visits, we don't always want to be spending hundreds of Euros on accommodation. On these occasions we either stay with friends, or use Misterbnb to find LGBTQ locals to stay with. There are many inexpensive listings in Lyon, both in and around the Presqu'île.
If you sign up here or click on this image, you can claim a €10 credit:
Gay events in Lyon
Lyon has one of the best LGBTQ film festivals in France, a super cool Pride event, and of course the very famous Light Festival in early December:
- Queer Film Festival: the “Écrans Mixtes Festival” takes place in March and is recognised as one of France's finest LGBT film festivals. It includes parties, exhibitions, screenings and public discussions.
- Lyon Pride: the “Fierté Lesbian and Gay Pride” has been taking place in mid-June every year since it started in 1996. The large colourful parade sashays its way through the streets of Vieux Lyon and the Presqu'île, with lots of parties and events taking place alongside it. It has grown massively in popularity to become France's second largest Pride after Paris.
- Lyon Light Festival: the infamous “Fête des Lumières” takes place over 4 nights around 8th December each year when the city gives thanks to Mary, mother of Jesus, who allegedly saved the city from a terrible plague in 1643. During the festival, a dramatic light display takes place on the iconic buildings in the evening, and the residents place candles outside their windows to produce a spectacular effect throughout the streets. It's not a a gay event, but popular with both LGBTQ residents of Lyon as well as gay travellers. We certainly always come to it – it's one of the top festivals in France.
Gay restaurants in Lyon
Lyon is a foodie destination, with many highly rated “bouchons” (the French word for the traditional restaurants of the city). There are also several highly rated gay owned restaurants in Lyon:
- Chez Albert: Albert and Thierry are the super cute gay couple behind this awesome restaurant. We celebrated Valentine's Day here on a few occasions and love everything about it, from the service to the delicious food. It is located at 10 Place Fernand Rey, 69001 in the Presqu'île. Highly recommend this one for a special occasion.
- Chez Les Garçons: cheap and cheerful, popular with locals. Chez Le Garçons is located at 5 rue Cuvier, 69006, just outside of the Presqu'île on the East.
- Le Francois Villon: one of the better restaurants in the touristy Vieux Lyon. Their portions are generous and food cooked well. It is located at 20 rue du Boeuf, 69005, in the heart of Vieux Lyon.
Some Practical tips
Travel insurance: really is a must for any trip wherever you're going! You don't need travel insurance until something serious happens; we've learnt this the hard way! So make sure you're covered! Whether you get it through your bank account, household insurance or other private insurer, it doesn't cost much and will give you peace of mind during your trip. We personally use World Nomads because they offer comprehensive cover at very reasonable prices. We also like their very user friendly online claims process. You can also compare the best quotes for travel insurance here.
Buy a SIM card: if you're from Europe, check with your mobile provider that your package includes roaming in France because it should. If you're visiting France from outside Europe, we strongly advise buying a SIM card or even renting a pocket wifi. If anything, to use Google Maps, which always has the most up-to-date information for all transport options, particularly if there are any delays or works taking place on the line.
Transport: Lyon's airport is called “Lyon Saint-Exupéry” (LYS) and is located around 20 miles (32km) southeast from Lyon city centre. The only official way to get from Lyon airport to the city centre by public transport is with the Rhonexpress tram. We recommend buying the Lyon City card, before which also gets you unlimited travel on Lyon's public transport. For more transport options check out our detailed guide about getting from Lyon Airport to the city centre.