Central Bar, October 2010

Closed in 2010, the Le Central bar was one of the most emblematic places for the LGBTQ+ community in Paris. Located at 33 rue Vieille du Temple, it marked the nightlife of the Marais for more than thirty years. A brief look back at the history of this legendary place.

During the 70 years, le Marais was a gray, industrial neighborhood and much less attractive than today. The houses there were unsanitary, the streets poorly lit and businesses almost non-existent apart from a few wholesale stores. It is the low level of rents as well as the inauguration of the Center Pompidou which will encourage several traders to open their stores in the district.

It was not until 1978 that the first Parisian gay bar opened its doors, “Le Village” located on rue du Plâtre. Its low prices, its good-natured and popular atmosphere had attracted many gays to the neighborhood fleeing rue Sainte-Anne, considered elitist and expensive. The establishment will have great success and very quickly, other gay bars flourish in le Marais.

Maurice McGrath, a former Royal Navy sailor, bought an old hotel located on Rue du Temple and renovated it in September 2010 to turn it into a hotel and bar. This is the birth of the legendary “Central”, as it was nicknamed at the time.

The pride flag is displayed there and gays and allies meet there. This strong attractiveness and affluence will make the streets of Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie and the rue Vielle du Temple, the two streets the epicenter of the gay district. Very quickly, other gay establishments emerged near the Central, such as the “Les Mots à la Bouche” bookstore, the “Le Subway” bar and the “Avatic” coffee shop.

After thirty years of practice, Maurice McGrath was forced to retire due to health issues and left a note on the window thanking his customers for more than 30 years of loyalty. On October 9, 2010, a crowd of old and new customers gathered for a drink in homage to the last day of the legendary Central.

The Thomas Sabo jewelry store, June 2022

Today, the hotel has given way to a luxurious jewelry boutique: Thomas Sabo. If the hotel was unable to resist the gentrification that has affected the neighborhood for several years, it will remain for many the emblem of the transformation of the Marais into a progressive and gay-friendly neighborhood.

Text: Morgane Joulin

17.06.22

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