Iconic LGBT+ bookshop Les Mots à La Bouche forced out of Paris gay district by rising rents
France’s most well-known LGBT+ bookshop, Les Mots à La Bouche, has been forced out of the gay district in Paris due to the increasing cost of rent.
The 40-year-old bookshop, widely considered one of the best LGBT+ bookshops in the world, is a focal point of the historic gay neighbourhood of the Marais district of central Paris.
But in recent months, it’s had a poster in the window stating “Cultural heritage in danger”, with an urgent note on the door adding: “We need your help!”
Sébastien Grisez, manager at Les Mots à La Bouche, said: “Paris city hall promotes the gay history of the Marais and it has painted the crossroads here in rainbow colours, but no longer having our bookshop here seems absurd.”
The owners of Les Mots à La Bouche have until March to find a new location.
Property speculation and dizzying rents in central Paris mean it is estimated that at certain times of the year, there are more Airbnb rentals in Marais than actual residents.
LGBT+ activists have warned that the bookshop’s departure will come as a blow for the community.
“The gay Marais is dying,” said local cabaret star, Yvette Leglaire.
The gay scene in the Marais, which began in the 1980s when rents were cheap and the area was still working class, has been slowly eroded in recent years by the encroachment of fashion stores from the likes of Lacoste.
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Les Mots à La Bouche has been in the Marais since 1983 and stocks more than 16,000 titles.
“Ten years ago, there were far more gay bars here, now only a few are left. It’s true that gay sociology is changing – people are more spread out, there is perhaps less need to meet in bars when you can meet on apps. But even so, people regret that this neighbourhood meeting point is disappearing,” said Grisez.
Sébastien Fossa, manager of the Open Bar, a historic gay venue, said: “The neighbourhood is increasingly losing its soul. It started out as a working-class neighbourhood. Gradually, the arrival of luxury brands has broken the dynamic here.”