Paris Pre-Pride Musical Celebration
Story by Ed Salvato; Above, a glimpse of Paris Pride June 2009
Gay Pride Paris is fast approaching. On Saturday, June 26 up to 700,000 participants are expected to throng the City of Light to celebrate la fierté gai et lesbienne. The parade kicks off at 2PM near the Montparnasse Tower and winds up several hours later at the Place de la Bastille. There are all sorts of events, parties, and activities surrounding Pride.
The epicenter of the action will be the Marais section of Paris. And the center of that will be l'Open Cafe, a popular gay bar/cafe at the intersection of Rue des Archives and Rue Ste. Croix de la Brettonnerie. A couple of doors south the Cafe Cox Bar will be equally packed. The Cox tends to attract a more leather and bear-oriented community and is primarily men. Head here, and it's almost guaranteed that you'll meet friends -- old or new.
Gay Pride Paris is one of the most fun LGBT Pride events in Europe and it is worth putting on your travel gaydar. If you go, consider making a week of it in order to attend the hugely popular Fête de la Musique, a celebration of all forms of music by amateurs and professionals alike that takes place at venues throughout Paris (and France) free to the public. It is held annually on June 21, so it's also a celebration of the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.
Summer days last and last here, with the skies remaining bright till 9 or 9:30 and dusk settling in slowly by 10 or 10:30pm. These revelers enjoyed some techno music outside of the Open Cafe during this year's Fête de la Musique.
Two hotels I got to check out this visit are well worth considering for a lovely stay in Paris. If you have the budget, the Hotel Fouquet's Barrière Paris is a luxurious five-star boutique property on the Champs-Elysées (at the corner of Avenue George V, where you'll find a Louis Vuitton store and the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris, another luxe property non-pareil.)
A more affordable choice, the four-star Radisson Blu Ambassador Hotel, Paris Opera, located on Boulevard Haussman, is only a few stops from the Marais along the number 7 line of the Métro. Besides the central location, the friendly, helpful service; big, quiet rooms; breakfast included in the reasonable rate; free WiFi (Radisson Blu is the only hotel chain in Europe to offer it); and a sprawling lobby with cafe and bar are just a few of the reasons this is a good choice.
I had to travel to Brussels after Paris and I was able to experience the high-speed train connection between these to cities. Thalys, part of Rail Europe, service is frequent, fast, and inexpensive. The journey, which is normally about 310 driving miles, takes a jaw-dropping 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Take that Acela, Amtrak's version of a high-speed train which travels a similar distance between New York and Boston in 3 hours and 20 minutes.)
For lots more trip-planning information regarding Paris, click on ParisInfo.com.