At 20:30 one Friday evening I was surfing the net and discovered that Paris Gay Pride was on at 13:00 the next day. I took this as a challenge :-)
A 4am start meant I could catch the 07:19 Eurostar to Paris, check into a hotel, get cleaned up and be on the march by 13:00 raring to go. This I managed! However, the next thing to do was wait for the march to start... two and a half hours later we finally got moving in my part of the parade. Until then, we had been dancing away to the sound of some seriously big speakers loaded on the Red Scorpion float. Several of the night-clubs and cafes in Paris had floats there, as did the occasional mainstream company like Gini lemonade and Virgin Cola.
There were lots of cute guys on the parade, and many girls too. One noticeable float had four topless muscular young men dancing in cages on the roof. The standard of costumes on display was very high.
The parade ended up at the Place de la Bastille. This is normally a rather large roundabout (or in heavy Paris traffic, a car-park :-) but today it had been cleared except for TV crews. People filled the space, and some worthies spoke out in strident tones. My French does not extend to heavy pronouncements over PA systems, so I didn't catch that. However, the key point about ending up at this place was that there were several cafés strewn around the edge. I took advantage of this. It may not be following the spirit of political struggle, but I feel a bit better after a march having a sit down and some lovely food. For this, Paris had the best Pride. London's marches tend to have hot-dogs and jacket potatoes at the end (and en-route) rather than decent food, and they expect people to teleport between the end of the march and the festival site.
The main party afterwards was at a rather large indoor stadium. The cavernous interior made me think that if you wanted to see gymnastics here, you should forget the binoculars and bring a 6 inch Dobsonian reflector! At the bottom of the stair mountains were a few dance floors, and the music was quite danceable. I even met a cute programmer there who had worked for a French developer. That's got to be a miracle (seriously, how many cute programmers do you know?)
All in all it was a fun (and very long) day.
Paris was enjoying more than just Gay Pride day that weekend. The Festival of Lights involved a few fireworks that night (which I did not see, being elsewhere at the time), and the next day the race of the «Garçons du Café» took place. This involves waiters running in full waiter costume, aprons bow-ties and all, carrying a tray with a bottle and three glasses on it. Without breaking them. For five miles (8 kilometres).
The winner finished it in 30 minutes 36 seconds, which is quite respectable compared to a full athletic race without all the impediments!
I finished off my stay with an ascent of Notre Dame cathedral, which provided a nice view of the surrounding city.
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