Gay Paris!

Oh Paris how I love you so.

What an absolutely brilliant city! And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t generally like big cities. Cam and I arrived in Paris very early (especially by Parisian standards), a little worse for wear after a mostly sleepless overnight ride on the bus. Old habits die hard, and shaking the rags of the poor frugal student is certainly something I need to work on. Though I vow I will never again try to save money by taking the bus from London to Paris!

Thankfully, the glorious full sunshine helped alleviate the morning grogginess and after rapidly changing into shorts and sandals I was soon seated in from of the most welcome breakfast I’ve had in a long time. Perfectly brewed café au lait, freshly squeezed orange juice, a hot golden croissant, and a crusty white baguette with home-made butter and strawberry jam. Simple, delicious, and oh so French, devoured in beautiful sunshine while partaking in the Frenchies’ favourite pastime, people watching.

Cafe in Paris

In fact, this was to be our morning ritual for the rest of the weekend, though I have to admit we soon switched from the café to the snack bar version after we saw the bill. By the way, if you’re wondering how it is that French madams and mademoiselles stay so thin with all this buttery goodness in their lives (I certainly did), I’ll tell you; they smoke like chimneys. In fact, on occasion it felt like everyone in Paris was puffing on a cigarette. But that, the minimal number of gardens or parks in the city, and the copious amount of dog poop on the pavement, are the only negative things I will say about Paris.

The city is quite literally littered with incredible edifices and more than amply endowed with soaring phallic towers. It seems that around every new corner there is yet another magnificent erection to behold (particularly amongst the Roman statues of the Louvre). My favourite of the copious magnificent buildings was Notre Dame, by far. With its sinewy, tendon-like arches, mysteriously blackened steeple and festooned by a multitude of grotesque horned gargoyles keeping evil at bay, it is truly an amazing piece of Gothic architecture. Tim Burton would most definitely approve.

Notre Dame Paris

But of course the Louvre is also impressive and imminently more so than the tiny canvas on which Ms Mona Lisa’s unnerving grimace is quite unflatteringly immortalised. The Luxembourg Palace is also perfectly picturesque, with its pretty gardens and cleverly moulded sun-baking chairs (be warned that your afternoon plans may need adjusting after sliding into their amazingly comfortable plastic clutches).

Luxembourg Palace Paris

Let’s not forget, of course, the Eiffel Tower; truly spectacular with all its Meccano-like scaffolding lit up like a Tokyo billboard. And of course the Arc de Triumph is most definitely completely spectacular with its perfectly positioned panorama over this gorgeous city. Though I have to admit that having Art v Science’s “Parle vous Francais” stuck in my head was definitely starting to grate by the time I reached the Champs Elysée (…is a busy street…arrgghhh, now it’s back again!).

View from Arc de Triumph Paris

After a long, but splendid, day treading the cobblestones all over Paris’ beautiful tree-lined boulevards we were justifiably weary. But our plans for a well-earned early evening kip, were soon forgotten when we surfaced from the metro stop straight into the middle of Paris’ annual Gay and Lesbian Parade. Big rainbow floats full of balloons, go-go dancers in riding chaps and G-strings, drag queens, semi-naked roller skaters, S&M dudes, dominatrix dudettes, and probably the most divine muscle-clad black French man I will ever in see in 4-inch stilettos and feathers.

Gay Parade Paris

We were suddenly, and quite literally, in Gay Paris. With thoughts of going home totally forgotten we joined the throng of crazy party people dancing down the middle of Paris to the electronic beats of hundreds of moving DJs.

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