Day two in Paris.
Know how rough it is to be hungover, in dire need of a chippy and glass bottle of Irn-Bru and be unable to get your hands on any? Disastrous.
Anyway, our host Ariane let us know that we just happened to be in the city the weekend of the Pride parade. In a place like Paris, this wasn’t something that could miss… so we met up with the German girls (who were bang on time as one might expect) and headed over to see what was going on.
which turned out to be quite a lot…
This thing was huge. It paraded past us for about 3 hours with a whole manner of spectacles to behold.
I’m not entirely sure why there were so many kilted men mind you.
Perhaps the French were trying to tell us something.
There was a whole assortment of interesting and unusual people kicking about, embracing their own extravagant and outlandish sides. As I stood in the sun drinking some guarana flavoured Desperados beer, I couldn’t help but notice both how normal I felt, but also how comfortable. I’ve always resonated with freaks, weirdos and eccentrics, so to be in the middle of such a proud display of flamboyancy (and on such a grand scale) was bizarrely comforting.
The giant rainbow coloured parachute that marched along had to be one of the highlights.
Nothing like a big piece of brightly coloured fabric to make you feel part of something.
Chris and I joked that even if we were gay, we wouldn’t be attracting the type of guys that were seen sprawling over the car below, rubbing each other down with sponges.
The number of young people involved, and the openness of the city to the event made me feel a bit ashamed, and I’m not even sure why. In Scotland, we were one of the first places to legalise ‘civil partnerships’, and are on the way to the push towards marriage rights for all, yet here was a proud and noisy display of equality and community that seemed to show a deeper acceptance and openness than we’ve managed to achieve yet.
Good on you Paris.
We could have spent the day traipsing round the sights, but I think we learned a whole lot more about the city this way.
Afterwards we headed out with Ariane to explore the streets that were filled with revellers from all over Paris. There were rainbow flags everywhere, and the atmosphere was far more a party and less like the warzone that is to be found on the likes of Sauchiehall Street.
Watching a transvestite get chased off of a van roof by jumping into the middle of a crowd of offbeat characters in a Parisian street whilst music played and big men danced in windows overhead is not something which I shall forget in a hurry.
We met Ariane’s friend Fred this night and went down to sit outside the museum we were at yesterday. He’s doing a PhD in Chemistry, and told me I sounded more Indian than Scottish.
Not quite sure his accent-o-meter is too finely tuned.
He had the most bizarre collection of miniature spirits I’ve come across, which only went some way to replace the full bottle of 3 Euro vin rouge that Chris had managed to destroy near the Bastille earlier on in the night. I think he did it out of spite since he doesn’t drink, and was carrying it for us.
The Parisians seem to behave just as wildly as the Scots do, but with a whole lot less violence… and the police are a lot less strict about enforcing strict penalties for minor offences as a result. I’m not sure what it is in our psyche that leads us to act so aggressively when intoxicated, but I’m pretty convinced it’s not a good thing… the relaxed nature of cities on the continent inevitably gives them a lot more freedom than it appears we end up with here.