J’ADORE GAY PARIS
Here’s the thing: I really loved visiting Paris back in May. When my mother and I stepped off of the Eurostar, collected our luggage and walked outside to wait for our Uber, she looked at me and said, “This is the same look you had when your dad and I dropped you off in New York City for your internship.”
I replied that it was that same day of being dropped off that I knew I wanted to move to New York City. Then I did it. I also said that something in the air told me that I could imagine myself moving to Paris. The seed had been planted thanks to all of the romantic literature, chic individuals and sexy language I had been exposed to for years. I can barely speak French (Duolingo really is great) but whoever let a little thing called a language barrier get in their way doesn’t deserve the prize on the other side.
Let me stop before I get too ahead of myself, okay? First, let me share 10 places/reasons to visit Paris for yourself if you have not already.
Since it was released, Moulin Rouge has remained one of those movies I never tire of so it only seemed natural to stay near the Moulin Rouge which is nestled in Montmartre. The head concierge, Xavier, of the Hotel Joke (1) informed us of how seedy the area used to be and still was in terms of its sex scene which seemed to really disturb my mother. I, naturally, thought that this handsome French man only brought up the topic of sex as a way to flirt with me. I knew it was love when he told me one afternoon to sit tight as he went to grab a bag of potato chips as a snack for me as I adventured around the city.
One of the first things we did was make a dash over to Espace Dali (2), a permanent gallery of Salvador Dalí’s work. I knew his name and some of his more famous works but this gallery really opened my eyes to the absolute genius this man was able to bring into the world. The sculptures captivated me most, particularly those depicting people with drawers as a part of their body. There was even one that was clearly an inspiration to Lady Gaga or someone influential on her team back when she did more outlandish ensembles in the beginning of her pop star ascension. If you’re visiting Paris, this is an absolute must-stop visit.
Also on my list was a light lunch at Tuck Shop but when we got there, it had been reborn as Le Poutch (3). If you’re into hip scenes, Le Poutch is close to the Canal Saint-Martin, a canal that actually gets drained and cleaned every 10-15 years. After Le Poutch, we walked a short distance to Artazart (4), a bookstore literally across the street from the Canal Saint-Martin. While perusing the small, intimate bookshop, a young Asian man comes up to me and asks if he can take my portrait. I was immediately skeptical but he claimed to like my look. I let him know I had recently done jail time for assault (totally false) and would “take him out” if he tried anything funny but I’d pose for a portrait as soon as I was done inside. So, I purchased a book and we walked out, my mother keeping the slightest distance. Thanks, mom. I only stood in front of his camera for a minute or so but the image he sent was fantastic if I do say so myself. He didn’t want me to smile which was a struggle because I legitimately couldn’t believe that I was basically being stopped by a street style photographer in a hip part of Paris. Surreal. Anyway, his name is Martin Luo (@awemartin) and I’m so happy he wasn’t a low down dirty criminal who was just using the photographer title as a way to lure me into a seedy situation!From there, my mother and I ventured to Colonnes de Buren (5), a “highly controversial” art installation in the inner courtyard of the Palais Royal. The striped pillars were attractive to me and I knew that this is where I’d end up taking a shit ton of photos.
And I totally did.
Other highlights? Walking to the Galeries Lafayette (6) and picking up a Balenciaga wallet and a pair of Edwin denim. Visiting the Louvre and using a “secret” entrance to bypass the incredibly long line outside. One of my favorite photos from the entire trip actually came when we found the Mona Lisa and I snapped a photograph of my mother snapping a photograph of Ms. Lisa with her phone. You can actually see the painting in the phone which I just think is cool. Whatever. Judge me.
We also visited the Château de Versailles (7) which was absolutely breathtaking. As we awaited our tour guide to walk us over to the palace that morning, I checked my Facebook messages to find a note from my sister, Calie, wishing me a happy birthday. After reading her full message, I totally started crying! It was my birthday and I was in Paris. Well, Versailles at that very moment but I almost couldn’t believe that I really pulled it off!
I was in Paris.
If you’re wondering if I visited the world famous Eiffel Tower (8), stop. I did. However, we didn’t get to stay for too long because the sky opened up and a heavy rain came to visit. I was wearing cheap, suede boots so we made a mad dash to the nearest train and headed back towards our hotel. The boots were fine in the end and if I’d know how “durable” they were, I probably would have pushed to stay out and about for a bit longer.
My last day in London was alright and I was okay with leaving but let me tell you that I was not happy about having to leave Paris. Xavier, our hotel’s head concierge, recommended we go to La Vache et le Cuisinier for our final dinner which was, to say the least, an incredibly interesting experience. On the walk to the restaurant, we popped into a small comic book store, Bulles En Tête (9), where I met Magnus, the friendliest man ever. After a good, and humorous, conversation, he gave me his information so I could touch base whenever I came back for another visit.
At La Vache, we both ordered individual dishes as well as a beef tartare to share. Now, I’ve had beef tartare before here in the states and the portions are always really cute and petite. At La Vache, I swear to god they brought out at least 1.5 pounds of beef. The way my mother’s face contorted during the process of mixing and tasting the tartare was priceless. We had our fair share before pushing it aside.
“You don’t like?” our waitress asked.
“No, no! It was great! It’s just where we’re from, the portions are so much smaller so this was just…overwhelming.”
“Oh! Ha!” she said before walking away.
After dinner, we casually strolled to Sacré-Cœur (10) as we were told that it was a fabulous spot to drink in the sunset. While we waited for our final Parisian sunset, a street musician gave a strong rendition of George Ezra’s “Budapest” with the faintest French accent. I swooned. Then, two friends put on an impressive show with fire. I didn’t realize until we were already halfway back to the hotel that I hadn’t even opened my Google Maps app to guide me. However, I was so taken with that city that I would’ve been fine with getting lost.
I want to go back as soon as possible because a few days was not nearly enough. Paris, I love you.
Side note: maybe it’s just because I’m super adorable but I did not get to experience the infamous bad reputation the French have acquired over the years.