Monthly Archives: December 2011

My Gay Paris: Three of the World’s Best Bars are in Paris … and We’ve Been!

What have Harry’s, the Hemingway and Buddha Bar got in common? They’re all great places to get a cocktail in Paris, of course, but they’re also the city’s entries in a recently-published list of the world’s fifty best bars. The top fifty has been compiled from a poll of readers of Drinks International magazine—and they should know a decent watering hole when they see one.

The number one spot went to PDT (aka Please Don’t Tell), a ‘secret’ speakeasy-style bar in New York’s West Village. Most of the top ten, in fact, is split between London and New York, with the first non-English-speaking entry from Paris itself, Harry’s, at number nine.

We can’t resist a chance to go for a nice cocktail, of course, which is just as well—as that’s what all three bars specialise in!

Harry’s New York Bar

5, rue Daunou — 2nd arrondissement

A good old-fashioned American-style cocktail bar, Harry’s has been something of an institution amongst ex-pats for a hundred years now. Traditional cocktails are complemented by a lunch menu that mixes all-American staples like hot dogs with French favourites like croques monsieurs.

Given the diverse mix of Americans that make it to Paris, the bar’s straw poll, held exactly one month before every presidential election, has been a remarkable predictor of success down the years, only getting it wrong twice in the course of two elections. The bar is well-known as one of the most exciting places outside of Washington, DC, to follow election night—worth remembering if you’re planning a visit to Paris in 2012!

Buddha Bar

8 bis, rue Boissy d’Anglas — 8th arrondissement

A million miles away from the cozy, intimate atmosphere of Harry’s, Buddha Bar is a bustling cross-cultural mix, with drinkers and diners mingling underneath the huge buddha that dominates the main room. Split across two floors, the venue has a restaurant upstairs, but it’s the bar downstairs that we prefer. With a great selection of cocktails, you can keep on dancing all night—especially as you’re likely to recognise much of the music from the dozen or so compilation CDs that the bar has taken to releasing over the years.

Hemingway Bar

in the Ritz-Carlton, 15, place Vendôme — 1st arrondissement

One of the most exclusive places to stay in Paris is now complemented by one of the most exclusive places to drink. Named after one of the city’s most famous US residents (who would actually probably have been more at home in Harry’s), the Hemingway is a classic hotel bar, with immaculate bartenders mixing delicious cocktails for both residents and guests.

My Gay Paris: Marks and Spencer Brings a Taste of Britain to the Champs-Élysées

It might be a classic British brand, rather than a big French name, but the new outpost of Marks & Spencer in a prime location on the Champs-Élysées in the heart of Paris has drawn almost as much attention as the (in)famous launch of the city’s first ever Abercrombie & Fitch earlier this year. This time round, however, there were no topless, muscle-bound men to greet the first shoppers. Not only was it early December, but nudity doesn’t quite fit with the brand image of British staple Marks & Spencer …

Better known for its sensible shirts, affordable knitwear, as well as sandwiches, snacks and other treats, it’s been a household name in Britain for well over a century. The company has been provided comfortable shoes and well-fitting underwear to countless generations in the UK, but the latest branch is by no means its first foray overseas.

Street Protests

Until 2001, the company had over a dozen stores in France, popular both with expats dreaming of favourites from home like shortbread and baked beans and locals keen to add a touch of class. When the company announced its plans to pull out of mainland Europe, they reacted with fury, with angry shoppers marching in the street to express their solidarity with the newly-redundant workers.

Although many regular shoppers vowed at the time never to forget this sign of betrayal, most seemed happy to return—a decade later—to the new branch in the heart of the French capital and are enthusiastic about prospects of more stores arriving soon.

Having tried the first new M & S on the Champs-Élysées ourselves, we must say we’re not too impressed by the mixture of food (not enough!) and womenswear (far too much!) but we hear that the firm is planning some new food-only stores in the near future and we can’t wait! At the meantime, we’ll be stocking up on shortbread and chocolate-chip cookies at the M & S branch in Saint Pancras station, London, before we get the Eurostar—unless any of our guests want to bring us some that is!

My Gay Paris: All I Want for Christmas is a Cover-boy from Têtu!

Staying in touch with the gay scene in Paris is even easier if you can read a little French because you can check out some of the local media, including France’s biggest-selling gay magazine, Têtu. Belying its militant past, the name means ‘stubborn’ in French, but nowadays, the magazine is more concerned with lifestyle issues and is a great place to read up on gay clubs and events in Paris—and to check out some gorgeous boys.

If you’re too shy to ask, you can spot its provocative cover on newsstands across Paris once a month—the hunky guys on the cover are usually a give-away—but in the interests of inclusion for their non-Francophone readers, or should we say, viewers, the magazine also includes juicy shots of those cover boys on its website.

 

SEXY COVERS

A short bio of each of the guys is included as well as their vital statistics, but we’re pretty sure that’s not what you’re interested in, so we suggest you just enjoy the visual treat: there’s normally at least a dozen photos per month of that issue’s star, more than actually make it into the magazine, and, if you’re lucky, a making-of video looking behind the scenes at the shoot.

New Zealand Controversy

It might seem like a bit of harmless fun, but a recent Têtu cover-boy recently caused offence as far away as New Zealand. Ahead of this summer’s Rugby World Cup, 23-year-old rugby player Alexis Palisson was photographed topless with fake Maori tattoos, a clear nod to the popularity and success of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team. The sight of a gorgeous French sportsman sporting the national (un)dress for a gay magazine was more than some of them could handle and Palisson was forced to apologise.

With the cold weather setting in outside and Christmas still a few days away, we can think of nothing better to banish the cold than the sight of one of these hot guys!

My Gay Paris: How to meet a gay guy in paris

Now that French men are said to be the most hung in Europe, visitors to the capital will be asking themselves the question “How do I meet a gay guy in Paris?”Parisien guys are hard to get but when you get them, you will want more and more.

Tip number 1: DEVELOP THE RIGHT STRATEGY

Too young, too old, too fat, too thin, too slim, too muscular, hair too long, too bald, too many tattoes, too feminine, too thug. Finding a guy is a very complicated task and if you are in Paris for just a few days, you need to know where to find what you like and fast.

Tip number 2: KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS

Not everyone is able to approach a guy easily and approach is primordial. Therefore the first issue to decide is whether you are good in the flesh face to face or  whether you are better off trying the cyber-world.

Tip number 3: I LIKE IT REAL

For those who prefer real contact, you mind want to try Paris’ saunas. Most saunas are equipped with jacuzzis , steam sauna, hammam and private rooms but be prepared to walk a marathon because parisiens play hard to get.

If you are keen on muscle guys, your best bet is the Gym Louvre Sauna.

The Sun city is opened all night for those with sleeping problems and the Key West is near to the gare du Nord for some fun just before taking your train.

 Tip number 4:  TELEPHONE IS QUICK

In just one year, Grindr has become the most popular chat application for gays in Paris. Blackberry, iphone android smartphones allow users to download the application. The application allows you to see the guys who are within a few metres of you. But be careful, you may get a lot of surprises.

Tip number 5: HAVE A PLAN B

Grindr is not available to internet users and users of non-android telephones. However, a website using the same priciple has been developed and works quite well in Paris.  Nopicnodial.com allows users to see those connected within close proximity much the same like Grindr. All you need is a telephone or computer with internet connection.

Tip number 5:  TRY A GAY CHAT

When in trouble, try everything. Some parisiens still prefer to connect to traditional gay chat websites. The most popular one in Paris is gayromeo.com. Other websites that may be worthwhile are gaypax.com, beuronline.com and kelma.org. Some discussions may last for a long time so patience is sometimes key.

Tip number 6: WHEN EVERYTHING FAILS

If you have tried everything without success, then your last bet may be the Jardin des Tuileries. This park next to the world renowned Louvre museum is frequented by gays at nights especially when the weather is not so cold. With dark, underground tunnels and neatly trimmed flower paths, a moment of pleasure may arise. If you are looking for a charming prince however, you may be dissappointed.

Whetver you do, always remember to protect yourselves. Wear a condom. The life you are saving may be your own.

My Gay Paris: Mylène Farmer, France’s biggest gay icon

Mylene farmer on stage

Mylene farmer is France’s superstar. Since the beginning of her career in the 80s, she became more and more successful and has developed a huge fan base, both in France and abroad. For instance, she is very popular in Russia, and she is not unknown in the UK and the US.

                   Mylène Farmer : California-1996

Mylene farmer by Elsa Trillat in 1988

She is considered to be mysterious and her songs have a very poetic feel, which is not very easy to understand for some people. She is influenced by poets such as Edgar Allan Poe. Her videoclips are masterpieces. Except for her last album Bleu Noir, which was composed by Moby she works with talented collaborator Laurent Boutonnat, her composer. Each of her albums and singles became hits in France.

                   Mylène Farmer : Désenchanté – 1991

Mylene farmer by Claude Gassin

She is one of the most successful French female artists of all time, she holds numerous sales records and the tickets for her (rare) tours are generally sold within a couple of minutes. Mylène Farmer was the first artist in France to design huge shows as the ones done by artists like Madonna.

Mylene on stage in 2009

                   Mylène Farmer : Avant que l’ombre Live – 2006

She is very reluctant to appear in the media, grants rarely interviews, and claims that everything she needs to say is contained in her songs.

Mylene farmer by Simon Hawk

 For some reason, French gay guys are an important part of her fan base and she is considered to be a gay icon. In the bars of gay Paris, you will certainly hear some Mylène songs, and a party is even named after her: love is Mylène.

Mylene and Jean Paul Gaultier for fashion week in 2011

This december, Mylene Farmer launches a best-of which has the most memorable single tracks of the past decade, as it is entitled “2001-2011″, as well as new exclusive tracks. But it is not #1 because of Adele’s current success. She is in the magazine Citizen K which publishes a photo-shoot. So if you want to know about being gay in France, you absolutely most know about Mylène Farmer and listen to her songs !

Mylene farmer in Citizen K in 2011

                   Mylène Farmer : Du temps – Best-of 2011