Saturday was Paris Gay Pride (« La Marche des Fiertés », literally “The March of Prides”). The weather was absolutely perfect, in sharp contrast to last year: sunny and warm but not too hot. I met up with Zhizhong at Le Soufflot Café, which was fairly ordinary except for the large size of their portions; I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there again but I wouldn’t veto it either. We then strolled through the growing crowd to join Zhizhong’s French friend Guillaume and about a dozen U.S. marchers. We had been told that the U.S. Ambassador would be joining us so we were thrilled when she arrived, along with her impressive entourage.
Skeptics raised questions about whether it was really she but I continue to believe that it was.
For about half an hour Zhizhong, Guillaume and I waited with the U.S. group while it moved less than a block, then we peeled off and walked along the parade route ourselves, following the rainbow flag I had bought from a street vendor.
A couple Zhizhong knew joined us for a while, then we settled down at a café at Place de la Bastille to watch the parade finally arrive.
After a few beers and a conversation (during which Guillaume revealed that I strongly resemble one of his uncles!) we said farewell and went our separate ways. I walked up Boulevard Beaumarchais to the end of the march, at Place de la Republique. It was festive but I was a bit tired so I headed home, where I made dinner and had an early night.
On Sunday morning Elliot came by with a couple of friends to pick up the cheapo microwave oven that I had bought for the apartment at the beginning of my stay. He has a nicer one at home but this will be perfect for the smaller apartment in the Marais where he used to live, which he now uses as an office and crash pad for friends. At 11:30 I met up with Bruce Bell and his partner George. Bruce has been my boss at GLAD, where I volunteer on Mondays, for the past five years, and we have become good friends. I took them on a walking tour of the Village Montorgueil and the Grands Boulevards, then we settled at La Grappe d’Or for lunch. The food and service were just ok, but it fully met the main criterion: three seats with a view of the passing parade on rue Montorgueil.
After lunch we walked over to the Marais. The Open Café was only seating people for lunch so we continued to one of my other favorite people-watching spots, L’Etoile Manquante, where we found a good spot and had a farewell drink.
This will be my final post from Paris since I’ve got to clean and pack for my early morning departure. I’ll post an assessment of the trip in a few days (or weeks?!?!) after I recover from jet-lag. Thanks for joining vicariously in this year’s petit séjour.