All You Need to Know About Paris Pride
With Paris’ annual Pride March looming near by, there are many schedules and logistics that need to be finalized in preparation.
This year in Paris, Pride will be taking place on the 23rd of June 2019. It is estimated that over 700,000 individuals will flock to the city to be part of this historic event that celebrates the equality and rights of the LGBTQ+ communities around the world.
Despite the year being 2019, many countries around the world still maintain harsh, unequal laws the prevent gay individuals from enjoying basic rights such as marriage to same sex individuals. In some lands, being gay is even punishable by prison time or execution.
Homosexuality was officially decriminalized in Paris in 1791 during the French Revolution. This makes France one of the first European countries at the forefront of the equal rights movement for the gay community.
That being said, same sex marriage in France was only made legal over two hundred years later, in 2013. This was not that long ago, so to be able to celebrate this momentous achievement of the people by the people through the streets of Paris is always a historic event.
What to Expect from Paris Pride
Other than more unconditional love than your heart can handle? Pride, at its core, is a party. One big rager that moves between arrondissements in a loud, colorful progression that echoes through the very aptly named ‘city of love’.
The popularity of this event means that every minute of it needs to be properly scheduled and curated to handle the enormous crowds that join in throughout the day. The day generally begins with the parade that moves through the streets and eventually comes to rest in a plaza across town.
Celebrities, government officials and influencers from around the world enjoy getting involved in the event and one can expect live concerts & motivational speeches to be on the agenda.
As you can imagine, 700,000 people moving through the narrow streets of Paris’ city center is bound to cause disruption to the natural order of things. You’ll still be able to enjoy the usual sightseeing around town but the free guided walking tours are likely to be slightly rerouted due to the road closures required for the parade and event.
You’d be better off simply joining into the march instead, as it goes past many iconic Parisian attractions. Read on to find out exactly what the marching route is for Paris Pride this year.
Following the parade and congressional event, the attendees usually spill out into the streets of Paris in search of where to continue their celebrations into the night. The restaurants, bars and clubs in the central arrondissements spend weeks preparing for this day and you’ll find drink specials, elaborate decor and loud music everywhere you go.
Because of the very spontaneous, free spirited nature of this event you can also expect to witness a proposal or two along the way. Some couples wait specifically for Pride to pop the big question, knowing what a privilege it is to be able to do so while so many others remain unsupported by the law.
All in all Pride is a beautiful display of love, color, fun and humanity uniting as one. There is a Pride annually in most major cities around the world but those who have made it to Paris Pride always say this one is inexplicably special.
Where to Experience Paris Pride
Since the flow of daily life in Paris is going to be highly disrupted on this day it helps to know exactly where and when everything will be taking place.
The Pride Parade will begin at the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. This is the largest public square in the city and the place where masses of people congregate during notable events or protests. The Place de la Concorde also houses the Big Wheel of Paris once a year; a giant ferris wheel that overlooks the entire city.
The crowds will begin to gather in this plaza from around midday, those that arrive late may spill over into the Place de la Madeleine where there is extra holding space for thousands more people.
At around 2pm the procession through the streets will begin. The goal is to make way to the Place de la Republique which lies directly northeast of the Place de la Concorde.
This is a slow progression. The attendees will dress in flamboyant attire and carry props and refreshments along with them. During the march the people will sing, chant, dance and cry as they bask in the energy of the day & the beautiful city in which they are able to enjoy this freedom.
Once at the Place de la Republique the official program of events will begin. Inspirational speakers are invited to share thoughts and a dance party is organized for attendees to enjoy.
From 5pm until 10pm the city of Paris showcases a variety of live musical performances ranging from international celebrities to local musicians. This takes place throughout the square, which I should mention is absolutely free for all to enter.
As mentioned, following the events in the public square, the Pride community will spill out into the surrounding streets and arrondissements to continue their celebrations further.
Nightlife During Paris Pride
It would be inaccurate to say that any part of Paris exclusively avoids Paris Pride or makes no effort to acknowledge the weight of the event.
Despite being miles from the city center, even districts such as Montparnasse and Menilmontant will have LGBTQ+ themed events and specials on this day. The festivities are hardly contained; all bars and clubs want in on the fun regardless of their location.
While all of the nearby venues to the Place de la Republique will be filled to the brim with customers, noting compares to the district of le Marais and the amount of people who flock here after the event.
Le Marais is the unofficial-official gay district in Paris. It is virtually saturated by gay and lesbian bars that attract thousands of patrons as is, let along on Pride weekend.
The Rue des Archives would be a good place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options. From here you can wander to each adjacent block and explore the bars on each until you find one that feels most comfortable.
Le Marais understands that not everyone’s idea of fun is getting blind drunk and running through the streets all night, so the restaurants in the area attempt to cater to the event as well.
Through the streets of le Marais you’ll find each cafe and bistro offering a dinner special for Pride attendees to enjoy. It’s their way of showing allied support to the community and promoting le Marais as a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals through all public avenues.
Where to Stay During Paris Pride
This is a question I get asked a lot. The dilemma being not wanting to stay in the heart of all the chaos but also not wanting to be far enough out that one is reliant on public transport on this day.
Public transport is notoriously backed up and/or unusable due to the unbelievable influx of people to the city over this weekend (Read more about Discover walking tours).
It is my recommendation to stay somewhere within walking distance of the city center, without being near or inside of the main event areas (namely the 1st and 4th arrondissements).
Your safest bet would be to cross the Seine onto the Left Bank and find accommodation in the from of a hotel, hostel or Airbnb here. All of the Pride festivities tend to stick to the Right Bank, so the left side offers a welcome escape when your feet simply can’t hold you up anymore.
Invalides, Sorbonne and Monnaie are the neighborhoods on the bank of the Seine directly across from where all the festivities take place. Finding accommodation on the Île de la Cité, where Notre Dame is found, is also a viable option as this piece of land floats on the Seine away from the chaos of the Right Bank.
Heading east from le Marais one will come to the suburb of Bastille . This is another affordable place to seek accommodation during Pride weekend, however try stay far from the Place de la Bastille and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine — festivities will continue here late into the night as well.
What to Wear to Paris Pride
In the spirit of ultimate freedom and radical self expression, there is absolutely nothing you can’t wear to Paris Pride.
So long as it doesn’t express or intend harm or oppression to another individual or group, you are free to wear your kitchen stove as a costume if you so desire.
At Pride it’s usually a good idea to take the gay pride flag as a source of inspiration for what to wear on the day. The brighter and more colorful, the better. Think hats, headbands, gloves, feather boas, wings, glitter — the works.
If outrageous costume items aren’t really your forte but you’d like to get involved on some level, consider purchasing a giant pride flag and wear it as a cape or over your shoulders on the day.
Signage is welcome at Pride so if you’re feeling wordy you can paint sign boards or statement t-shirts to get your outfit going.
Drag is a huge form of dress-up expression during Pride. Thousands of individuals will be there on the day adorned in exquisite drag from head to toe. If you’ve always wanted to try it but have never had the opportunity, now is your chance!
Another idea is to dress up as one of the many gay icons throughout history. You’ll spot dozens of Freddie Mercurys, Elton Johns, Princes and Chers making their way through the streets.
If you have objects or props laying around that could contribute to the overall effect of the parade, bring them along too! Blowing bubbles is a popular one; as is tubs of communal paints for everyone to make use of.
Can Anyone Attend Paris Pride?
Yes. Pride is not only reserved for those who identify under the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+ umbrellas — Pride is inclusive of anyone who considers themselves an ally to said groups and who supports equality for all human kind.
Children are also welcome to take part in the Pride celebrations.
If you are joining as an ally, remember to be respectful and acknowledge that while the event may appear to be quite a spectacle from the outside, it really is an important event for the people represented.
Don’t interject the space with your cellphone at the ready just for some entertaining Instagram content to prove you were there. Be careful and considerate to the privacy of those who may have traveled to Paris Pride from a place where their own sexuality is illegal and therefore their identity need remain anonymous.
If the whole parade and series of events appears overwhelming for you but you’d still like to show your support, consider making your way to one of the isolated parade streets and cheering from the sidelines. You’ll be able to show allied support, bask in the fun of it all and soak up some summer sun in the process without having to walk your way through Paris.
Your presence will be so appreciated — I guarantee it.