Category Archives: Jean-Pierre Soutric

By @ 04/09/18 in Event, Gay travel, Jean-Pierre Soutric, Lisbon, Travel

Lisbon in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineWhen I was little, the Eurovision Song Contest was THE show of the year, seen on TV by all Europeans across the old continent but not across the Berlin Wall as for all men my age that was the official limit of our world i.e., the Free World. (This year’s Eurovision Song Contest takes place May 8-12 in Lisbon; photo above by Pedro Simões)

Story by Paris-based ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent Jean-Pierre Soutric (below)

Jean-Pierre Soutric, ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent representing FranceThat said, for all us “boys and their moms,”  that show was not to be missed. It was a night of elegance and great music. All songs (that was the rule then) had to be interpreted in the artists’ home country’s respective languages. (Today artists choose whatever language suits them.)

I absolutely adored listening to the Italians, Germans, Dutch, Brits of course, the Spanish, not to forget the most exotic songs in Finnish, etc. My mom would share her admiration for the beautiful gowns worn on the occasion, severely condemning any “laisser-aller” if anyone had not dressed-up.

A brief (personal) gay history of Eurovision Song Contest

One day the Wall came down and more countries would be invited. All of a sudden, we would start to get acquainted to Hungarian, Russian and Hebrew, too. The show grew as did Europe as a political entity. All men my age are unconditional Europhiles. The show was the materialization of our dreams. Not only would it encourage young artists to express and showcase their culture, it would also become the stage for further tolerance. Abba won in 1974. In 1998 transgender Dana International won the coveted award for Israel. In 2014, the bearded Conchita Wurst in his couture gown won it for Austria.

Conchita Wurst as seen in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

The other lady in Gold

The show takes place in the winning country of the previous year and this year it’s in beautiful Lisbon. The White City by the Tagus River is one of the most pleasant capitals of Europe thanks to its wonderful climate and charming people. Historic and set on several hills like Rome, it has changed a lot lately but for the best as old districts have all been carefully restored. Foodies will love to visit and so will night owls.

My top hotel recommendations
  • Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon set amidst the elegant Edward VII’s gardens
  • Bairro Alto in the heart of the chic and animated Chiado (the hotel is currently under renovation)
  • Memmo Alfama high above the old city for the most spectacular views over the river and city
  • Carmo Lisboa also in Chiado and close to the ruins of historic Carmel
Bites and more
  • Mercado da Ribeira, the old covered market now a place to experience all kind of foods in a very casual atmosphere. Opens for coffee and pasteis de nata quite late
  • Sea-Me, a must-go if your idea of sea-food is stuck in boring souvenirs (be sure to book ahead)
  • A Cervicheria in Principe Reias, cool and very popular restaurant (ask for a seat at the bar); be patient and enjoy a glass of Portuguese white wine outside (you will love the way Portuguese dress in fine weather)
Gay life

Gay bars, restaurants etc are all close to A Cevicheria à Principe Real and Bairro Alto. No need to cab or drive. I personally like Finalmente as the club has been around as much as I have(!); check-out Posh Lisbon; and TR3S Lisboa, “where the bears are” I will do for you in May when I visit on the occasion of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Come back here and/or check our Facebook page during Eurovision Song Contest 2018 (May 8-12).

Airline Tips
  • U.S. travelers can take TAP, Portugal’s national airline, to any of their 65+ destinations throughout Europe and Africa and get up to five days in Lisbon to enjoy the festival on the way for no additional airfare. Check their website for more details.
  • Also, download TAP Portugal Stopover app for hotel discounts, complimentary wine at restaurants, and free experiences like walking tours, gallery and museum admission, and other discounts.

 

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By @ 03/26/18 in Gay travel, Jean-Pierre Soutric, Paris, Travel
What happened to the Gay Marais in Paris?

Has the charming Gay Marais gone? If your last visit to Paris goes back to the mid-’80s or the ’90s, Is the Marais still gay? Read all about it in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazinechances are you may not recognize the neighborhood. The days of first ever created gay-bars like Le-Village and L’Amnésia seem really far.

Things have changed but to understand what’s really happening now we may need to board the time-machine.

A little history

Le-Marais (marsh, swamp in English) goes back to the Middle-Age and was developed right after the Renaissance when the rich and famous started to build elegant mansions also known as “Hôtels-particuliers” to remain rather close to the king’s palace, the Palais des Tournelles which will be demolished eventually, allowing enough space to build a brand new square, known today as Place des Vosges and still visible today. When the Court moved to Versailles, the area started to lose its wealthy patrons. In the 19th century the rich inhabitants moved further West and South, and the old Marais started to host a new population: the many Jews who had escaped cruel persecutions, frequent in the ancient Russian empire.

Gay Marais in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineAfter WW2 Le Marais was sentenced to death, in other words: to be demolished. Too old and the bearer of tragic war memories. Thanks to a clever minister of cultural affairs, it survived the bulldozers but wont see its renaissance until the arrival of the gay community in the early 80s following the first solid renovations of historic mansions and inauguration of the Pompidou Center which will bring international light to the older part of the capital city. As often with the gay community, the street started to become prettier, flower pots popped-up in front of design stores and friendly cafés and restaurants.

The best years indeed!

Le-Marais was back, it was fashionable – luxury brands could not miss this opportunity and over the past 5 years we have seen high-end stores coming-in, replacing traditional and convenient businesses. L’Amnésia closed and so did many other gayGay Marais in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine “institutions” often replaced by luxury boutiques. Rue des Archives a whole series of top boutiques have been created by a single investor. The facades all look alike and are truly magnificent but the Givenchy, Gucci, Moncler boutiques seem a bit lost and too often quite empty. They are not terribly inviting as a security guy stands right at the door and this is never a way to say “bienvenue!” In fact Givenchy is about to close its store. Cox, Open-Café, Raid, Free DJ are still here to welcome their gay patrons. It is important to notice that Bernard Bousset first owner of the popular Open Café has declined very generous offers to sell off.

Plus ça change

Change everything so nothing changes (The Leopard, Visconti): in reality Le-Marais has never so Gay Marais in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazinebeautiful and charming. All restaurants, cafés, wine-bars, bakeries, boutiques, art galleries – not to forget the legendary department BHV, totally revamped, all are truly gay-friendly and all know what they owe to the Gay Community. We only hope this mind set will remain but further closure would not help and may simply sign the end of Le Gay-Maris!

In the meantime, it’s never been a better time to visit. So don’t wait!

ParisMarais.com

One fantastic resource for the Marais is ParisMarais.com. Created by Pascal Fonquernie, the site — which is available in seven languages — is among the world’s most visited guides on le Marais, including a large gay community section. Not a gay guide, it’s the best of le Marais, including booking hotels; information about the Jewish quarter; recommended tour guides; restaurants; history; and interviews with famous people. Download a copy of the Marais map here.

Story by ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent, Jean-Pierre Soutric, Paris, 18-March 2018, 

 

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