I used to live in Paris and, a Frenchman aside, I picked up a thing or two about the City of Lights during my time there. Here’s the first of ‘My Gay Paree Travel Tips’…
May Day with ‘Muguet’ – Rue Montorgueil, Paris
Printemps à Paris
Paris in springtime – there’s nowhere like it. Need proof? Then take a stroll through the city when the boulevards and quaysides erupt into a riot of pinky-cream blossom. But it’s not just the trees that are in bloom at this time of year. Parisians usher in the first hints of sunshine with bouquets of white lilies.
May Day, French-style
As May Day swings round, make-shift stalls start popping up on every street corner selling posies of lily of the valley – or ‘muguet des bois’, to give it its French name. Normally, selling flowers (or anything else for that matter) requires a permit. However, what with May 1st being a national holiday, you can sidestep the usual red tape. As such, anyone can sell the dainty bell-like blooms without fear of getting a wrap on the knuckles from ‘les flics’.
Of course, the city’s florists cash in big time, setting up enormous snow-white arrangements beneath their shop-front awnings. But head to somewhere like the ever-buzzy rue Montorgueil and you’ll spot charity workers and entrepreneurial Parisians erecting trestle tables to sell lily stems to passersby.
Perfumed Paris metro
It’s a lovely tradition which everyone seems to embrace. From floppy-haired ‘flâneurs’ to snappily-dressed ‘hommes d’affaires’, you’ll see all walks of life clutching their sprigs to give to their mums, girlfriends, wives, mistresses – you name it. But the real plus point? It’s the one day of the year when the Paris metro smells more like the perfume counter at Galeries Lafayette and less like the local ‘pissoir’.