Men’s Capsule Beach Wardrobe | Le Slip Français

Le Slip Francais

Capsule Beach Wardrobe – Le Slip Francais

Getting the French look this summer, Le Slip Français style…

With my summer hols just around the corner, I’ve been thinking about to what to wear on the beach. After much internet scouring, I stumbled upon this French look courtesy of those purveyors of Parisian cool, Le Slip Français. Here’s a fashion article I wrote about their latest capsule collection for the holiday company, First Choice…

Men’s Capsule Wardrobe by Le Slip Francais

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My Gay Paree Travel Tips… Le Tango

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 one of my favourite nightclubs…

Le Tango ‘La Boîte à Frissons’ – 13 rue au Maire, Paris

Le Tango sign, Paris

Le Tango, Paris

Strictly shenanigans

This night-time haunt – tucked away in the northern reaches of the Marais district – first opened its doors in the 1930s. Back then, it would have been packed with couples pirouetting across the dance-floor to the foxtrot, the waltz and, as the name would suggest, the tango. Fast forward 80-odd years and the scene hasn’t changed that much except for one minor detail – these days the couples tend to be of the boy-and-boy variety.

Accordion accompaniment

Every Friday and Saturday sees this old-school dance hall host the popular gay club night, La Boîte à Frissons. Translated, that means ‘Thrill Box’. And while the sexual reference might ring true at 5am as the crowd begins to pair off for frissons between the sheets, the phrase is actually a slang term for the accordion – which is kind of apt given the music they play here.

Edith Piaf central

Like the soundtrack to a black-and-white weepy set on the banks of the Seine, the night kicks off with squeezebox tunes aplenty. As dance partners spin around to the paso doble, the DJs spin French classiques by the likes of Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet with a good sprinkling of the Andrews Sisters and Glenn Miller thrown in for good measure.

Hairspray fantasia

Towards the end of this ballroom blitz – normally around midnight – everyone in the club is invited to take to the dance-floor for a spot of formation dancing. As Di-Gue-Ding-Ding plays, everyone busts out some fancy Madison footwork à la Tracy Turnblad and the kids from the Corny Collins Show.

Madonna and co

Unlike Cinderella, the fun keeps on going well after the clock strikes twelve when the musical baton is passed over to a wacky mix of Madonna and MGMT by way of French heavyweights like Desireless and Dalida. Pop is most certainly the order of the day with everything on the menu except techno. Just as well really as I’m not sure it’d lend itself well to the kitsch lipstick-red décor and retro diner-like banquettes.

Refreshingly different

Much like the music, the crowd is something of a mixed bag. Über-cool hipsters rub shoulders with and geeks and dweebs – the likes of which you’d expect to see in the Star Wars bar. Throw in a troupe of ropey old trannies headed up by Madame Hervé and her sidekick Jazz and you’ve got everything necessary for an unpretentious, almost underground vibe. The result means Le Tango is nothing like the rest of the Parisian scene, which to be honest, feels slightly Manchester circa 1995. Quite simply, Le Tango is j’amazing.

http://www.boite-a-frissons.fr/home_en.htm

Exasperdating | Metro Boy

Exasperdating Logo

Exasperdating | Metro Boy

Age: 28
Height: 5’7
Build: Slim
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Sandy-brown
Job: Town planner

I remember being gutted when I had to add this guy to my list of dating disasters. Reason being, I really, really liked him. It all took place when I was living in Paris. We met due to some fast – okay, sneaky – thinking on my part.  I first clocked him having a cigarette outside a metro station. I wondered how I could instigate a conversation so I made out that I needed some help navigating the metro. In a BAFTA-worthy performance, I pulled out some choice lines in broken French à la Officer Crabtree in Allo Allo.

 
Metro
 

Sure enough, my little ruse worked and it wasn’t long before we were sharing a bottle of vin blanc in a nearby café. A string of dates followed, although from the off it wasn’t plain sailing. The first time we were due to meet up he cancelled on the day – apparently he had to go and give his friend some moral support post a break-up. He made good though and engineered a spontaneous date later in the week.
 
Another ‘moral support’ episode followed – this time half an hour before our rendezvous. After that I asked him outright, ‘are you interested or not, because I’m getting some very mixed messages here’. To which he replied, ‘oh yes, but I know you won’t be here for that much longer so am spacing out our time together’. Which I kind of understood.
 
A third and final date took place at his pad. I’d forgotten that the majority of Parisians live in matchboxes. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself – except if you’re a hoarder. You couldn’t see the floor of his room for books, clothes, magazines and… pots of Nutella. Honest to God, pots of Nutella. Apparently he ate a jar a week. But my OCDs melted away into this sea of mess the moment he flashed me his cheeky smile.
 
After that encounter, I decided I’d treat him to a surprise date that would include a bottle of bubbly and three mystery envelopes – the idea being each envelope would contain a romantic Parisian spot where we’d glug the fizz. But my grand gesture was wasted. He texted me to say that he was too busy and tired to meet up and would call me ‘soon’. And, much as I didn’t like to admit it, I knew that ‘soon’ was dating code for ‘never’. C’est la vie.

My Gay Paree Travel Tips… La Brigout Restaurant

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 one of my favourite restaurants…

La Brigout – 54 rue d’Argout, Paris

Culinary culture clash

It wasn’t the horsemeat. It wasn’t the snails. It wasn’t even the frogs’ legs. No, when it came to French mealtime shockers, it was the discovery that our Continental cousins are in love with Maccy D’s – or McDo as they call it.

Shame on you, France!

In fact, La France is McDonald’s most profitable market outside the USA. But I suppose it kind of makes sense when you think about it – thin-cut fries and a slab of beef isn’t that far removed from a steak haché with frites. Kind of.

The Hambourgeois

The Hambourgeois

Le Big Mac vs the Hambourgeois

What I can’t fathom is why the Frenchies go gaga for Le Big Mac when clearly the world’s best burger is right under their big, wine-sniffing noses. The aptly-named Hambourgeois is a home-grown delight à la française and is, without exception, the tastiest beef’n’bun combo I’ve ever scoffed. Honestly, it’s a death-row meal contender.

To-die-for delicious

So what makes it so God-damn delish? Well, it’s smothered in a gloopy-gorgeous layer of melted Reblochon cheese, not to mention a good helping of caramelised onions and a dollop of mustard-mayo. Topping things off – quite literally – are strips of thin, air-dried beef (because 150 grams of pure minced beef just isn’t enough cow). A monster portion of homemade chunky chips completes this culinary feast-cum-coronary on a plate.

La Brigout Restaurant

The Hambourgeois is the star of the menu at La Brigout – one of my fave restaurants in Paris. You’ll find this dinky little eatery tucked away on rue d’Argout, just a stone’s throw from the hipster hangout that is rue Montorgueil.

Parisian Cute

Parisian Cute

La Brigout

La Brigout

Oh-so French bistro

The place itself is everything a Parisian bistro should be, right down to the cabaret chairs and the intimate candle-lit tables. The whole place reeks of France (in a good way) – much like the baked Camembert which takes pride of place on the list of entrées alongside treats like crab tartare and foie gras.

Ze Menu

Ze Menu

Trad-cool cuisine

Run your finger down the menu and you’ll find more in the way of French fare like pot au feu (a rustic, peasant-y stew) and poulet Basquaise (moist chicken breast with a tomato and red pepper ratatouille). The great thing about the menu is that it’s seasonal so you’ll see things come in and out. If you’re here in the winter, try the wine-rich boeuf bourguignon. For something summery and light, give the pan-fried sea bass a whirl.

Poulet Basquaise

Poulet Basquaise

Puddings and plonk

La Brigout does a mean line in desserts, too. The éclair Paris Brest is airy yet wonderfully creamy while the moelleux au chocolat, with its gooey caramel centre, envelops the tongue faster than it trips off it – try saying moelleux after a couple of glasses of vin rouge. Talking of which, the wine list ticks off everything from Sauvignon through to Sancerre and doesn’t break the bank, with most tipples coming in at the 25-euro mark.

Paris Brest

Paris Brest

Vin Rouge

Vin Rouge

Friendly fellas

No mention of La Brigout would be complete without a word or two about Guillaume and Nicolas – the handsome duo who run this place. Unlike some Parisian establishments, you’ll find no bof shoulder-shrugging attitude here. Instead, these garçons lead a charm offensive, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Maurice Chevalier thanked heaven for little girls.

Brunch-tastic

One last thing. La Brigout has started serving brunch now. Along with eggs and smoked salmon, you’ll find the ultimate hangover cure – yep, you’ve guessed it, the Hambourgeois. Beats a Big Mac any day. Bon appétit folks.

http://labrigout.fr/

My Gay Paree Travel Tips… Hotel Crayon

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 my favourite city break hotel…

Hotel Crayon – 25 rue du Bouloi, Paris

Arty Paris

No trip-ette to Paris is complete without a visit to the Louvre. Either that, or a mosey round Place du Tertre, the one-time village square where Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh and Picasso used to hang out. With all this talk of art, what better place to call home pour le weekend than the aptly-named Hotel Crayon? I stumbled upon this place by chance – an internet booking blunder, truth be told. But what a great little cock-up it turned out to be.

Reading up in reception

Reading up in reception

Funky decor

Funky decor

Hotel Crayon

Hotel Crayon is a dinky little hotel, with just 27 chambres to its name. All the rooms are decked out in loud and proud hues. My room, for example, was painted slut red. And while the chambermaids were doing their thing, I managed to get a sneaky peek at some of the other rooms – the lime green number just opposite me looked pretty cool.

The slut red garret room

The slut red garret room

French 'art' AKA porn

French ‘art’ AKA porn

Boutique and bijou

As well as a Warhol-esque palette, the rooms are all kitted out with vintage furniture that’s been given a 21st-century makeover. The focal point in my bijou bathroom was an antique, Versailles-like vanity unit that had been customised to support a butler’s sink.

Bijou bathroom

Bijou bathroom

Julie Gauthron

A certain Julie Gauthron is the funky French designer behind the hotel’s look. She even made sure the corridors were given the pop-art treatment with wallpaper that wouldn’t look out of place in well, Wallpaper* magazine, and room numbers woven into the pile of specially-commissioned carpets.

Corridor art

Corridor art

Cool carpets

Cool carpets

Superb location

The great thing about the Hotel Crayon is, despite all its grand designs, it manages to sidestep that aloof, ‘art gallery’ feel that plagues so many boutique hotels. Instead, this city pile gives off the kind of warmth you usually only get at a guesthouse. Throw in the fact that it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Louvre, not to mention the Louvre-Rivoli metro, and you couldn’t ask for a better citybreak bolthole.

http://www.hotelcrayon.com/en/#//2

My Gay Paree Travel Tips… May Day with ‘Muguet’

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.

Muguet des Bois AKA Lily of the Valley

Muguet des Bois AKA Lily of the Valley

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’.

Rue montorgueil

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’.