Paris match

You don't have to be a millionaire or tunnel your way in to have a gay old time in PARIS.

Words: Jim Byers

In my younger, more adventurous days (ie when I was a student and had nothing better to do and no money to do it), a friend and I hitchhiked all the way from Edinburgh to Paris. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it took about 36 hours and cost us a fortune in sickly service station food. We also got a lift from a man with a beard in a Volvo estate who was eating salami sandwiches, drinking a can of coke and delivering warm, stomach-churning burps in our faces for twenty minutes. And of course, by the time we’d got there, we had to come all the way back 'cos we'd run out of money.

These days with the Eurostar and a plethora of budget airlines at your disposal, it's much easier to get there - and, crucially, much more affordable. Check, however, that you won’t end up at Cergy-Pontoise, a small, dodgy-looking airstrip outside the city centre, and then have to take a coach, then a tube, then a train to your destination. But if you're paying less than £100, it's probably worth it. With the Eurostar, you must stay over a Saturday night to make it worthwhile don't try and go midweek, it'll cost you a fortune.

For the last year or so, Paris has been enjoying the fruits of a musical renaissance. With the likes of Daft Punk, Air, Cassius et al enjoying huge success at home

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Paris nexus: L‘Arc de Triomphe

and abroad, the city has become a hive of activity. Previously, the city’s politicians kept a tight reign on dance music and club culture, but these days, they’re embracing it. Last September, the city hosted La Reve, a massive techno parade, based on the Berlin Love Parade, which saw tens of thousands partying in the Champs Elysses. This year, it’ll be on again, as part of Les Rendez Vous Electroniques, nine days of music-related events in mid-September.

You can still do all the typical Paris stuff, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre etc, but these days, if you look beyond the clichés, there's plenty going on. One other tip go in August, when a lot of Parisians are on holiday and hardly anyone is working, so there's quite a chilled atmosphere.

Stating the obvious

Arc de Triomphe A stroll down the Cinema-lined Champs-Elysees prowdes the finest View of the Arc,

Mona Lisa

commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate his empire-building Victories.

Centre Pompidou This forerunner of contemporary PariSIan architecture houses a superb modern art gallery, while the bustling (Ourtyard in front serves as a meeting place and is always full of street performers.

The Eiffel Tower The tallest boilding in the world when built in 1889 for the Universal Exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the Revolution, the 1000ft Ironwork tower receives four million yiSitors a year.

The Louvre A full day of exploration of Paris’ art gallery par exce/lence (originally the palatial home of France's Kings and emperors) Will barely touch upon the wealth of art on display, most famous of which is the Mona Lisa. Notre Dame Probably the most breathtaking example of Gothic architecture in Europe, the cathedral was constructed over two centuries, finished in the 1340s and made famous by Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback Of Notre Dame.

The List alternative

Club:The Rex Paris' most famous club, still on top form Check out DJ Deep on the first Thursday of the month Fridays are tec hiio-l,)asc->d, while Saturdays are more house-based La creme de la creme, as they say 5 BOu/evard POISSON/PFC, 75002. Restaurant: Royal Mondetour Cool place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon See also the Le Marais area, which is also packed With nice eateries 374 Rue MondetOt/r, 75007.

Bar: Café Oz Check it out on Thursdays for happening house party called Harlem Hotel See also the What’s Up Bar and La Fabrique (Rue St Antornei, both near Bastilles Rue St Dennis, 75007.

Park: La Place St Catherine Cute place to chill With loads of flowers See also Les Buttes Montmartre in the 19th District, a lovely green space in which to escape the city hustle and the docks of La Seine near Le Louvre, which is a great place to relax With your girl/boyfriend. Le Mara/s, 75003.

Sun Seekers . . . come and get it

As the summer approaches, there's no better excuse to head off for a spot of sunshine, adventure and fun Here's a few of STA Ti'avel's most popular summer destinations to whet your appetite

Greek Islands

Head off to Gr'eec e for a cultural experience or beach-filled, clubbing tr'en/y' With over 100 islands to choose from, there’s something for everyone Beautiful beaches, secluded coves, numerous cafes, bars and ta\./er‘nas Watch the sunset at the los Club, sipping an ice cold Amstel, you'll feel like you've iust .‘ourid heaven'

Fly to Athens from £189 r'tn

Moscow & St Petersburg

Russia is one of the most exciting countries in the world and the best thing about the summer here are the 'White Nights' It's too light to sleep, so there's no better excuse for an impromptu party to last well into the early hours

Fly to Moscow from £189 rtn

Koh Phi Phi Thailand

An ideal setting for sun seekers and party goers alike. White palm-fringed beaches, crystal clear waters and an abundance of nightlife —- it’s your choice For the ultimate chill-out, round off you day With a traditional Thai massage t£2 for a whole hour‘i Fly to Bangkok from £399 rtn

All fares quoted are valid for departures from Edinburgh

Event: Les Rendez Vous Electroniques (10-19 Sep) Nine days of mum and Club-related events, culminating in a massive techno parade in the middle of the city Last year Carl Cox and Laurent Garnier were the main attractions

Getting there

STA Travel offer return fares from Glasgow and Edinburgh from £126,

STA‘Travel are at 184 Byres Road and The University of Strathclyde, 90 John Street Glasgow. Tel: 0141 338 6000

27 Forrest Road, Edinburgh. Tel 0131 226 7747 0 30 Upperkirkgate, Aberdeen. Tel 0122 465 8222 0

114THE HST 10—24 Jun 1999