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Paris Rediscovered

by Jim Gladstone
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Oct 3, 2018

Long a popular vacation destination for queer travelers, Paris put its best foot forward during the Gay Games earlier this year, both to emphasize its welcoming spirit and to introduce LGBTQ visitors to parts of the city beyond well-known historic and cultural landmarks and the ever-popular gay Marais district. But you don't have to be a Gay Games athlete to take advantage of these terrific discoveries in the City of Light.

Atelier des Lumieres, just opened in April, offers a hypnotic hybrid of fine art and high tech. The vast warehouse-like space (located in a former iron foundry) has been transformed into immersive projection rooms.

Accompanied by elegantly synced music, animated montages of artwork — classic and contemporary — overtake walls and floors, swirling visitors into a color-drenched, almost psychedelic experience. Guests are welcome to stay as long as they wish. The opening program, on view through November, features a kaleidoscopic exploration of Gustav Klimt paintings.

FlyView Paris offers a
second example of high-tech meeting tradition with its charmingly wonky virtual reality experience. Patrons are strapped into a faux jet-pack and VR goggles prior to a simulated launch that shoots them through FlyView's roof and soaring across the Paris skyline. The sense of motion is undeniably realistic and the opportunity to zoom up the height of the Eiffel Tower and the fa├žade of Notre Dame is a kick. On the other hand, noticing the shadows of the drones that shot the footage you're supposedly "inside of" puts a bit of a damper on the illusion.

Despite the unusually warm weather during the Gay Games, many visitors couldn't get enough of two al fresco offerings, one brand new, the other a reinvented classic. As the weather starts to cool this fall, it's an even better opportunity to toss on a cozy sweater or sweatshirt and take in the sights.

Ground Control is a sprawling multi-purpose indoor/outdoor leisure space with a Brooklyn-via-France vibe; imagine Smorgasburg with a Gallic accent, plus yoga classes and a great design bookstore. In lieu of food trucks, refurbished train cars serve as outdoor kitchens. Inside, ping-pong tables, a dance floor, three enormous bars, an art gallery, and a big section of jumbo jet to lounge around in. One dedicated food stall is turned over to refugees from different countries each month for a showcase of their native cuisines.

Molitor, which dates back to 1929, is an eye-popping combination of rooftop restaurant, athletic club, and hip hotel (though you'll have to wait until next spring to take advantage of the seasonal rooftop). The historically certified multi-tiered triangular building surrounds an enormous swimming pool, once Paris' largest.

Originally a public bathing facility, the historically certified building was entirely shuttered in 1989 after which it became illegal headquarters to an artistic squatter community. Huge graffiti murals from that period were retained when the most recent restoration of the property began in 2011. A glorious mash-up of 20th- and 21st-century design styles, regular DJ happy hours, and excellent outdoor dining (seasonal) make Molitor a must-see, even if you're staying elsewhere.

While you can only travel to the Gay Games twice a decade,
Paris remains an alluring, ever-novel destination, year in and year out.

Jim Gladstone is a San Francisco-based writer and creative strategist.


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