Summer in the French capital necessarily means festivals and music filling the streets, the long days seeming to stretch out even further amid the joyful din. And what better way to kick off the advent of summer than taking part in a big, brightly colored parade and street party celebrating LGBTQI pride? The Paris Gay Pride march/parade (now called the LGBT+ Marche des Fiertés) is one of the world’s largest, attracting an estimated half a million people each June– friends, family and allies included. Prominent politicians have been known, in recent years, to kick it all off at the front of the march.
It’s also one of the longest-running Pride marches. Advocates for LGBT rights and visibility first staged an independent march on the streets of the capital in 1977. A first national march including drawing thousands of people followed in 1981.
This was, of course, well before LGBTQI people had gained even a few of the basic human rights they were fighting for, including the right to congregate in public or in bars and love whomever they wished to.
They would remain targets of wholesale discrimination and exclusion for decades to come, especially in the wake of the devastating AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. And lest you think the fight for further rights is now over and the parade is just an excuse to don some glitter or drag and dance on a float, think again.
While France has accorded LGBTQI people rights including civil partnership, marriage and adoption rights as well as protection against discrimination in recent years, it is still illegal for couples to access IVF treatments or otherwise access fertility treatment options open to heterosexual couples and even single French people.
In 2019, this was one of the major “révendications” (roughly, civil rights demands) made by the Inter-LGBT Association running the march. And although Paris is widely considered one of the most queer-friendly cities on the planet, France-based SOS Homophobia said there were a record 231 reported cases of physical attacks and assaults on LGBTQI people in 2018.
Read related: How to Stay Safe in Paris? My Top Safety Tips
So while you can expect the Pride event in late June to resemble a big, joyful street party complete with floats, bright colors, elaborate costumes, irreverence and camp galore, there’s still a lot at stake.
Just as participants will look back on how far society has come, they’ll still be working to expand rights and visibility even further.
Keep reading to learn more about Pride events in Paris in 2021, including the main march and after-party.
Marche des Fiertés LGBT+ in 2021: Date, Time & Schedule
After being cancelled entirely in 2020, the 2021 Marche des Fiertés will take place on June 26th, with safety measures in place including restrictions on large crowds and a 10pm curfew, owing to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. This year, sadly, there will be no floats or podium. The traditional nightcap is also expected to be on the short side, in light of the curfew.
Times, Main Route & Map:
This year, rather than departing from Montparnasse per the usual, the Pride march will begin in the northern Paris suburb of Pantin (at the Eglise de Pantin Metro station on Line 5. The Inter-LGBT Association behind the event says this choice was made to increase the visibility of the suburbs and move away from treating them and their citizens as marginal.
The procession will makes its way down Avenue de la Porte de Pantin (starting at around 2:00 pm), which eventually becomes Avenue Jean-Jaurès, then Rue La Fayette.
It will then turn down Boulevard Magenta towards Place de la République for a post-march assembly and party (with social distancing in place) starting at around 5:00 pm.
The Parade Route in Past Years
These are the main points on a typical year’s route (subject to change; see details above):
- Place du 18 juin (Metro Montparnasse)
- Boulevard du Montparnasse
- Boulevard St-Michel /Luxembourg Gardens
- Place St-Michel
- Boulevard du Palais
- Place du Chatelet
- Boulevard de Sebastopol
- Strasbourg Saint-Denis
- Boulevard Saint-Martin
- Place de la République
Read related: Visiting Paris in June? Here’s What’s On
How to Make the Most of Pride This Year?
Pride isn’t typically an event that I recommend over-planning for– I rarely have, in years I’ve taken part. But getting a sense of what’s out there to enjoy and narrowing your choices based on your preferred style of celebrating is always a good idea. With that in mind, I suggest the following:
Decide how much time you want to spend on the event
If you only have a couple of hours to spare, you may not want to show up at 2 at the start of the march. They often start late, sometimes taking as long as an hour to depart, and you may end up not getting in much of the fun and festivities.
If you have a tendency to burn out in large crowds, pace yourself. You can always duck into a café or bar for part of the march, then rejoin later on. There’s no “one way” to do it!
If you’re intent on staying for the whole thing, great. But do bring water, snacks, sunscreens and glasses; it can be hot and uncomfortably muggy in late June– especially since you’ll be sweltering among the crowds.
Also try to wear comfortable shoes for all the walking (and dancing) that it usually involves. Or at least go for platforms, if it’s Glamazon-style height you’re after.
Nightcap, anyone? Bars & After-Parties for Pride
It’s not for everyone, but many spill into the streets around the LGBT-centric Marais district post-parade, for a long night of socializing and drinking in the streets, dancing to DJ sets or lounging in cocktail bars.
It’s within walking distance of the Place de la République where this year’s march/rally ends, or you can easily hop on Metro Line 3 at République, get off at Arts et Métiers and walk (10-15 mn) to the main streets of the Marais where the festivities tend to be held.
These include Rue des Ecouffes, Rue du Temple, Rue Vieille du Temple and others. In 2021, expect these parties to be smaller, more socially distanced, and largely held outdoors.
See this guide to the best LGBTQI-friendly nightlife in Paris for suggestions on where to spend a night out, post-Pride. Many places outside the Marais will also be celebrating on the day.
Also see these LGBTQ+ pop-ups and associations to find out whether some are hosting special parties for Pride this year.
Events for the Annual Quinzaine des Fiertés (Pride Fortnight Festival)
In 2021, the roughly-monthlong event known as the “Quinzaine des Fiertés” (15 Days of Pride) is proceeding with an exciting line-up of soirees, conferences, free exhibits, shows, cinema premieres, and discussion roundtables, all dedicated to advancing equality for LGBTQI+ people in France and elsewhere.
See this page for a list of events in the capital in the run-up to the main Pride march/party on the 26th, and through July 3rd. The page is in French, but you can use Google Translate to aid understanding if need be.