So it's been a few days, but it's been an exciting few nights so I'm here to tell you all about it.
Monday night, I was planning on staying in and perhaps reading or streaming online tv, when I met a few girls from the foyer in the common room. They told me they had plans to go out with friends and friends of friends later on that night to have a picnic by the Seine and invited me along. It was a beautiful night so I willingly obliged and went out with them for a couple of hours later that night.
The night was gorgeous, Paris was all lit up, we could see the strobe lights from the Eiffel Tower, the bridges were teeming with tourists, music was playing. It was very nice. Also met people from England, Spain, Russia, Norway, Belgium...and two Princetonians! What are the chances? Apparently Paris is simply teeming with Princetonians. After a couple of hours though, a friend of mine and I decided to go in search of food and got back to our rooms no later than midnight after a quick stroll through our neighborhood from an open creperie (there were none).
Tuesday night was the veille de quatorze juillet, which means the eve of 14th July, in essence France's Independence Day. So there were parties all over the city. There was a concert happening at the Bastille, which was free and apparently full to the brim with people, but there were also dances happening at fireman's houses all over the city. So a couple of my friends and I hopped on the metro and rode on over to the 13th for a dance. We were pretty early and it was pretty dry when we got there. After about half an hour of sitting around chatting, we decided to get up and dance. For about an hour and half, we enjoyed ourselves. Then we decided we were a) bored, b) annoyed that the firemen were not dancing and c) tired. The music was pretty terrible anyway, so we left very early (about 11:45pm) and, unfortunately, got back to the foyer several hours before we had planned.
In a way, this was good, as I had to be up at 6:30 the next morning to get to the parade at Les Champs Elysees with fellow Princetonian Maria and her friend (Harvard student) Pamina).
We got to the Champs Elysees and walked several blocks (everything was blocked off) before finally finding pretty terrible standing room. I'm small as it is, so you can understand that I basically saw nothing. Pamina luckily had a connection at the Ministry of Defense who got her prime seats (she even got to meet Sarkozy and Carla Bruni!!! SO jealous). Maria and I and everyone else in the huge dense crowd waited several hours before the parade finally started with some men and horses. Then stopped. Then some men in uniform with flags. Then more nothing. Then finally planes flew overhead. With red, white and blue streaks in their wake. That was my favorite part. Except for when it started pouring rain. Wonderful. We, of course, had not thought to bring umbrellas. So we hid under a tree for a couple of minutes before decided to brave the rain and find the nearest metro home.
Chocolate pastry update: seeking shelter from the rain, and salvage for my hungry hungry body, ducked into a great boulangerie and bought pain au chocolat.
Once home, I washed all the dirt off my feet and took a nice nap while it continued to pour outside. At around 6:30pm, Maria and Pamina and I went out for dinner to a very nice cafe very close to where I work. Like all waiters in Paris, our waiter here also decided to tease me endlessly. Sigh. Dinner was absolutely magnificent, and not as expensive as I would think.
We finished by 8 and took the metro to Champ de Mars, the field right in front of the Eiffel Tower. That thing is huge. We found a nice, cold but dry clearing in the grass to sit on but decided we did not want to be cold for three hours while waiting for the feux d'artifices. So we took a walk to find me some hot chocolate (I was quite cold) and Pamina some crepes. At that point, Maria decided she wasn't feeling well and went home (quel dommage!). Pamina found cheap crepes and we found a nice cafe to shelter us from the cold and bring us some cafe au lait. I swear, cafe au lait will suck all my money away this trip. So expensive.
Pamina and I chatted and monitored the ever-increasing cigarette-purchasing line in the tabac right next to us until about 10:30pm when a mad rush of people started walking towards the Eiffel Tower. We quickly finished up and grabbed our stuff and joined them. Thankfully, we're small, and squeezed through the crowd until we found a pretty decent viewing area. The Eiffel Tower was lit up and sparkling and simply magnificent. But that was nothing in comparison to the fireworks in conjunction with the backdrop.
Oh. My. God. I've never seen anything that beautiful. Fireworks and French music and the Eiffel Tower. Just amazing. So so epic. It just made warm inside to see something that gorgeous. It was the perfect end to a great day.
Today actually was also pretty great. I finished work early so I peaced out and went to Les Galeries Lafayettes, (the biggest designer department store I will ever see) with my roommate. So many nice clothes and bags and shoes and jewelry and oh my! Even the place itself is gorgeous. It's seven floors and simply magnificent on the interior. Kind of like every shopper's heaven.
So that's my update. (Also, I spent about $11 today on handmade artisan marshmallows...one of which I tasted earlier and found to taste like nailpolish. Sigh. Hopefully the other seven flavors I bought taste better.)
Until tomorrow! (Bike tour. Finally)