I feel like it has been forever since I have written a post! This is almost 100% due to the spotty internet connect where I’m staying. I know I probably sound like a broken record talking about how bad the connection is, and I really wouldn’t mind being disconnected from the world if it meant I could post these blog posts.. Also, so much has been going on that I haven’t been sitting around in my room much (which is definitely a good thing). So I will now make an attempt to document the past week or so in two posts: this one speaking about Bastille day and daily life, and the other talking about specific museums/places I’ve visited.
Currently I’m writing this in a cafe called Café Craft, sipping on a really bitter iced coffee. It’s the first iced coffee I’ve seen since I’ve been here, though, so no complaints! It’s in the 10th arrondissement and it has been playing the best music. Kinda feel like this could be my new Open Eye café.. aka I’m staying in Paris forever.
le 14 Juillet (Bastille Day)
Fun fact: French people don’t call this holiday ‘Bastille Day’ – they call it ‘le 14 Juillet’
Bal des Pompiers – The celebrations start the eve of the 13th, where a fire station in each arrondissement throws a HUGE party/rave and collects donations at the entrance/sells drinks to earn money. The one we went to was crazy – there was a robot and cheerleaders on stage with the dj, tons of people, lots of mud (one girl tried to twirl around while dancing and ended up sliding through the mud), and loud music. The music started out as rap/hiphop/whatever but as the night went on, it turned into Michael Jackson/classic rock/show tunes? I have no idea. It was bizarre. But the funniest part was hearing French people singing the song “Happy” since they don’t pronounce the “h”! Apparently these parties also happen on the night of the 14th after La Fête nationale, but I was way too tired after that to find out.
La Fête nationale – This was the most amazing thing I have experience mayyyybe in my life. We arrived at the Champ de Mars (the green grassy area in front of the Tour Eiffel) around 5:30pm. It was already PACKED, but we managed to find a spot for all of us to sit down. We brought towels as picnic blankets and brought a huge feast of cheese (many kinds), nutella, jams, baguettes, mini toasts, turkey, ham, olives, hummus, apricots, cherries, champagne, and much more. We pigged out for a couple hours until the concert started at 9:30pm. The concert was pretty amazing – there was an orchestra and some very talented opera-style singers. They even played the song from Star Wars at one point. Let me just reiterate that we were sitting on the lawn in front of the Tour Eiffel. I will probably say that a lot, but it just kept hitting me that we were there. In Paris, France. In front of the Tour Eiffel. It was so crazy! After the concert, the fireworks show began. This was definitely absolutely the best fireworks show I have ever seen. Because this was the 100th anniversary of World War 1, the emphasis on French history was even more important this year. The fireworks show went through the history of France, illustrating war time, time of peace, celebration, suffering. It was insane how the bright lights shooting out of the Tour Eiffel along with the music was able to make me feel as if I was myself going through history with the rest of France. In the very first part, I could have sworn that I was actually storming the Bastille! It was one of those moments that I’ll definitely never forget. I felt unified with a body of people that I don’t even really belong in.
My best meal so far in France. On a rainy Sunday morning, three of us went to a Marché called Marché Aligre. There was an inside part where specialty booths were set up (kinda like a flea market) selling either bread, meat, cheese, desserts, flowers, etc. It was kinda nerve-wracking at first to order something there because I didn’t want to get the quantity wrong and end up with a kilo (however much that is…) of something, but it ended up being easier than I thought (thanks to high school French vocabulary!). The outside part of the marché consisted of a long street lined with fresh veggies and fruits. It was all so reasonably priced! We bought half of a roasted chicken, apricots, cheese, 3 different baguettes, and a pomegranate and had a feast. It was kinda hilarious because we didn’t have any utensils so we literally picked apart our food like cave men! Definitely one of my favorite experiences here so far.
Some other random tidbits:
– Before attending le 14 Juillet celebrations, my curling iron caught on fire briefly and it shorted out our whole room… The electricity works again but the curling iron sadly did not survive. I’d like to add that this happened after I had curled half of my hair, so I had one half curled and one half straight. Lovely. I solved it with a low bun and a headband, and laughed about it in retrospect!
– This Italian restaurant near where we live is so awesome. The owner calls me “mon cherie” and always gives us free stuff when we eat there! He is so charming and sweet. The pizza and pasta there is great and isn’t too expensive. It’s exciting to have a place where we can feel kinda like regulars, somewhat, even if it’s only for a few weeks!
– I have not attempted biking again.
– My French is substantially improving! My phonetics class ends tomorrow (which I’m kinda sad about) but it has definitely helped me to pronounce things correctly and also to understand people. Understanding what words are supposed to slur together helps me to understand what words are being said even if they can’t be individually heard.