Posts Tagged ‘Bastille’

Au Revoir, Sarkozy

Monday, May 7th, 2012

I love those moments when planets align, miracles happen and water gets turn into wine, and you manage to find yourself in the right place at the right time. Yesterday was Round Two of the French election and I was eager to find out the results.

French election sign

Votez!

Unfortunately, I currently have no television, my internet is too slow to stream the results and I was out at dinner with some visiting friends when the results were announced. While in the restaurant, I could hear sounds the suggested the results had been announced – mostly horn tooting and “OOoouuaaaiiii!!!”s. Thankfully, the lovely waitress who was serving us asked if we knew the election results and happily announced that Hollande had won. Ouaiiii, indeed!

This was fantastic news – no more sleazeball as President. After we discussed politics with the waitress for awhile and she gave us free L’Eau de Vie to celebrate Hollande’s win, we headed outside and home. In order for me to walk home, I was heading towards the Bastille and mentioned to my friends that there may be something happening there as when there is something to celebrate or protest about, Parisians tend to head there. It appears I was correct.

Bastille election

That's a lot of people.

The Bastille was a swarm of people and the monument in the middle of the giant roundabout had been taken over by young celebrating Parisians. I have never seen so many happy French people – everyone was smiling! Seriously. I’m not joking. People were happy, dancing, drinking, and generally congratulating each other on having ousted the bad guy.

Apparently on the other side of Paris the rich folk were crying, but here in the Eastern half of Paris where people barely earn enough to pay their monthly rent, the people were ecstatic.

My friends headed away from the crowd and back to their hotel – I, however, had to somehow cross the Bastille to get home. Sure, I could, and maybe should, have gone around, but where’s the fun in that? And so I headed in, joining the throng of happy Frenchies.

Bastille election

Vivre la France.

It was fine until I reached the other side and tried to get out and joined a flow of people trying to exit next to a flow of people trying to get in. It wasn’t fun. I can understand why people would panic in situations like that as humans start pushing each other, trying to get through and yet can’t get anywhere. I took many deep breaths when I finally got out of it.

The walk home was entertaining – so many people out celebrating the political victory. It was like post AFL Grand Final celebrations except with less punch ups. I can’t imagine Australians ever getting that excited (or on the other side of Paris, that upset) by the results of an election. Young and old were out, shouting, cheering and tooting their car horns. It appears Parisians can get noisy.

It was wonderful to witness the celebrations, although I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like if Sarkozy had won. Best not to imagine, I think.

What a Champion!

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Sunday finally saw the arrival of the Paris Marathon – something my friend and running buddy, Becky had been wanting to get over and done with. I was also looking forward to the completion of it as it would mean less 30km runs on weekends.

The conditions for running 42km were less than perfect – a cold, overcast day with lots and lots of wind. Signs of spring were certainly about as pollen from the horse chestnut trees was flying through the air and getting up my nose and in my eyes. Not fun. Probably even less fun for the 40,000 runners who were killing themselves on the epic route through Paris.

I had planned on catching Becky as she passed through the Bastille but I mistimed my arrival and she had already sped past me. So, Tom and I caught the metro to the finish line where runners were already arriving having completed their race. Amazing! Becky had started further back in the pack and was therefore at a disadvantage and therefore still running. Definitely nothing to do with her abilities, speed or running finesse. Tom and I found ourselves a position with a good view of the approaching runners and waited…

Interesting fact: if you stare at a large number of runners approaching you, trying to spot a single tall, blonde female wearing a purple top, you will go cross eyed.

Just after the five-hour mark, there she was. And so we screamed! BBEEEEEECCCCKKKKYYYYY!!!!!!! GOOOOO BBEEEECCCKKKYYYYY!!!!

Paris marathon

I was too busy cheering to get a clear photo.

I don’t think I have yelled that loudly since my year 7 athletics carnival. She may not have come first, but Becky is a winner in my eyes. An absolutely amazing feat – I send my congratulations to everyone who ran in that race. It was insanely long and no human is really designed to run that far.

Another interesting fact: while waiting for Becky to arrive, we watched the security guards pull illegal runners out of the pack – people who had some how joined the race without paying to be in it. Most of them looked like they had only just joined as they weren’t red-faced like the REAL competitors. Clearly they just wanted the fame and glory of crossing the finishing line, and perhaps a free piece of fruit. I think these people should be FORCED to run the entire marathon as punishment because clearly they’re not good enough to enter it for real. That’ll teach ’em.

Handmade

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

On Friday Tom and I met our friend Phillipa for lunch, shopping and exhibition visiting in the 12 arrondissement of Paris. This area is growing and becoming more and more fashionable with the super cool BoBos of Paris. We had decided to go to a vietnamese restaurant, Hanoi, and joined a long line of cool people in order to eat rather delicious bún bò. By the time we were seated and eating we were starving, but the wait was worth it – it’s nice to have some relatively ‘real’ vietnamese food for once.

Afterwards we wandered around some shops – this area is full of small designer stores and the sales have started in Paris so even Tom was getting into the swing of things, buying some new pants. Remarkable. Our travels led us to the Ateliers de Paris gallery – a gallery space that supports local and emerging artists. This was my Fun Times Count Down item #5.

The current exhibition was a small showcase of fashion made by students from France, Belgium and Quebec. There were only a few items on display and as with most student exhibitions, the quality varied. However there was one stand out piece that was extremely impressive. Made by a student in Montreal, it was a circular web made out of a white twine and safety pins, which had been painted at certain points in order to create a colourful pattern. It was intricate, fragile and stood out as a quality piece of work that was well designed and crafted. You can see the piece in the image below – the first photograph on the wall.

Ateliers Exposition

Very interesting work

It was nice to see a small selection of handmade products made by emerging designers. It is great to see that there is are opportunities for students to showcase their work in a city like Paris.

Bastille Celebrations

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Thursday was 14 July or Bastille Day to all English speakers. The previous evening (the 13th) I organised for a group of interested people from Les Récollets to head down to one of the local fire stations. At fire stations throughout Paris (and France, I believe) on the evenings of the 13th and 14th of July they hold balls that are open to the public. Being Australian and not fashionably late like the French, I organised for our group to get there right on the starting time – 9pm. It was practically empty when we arrived. But things soon heated up and by midnight the place was packed and there was a huge queue of people outside wanting to come in.

Fireman ball

There were half-naked firemen for a ladies and scantily clad ladies dancing on the stage for the men! Everyone was a winner.

The firestation had been turned into a dance hall with bars selling drinks and food and a stage set up for the AWESOME COVER BAND!!! to play on. I don’t know why the French have such terrible taste in music, but they do. Most of the songs were 70s/80s American pop tunes, there was a whole three-song segment of Michael Jackson impersonations, and then they started singing English songs in French. It was so bad it was great; the only option we had was to laugh and dance. The ball was run by the firemen and every now and then one of them would stand up on the bar and do the obligatory strip tease. I’m not really sure why firemen have to be strippers as well, but the girls in the room enjoyed it. But with only five toilets for a ball of 300-odd people, it was easier and faster for us to walk home and use our own facilities rather than wait in line. So that was the end of the night.

The following morning Tom and I attempted to get to the Champs Elysee to see the military parade but the metro wasn’t stopping on the Champs Elysee that day and they had then blocked off a lot of streets so it took forever for us to get anywhere close to the parade. This was a bit disappointing as I had hoped to be in the midst of the action but we managed to see a bit of it. I was amazed at the lack of French-flag paraphernalia. Australians can’t get enough of sticking plastic flags to their cars and fake tattoos on their bodies. There was none of that junk in Paris. I even went down to the Bastille in the afternoon and there were no flags flying! Where was the patriotism? Terrible.

Place de la Bastille

Place de la Bastille

To end the Bastille festivities, I also organised a party at Les Récollets for the evening of the 14th. There was a good turn out of about 20 people and at 10.30pm when the fireworks were due to start at the Eiffel Tower we headed to the highest point in the building (the roof) and discovered an amazing view over Paris. It was potentially dangerous (wine + ladders + standing on the roof = probably stupid) but WOW! I spent the evening of Bastille Day standing on the roof of a 13th century convent looking over Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower and the golden arches of McDonalds. Once in a life time, folks.

Roof top

This was one of the best moments of my life. Absolutely amazing.

Over the past few weeks I have really gotten to know people at Les Récollets and it is becoming increasingly more obvious about how extremely sad I am going to be to leave. I have been having discussions about Christmas with my family and today I realised that I just don’t want to think about it at the moment because once Christmas is over then I will be close to having to leave. I don’t want this AT ALL. I need to find a way to stay.