Midnight in Paris (well technically, Villejuif)
After a 14 hour journey, I finally arrived at Charles de Gaulle around 9AM local time.
It was my penpal’s friend, Joanna, and her sister, who came to pick me up from the airport. They were even holding up une pancarte, or sign, with my name on it. Such sweet meufs.
After that, we were on our way to their family’s home a little outside of Paris. It would be where the NYE celebration was and where we’d be staying for the night, and also where Ambre would meet us.
I particularly want to talk about how the French celebrate la fin de l’année because I was so fascinated and intrigued that I literally sat there soaking it all up. After all, how many people can say they were welcomed into the home of a person whom you just met to celebrate the new year with their family and friends? I wanted to take everything in.
There were many courses; it was like the food and eating would never end. It was also all so delicious; Joanna’s mom did a fantastic job. It was all apparently a proper French NYE’s menu; or well that’s what they were all telling me. I tried so many things that I’ve never even heard before (I can’t even remember the names) but I genuinely enjoyed everything.
The dinner began at 8; and it lasted well into the night, with dessert being the first thing I ate in the new year. C’est pas mal du tout/it’s not bad at all. I think I only got up out of my seat at the dinner table once or twice during the whole 4/5 hours.
Then, one of Joanna’s family traditions is a type of lottery, where every guest picks a number and receives un cadeau/a gift with the corresponding number. All the gifts were small and silly things, and it was so much fun watching everyone’s reactions. My gift was this baby bottle toy that made squeaking noises. I don’t know, everyone there just had the best sense of humour. I loved it.
Several courses and my botched attempts to speak French later, it was time to countdown! I believe that that is universal and transcends all cultures. It was done, of course, in French: Dix, neuf, huit, sept, six, cinq, quatre, trois, deux, UN! And then my favourite part of the evening (besides the conversations with my new French friends) which was when we all got up to individually wish each other Bonne Année/Happy New Year! with les bises. J’adore ça. Kisses on both cheeks; I wish that was a thing in American culture. Then, it was just necessary to make lots of noise..
Even though there was a language barrier, as the lone American I felt so unbelievably welcomed. I feel so blessed that I was able to spend my first night and the first hours of 2014 with such amazing people. I will remember this forever.
But since this title has PARIS in it, it is only logical that I include how today (le premier du mois/an) was spent; walking around the city.
Ambre and I left Villejuif in the early afternoon. Upon arriving to her apartment building, we ran into a friend of hers by the elevator. It was then that she so graciously proposed that I stay in the studio right next door to Ambre’s. Let me tell you, I got so lucky. You can even see the Eiffel Tower from the window.
I think that I will end here so that I can dedicate a whole post to the City of Lights because I mean, it’s PARIS. I’m so happy I’m here, and with Ambre. It’s truly all too surreal, and I hope to make the absolute most of it.