I know, it can’t be Christmas already surely? I am usually the last to encourage Christmas spirit before mid-December, but I have already got slightly caught up in Parisian preparations. Frosty temperatures and festivities have certainly broken out in Paris the last two weeks, with the City of Light glimmering even more than usual with Christmas lights, displays and decorations.
The end of the November was marked by several standard bar trips with Parismus (the Erasmus society at the Sorbonne) and two meals out – first a Vietnamese in Paris’s Chinatown in the 13th, as well as French/American restaurant for Gregory’s birthday. Seeing Two Door Cinema at the Zenith with Vicky was most definitely a highlight of the month – Two Door where amazing, and were preceded by two very good support acts (Cast of Cheers and Alt-J.) The fact that they’re not massively well-known here in France was also a massive bonus, as we managed to ram our way forward to the front! After a Saturday morning exam on French phonetics (just what I want to be doing at the weekend…), I met up with Emma and Kangha to go to the Marché de Noël on Champs-Elysées. This most definitely kindled my Christmas spirit, with around 160 stalls selling festive treats from all over the world lining the stretch between the roundabout and the place de la Concorde. Whilst Emma sampled a traditional French macaron, myself and Kangha decided to try a German Schokokuss, a chocolate-covered marshmallow (miam miam!) I also had the chance to admire the Christmas lights along the Champs for the first time. Apparently the majestic avenue is usually completely flooded with lights during the festive season, however this year the French have opted for a more environmentally friendly alternative, with the trees merely encircled by a few spherical illuminations and fairy lights scattered along the boulevard. A slightly modern and alternative take, but very pretty none the less!
After promenading and admiring all the stalls (and making a few purchases for Christmas presents along the way), we headed to catch the final day of La Petite Veste Noire Expo at the Grand Palais. The exhibition displays the photos taken by Karl Lagerfeld of 109 celebs, including Kirsten Dunst, Vanessa Paradi and Alexa Chung modelling the iconic little black Chanel jacket. Yes, myself and Emma did get a bit overexcited over the life-size portrait of Romain Durcis…but it’s totally justified because he’s yummy. The photos are truly stunning, all taken in black and white and exuding creativity – Lagerfeld definitely shows how this iconic fashion piece is the symbol of elegance, nonchalance and class. An amazing exhibition honouring a timeless classic; a fashion staple that most fashion designers can only dream of inventing. As said by Robetro Juarroz, “There are clothes which keep rejuvenating themselves instead of getting worn out”. Speaking of expos – I also went to an exhibition at La Cinémathèque Française on Jacques Prévert’s innovative Les Enfants du Paradis. Filmed during 1943 in Paris under Nazi occupation, it is one of the most well-known French films worldwide. Taking place during 1820s and 30s among the Parisian theatrical scene, the film tells a classic love story entwining the beautiful Courtesan Garance with the four contrasting male protagonists – a mime artist, an actor, a criminal and an aristocrat. Displaying lots of the original screenplays, costumes and sketches, the expo is definitely worth a visit for any fans.
A group of us had organized to have a go at karaoke last Friday night – this was definitely guaranteed a laugh, and me and Isa had already made a pact whilst out during the week to sing Edith Piaf (yes, we had been drinking at the time!) Seeing as the night was in my arrondissement, I decided to have my first proper little gathering chez moi so we could all get merry enough beforehand to think that we were all Beyoncé or Chris Martin when taking the mic. We got a bit too merry in fact, and ended up going through a fair amount of wine and staying at mine! Whilst I usually always have some Erasmus friends by my side on evenings out, I went to my first truly French house party the other weekend and found myself as the only foreigner. Knowing this would be the case beforehand, I was a little bit daunted, however everyone was so patient and made such an effort, which was really nice. Not going to lie, trying to follow speedy tipsy French conversations at 4am was tough, but I think I did pretty well!
On Sunday myself and Emma treated ourselves to what I will call an early Christmas present– tickets to see the famous Cirque de Soleil. Entitled ‘Alegría’, meaning the Spanish word for joy, the show undoubtedly demonstrates the evanescence of its name, incorporating a mix of circus styles and street entertainment from around the world exuding energy, elegance and grace. We were quite taken aback at times with the incredible skill and flexibility of the cast – the acts included an aerial high bar, contortion, synchronised trapeze, and a fire knife-dance. Gasps escaped from the audience several times, and I had to wonder how the hell people can bend in such ways! This was my first experience of a circus spectacle, and was certainly far from the traditional sense of a circus in a big top. Presenting a visually spectacular mise-en-scene and accompanied by striking live music in several languages, the Cirque du Soleil also has a strong theatrical element which takes the audience on a rather moving and awe-inspiring journey. For anyone wanting to see something thrilling that puts you at times on the edge of your seat, I would definitely recommend it.
A bit of a long entry seeing as deadlines and exams have started their rear their ugly head. Even though I have several more tests and an exposé to write before the end of the term, I intend to make the most of my last few weeks here before going back to London for Christmas. Time is going scarily quickly – tomorrow I will have been in Paris for 3 months!
For anyone in Paris yet to visit a Christmas market, here’s a link listing all the markets taking place now until early January: http://www.parisinfo.com/sortir-a-paris/noel-a-paris/les-marches-de-noel/