Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Paris: Part 6

Finally it is Monday the 31st of December, 2007 - New Years Eve.

We had planned a relatively light schedule, starting in the Latin quarter where we had an authentically French lunch, starting with escargot - which was delicious in a smothered-in-garlic kind of way - and ending with mousse au chocolat - delicious also, and with an interesting texture unlike we had found in previous mousses (meesse?).

We walked off lunch by visiting the Jardin du Luxembourg by way of the Panthéon and Saint-Étienne-du-Mont.

The Luxembourg gardens were very nice, and we plonked ourselves on the chairs there for a while and just watched people walking around and getting told off by the police for feeding the pigeons.

While in the Latin quarter I also bought myself a notepad. I had seen it before and marveled at the marketing miracle it represented - a 50c notepad in ziplock bag with 'Temporary Storage' printed on it, selling for €7. I obsessed over it later, and when I saw it a second time I snapped it up. Linda became jealous of my new stationary and we had to go back to buy one for her too. Incredibly I have not been able to find an example of this notepad on the Internet.

Later we coupled our notepads with some little aluminium pens from muji and became the proud owners of €10 notepad/pen sets. Of course I had a justification for the purchase (I always do) - I would use mine as a travel diary so I could remember what we did on our travels, for later transcription into this blog; lucky you!

We then started towards home to prepare for our evening, stopping outside the Louvre to take some photos on the reflecting ponds.

When we finally headed out for NYE celebrations, we donned our warmest gear and had a preparatory glass of Champagne (we thought glass bottles would be prohibited - a fear that would later prove completely baseless). We went to Place de la Concorde, which has a view that stretches all the way up the Champes Elysées in one direction and towards the Eiffel tower in the other. We found ourselves a good spot on a wall next looking over the Seine, with a couple of hours to wait before midnight.

We waited there with a growing crowd of people while the clock ticked down, in anticipation of a spectacular fireworks display over the Eiffel Tower. We watched the tooting cars drive by, and the glowing Bateaux Mouches cruising up the Seine, and before long the time was upon us and we joined the countdown.

When at last the hour of midnight struck, we were very disappointed to discover there would be no grand fireworks display at the Eiffel tower, but only the regular hourly flashy-light routine that it does all the time. Along with a vast number of other people, we stood and watched and waited, but to no avail. In the end the best fireworks display was from a guy walking along nonchalantly holding a firecracker that popped a small flare into the air every few seconds.

After we recovered from this minor setback we set out to walk up the Champes Elysées, which is the focal point for NY celebrations in Paris and was filled with a flood of people.

We took our time walking the length of the avenue, watching the hoards of boys pursuing single girls trying to get a new year kiss, and staying clear of the numerous police in full riot gear. It was all very well behaved, despite what you might expect from the shop-fronts, which were boarded up, and the later news reports of torched cars in the suburbs.

Eventually we made our way home, a bit disappointed by the lack of fireworks (our expectations probably set a little high after the Sydney NYE experience) but very happy to have been part of such a big event in a city like Paris.

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