Christmas time in Paris did not disappoint, bringing along with it the favourite month of my year abroad so far.
On the 1st of December I headed to Le Chalet Savoyard with some friends to finally try some raclette. It did not disappoint as I conveniently forgot my lactose intolerance for a night!
The first weekend of December I went to Musée d’Orsay. To celebrate it’s 30th anniversary, entry to the museum and its exhibitions was free, and there were special events on including a banquet and a massive ball. Because of this, we got to explore the Spectaculaire Second Empire exhibition for free, which covers the period between 1852 and 1870 in Paris.
It was fascinating to see the decadent furniture and decorations on display, and after wondering how people could be so rich we ended up in a café where we were given a very long talk about various paintings in the Museum. Not going to lie this mostly went completely over my head, it didn’t help that it was all in French! We ordered some tasty treats though and got to admire the beautiful room.
That evening, my aunt and uncle very kindly treated my to a Cabaret! Not really sure what to expect I turned up to the Lido on the Champs Elysées in trainers (do not recommend!) but apart from a few strange looks no one seemed to mind too much haha!
We settled down at a table with a perfect view over the stage. Here, we got a three course meal (amazing!) and then the show began. If you ever find yourself in Paris with a fair bit of money I highly recommend going to a cabaret. It was stunning, so lavish and exciting. It featured the usual scantily clad women but also a man sticking swords down his throat (couldn’t watch that bit haha), some terrifyingly good figure skaters, two gymnasts where the women did extraordinary positions with the man balancing ON TOP of her, a mime and beautiful outfits!
Another Birthday Celebration
The next weekend, my friend Flis visited me. She actually came the night of her 21st birthday which made me feel a lot of pressure to make it a good evening, especially because it was a Thursday so I couldn’t organise a massive party or anything otherwise I would never ever make it into work (I seem to have developed a habit for 2 day hangovers – not ideal). However, we went for a very typically French meal and had some drinks overlooking Place de la Contrescarpe, feeling super sophisticated.
The next night, with no work for 2 days, we hit the town (lol). We went to Café Charbon in Oberkampf which is such a cool bar. At one point in the evening they told us to get up so that they could put the chairs and tables away, and the bar changed into a club! It was so fun, Flis’ friend brought some of his uni erasmus friends and it made me super excited for Florence. Paris has been amazing and everything, but I’m looking forward to experiencing a bit more of the European student lifestyle, and meeting more people my age.
For the rest of the weekend we explored various areas in Paris including Montmartre where I finally got to see the “Le mur des je t’aime”, the Champs Elysées Christmas Markets with it’s bizarre inclusion of Christmassy dinosaurs, and the Marais.
For my last weekend in Paris of 2016, I went iceskating in the Grand Palais. Not going to lie I’m appalling at ice skating, and spent the first half an hour gripping the wall, but by the end I managed to do a few laps without holding on (though had to sit on a bench for 5 minutes between each lap to quell the fear a little).
At about 4pm, when the sun went down, they suddenly put on some amazing lights. It was stunning, like a classy, ice skating disco. Didn’t help my lack of balance but was one of those moments I know I will definitely treasure from my year abroad. It was just so surreal, ice skating in a Palais in Paris???
We ended the evening at East Mamma, a lovely Italian restaurant near Bastille.
As the metro became more and more empty, so did Christmas near. My boss very kindly let me have 6 days off from work so that I could go home and see my family. I left at midday on Friday, and immediately rushed off to a 21st in the evening.
After having lots of fun catching up with my friends, I got to spend lots of quality time with my family, both at Christmas and a few days later when my aunt took us to the ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park in London.
Here we got to go on the world’s highest and longest tunnel slide! It lasted only 40 seconds and was absolutely terrifying but tonnes and tonnes of fun! Very much recommend if you don’t have a dehabilitating fear of heights (just about managed to get mine under control lol).
I then went to Dorset to bring in the new year. I got to do lots of fun stuff like going to a beach in the middle of winter (yay), clay pigeon shooting (terrifying), the cinema and to a fancy hotel, spending the actual turn of the year in front of an abbey being hugged by so many people!
And that was December. I have to say this was probably my favourite month of my year abroad so far, which bodes well for the coming year!