Celina here, playing catch up! With so much fun to be had, it’s been hard to find the time to jot everything down. So I’m gonna blow through the next couple days up until now and give you some highlights rather than the details. New Years Eve Day. Croissant, coffee, then on our way to see Notre Dame. It’s beautiful and haunting and I see where Victor Hugo got inspiration from. We toured through and saw relics from past popes and supposed pieces of the cross… it’s not the kinda place I’d go to seek comfort necessarily, but it’s terrifyingly impressive. There sure is a lot of gold and money within those walls. Whatever your thought are on religion, there’s no disputing the fact that it’s a masterpiece. We walked to the Eiffel tower (guys, it’s way taller and also wider at the bottom than I expected) but decided to come back a later date to see it from the top at night. A meander home, a nap, and then it was time to get dolled up to ring in the New Year at THE MOULIN FLIPPIN’ ROUGE. WHAT?!?!?!?! Yup and yup. Now, when we told Le Hipsters from the restaurant the night before (Josh wrote about them last blog) where we were going to be, they kinda laughed at us, then admitted that they’d never been there. Which seems to be the case with most locals. They scoff at it, and then say they haven’t been there. So here’s the thing- they don’t know what they’re missing. The evening was a fantastic blur to tell you the truth, thanks to bottles and bottles and bottles of champagne (Champagne, oysters and Foie Gras being must haves for all Parisians on New Years, this was proven right by glances in the shopping bags of pedestrians throughout the day) and red wine. Though some of the details are hazy, I’ll tell you this- it looks more classic and elegant than I imagined it would, and just as I’d hoped. Everything was red, each table was lit with tiny lamps and from our balcony, we were perfectly poised over the table for the big show. We arrived at 9, were promptly escorted to our seats and poured glasses of 2004 Rose Crystal, just the best start to an evening. On stage was a band and two crooners, a sort of Corsican Tom Jones and a Patti Stiles look alike. They sang in French and English, and handsome and mismatched couples alike took to the dance floor between their dinner courses. We had the best seats in the house to observe (incidentally I recognized the perspective of our seat in a Toulouse Lautrec painting at the Louvre… once upon a time he sat exactly where we were. Radical.) and finally, once we made it through our first bottle of bubbles (part of the entry was a bottle of Crystal for each guest, it was sponsored by them, if they also sponsored vomitoriums they’d have gotten us both ways), we headed down to join the swaying throng. Amazing! Just like the ballroom scenes in the Muppet Show! It was the kind of thing I’ve dreamed of doing but didn’t really think existed anymore. Dancing and drinking and dining, oh my! We were served a set menu- a coddled egg amuse bouche, fois gras and toast, a scallop and lobster, tender veal with vegetables and a giant meringue with chocolate mousse and macarons for dessert. Solid, lovely, food and (too much) red wine to accompany it. A photographer came around and took photos of all of the couples in the room, and then our server for the night presented us with gift bags- and heck, I like gifts! And then! And then! And then confetti cannons were shot- it was midnight and we all clinked glasses and smooched and laughed. AND THEN the show started. That’s right, a midnight start time for a two hour, what I can only refer to as SPECTACULAR. Think Eurovision and that’ll get you to the right sort of mental place. Girls, all 5”8 came out in sparkly spandex costumes, and hair pulled back into tight buns- like the Rockettes, but topless. Yup! It’s the Moulin Rouge after all. Though I must admit, I expected the girls in cancan skirts without nickers doing high kicks, you know, like the movie and the olden days, but nope, it was a more modern show. There was an amazing male and female balancing act, a terrible ventriloquist act, and then the dance floor where we’d all been swirling about hours earlier disappeared to reveal a giant tank filled with water and SNAKES. I know what you’re thinking: and yes, a pretty naked lady did in fact get in and swim around with them. Hurp. The show was awesome and truly very similar to the Rockette’s . There were male dancers in the show too, but they were fully clothed so whatever and who needs’em? The show ended and the pretty French photographer came back with our prom photos and four matchbooks with our faces on them? Did we order them? Were they a gift? We’ll never know, but if anyone needs a light, we’ve got four. AND THEN? And then a DJ started playing fun dance music and all the servers came around with boxes of Eyes Wide Shut masks, sparkly hats, feathered crowns and so we grabbed stuff and headed down to dance our way into 2012. Josh and I are not traditionally into tearing it up, especially on New Year’s Eve, and I think we may have officially made up for years past, and yet to come. Good lord, what an amazing night. Except for the part where the taxi we had ordered never came, so we wandered through the Paris streets for an hour to drunkenly barely find our way back to the hotel.But the streets were filled with people shouting “Bonne Annee!”, empty bottles and streamers everywhere, and so, if that’s the worst thing to come out of the evening, I think it indeed will be a very Bon Anne! New Years Day? Well, sleep was necessary as was laundry, followed by a lovely roast duck at the nearby brasserie- a good way to cure a champagne hangover. Another solution? More champagne! Yup, we got a bottle from the corner store and went back up to the hotel room to drink more bubbles and watch/fall asleep to Cowboy’s vs Aliens. 2012! The Year of BUBBLES! Over the next four days in Paris we covered a lot of ground and even some of the sky- we got to the top of the Eiffel tower at night,
enjoyed hot chocolate and macarons at Laduree, went to the museums L’Orangerie (built to house the GIANT water lilies painted by Monet. My goodness, for me a more spiritual experience than Notre Dame) and the Louvre,
to the cemetery to see the graves of Zola, Ionesco, Baudelaire, and others, dined at L’Entrecote for the best (too much) steak frites (you sit down and they simply ask you how you like your steak cooked, then bring it out with amazing sauce and fries- there are no other dining options here), and on our last night with Martin, enjoyed one more “night of bites” with oysters, cheese, and wines, all from different fun joints, and finally a dinner at la Poule au Pot. The place is lined with bronze plaques touting names of a million random celebrities from the Carpenters to Kanye, and of course, the food was delicious and the service well, hilarious. The evening ended there with us singing some French song with our waiter that involved a lot of train sounds and swaying. We said goodbye to our dear pal Martin that night- he’s now back in Canada making television (watch for the LA Complex on Much Music and this summer on the CW- CONGRATS Y’ALL!!!!). We thank him for being INCREDIBLE, miss him terribly, but we must carry on- it’s what Martin would want. RIght buddy? We moved hotel locations to hang out in Mont Martre and ended up staying right behind the Moulin Rouge. The area is so fantastic- yes, it’s touristy (we’re in Paris so, where isn’t it touristy?) but the history is thrilling. We’re walking the same streets as Picasso and Modigliani and yes, even that pixie Amelie. Wind mills and Sacre Coeur and the Lapin Agile- now I really like French cabaret and yup, was really delighted to hear some Edith Piaf songs during our last dinner with Martin, but I wanted too to see what the current cabaret scene is like in Paris. We found out at a place called le Limonaire- somehow got two of the last four seats in the tiniest place where we ate lentils and sausage, drank wine and at ten, witnessed some crazy. The little place jammed full with even more folks standing at the back, and the front window was a collage of ears and eyes pressed to it to see what was going on inside. We randomly happened across one of the single weirdest nights of entertainment that I’ve experienced- a duo of dudes performing a mix of beat (?) poetry and songs. The head of the duo, rocking a bit of a Dali look really managed to confuse the folks who even spoke the same language as him, and as best as we could tell he transitioned from performing rousing, totally improvised speeches in either French or Italian to some of the craziest slap double bass I think ever existed. The other guy had a small mic he would attach to anything to instantly transform it into an incredible percussion instrument. Throughout the night he played a squeaky wooden chair, a rubber band, an enormous oktoberfest beer snifter, the lead singer (as the guy gave one of his cuckoo speeches he grabbed him in the heimlich and forced a beat into his speech by squeezing him every once in a while), people’s tables, glasses, a chain on a high hat, a rusty dented old crash symbol pressed into the other guys bass strings, and then just sometimes the little drum kit. It was AWESOME. And weird. And awesome.
Our last day in Paris took us to Versailles to see the Palace- whoa. Just whoa. It’s even grander than I imagined. The womp womp part is that due to bad weather, the grounds were closed, but that just means that we get to go back some day, right? Greedy greedy.
Our last night in Paris- well, to be honest, we almost quit. You know how you think you have a certain amount in the bank and suddenly when you look you have less than that by, oh, about all of it? We almost came home instead of carrying on to the next leg of the journey. I mean, the time we’ve had? Amazing! And even subsidized trips aren’t free. We did the math and decided, since canceling would cost as much as carrying on, we ought to carry on after all. To Italy. Paris was, in a word, enchanting. In a bunch more, it was everything that I’ve waited for and I think like many people, it inspired me: to be better, smarter, a more rounded (and better dressed) human. What I’ve taken away: the point of work is to live well. I want to work and live, well.