So, last night. La Nuit Blanche. Nothing like I expected, but definitely memorable.
My friends and I had read that the Marais was supposed to be a great place to go for the event, so, seeing as how I love that area anyway, we set off for there around midnight. We’d looked into the exhibits, and one of the ones that really caught our eye was called “Purple Rain”. Basically the idea was that within this one courtyard, they’d have rain falling, purple light, and (we thought) Prince music playing. (Get it?) Everyone would get their own personal umbrella upon entering the courtyard. Sounds cool, right?
Apparently, I don’t know, all of Paris thought so, too, because we arrived at the exhibit and were disappointed to find that the line literally stretched for blocks. At that point, we figured that we had all night (the event ran until seven in the morning), so we decided we might as well jump in line.
One hour later, we were questioning this decision a bit, but after all, we were one hour in, so we weren’t about to throw all that away. We were committed.
An hour after that, we were starting to get seriously impatient. The line, which had been moving fairly quickly, slowed down quite a bit. It was late. It was getting cold(er). We just wanted to see the thing, and it was tantalizingly close.
Forty-five minutes after that, we were finally allowed in. And, uh, what was I thinking? Getting rained on is one of my least favorite things. In fact, if you want to see me at my absolute worst, either force me to go too long without food, or get me stuck in the rain. (A few very lucky souls have no doubt witnessed me too hungry and getting rained on–it’s not something you want to see, ever.) Maybe I lack whimsy, but I’m totally a sunshine person, always have been, and I absolutely hate the feeling of cold, slimy urban rain splashing all over me. Even if it is interestingly lit.
Actually, in my defense, I know what I was thinking. I was expecting a light drizzle. A pleasant mist to accompany the eerie purple light. You know. Something a little magical. The kind of rain I think Owen Wilson’s character liked in Midnight in Paris. But no. This was a torrential downpour. Despite my mod-ish clear umbrella, my shoes and skirt were absolutely sodden after a mere 20 seconds in the installation. Furthermore, it wasn’t Prince music playing–it was weird, almost otherworldly spaceship-is-landing music that was not helping to improve my newly dampened (HA) mood.
To be fair, it was pretty cool. Once I got over myself. The rain was coming down too hard for me to get a good look, but I genuinely could not tell where the rain was coming from. It was like we were in an enchanted courtyard or something. At the end of the day (night?), it was a cool Parisian experience to have had, and it was worth the long wait. Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
We wandered into one other exhibit after that, but by this point, it was past three in the morning, and we were all cold and wet and sort of needing a break from the long lines and huge crowds (like Disney World for Parisian scenesters).
So, we found some overpriced but thankfully open café called Dome, where we proceeded to lounge on the extraordinarily comfortable lounge-like seating for the next hour or so.
And, um, where some of us apparently decided to dance with the geisha (?) that was wondering around the place. ?
I got a Kir, which is a French cocktail made with white wine and crème de cassis. Sweet, but tasty. To be totally honest, I just got it because it was one of the cheapest things on the menus.
For some reason I’m still not totally sure of, we eventually got up and left. At this point, I would have happily stayed curled up on my couch until the breakfast place around the corner opened. But no. Instead, we began a march toward the bus stop in the Bastille, which turned out to be quite the experience, as the gentlemen hanging around these parts at four in the morning are…hmm, how to put this nicely? Totally foul and disgusting slimeballs who do not know the meaning of the words “no” or “go away”…in French or English. Some guy grabbed my face while muttering something I’m sure he thought was really charming. (It wasn’t.) Look, I’ve lived in New Orleans for two years, I’m used to the occasional creeper. But I have to say, that was a first. I was too shell-shocked to do anything, but in retrospect, I kind of wish I had punched him. Ew. Creep.
So, anyway. That’s one to cross of the European bucket list. Oh wait, weird, I didn’t have “unwillingly be subjected to having some slimy guy run his no doubt contaminated hands all over my face” on my bucket list. How strange. Remind me to thank him for adding that really special moment to my semester abroad.
I’m still mad. So inappropriate. Moving on.
Turns out the bus wasn’t coming, and cabs are a fortune and few and far between, so we realized we were either walking home or hanging out with our new face-grabbing friends for the night. So, we walked. Yayy, I get to run into more inebriated sleazy European men! (Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, we were a giant group and walking through the equivalent of the Upper East Side of Paris. Safe.)
Despite my complaining, the walk home definitely had its advantages. Like seeing the nighttime reflections of Paris on the Seine…
or Notre Dame all lit up…
or finally getting to take a picture with this little café. (Eating there actually is on my Euro bucket list.)
By the time we got back to the dorm, it was nearly six. So, I mean, we could have gone to bed and slept the day away. But there was that breakfast place in the Marais that I’d had my eye on…and we only had two and a half hours before it opened…so yeah, the choice was clear. Put on warmer clothes, knock back two vending machine coffees, and go back to the Seine to watch the sunrise.
We opted for seats right by Notre Dame, although Montmarte and Versailles were also entertained as options.
From my Twitter, circa 6:30 this morning.
(Inspired by the scene in Marie-Antoinette where they watch the sunrise in the gardens after staying up all night celebrating the queen’s birthday. You know I tried to find a clip…sadly, I failed.)
I can’t decide if I like Notre Dame in the middle of the night or at dawn better….
At 8:00, we finally allowed ourselves to get on the metro and head to the Marais in hopes that Breakfast in America, the diner we were headed for, would open promptly at 8:30 as promised. After a walk down the Rue du Rivoli (which was eerily empty but beautifully lit at the early hour), we arrived at 8:30 on the dot, and only had to wait about ten minutes to go in. Not bad for Paris, I’m told…plus I am eternally grateful that this place was even open on Sunday, as most of the city shuts down.
Sadly, at this point in the night/morning, my mind was fried and it didn’t even occur to me to take a single picture. I had a pretty much single-minded focus on the food, which was heavenly. I had a veggie omelette and the most amazing, garlicky home fries you can imagine. With ketchup. So much ketchup. I’ve missed it.
Breakfast was actually nearly perfect in every way, from the delicious food to the wheat (!) toast we got to toast ourselves in our own little toaster, to our waitress, who was smiley and gave us by far the BEST customer service of anywhere I’ve been in Paris so far. Love those American standards. Crisp, cool air was blowing through the open door, I’d intentionally chosen to wear my plaid scarf for the first time of the season, and despite the unusually warm weather Paris has been experiencing, you could feel the promise of fall in the air. We were all slightly punchy over lack of sleep but mostly ridiculously content to be eating huge platters of American-style breakfast food. It’s not like staying out long enough to watch the sunrise is something I do all that often (or at all, really, although I will say that I’ve proudly survived the tequila sunrise ordeal on the last day of Mardi Gras two years in a row, thank you very much), but in my limited experience, there’s always kind of a fun feeling of camaraderie in those last few delirious early morning hours.
Staying up all night in Paris wasn’t on the bucket list, but it should have been. To think that I’ve now seen Notre Dame and the Seine in the black of night and the new light of day, that I’ve witnessed vendors setting up flower markets before most people’s alarms have rung, that I know what some of the busiest streets in Paris feel like when they’re nearly empty…it’s pretty cool, really. I’m glad to be able to say I’ve done it. And now, I think I need my second nap of the day before I do some actual homework. Much love to you all!