They say you only turn 21 once so you have to make the most of it. I was lucky enough to celebrate it twice! Firstly, I’ll tell you how I spent the day (and weekend) of my birthday in the city of Paris, my current hometown.
On Thursday, 2nd October, my day couldn’t have started in a more pleasant way than with a cute guy from my building, wishing me a ‘bonne journée’ (hope to see more of him soon!) Arriving at university, the teacher kindly asked us to leave the class and join a different one, as we were Erasmus students. So what would have been a four-hour long lecture turned out to be a gossip session with omelettes, crêpes and cocktails, lounging around for hours at a café, very casual for Parisians on a Thursday morning! Faustine and I met up with Masha in the afternoon; she gave me a little box of chocolates and my birthday card. While eating the chocolates we decided not to go to the class because we were going to change class anyway (well that is what we told each other not to feel guilty!) because really it was my birthday and all we wanted to do was go for lunch, drink and a shop and we did just that in St Germain.
Back at my apartment, I was on Skype non-stop until my friends came over for drinks before dinner. Consuming too many bottles of champagne, we were waiting for the arrival of Ryan and Steph who were coming to Paris for the weekend to see Masha and I, to celebrate my birthday. We went for a late dinner at Le Hibou, which is walking distance from my house in the 6th. A trendy, dark restaurant of young, good-looking Parisians, we had a candle lit dinner, with plenty of wine and a range of modern dishes of the French cuisine. Prescription Cocktail Club, was the next stop, which is my favourite bar in the area. Of course I went for their take on the Moscow Mule cocktail (they do it with more alcohol with a strong chili taste) and stayed until late creating a mini dance floor space.
The next day, Ryan and I met Masha and Steph in the 4th to go to the Jewish Quarter, as Masha was going on about how good the falafel and poppy seed cake is there, we had to try it for ourselves. Indeed, the falafel, big enough for two, was delicious. Walking around trying to find a seat to eat the delicious delicacies, the Jewish Quarter is filled with designer shops and bakeries with not too many tourists, so a lovely little area for a morning walk and brunch.
Walking through the Marais, we ended up at the Centre Georges Pompidou, and saw the temporary modern art exhibition at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest modern art museum in Europe. Know as the ‘inside out building,’ or something resembling an ‘oil refinery’, personally I don’t really like the look of the building, but it is a very noticeable building in the center of Paris as it is so different than the other architecture there. It revolutionized the museums in the city, transforming elite buildings, into public spaces for cultural and social gatherings. Even if you don’t like modern art, it is definitely worth a visit, just for the building itself. All the functional, structural elements of the building are color-coded. Such as, the blue is for air, green for water, yellow for electricity and red for elevators, white for the building itself. I discovered that I quite like modern art, but maybe you just need to be creative and have fun when you are there.
After that, we walked to the Musée du Fragonard, (you can read more about that in another blog post) before we went back to our places to get ready for the evening out. Still determined to get a new dress, I spent 30 minutes trying on at least 20 dresses in the shop Les Petites… just around the corner from my apartment. Ryan was patiently waiting and giving his opinion before getting fed up in anticipation to start drinking the bottle of Prosecco we had just bought.
We started off the night with a cocktail at Le Comptoir Général in the 11th, an area similar to Shoreditch. Le Comptoir Général is filled of young, trendy Parisians, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and very hipster. I walked past it a few times, not being able to find it, as it is hidden behind an entrance painted as street art on the Quai de Jemmapes. Supposedly an art museum dedicated to ghetto culture: “the result of creativity that springs up in poor or marginalized places all over the world,” I saw it as a place for creativity and innovation as there are exhibitions and music events held there and also a store selling old records. We were too busy consuming the delicious, although very strong cocktails, to take a proper look around.
We went to a club after dinner called Les Planches, a standard nightclub filled with young Parisians, which turned into a club of cheesy and classic Parisian songs that were too much for us after 3.30am. So instead we walked along the Champs-Élysées and seemed to find a Pizza restaurant opened and fully up to serve food at 4am… After a long night and a third birthday dinner, we went home.
Tired from the night before, on Saturday we decided to take a picnic on the greenery next to the Eiffel Tower-très French. Taking our time eating and chatting we left a few hours later stuffed with cheese, baguettes and dips, to take a trip up to Montmartre to see the famous Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, located at the highest point in Paris, overlooking the city, making it a symbolic monument in the French culture. Montmartre is famous for works of many artists, including Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s famous painting, Le Bal de la Moulin de la Galette depicts a sunny Sunday afternoon of people dancing in the main square in Montmartre.
We relaxed at a cute little café and had delicious crêpes and two or three rounds of wine when we felt the temperature suddenly drop we left to go to Faustine’s flat, before going out to La Nuit Blanche. For one night a year, street, pop up art exhibitions were held around Paris, along with music and dance events and museums and bars were opened from 7pm to 7am. Not wanting to wait an hour in the rain to see street art, we went to a bar in Oberkampf to L’Internationale, a perfect evening to end the weekend, before Ryan and Steph left the next day.