Sunday, October 11, 2009

Feux d'artifice

This weekend has been the Festival de Vendages (grape harvest festival) up around Paris' only in-city vinyard in Montmartre. Last night was the peak of the festivities, so Phinn and I went up to the Basilique du Sacré Coeur to snag a good view of the fireworks. With its great panorama of Paris and its proximity to the narrow, bohemian-turned-tourist streets of Montmartre, the Basilica is already somewhat of a tourist mecca. Last night it was crazy busy, with tents and booths set up everywhere offering pricey wine/cognac tastings and even pricier bottles, and--only in France--little platters of escargot to go with the wine.

Luckily, like most of the French attendees we had come prepared with our own wine, and after borrowing a tire-bouchon (corkscrew) we joined the picknicking masses with glasses and bottles spread out on the grass of the butte (with Rufus Wainwright's 'Complainte de la Butte' in my head the whole time, of course). The crowds, good spirits and children on their father's shoulders anxiously awaiting the show made for a 4th of July atmosphere (except instead of independence we were celebrating alcohol DEpendence...har har har).

Afterward we went to our friend Laura's nearby apartment to hang out with her and her boyfriend Remy for an hour or so before all heading over to a bar in the 11th, where we met up with Thibaut and a few other Americans. We left the bar just in time to miss the last metro home, giving Stephanie and I the chance to try out the Noctilien night bus system for the first time. Bursting with a ragtag, jolly crowd, the bus was definitely an experience, although it took us two separate buses to get us to Porte D'Orleans, leaving us still a good 15 minutes' walk away from home. The whole process took a little less than two hours, which is a good argument to either make the effort to make the metro next time, or to familiarize ourselves with the city's Velib' free bike system.

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