Monday, February 20, 2006

Avec les Nuns

Sacre-Coeur at night

Friday night was the only time where all eight of us would be together in Paris (Tim would be the first to leave, on Saturday night) - so we went for a big night out. First we took the Metro to Chatelet and tried a French-style pizza, or Flam. According to the menu they originate in Western France, and apparently there is something different about the base - it certainly seemed more crepe-like than pizza-like; but it was good stuff. The restaurant was packed, and there was a great atmosphere.

After that we walked down to the Seine just in time to see the Eiffel Tower shimmer, as it does for a minute on the hour. I'd seen it before, but it always impresses me. I can't remember why they started it, but it proved so popular that the authorities decided to keep going. Hundreds of thousands of light bulbs flash on and off, and the entire tower sparkles - it really is something else. Also down by the river we came across a sudden commotion and a rushing group of rollerbladers appeared, followed by blaring police lights and motorbikes.

At first glance it looked like they were being chased, but it was the legal street run that takes place every Friday night - hundreds of skaters whizz through the roads, which are temporarily closed to let them go safely. Originally it was illegal, started by some hardcore types, but eventually the sheer popularity of the event forced the police to legitimise it and offer an escort to cut down on accidents. The route changes every week, and if you've got some skates you can join in, apparently.

A trip on the Metro later and we were in Oberkampf, a suburb in Eastern Paris. Erika had arranged for some of her friends to come out, and we had to meet them at a place called the Nun's Cafe. Not sure what to expect, we turned up and found a small, smokey bar with not a Nun in sight. Nobody seemed to know why it was so called, but nobody seemed to care either. We stayed there until it closed at 2am, driking the local beer out of small glasses and trying to speak French to Erika's friends - who needless to say were all fluent in English. I think my French actually improved the more I drank, which is something I'll have to remember for the future...