Le bise, les bars, and my favorite things

So yesterday was my friend’s night in Paris and to celebrate we had a fantastic night out that ended up reminding me just how much I love going out like this.

Now, since I have never been able to go to a bar in the US, being ‘underage’ and all, I can’t really say that what I’m going to describe only happens in Europe, but that is where I have experienced it.

The evening started with a walk across Pont Neuf and a fantastic view of Les Invalides and Le Tour Eiffel lit up over the Seine, see above. Going about Paris in the daylight, and just doing normal things like going to class, or shopping, whatever, it’s easy to lose sight of the romantic Paris. No matter how amazing your settings they become normal after awhile. But at night, on the bridges or the quais, it just strikes you that you’re living in one of the most daydreamed about locations in the world, and that feels amazing. So I arrived at the Highlander feeling giddy and lucky.

The Highlander is a Scottish pub and is one of those places you would only ever know about because a friend told you about it. On Wednesdays they have an open mic night, which is why we were there. My friend’s host mother’s friend was singing and we had been invited. So we were in the cavern like basement, crowded around communal tables with mutual friends and strangers alike.

This is where my favorite things come in, starting with drinks. Even though we’re in France, in places like this everyone drinks beer, and it’s not too expensive (for Paris), and when a situation like that arises you can’t help but meet and talk with people and I absolutely love that. I this type of socializing was my absolute favorite thing about being in Berlin, and doing it last night reminded me how much I love it, so I will hopefully be making this a more frequent activity for my second semester at Paris.

Overall the evening was lovely, speaking franglais, drinking, listening to good singers play some of my favorite songs (including Fever, which is seriously always the best), and meeting new people. Everyone in the extended friend group left at the same time, which is where the real cultural difference comes in. In the US, you hug your friends goodbye, and awkwardly hug, wave or shake hands with new acquaintances. In France et d’ailleurs, you do le bise. I love it. It’s egalitarian and intimate but not too much so, and it’s very universal. Le bise is the kisses in the cheeks that French people do in movies, in Paris you do one on each cheek, in other areas it can be three or four, and it’s not just French, they do three in Rio de Janeiro for example. I like it so much because of it’s egalitarianism, greeting your mother or the friend of your friend, it just shows that you have a connection. And you never have that awkward moment where someone went in for the hug and you were gonna handshake it out.

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