Pour vieux lang syne, mon ami

Written by Simon Renfrew

Even if it’s not usually your tasse de thé, le réveillon is a big deal France, and across the country local salles des fetes are gearing up for the festivities. Under the mayor’s watchful eye floors are washed spotless, trestle tables are dusted off and bars are stocked with enough booze to incapacitate the entire commune.  Regardless of the deep and crisp and evenness beyond the doors, come the night itself the temperature and humidity in the hall rise rapidly as expectant revelers arrive - having left the car park outside resembling an unfinished jigsaw. Condensation dribbles down any unopened windows and inhibitions and outer layers of clothing are discarded as the dancing and eating kicks off, due to continue uninterrupted until 4am.

Compare and contrast this then with the Parisian alternative. You may have traipsed around the capital d’amour of a sunny day, paid an exorbitant amount for a swiftly drawn caricature in Montmartre (reflecting later that you and it bear little resemblance), sampled the delights of the Musée d’Orsay or queued along with a thousand Japanese to go up the Tour Eiffel.  So best to remember that none of this is going to form part of your new year’s eve sojourn. Instead, picture unbroken grey skies, sleet and keeping your eyes peeled for a taxi to whisk through the sodden streets in rather more comfort – accepting as you do that if it’s got a native Parisian pilot (rather than a helpful and cheery Moroccan or Algerian one), he’ll want to dump you in the middle of the street sans discount as soon as the traffic backs up. Grumpy ou non, he’ll at least get you away from the bored groups of CRS riot police loitering on street corners, itching to sort out anyone looking at them dans un way amusant.

So save yourself hours on the autoroute followed by an expensive night out in the city of love (which will come to a juddering halt two minutes into 2013 anyway as the staff down tools en masse and usher you outside) and join your neighbours down the road instead. Just remember your ear plugs and sleeping bag.

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