New Year's Eve day we decided that it would be a good idea to go to the Horse for a giraffe.
We had already established our command post at Horse's Tavern, which was right across from our hotel. The Postons met us in Paris to help us celebrate, and the giraffe, the French version of a pitcher of beer, had been calling Dudley's name since the first day he saw one served.
It was late afternoon, and we were just back from the Champs-Élysées, where by 3pm the people were already shoulder to shoulder, and 2001 anticipation was electric. Walking along the boulevard, we heard every imaginable language being spoken. Paris was bursting at the seams with tourists who wanted to bring in the New Year in the city of light.
On the metro ride home, packed in with all of the other tourists, we watched as young couples from all over the world practiced kissing in preparation for midnight.
Back at the Horse, we made a few new friends when we offered glasses of beer from our giraffe to neighboring customers. Conversations with other travelers are always fun, and we asked everyone where they were planning to be at midnight. It seems that Paris just attracts people, and most of them had no pre-planned ideas of where they would be as 2001 rolled around. It was enough just to be in Paris.
On the recommendation of a Parisian, we had made reservations at what she referred to as a traditional French restaurant in our neighborhood. We wondered whether that was a good choice. Would we regret missing the activities at la tour Eiffel, Place de la Concorde or on the Champs-Élysées?
La Petite Cour is an elegant restaurant and we had a wonderful 7-course dinner with spectacular wines. We were happy as the hands of the clock approached midnight, but we still wondered if we should get the check and head out to celebrate with everyone in the streets of Paris. We had walked to dinner in a hailstorm, but maybe the weather had improved. The couple at the table next to us got up and left at about 11:30. Should we leave too? We were so cozy that we decided a quiet, delicious dinner with family was enough for us. Midnight came and we exchanged toasts and kisses.
Suddenly, all of the waiters came out from the kitchen in a long line, and holding trays over their heads, they marched around the room delivering a party sack to each diner.
In an instant this very French, very fancy restaurant was like a high school cafeteria on the last day before summer vacation. The mood went from subdued to playful as the quiet background music changed to disco, and everyone donned silly hats and blew their horns and noisemakers.
The fun began as everyone found the best toy of all in their sacks, the 21st century version of the peashooter, with little Styrofoam balls the size of marbles. These little colored bullets began flying through the air like confetti. Feeling something hit us in the head, we would turn to see a sophisticated, well dressed couple waving and laughing, very proud of their direct hit.
A conga line started weaving its way through the restaurant, the music was good and soon everyone was hopping up to join the line. We felt sorry for the couple who had decided to leave just before midnight, because of the fun that they were missing. We danced, followed along with the woman leading the Macarena, blew our horns, scored hits across the room with our peashooters and enjoyed being silly in such an elegant setting.
Walking home through the streets of Paris in the early hours of the morning, it was cold, but there was no hail, and we giggled our way back to the hotel full of good food, wine and fun.
We think that our New Year's Eve party in Paris has set just the right tone for the year 2001. We hope to have a very happy and playful year, and we hope that you do too.
BONNE ET HEUREUSE ANNÉE