We’ll always have Paris

Today was my first day back at work after a wondrous 2 week long vacation.  Needless to say, I was literally riding the struggle bus, as I ended up at the bus stop for the wrong school this morning.  Yikes.  Luckily I made it to the right school just in time.  I left my house at 6:30AM and got back at 7:30PM, after a full day of classes and an hour of tutoring.  And, because of Daylight Savings Time, the sky was the same color going to work as it was coming home: pitch black.  But I’m actually really glad to be back at work (did I fool you for a second?), because vacations are great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also good to have something to do with my days!

Anyways, about that vacation…I already wrote a post about my adventures in England, so this one is solely dedicated to my 5 days in Paris.

I arrived in Paris on Wednesday evening for a bar mitzvah that, contrary to the git ‘er done mentality of Americans who do the ceremony and party in one day, was a 3-day event.  I stayed with Carole, who I stayed with when I had an internship in Paris during the summer of 2011.  She actually knows my dad from when she was an exchange student living with his neighbor when my dad was 13 and she was 15.  It’s such a cool story, and she always marvels at how she never thought she would ever meet my dad’s kids, or even be in contact with him ever again after that one summer.  She even knows my grandmother!  And it also doesn’t hurt that her apartment is incredible.  The metro stop to get there Charles de Gaulle – Étoile, otherwise known as the metro stop that you would use to get to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Élysées.  She grew up in the apartment building, and she was so smart not to let it go.  It’s a typical Hausmann-style building, balconies and all.

Thursday morning was the first bar mitzvah event, which was the actual bar mitzvah itself (by the way, a bar mitzvah is for a boy, whereas a bat mitzvah is for a girl).  The ceremony lasted 2 hours, was entirely in Hebrew, and was much more religious than any bar or bat mitzvah I’ve attended in the United States.  Men and women sat separately, and all the men wore tallit,
which came as no surprise.  They also all wore teffilin around both their arms and their heads, which I had only seen once or twice, but never in this close of proximity.  There were no ceremonies on Friday, due to it being Shabbat.  On Saturday morning, we attended the general synagogue services.  It was set to start at 8:30AM, but many of the attendees arrived late because they walked to the synagogue.  Something that was extremely interesting for me to see, especially because I’ve always taken a certain liking to French cultural studies over literature studies, was that in response to rising anti-Semitism throughout France, there were 5 or 6 police officers stationed outside the synagogue for the duration of the 3.5 hour ceremony.  Also, for this ceremony, again entirely in Hebrew, not only did men and women sit separately, but us ladies were required to sit upstairs while the men sat downstairs, and we were not permitted to sing, chant, or respond to any of the “call and response” type prayers.  Needless to say, these were by far the most orthodox synagogue services I had ever attended in my life.

Then there was the good part: the party!  The party was Sunday evening at The Trianon, an insanely beautiful concert hall just around the corner from the world-famous Sacré-Coeur.  There was an interesting amount of security at the event, and I had to present my invitation at the door before being let in (thank goodness I didn’t forget it – that’s always a possibility with me!).  And once I got in, I never wanted to leave.  Let me tell you, this party was INSANE.  There was a cocktail hour (that really was a few hours) that included all of the bar mitzvah boy’s favorite food, and I was happy to discover that luckily he and I share many favorite foods.  Then, the real party started as we were ushered into the actual concert venue area.  We were greeted by a live band consisting of some of the most talented singers I had ever seen (heard?) in my life, whom I later discovered had all been contestants on the French version of The Voice.  There was non-stop dancing from the littlest of children to the oldest of grandparents, and did I mention THE FOOD?!?!?!  Here’s a picture of the menu (click on the image to enlarge it!):

Mushroom and Foie Gras Ravioli
Honey roasted duck breast
Garlic mashed potatoes and roasted apple
Mixed green salad
Adrien’s cake
Followed by
Dessert buffet
Coffee, Tea, Herbal infusions and sweets

So, yeah, it was delicious.  That totally would have sufficed as my last meal.  I could have died happy after that.  Oh, and here’s a picture of the out-of-this-world cake (clicking on the image will help you understand the immensity of this creation):

I mean, really.  Could this party have been any better?!  Needless to say, I had a fabulous time.  It also was not too shabby having some free time to explore Paris some more over the weekend.  I even met up on Friday night with the friends I made during my internship, which was so much fun, and got to see my host brother from when I studied abroad in Dijon (he’s studying at La Sorbonne in Paris now) on Sunday afternoon.  I truly could not have asked for a better weekend and end to my first official French vacation!  À bientôt mes chéris, and please feel free to check out my Camera Roll page to see pictures from this weekend and my many other adventures!



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