Going out in Paris is a slightly different experience compared to mine in England. Perhaps the British binge-drinking culture has ruined our appreciation for a few glasses of wine on a Tuesday night without the need to end it crying over a takeaway and losing your house keys. Doesn’t mean I’m not giving it a good go out here, though.
The largest difference is the timing of the whole soirée. French bars generally stay open until 2am, with clubs staying open until 6am and the majority of them not opening before midnight. There is no pressure to drink your bodyweight in cheap wine before filing into a taxi in order to arrive just before last entry to a club. However, I think we’re slowly becoming connoisseurs of the full range of €4 bottles of wine in our local supermarkets.
To put it simply? It’s not cheap in Paris; then again, nothing is. A lot of clubs charge entrance on Friday and Saturday nights, which is just further encouragement for weekday drinking. Some of them do include a drink in the entrance price, so it generally becomes a game of choosing the most expensive drink possible to get our money’s worth.
If you’re avoiding the Champs Elysée spots (think, heavy techno + heavy price) then the good news is that the rest of clubs available are mostly fab. The French apparently have a deep love for English/American songs circa 2006 and that’s something I totally appreciate (Café Oz and Favéla Chic reliably providing the hits). It does tend to single out the group quite quickly as English; nearly every song is met with overexcited whooping. Last time I went to Café Oz, Shape of You came on followed by Stormzy, and I’m pretty sure we burst the eardrums of everyone around us.
What has been striking so far?
- I’m not sure if the memory of being told “You have the worst french accent I have ever heard! It’s hilarious!” will ever leave me. Not the best way to try and make friends in a club via insults. Speaking with an English accent somehow morphs into a beacon, calling every drunk, vaguely anglophone stranger in the bar to your side. Apparently, nothing is funnier than hearing us speak French whilst they attempt English.
- Even if you passionately describe cheesy chips to someone, the French still think this is an abhorrent idea. Its not as effective as a DIY option either. Craving chip-shop chips.
- Vague memory; asking about cocktails in French. The bartender answered in English – when we continued in French, he laughed and shook his head. “I can tell you’re English, have you seen the way you’re dancing? Have you seen how drunk you are compared to everyone else on a Thursday night?!”
- Jäger bombs aren’t a thing. My flatmate explained she sips them as an actual drink rather than as a shot. They may also break the bank (painful recollection of paying €12 for one). If you do find a bar that serves them properly for a reasonable price, flag that gem for future reference.
To be blunt? The French don’t particularly tend to dress up or drink to the same extent. Wearing a full winter coat and jumper to a club is acceptable, unless you’re trying to enter one of the ‘exclusive’ clubs where the Fashion Week afterparties are held (Sidenote; these clubs are beyond expensive but totally on the to-do list before I leave). I think if I turned up how I do in England – fake tan, fake lashes and heels – I would probably be laughed away by the door staff. I only brought one pair of heels to Paris with me, and I’ve only worn them once. If you know me, this is pretty shocking… I don’t even have any fake tan out here.
Without a doubt, the culture is different to that of a student night in Birmingham. The French would prefer to drink €4 wine in their €200 tailored coats than to throw up in a taxi or have a fight in a kebab shop. I can’t lie; there is a large part of me that is excited for ridiculous fancy dress, dangerous drinking games and embarrassing Snapchat stories when I return to UoB. I think this is a good lesson to learn, though. There is something tantalisingly adult about enjoying a bottle of wine on the balcony and discussing international politics. If you’re feeling brave, you could always attempt an Erasmus night out…
I can’t lie, though. I will always want to dance to Beyoncé, drink too much and spend the next day regretting every life decision. I can also confirm; croissants do help a hangover.