“I’m in Paris. Anyone here? New Year’s Eve plans?” My desperate text message went out to everyone I knew who might be in Paris. I arrived early for a January class in order to settle into my apartment. It also meant the possibility of New Year’s Eve alone.
My friend Sean called. He and Richard were having a traditional French New Year’s dinner party. “We would love to have you. Oh, could you come tomorrow and help cook?” Two things that are indispensable when traveling solo: a local cell phone and the ability to cook.
The next day we prepared the eight-course dinner and filled the apartment with savory scents. We prepped salad, made velouté, slathered herbed butter over snail shells, boiled langoustines, marinated pork, simmered sauce, and assembled a colossal cheese plate. The evening ended with us waiting in line at Pierre Herme to buy dessert.
On New Year’s Eve, eight of us gathered together in Richard’s 18th arrondissement apartment. Over the four-hour dinner, I chatted with the other guests, forming friendships that would continue long after the party. Midnight came while we feasted on the domed chocolate dessert. We raced outside onto Richard’s terrace, and popped open champagne. We clinked glasses, gave each other traditional two-cheek kisses, and cooed over fireworks lighting the Parisian sky. Shouts of “Bonne Annee” went out and came back from neighbors and those in the streets below. Snuggling together on the chilly terrace, we sipped champagne and welcomed the New Year in Paris.
This post has been entered into the GranTourismo HomeAway Holiday Rentals Travel Blogging Competition for November on the topic "Living Like Locals."