In a red wine frenzy my best friend Livi and I zoomed like race horses back to our Parisian hotel, rummaging through suitcases for our PJs before my parents came in to check on us. We’d been “out, out” taking in the air in the absolutely mental (we quickly learnt) Latin Quarter. If I remember rightly we were about 17 – Liv would’ve been 16, and we were as thick as thieves stealing through the night to chat up French boys and do shots.
We’d gone on holiday with my parents. Liv and I were accustomed to French holidaying together, and every occasion amounted to copious amounts of misbehaving, naughtiness and even one absolutely outrageous case of unintended arson – we’ll delve into that fiery topic later. This Paris trip however, we’d hatched a plan. We were going to go out clubbing every night without my parents knowing… and we pulled it off.
We’d always been up-to-no-gooders – you know how it is, you’ve always got that one pumped-up cheek friend, as I’ve coined them. They’re the ones that make your cheeks stick out so far as you desperately hold in a batch of unstoppable giggles in an incredibly inappropriate setting, leading to a hand clasped over your belly and cheeks akin to a hamster.
We were the type of gals that drank booze under our parents’ noses, like the ferry trip to Cherbourg where we ordered a long island ice tea circa age thirteen and kidded our parents into thinking it was just a tropical addition to the Lipton ice tea range, and not a highly alcoholic, heady mix of triple sec, vodka, tequila, rum and gin! We were pissed as farts wandering around that boat, playing pinball and chatting up boys much older than us but thinking they found us fit. Delusional.
In Paris, things stepped up a gear. Our room phone would buzz incessantly as my parents in the next-door room checked up on us post dinner. “We’re just hitting the hay now mummy, love you lots.” I’d say through a yawn akin to the false noises you make down the phone to tell an employer you’re “ill”.
Once the dull monotone of a put down phone began to sound, like music to our ears, we garishly grinned at one another – time to partaaaaaaay! We’d trample, clad in heels higher than the Eiffel Tower and pink polka dot dresses up to our arses to a night club that was a hop, skip and jump away via various forms of transport, including the metro.
You know those sepia-tinted images of Paris, love-seeped and picturing a moustache clad man in stripes looking longingly, rose in mouth, at the love of his life over a bowl of moules? Yep, that wasn’t the Paris we were aiming for. We were teens. We wanted the unedited, unfiltered, JD and coke version with a side order of “voulez-vous couchez avec moi?” thrown in. And boy, did we get it.
Liv and I had always been boy obsessed. In school, we dated the same Spaniard and met him in the pet shed for hugs. No, hug isn’t a code word for something raunchier, we literally hugged one another for about ten minutes a pop by the hamster cages – kissing was just undoubtedly a step too far. Relationships involved a whole lot of MSN & a whole lack of talking at that age. In fact, I think I spoke to Juan about once in the two years we dated when he asked to use my calculator– lush. We dated loads of boys throughout primary school, sometimes a few at a time. Basically, if Liv and I got put on the top of a boy’s Top Five listicle we went straight in for the jugular – instant boyfriend.
The Latin Quarter followed suit. We greedily gazed after boys in low-hanging trousers and briefcase swinging business men. The Independent has coined the quarter as Paris’ “coolest neighbourhood,” something we definitely believed as we trudged through the night over cobbled streets, pizzas wafting past us as we went. I suddenly began to realise that the vin rouge we’d elegantly downed with my parent’s as we dined al-fresco earlier in the night had long vanished and had instead been replaced by our hilarious debauchery and drunken attempts to speak French. Little did we know that the more “mature” thing to do would’ve been to go to bed after a two-hour meal and not scurry around like companions of Oliver Twist before falling, bellies full of rum, into the Jardin du Luxembourg.
The arrondissement certainly served its purpose. Whilst Paris in all of its dazzling, nostalgic glory lay impatiently at our feet, we were far too swept up in the confines of the Latin Quarter and all it had to offer. And, talking confinement, it was probably for the best that Livi and I were shoehorned into one place – a previous trip to France had seen us sitting in a fine-dining restaurant and putting a lighter to use on a paper table cloth to “see what happened.” Whilst I can assure you that we’re not arsonists, I can confirm that we were bloody stupid.
With bleach blonde hair and bad intentions, the Latin Quarter quickly became a place we ticked off our boy bucketlist. Stumbling into the Crazy Violin bar after downing a shared bottle of God knows what, we succumbed to a group of French boys with quintessentially French names and awkward t-shirts that displayed British “live, laugh, love” slogans, alas they were funny and that’s all that mattered. We didn’t have a clue what they were saying and visa-versa – try talking French but, um, intoxicated – but wrapped in warm French air, drink in hand, anything goes.
The night ended around the same time as my vision turned to fluff. We were stumbling down a hill back to our hotel oblivious to what time of the night it was. Livi had three French dudes sat on the kerb pandering to her every request as she gave them all an “English lesson” whilst they swung back and forth in hysterics clutching their bellies. I was off with Yan, or whatever his name was. Some leggy French dude who was the “ring leader” of the nerdy trio. He piled on the pleasantries and smothered my neck in French kisses whilst I laughed and chugged on the end of a cigarette. The night ended how you’d expect… and I’ll just leave that hanging!
We wound up spending the next day sleeping in a park in the shade, sweating out our hangovers with overflowing cups of coffee… before doing it all over again the following evening. Latin Quarter, you are a place of excitement that has an unfortunately muffled past but take a leaf out my book and, if ever you’re in Paris, journey into the Latin Quarter for a night of utter awesomeness.