December 31, 2014, five o’clock we walked out of our hotel with backpack, thermos, box of liquour chocolates, champagne (Verve Clicquot of course), AND most importantly two blankets kindly (but unknowingly) supplied by our hotel. These blankets were to prove essential.
We entered Monmarte from the north and came up through the village and its square. The place was alive with tourists and particularly walking tours. Our goal was to get a strategic positon on the steps of Sacre Coeur.
When we arrived there were still tours going through the church, so we took up a position on the western side of the steps near a sign board which every bloody tour wanted to view. We ducked and weaved many photo opportunities.
The crowd waxed and waned. Sometimes it appeared the forecourt was filling up and then the crowd would drift away. We had a group of musicians playing Spanish style music for a while – we even shared our liquor chocolates with them. There were the ever present Africans selling shit and scampering whenever the local police turned up but never afraid of the squad of armed Gendarmes that regularly patrolled/strolled through our area.
Bu 11.00pm more people started to arrive. Our blankets were proving invaluable to protect our bums from the cold of the stairs and to provide extra warmth as the thermometer dropped to -1C. The crowd became noisy and restless so that by 11.50pm someone decided to send up Chinese hot air balloons. At first they rose successfully and floated behind us to the north over Sacre Coeur then one got caught in a tree threatening to set on fire the tree and the street performer beside it doing the worst statue impressions ever.
11.55pm others below the forecourt got impatient and decided to launch their own fireworks and a few rockets went skywards and others went off course into the crowd. That heated things up a bit. Of course no Gendarmes nor any police appeared. Then the magic moment, 12.00 midnight NEW YEAR – NOTHING! NOT A BLOODY THING! No evidence of any celebrations in Paris not even at the Tour Eiffel. The pyromaniacs had a few rockets left but a miserable show of a water fall of coloured balls is all we got and that was probably courtesy of tourists who had bought up fireworks for the occasion. Ah well, we had an interesting night, met some new people, drank champagne after sitting 6 hours in the cold and all now had a desperate need to pee.
We set off the way we had come except that we had found a set of steps that appeared to offer a short cut (or so said Nerida). We headed down then around then down more stairs and Nerida appeared to be uncertain and now guessing as to the way home. Kerry in particular now needed to get back to the hotel so we set our own course and left the others. Kerry and I must have made it to the hotel in record time fortunately.
And so to bed, to dream of fireworks everywhere else in the world but Paris.
Thus ended our tour of Scotland, the Midlands and France. The next morning we headed for Calais and our ferry home to Long Eaton. Back at Long Eaton, over the next few days, Doug and Nerida caught up on their washing, repacked, regrouped said farewell and then we dropped them at Manchester for their return flight. It had been a very full tour as my many blogs attest.