Being an Irish girl, well a half Irish girl, I have always had a strong affinity towards Saint Paddy’s day. Even before the green beer. As a little girl, I remember running through my backyard with my little brother Patrick (that’s really his name) in tow searching for the gold that the leprechauns had left us. And no, this was not a make-believe game, my mom actually painted little rocks gold and hid them throughout our backyard. What can I say, my mom REALLY likes holidays.
For my first Saint Patrick’s Day in Paris I was looking forward to having a beer, but I was also using the holiday as my excuse to go to a bar on my own for the very first time. I have never, not even in SF, gone to a bar all by myself and ordered a drink. Saint Paddy’s Day was going to be the night, I had it all planned out in my head. I would go to an Irish pub and it would be lively but not crowded, I would find a seat at the bar, order a pint and some pub-grub, and the bartenders would be Irish and the clientele would be jolly and I would have a nice conversation in English with some travelers or expats. Oh it was going to be so lovely.
Well, surprise, surprise, that did not happen. What did happen was that I went to an Irish pub in my neighborhood (the 6th) that I had diligently researched online. It was beyond crowded, literally it looked like people were going to fall out of the windows, needless to say I had to wait in line, surrounded by groups of French people speaking French to their French friends, leaving me feeling particularly lonely. (And before people scold me for being surprised to find French people in France, I’d like to state that I love the French, j’adore les Français. I mean, hello, I moved to France and I am really looking forward to someday having French friends and waiting in line with them all the while speaking French; however, in my preplanned version of the night, just for one night, I was going to hang out with some Americans or Irishmen or Canadians). So after the line, I finally got in and spent twenty minutes trying to get to the bar to order a beer, because at that point I just wanted to get a pint and leave, so I could say that at least I had a beer on Saint Paddy’s, but I never made it to the bar, I left. I think it was THE most crowded bar I have ever been in and that is not an exaggeration. Oh, and the only native English speakers I did see in the bar were a group of loud, obnoxious, scantily clad, cougar-ish, American women with green, rhinestone four-leaf clovers glued to their cheeks (I guess that’s what I get for wishing for Americans).
I really didn’t want to give up so easily, so I walked around in search of another pub. I stumbled upon one in the 5th/Latin Quarter/where there are a lot of students. It wasn’t as crowded as the other, but the patrons all looked to be between 18 and 22 (don’t ask me when I became so old that 22 became “young”) and it was dark, very loud and extremely humid. I once again tried to get to the bar, but gave up after only ten minutes this time and just went home. I ended up going back to my apartment, making myself a tasty tartine and having a glass of red wine, and I enjoyed it tremendously. I have promised myself that I will go back to that first Irish pub again on another night, when it’s not an Irish holiday and the seemingly most popular bar in the city. It will happen…I will go to a bar and order a drink all by my lonesome.