After a quiet family Christmas, I came back to France in time for New Year. (No travel hitches this time, but I'm still working on my conspiracy theory about the fact that it wasn't reported in the media that the pre-Christmas Eurostar trains were cancelled not only because of speed restrictions on the line but because the snow was causing them to BREAK DOWN. Remind you of anything? Last year, perhaps?)
Although this is my fourth year living in France, it was my first Hogmanay here and I was delighted to find out that the French celebrate new year the same way as they celebrate everything else : by eating lots of delicious food. We went to a party at a friend's house and ate the following: champagne with foie gras and smoked salmon, seafood platters, roast lamb stuffed with mushrooms with a foie gras sauce, many delicious cheeses, pineapple, lychees and oranges and an ice-cream log for dessert. I would have expected to have been as stuffed as the roast lamb after all that but the fact that the meal began at 9pm and finished at 3 in the morning meant that I was actually just comfortably satisfied and still able to dance the new year in a fireworks exploded on the skyline outside every window of our friend's tenth floor flat.
On Saturday, another friend hosted an ice-skating party at the outdoor rink at the Hôtel de Ville. I used to be a competitive skater but the combination of years of lack of practice and scary teenagers practising their hockey manoeuvres on innocent members of the public meant that I had to restrict myself to going round in circles and avoiding the hockey players' victims as they sprawled across the ice. Nevertheless, it was fun to try again and the Hôtel de Ville makes a beautiful backdrop with its fairytale architecture and sparkly Christmas lights.
Then on Monday it was back to work. Believe it or not, more than 1% of 2011 is over already!