École Militaire

I can’t believe it’s been almost 5 weeks that I’ve been living in Paris. It’s going so fast.

When I moved here, I didn’t know anyone – I still don’t know any people outside of work apart from one person I went to uni with –  so thought that joining a society would be a good place to start.

My university’s alumni society has a Paris branch with a pretty regular calendar of events, and I happened to join just in time to make it to their Summer Garden Party at the École Militaire. It was a joint party with Oxford, Cambridge and L’École polytechnique – a French school specialising in science and engineering.

I arrived, a little nervous, not knowing anyone. It was a really hot day, and I’d worn a dress with a blazer a little too thick to be completely comfortable. I felt good in what I was wearing though and picked up a glass of champagne as soon as I arrived to settle my nerves.

The École Militaire is a huge, imposing building in the 7th arrondissement – built in the 18th century and still used as a military training facility. The room we were in felt nothing like a military school though, with high ceilings and chandeliers, opening out onto an grassy courtyard.

Turns out Oxford was fairly good training for learning how to network (hate myself slightly for typing that sentence), so after a glass of champagne I was feeling social and met some really interesting people. After about 30 mins, there was a short lecture on some forged Shakespearean ‘manuscripts’ held in the Wren library at Cambridge. Followed by a talk by the former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Bit surreal. His speech was entirely in French, so I didn’t understand a thing except ‘Brexit’.

Thankfully someone I had just met from L’École polytechnique translated a little for me, though it seemed to go on a while… I ended up amusing myself with a few canapés and some more champagne. By this time I was getting a little tipsy, having drunk on an empty stomach, which was probably for the best as after the talk, someone introduced me to the former president and I ended up shaking his hand.

I told you it was a surreal evening.

He was moving pretty swiftly through the crowd so I didn’t get to chat to him (what would I have said, anyway!?), but it was great to meet him nonetheless. After chatting to a few more people from  L’École polytechnique, and another glass of champagne, I decided to leave gracefully while I still had any grace left.

I was given a few business cards, but I can’t say I met anyone I’ll be calling to hang out in a museum or go for drinks with. I’ll definitely go to the next even though – it was a great night, and a brilliant way to see a landmark I may never have otherwise seen inside.

More champagne, anyone?



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