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EU > France > Le Mans

French fiesta

Le Mans, FR (View on map)

The French are known for being food-loving philosophers. While the Spanish spend their weekend evenings drinking and dancing, the French eat and converse. Apart from participating in a French soir?e myself today, I have been asking a few people what a regular night out looks like. Well, here you go:

Edouard (24):

..tells about the popular drinking games at French home parties
Originally designed to entice appetite before a meal, the Ap?ro, short for aperitif, usually marks the start of a night out. Compared to the Spanish Botell?n, the ap?ro is more modest and less noisy. It is consumed in a bar or at somebody`s place rather than in the streets and loud music is not part of the deal. Along with the drinks, a small salty snack may be presented.

Eating and drinking
L`ap?ro can start anytime between 6 and 9 o`clock, depending on whether dinner is included or not. Alexandra (25) tells me about her most recent soir?e: `We started at 8, with a small group of people cooking different types of food: tuna cake, pancakes, chocolate cookies.. We enjoyed ourselves drinking beer and wine and talking while cooking. Another bunch of people started arriving at 9 o`clock. They had brought ready-made food from home, and a bottle of wine or liquor for the later evening. We presented all the different bites and drinks on a big table and then started eating, drinking and talking. Some people hadn`t seen each other for some time, while others didn`t know each other. We had plenty of stuff to talk about.`

`The evening stopped for some at 11 o`clock, when the group split between those who went home and those who went to sleep. I went along to a bar where we met another group of people, with whom we eventually went along to another bar with 80`s music. Which is not necessarily very French, but we had fun dancing and meeting some more friends`.

Different stages
Edouard (24, photo) describes a similar evening out. Starting with an apero in a smaller group or at home before leaving, followed by gathering at a friends place to enjoy each other`s company. Main acitivites for the night are usually picoler, best translated as sipping, and talking, with some music in the background.

Like pretty much all across Europe, the French have invented a set of games to make people drink more. Bisket in which you need to avoid at all cost to become gros poulet, big chicken, or Maya. Both work with dice and participants need to combine reaction speed with smart play. Which later during the evening becomes more and more difficult, consequently leading to more and more alcohol consumption. Like the Spanish, many French like to light a cigarette or something stronger, which means that private soir?es can get a bit foggy at times, in many senses of the word.

Later in the evening, it is not uncommon for people to leave the private party and get to town or possibly even to another private party. Any late night transfer from somebody`s place to a public venue or vice versa may include a quick visit to the local kebab or pizza shop, even though according to Edouard `French kebab is almost disgusting once you have tried Kebab in Berlin or in Poland`.

Special evenings
Alice (22) has lived in Nantes for a while and tells me that the local tradition there is to stay out until daylight, especially in summer, and then eat oysters and drink white wine to complete the event. Ronan (18) is from Brittany where the Festnoz draws people to traditional music events, where they dance to bagpipe music and eat pancakes until late at night.

Claire (25) tells me about special theme evenings, where everybody shows up in quickly assembled customers. Colour themes are popular, just like Mafia evenings, SM evenings, Jungle, Louis XIV or Tecktonic: a way of dancing to techno music with a lot of arm movements involved. The Spanish may be known an adored for their fiesta culture, the French way is different but equally interesting. Being fond of talking, debating and exchanging opinions is a requirement ? not taking part in that vital part of the evening will make you enjoy it lots less.

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