Editor's Note: These two stops are combined because our Luxembourg stop, intended to be two days, was shortened to just one.
Bonjour from Paris, the sixth stop on the Dins’ tour and third to last in Europe. For many of the Dins, Paris was a city of legend, seen in movies (like Ratatouille of course) and read about in books, but only a select few of us had actually been before. And of course, the beautiful city of Paris, rich with history, grand architecture, and very good escargot, did not disappoint.
We left Strasbourg early on the morning of the 18th, and after two separate train transfers and some pretty good Turkish food, we crept into Paris on a regional line train from Belfort, France. We hit the ground running, or rather, quickly walking while dragging 40 lbs of luggage behind as soon as we set foot on the Parisian soil. While it was late in the evening by the time we arrived and therefore we traveled almost directly to our home stays, we couldn’t help but to be enchanted by the lights and sounds of the city. And while wide-eyed we stood outside the Paris Est station, we knew to continue our travels out to our homes in Pont du Sevres and Gif-sur-Yvette to rest up for the coming days of tourism and singing ahead.
Four of us stayed with Florence Courtinat and her family, a lovely French and English family who hosted Dins (including myself) on our last tour of Paris. On the metro out to Pont Du Sevres, we were all reminded of the Euro Cup events taking place in France by the packed train cars of screaming and chanting fans. When we arrived in Sevres we were greeted with open arms, peanuts, chips, and of course, an ice-cold beer. It was nice to kick our feet up for a little and catch up with a an old friend before taking part in what can only be described as a classic French dinner of duck confit and potatoes, cheese and crackers, salad, wine, pastries, and three hours worth of conversation ranging from Donald Trump and Brexit to world travel. It was an amazing experience for the four of us, but it was merely the beginning of what would be a great stay in Paris.
The next day, our day off in the city, began with a nice brunch of Croque madame and escargot and ended, 15 miles later, in the fan zone beneath the Eiffel Tower. We walked all over Paris and down the Seine, stopping on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower, the Esplanade des Invalides, and the Louvre along the way. It was exciting to take to the city on foot and cover so much ground in one day, but for me, an avid futbol fan, watching France play Switzerland on a giant screen with tens of thousands of French men and women was the highlight of the day…oh and as mentioned above…it happened to be right in front of the Eiffel tower.
The rest of the group spent their day walking around the gardens of Versailles, taking in the picturesque views and immense grounds (and somehow running into fellow Harvard students) before heading to Notre Dame in the afternoon. It was an exhausting day for us all but was well worth it for the sights seen and the meals eaten. The next day we woke up to none other than…rain…a common theme here in Paris, which is experiencing record levels of rainfall and flooding throughout the city. With our performance at the Traveller’s Club that evening it made for the perfect day to visit the Louvre and stay indoors. We reconvened at 6:00pm in an elegant room on the second floor of the Traveller’s Club, a private club on the Champs Elysées through which the Harvard Club hosts the Dins. Our concert consisted of three sets of songs, in between which we were given the opportunity to mingle with members of the Harvard Club of Paris, fellow students from the college, and other guests. After the concert many of the Dins met up with friends new and old for a quiet and relaxing night on the town.
Our next and last day in Paris will be one that I never forget, for we, for the second tour in a row, had the honor of performing with Anaiki, an all male Basque choir based in Paris. Leading up to the concert many of the Dins went to the Musée D’Orsay while others took the day off, reading and relaxing before the big night ahead.
We arrived at 6 PM at the Church of Notre Dame du Travail, a magnificent church made from the scrap metal of the Eiffel Tower. The narthex stretched high into the sky, supported by metal beams. It was almost like singing in a factory turned church. The Basque choir Anaiki is well known around Paris, and it being the Fete De La Musique, the church was filled to the brim with hundreds of people of all ages. The two choirs before us mesmerized the audience, and were tough acts to follow, but although the Dins sing in a very different style, we were well received by the audience.
The real fun began after the concert, though, when the Basque choirs took us out to Le Petit Journal, a famous jazz club in Paris. When there was a break in the action following a spot on performance by a Louis Armstrong impersonator, the men and women of the Basque families rose their glasses…and voices…for a song of their own. It wasn’t long before the Dins were called up onto the stage for two of our very own songs, after which the Basque song, food, and sangria carried us to the end of the night.
We arose early this morning to catch a train to Luxembourg. And while sad to be leaving, we all are thrilled to have had such an enchanting four days in the city of Paris. And so until next time, Au Revoir.
Will Jaroszewicz #228
After a great time in Paris, we took an early morning train to Luxembourg to enjoy our shortest tour stop! With only one night in the city, we made sure to go on the eve of National Day to experience the country during one of its most exciting times!
That evening, we performed at Cercle Munster, a club located in the center of Luxembourg. Throughout the night, we sang for club members and distinguished guests in between a delicious five-course meal. Billy Cox’s mom, Jocelyn, made an impromptu stop to see Billy on her birthday. Luckily, she was invited into the club watch us perform, and of course we sang Happy Birthday for our very special guest!
Right after our performance, we rushed to watch a fantastic fireworks display alongside cheering Luxembourgers. We were also able to meet up with Din alum Ari Peña, sharing stories about past Din tours and our longstanding tradition of coming to celebrate Luxembourg National Day. We then headed to the city center to enjoy the rest of the night by showing off our amazing dance skills. While Luxembourg seems like a fleeting memory, we had such a great time performing and celebrating!
Daniel Giebisch #238