The Swell Asian Day In Paris

For those of you who have seen the film Once, you will know who Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are. For those of you who don’t, then click on the links to find out!
Anyhow, said musicians have recently released a new album (Spotify link here) under the name of The Swell Season. Laura had heard that they were touring and that they were going to be in Paris on the 25th of February so Laura, Geraldine, Travis and I all made a note in our diaries, bought the tickets and waited for the day with anticipation.

Laura and Travis were going to meet Geraldine and myself later on in the day as they were already around and about Paris so it was left to us two to travel from Metz and find a hostel etc. For some reason I got up stupidly early and got a train more than an hour earlier than I needed to but hey – I managed to find a great little café with a brilliant little breakfast menu* of coffee, croissant and orange juice for only 2€50 so I was made slightly less grumpy by this.

Getting on the train, we eventually arrived in Paris and then headed straight for the metro to find the hostel we’d booked. Arriving at our metro stop, we glanced down at Geraldine’s rough pencil sketch of the streets and proceeded to become quite lost for the next twenty minutes. When we’d eventually found the place, checked in, dumped our bags etc we headed out again to explore one of this world’s most excellent 100_0520cities.

Our one problem was that it was raining quite persistently, I say ‘our’ problem but  really it was more of Geraldine’s problem as her umbrella had chosen this moment to die a prolonged death, complete with flapping, crumpling and general retardedness.

Dumping the umbrella in the nearest bin, we trotted around for a while and then wandered into a shop called Uni Qlo which looked pretty cool from the outside. It was even cooler on the inside! This place was like a Japanese H&M and it was so colourful and amazing! I bought a really cool t-shirt which is made of some really light material so that it doesn’t feel as if I’m wearing it at all. It’s so comfy and surprisingly warm – I love it! Geraldine bought a new umbrella which she was very pleased with. One irony was that when we got outside, it didn’t rain again for the rest of the day.

Stopping off at the Louvre (as you do) we stumbled across a fantastic little shop (thing Utility on Bold St all those of you in Liverpool) which sold lots of very random and fun things. Unable to resist, we bought a few things. I bought some post-it notes with Origami patterns on, a new little scribble book and a funny little pen that looks like a tube of paint. :)

Next, we headed on to Chinatown [ostensibly] to meet Laura and Travis but when it turned out that they couldn’t make it in time, we continued bravely on into the glories of the Asian-ness that were before us.

I found a TEA SHOP! I finally bought some loose Lapsang-Suchong (100g for only 3€20!) Then we saw an Asian foodstore and so we took a look inside and man were we glad that we did! I bought more tea and lots of noodles. Geraldine bought tea, noodles, sausage, and sauce along with some little roasted pea snack thingies. Fully loaded with such excellence, we stumbled out of the store into an Asian bakery and then into an Chinese restaurant for our dinner.

It was here, while attempting to create an origami cat a-la my origami post-its, we realised that just about everything we’d done that day had been Asian. The Japanese H&M, Origami post-its, tea, Asian food store and bakery and now a Chinese restaurant. We laughed this off and got down to the business of eating some fantastic soup.

100_0542It was then that we realised just how late we were. We scrambled off to meet Laura and Travis near the venue for the gig and arrived a bit out of breath and with sore feet but in time (ish).

The Swell Season were absolutely brilliant to say the least. Glen Hansard had SO MUCH fun on stage it made it load of fun for everybody (not that it wasn’t heaps of fun already!). He was also pretty funny with some of the introductory stories to his songs and his stories. Markéta Irglová was really sweet, especially when she, in her broken French, told us all how much she loved her sister, sung a song for her and then invited her sister up to perform with them on stage. One of the band was on the violin for most of the night and he was introduced half way through to play some of his own violin music which was just so thoroughly Irish. It was a real pleasure to sit back, listen, close my eyes and be in Ireland with every note he drew out that fiddle. I was again reminded of just how amazingly high Glen Hansard’s voice can go. He had us singing along with some of his songs but on the last one, the tune he wanted us to sing was so high for a guy to get with no apparent preparation.

I knew that they’d leave it for their encore, but even so I really wanted to hear them play their Oscar winning ‘Falling Slowly‘. So it was heavenly when they came back on stage to play it – I was reminded why I loved Once so much when I first saw it and why they won the Oscar for the best song.

All in all, this day can be described as an Epic Win. Even with the rain, the moribund umbrella, our sore feet from our wet shoes, elusive dress shops and dysfunctional metro tickets, we had an amazing day. Hooray for Asian things and The Swell Season.

Quote of the day: ‘ It’s about looking at the moon and saying “No!”
Glen Hansard

* In France, menu means a meal deal, not the English word ‘menu’. If you want to ask for the list of food, you ask for ‘la carte’


Another of my favourite songs from Once, mainly because it’s in 5/4 time and it’s really hard to count.


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