Nights are normally quieter here in Aix, except for one night. There is a road here called La Rue de la Verrerie and once a year, this bar-lined street in the old town, towered over by slipshod, inward leaning buildings becomes a maze of bar stalls and beer bottles.
Out of the loop, I overheard about this the night before. I was sitting in the kitchen feeling sorry for myself, and took the excuse to sit quietly on my phone. There was, however, a hum of excitement when this Wednesday night was mentioned. An annual event which they all sounded interested in, although none of them wanted to go. I stepped up to the plate and tried to bring a bit of life to my corridor. A 32-strong corridor with no communal space doesn’t make for close relationships but as the token English guy I have a certain exoticism that can only be dreamed of. I wanted to organise a night to remember.
This didn’t happen. Out of 32 I managed to interest one person. So, far from the cultural experience I hoped it’d be, mixing English and French and feeling like quite the Foreign Minister, we had a group of 7 of whom only one was French. The walk in was unremarkable, except that the cardinal fear I currently have of hangovers meant I was the only one sober and therefore, the only one taking three steps forwards with reliable success.
The noise built up, we made our way through the streets. Already stragglers staggered home, but we’d gone out late instead of doing what I had planned. When we did eventually make it, it was a mess. If Magaluf was dressed in relaxed fit jeans, Sam Smiths and black jackets we were there, amongst the empty plastic pint glasses and the man pioneering French university drug culture into new fields with a handful of balloons.
If the French normally have an air of reserve, tonight this all went out the window. Sober, this was a different experience. You look forward, spot the leaners and pick your route, gliding through smugly. In true Aixois fashion, La nuit de la verrerie promised more in terms of discount than it produced. A student event on a Wednesday meant wristbands could be bought for a fiver to provide you with cheap drinks all night and free entry to a club. However, when clubs are always free and you’re only knocking €1 off a pint per go, unless you’re staring down the barrel of six Stellas and a handful of change, you’re better off drinking before, which is what we did, and then we missed most of it.
The atmosphere was great though. 3000 people were going on Facebook and when you pack those people into 100m of bars with pizzas and kebabs on hand to towel them down and send them back into the ring, you’re on for a good one.