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Getting Kicks on the Last Days of the Year: the Circus at Cosco to the Real Circus

Paris Cosco Exterior - by Patty Sadauskas

Huge Teddy Bears at Costco

Paris Cosco Interior

Monster Mayonaise

Cosco oysters

Mac N Cheese at Costco Paris, France
Diamond Necklace for sale at Costco Paris, France

Cirque d'Hiver 2017/18 Paris, France

Rob Torres in Cirque d'Hiver Paris

Cirque d'Hiver Lions Paris, France 

Cirque d'Hiver shows off its big rats

What do most people do for kicks on the last days of the year? Probably NOT what I did with a group of friends: shop at Costco!

My daughter laughed her buns off when I told her I was going to the new Costco just outside of the city…just to see it, since I’d never been in a Costco before. (It opened this past May.)

“What? You have never been in a Costco?” she asked, while cracking up.

“Erica,” I replied, “I’ve lived in France 23 years and before that, we were in L.A., remember? When would I have had the chance or desire to go to a Costco? I just want to see it. I won’t buy anything.”

“Oh yeah, right,” she argued sarcastically. “There is no way you’re going to Costco and not buying something!”

She was sure I’d get hooked on the good ol’ fashioned American “buy bulk and buy cheap” MO and just thought it was the dumbest thing ever that we were all going…but so what?

Saturday morning, four of us took an Uber to their store in Villebon-sur-Yvette, about 30 kilometers from Paris, costing a little more than 40€ each way.

My niece, who was with us, laughed at my reaction when we entered, me pushing the biggest shopping cart I had ever seen in my life. I asked my friends if they wanted to get in the cart — I’d take them for a spin!

“Well, it’s just a big, big warehouse,” I exclaimed upon entering the massive space.

“Yeah, duh!”

They all just thought I was seriously silly since my three American comrades in Costco crime were old regulars…even sporting membership cards. The first thing that struck us were the massively large Teddy Bears and then we dove right in. The Paris Costco is more than 12,000 m² — or 129,167 ft² — a bit smaller than their average size of 143,000 ft². We wandered up and down the wide aisles of goods in bulk size containers and joked about how on earth we’d fit any of the items into our tiny Paris abodes. There are definitely bargains to be had, especially if you have a business, such as a restaurant, where the gargantuan tubs of mayonnaise would come in handy.

Costco is a U.S. record-breaker. It’s the nation’s largest wine retailer. In 2015, it posted global sales of $1.69 billion of wine alone, not to count all other spirits and beer. And according to some media, “No trip to Costco is complete without eating your way through all the delicious samples and walking out with the retail chain’s signature rotisserie chicken in hand.”( According to the 2014 figures (Seattle Times story), 76 million roast chickens were sold in 2013 at $5 a pop…and that was four years ago.

My daughter was right. I wasn’t coming home empty handed. Most of what I bought was for her (over-sized bags of organic chia seeds and cacao nibs). We stocked up on goodies for the New Year’s Eve gathering in their deli section and marveled at the bins upon bins of fresh oysters. What I left for someone else to buy was the 299,999€ diamond necklace on display at the jewelry department.

Au revoir Costco — now that I’ve been, I never need to return. So, what do most people do for kicks on the last night of the year? Probably NOT what I did with a group of friends: attend the circus!

At first, my friends thought it was a nutty idea — to spend New Year’s Eve at the Cirque d’Hiver, but they cajoled me and went along for the ride. The tickets were only 27€ each and it’s just a short walk from my apartment, so I enticed them with the low price and a light dinner after the circus, chez moi.

The building in which the circus takes place is as old as 165 years, designed by architect Jacques Ignace Hittorff. He also designed the Place de la Concorde, the Gare du Nord, many cafés and restaurants along the Champs-Élysées and the facades forming the circle round the Arc de Triomphe. Originally named “Cirque Napoléon,” the name was changed in 1870 to the “Cirque d’Hiver.” I see it almost daily as it sits just in front of the Métro station Filles du Calvaire which is my closest station, so for me, it’s a permanent neighborhood landmark.

I was reminded of the circus the night before while watching the new documentary film “Maria by Callas” as there are scenes with her at the Cirque d’Hiver during the Gala de l’Union des Artistes de 1971 which she co-chaired. And then, there we were being ushered to our seats in the third balcon, high up, but with perfect views. We were surrounded by children and their parents…us young-at-hearts feeling very much like kids ourselves in the oval polygon of 20 sides whose ring is surrounded by steeply banked seating, very much like a miniature indoor Colosseum, anchored by a vertical structure over the main entry to the ring by the performers, on which the band sits, with access by two staircases to the top.

The show playing now is called “Exploit,” at the center of which is adorable, charming, funny, Rob Torres, an American clown…yes American! This is a traditional European circus, the kind you will NOT find in Las Vegas — out of date, but that’s what makes it charming, while the acts are still thrillers and sure to put a smile on your face.

The Salto troupe of girly-girl dancers is as kitsch as it comes with choreography that is totally passé — the kind of cheesecake that the kids can handle. There’s the usual lion-taming act with beautiful beasts that are trained to hug their master who puts his head in one’s mouth; American (another one) Robin Valencia who is shot out of a canon; trained rats (I swear it), some of which are bigger and fatter than most dogs; the usual trick horseback riders on stunning horses whose manes made me terribly jealous; a pole dancer who hangs on by barely her fingertips to a pole meters above the ground; and a host of others that defy the norm of what humans are capable of doing.

It’s a circus in the truest sense of the word and regardless of your age, it is not to be missed. For a New Year’s Eve, this was one we will never forget. It might even make me want to join the circus…but not sure what I’d be good at. Grooming the horses’ manes, maybe?

*Special Thanks to Patty Sadauskas and my friends for many of these photos.


Happy New Year.


A la prochaine…




Adrian Leeds - (at Costco, by Patty Sadauskas)

Adrian Leeds
Adrian Leeds Group

(at Costco, by Patty Sadauskas)


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P.S. Join me this Friday at the Imaginative Storm Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshop facilitated by poet and storyteller James Navé…IT’S FREE!!! For more information scroll to our promo at the top, visit our Conference and Events Page or email Jim at [email protected]


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