Bonjour tout le monde!! Greetings from France! I have been away from internet for about a week; I can’t even begin to tell you how much I needed that. It was quite nice to just be unaffiliated from the world for a while and enjoy Paris. Additionally I am sorry for such a late update; I haven’t had an ounce of time. It’s been super crazy but I’m honestly having the time of my life, and it’s only been a week. The fact that I actually have to study and go to school is still kind of in the back of my mind. It also hasn’t hit me that I am not coming home any time soon.
But anyways, alright, let’s discuss . We touched down around 9:30 am and retrieved our baggage. We had a private bus to our hotel, which is conveniently located in the middle of Paris; near the Latin Quarter & Université de Paris Sorbonne. It was amazing. In France they have a separate toilet room (W.C.-water closet) and a shower room (la salle de bain). I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that! After getting situated and showering, Ryan, Ethan, John, and myself went for a walk in le jardin de Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens), which is just around the corner from our hotel. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. It was nice to just sit and relax and embrace Paris. We also went cell phone shopping, which was a gruesome process. I bought the cheapest track phone on the market; it’s nice to have but I’m not sure how much I’ll actually use it. I love that we get 920 characters for texting though; sure beats our 160! After cell phone shopping we took a group tour of Jardin de Luxembourg and then headed to dinner. It was quite an interesting setting to say the least. Imagine 11 people crammed around a circular table in a dark dungeon with brick walls in candle light. Yep, that was basically us. It was very overwhelming to switch completely to French, not to mention awkward to have all Americans speaking in French.
Friday was quite an early wake up call. The hotel serves a complimentary breakfast–bread, bread, bread, and oh yeah, bread. Along with cafe & orange juice, and apples. Such a variety. We left the hotel around 8 am and headed for the Louvre. Our program paid for a metro pass that lasts for 5 days, and also a pass to get us into all the museums for free. It’s fantastic. After seeing the Mona Lisa & the largest painting in the Louvre (which is located just behind Mona), we split off. My group spent some time observing Napoleon’s apartments, sculptures, paintings, Egyptian art, Mesopotamian art, and a few other random things. In case you didn’t know, it would take over a year to visit everything in the Louvre, so obviously we didn’t see everything. The weather was yucky & rainy, but we enjoyed our walk through the Tuileries afterwards. We walked together to the Place de la Concord, and then were told to meet back at the hotel for the theatre at 7:00. A group of us grabbed a metro to the top of the Champs Elysees near the Arc de Triomphe and found a petite boulangerie for lunch. Afterwards, the girls left to go shopping and John, Ethan, and I used our museum passes to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. I didn’t do that the last time I was in Paris so I am glad I got to do it, even in horrible weather. Afterwards we hopped on a metro to the Opera House on the opposite side of Paris. Unfortunately it was closed, so we ended up leaving and going to the Notre Dame to meet Ryan, who had gone to visit a friend. We visited Sainte Chapelle; I remember it like I was seeing it for the first time three years ago. Finally we grabbed a quick crepe for dinner and returned to the hotel for a play. The play was about the conflicts of religion and the roles of women within them, concerning the beliefs of Islam, Catholicism, & Atheism. I understood parts of the play, but I was still quite exhausted, and tended to tune out now and then. Overall however it was a great cultural experience. We spontaneously decided to go to a pretty sweet club next to our hotel.
Our third day in Paris was a little bit more easy-going. We met at the Latin Quarter at 1 pm and took the #38 city bus to the Jewish district of Paris, also known as the Marais. We had falafels for lunch; a bunch of vegetables wrapped in a pita bread. Afterwards we visited the Museum of Paris, which was quite cool. There was a lot of history, and I noticed quite a large emphasis on Louis XIV…like Versailles!! We also went to a cellist concert; I was awestruck at his talent. Dinner was delicious that night; the name of the restaurant was the Bistrot les Sans Culottes.
Another awesome, fun-filled day under my belt. Day 4 was filled with free time. A group of us left the hotel around noon and headed for Père Lachaise. It was so much fun to kiss Oscar Wild’s grave, let me tell you. It is filled with lipstick. We all (including the guys) lathered up and gave a huge smooch! Unfortunately my camera died on this day, so I’ll have to wait to steal other people’s pictures. Next, we met the entirety of our group at the Centre Pompidou. I was excited to go inside, because last time it was unfortunately closed. We had a guided tour of the first floor, in French. Overall the lady was quite easy to understand; she spoke slowly and clearly. Afterwards we went to Montmartre for dinner, which is near the Sacre Coeur.
Our fifth day in Paris was hectic. We had to leave at 8:15 am for the Musée d’Orsay. We arrived much too early, so we sat in a café and had coffee. We had another guided tour about Impressionism. I know absolutely nothing about art but I have been learning so much on this trip. My favorite is definitely the modern art museum, Centre Pompidou. After the museum we had free time until 7 o’clock. Ryan and I took the REF back to our area of Paris. We grabbed our laptops at the hotel and met Ryan’s friend for lunch. She is a student at the Université de Paris Sorbonne, and I had so much fun talking with an actual Parisian. It was just nice and enjoyable. Next, Ryan and I worked on our journals for the Paris entry tour (1 credit class) in a Starbucks. Unfortunately the weather was absolutely dismal and cold and rainy. As a group we left the hotel to meet our professor on the opposite side of Paris. It took forever to take the metro, but eventually we made it to the Gallery Lafayette. We also lost our professor, and were late, because we were crazy lost, but eventually we got there and had dinner.
We left for Caen on day six. Our bus driver got extremely lost in Caen, and we were 45 minutes late….what a way to start off with our host families, right!? Late Americans, quite the impression. However, when I arrived in Caen I found out quite the surprise…I had been relocated, and have a new family. I am no longer staying with a lady and her three children, but an elderly couple with three grown up children. Their son lives at home and attends medical school at the université. It was a surprise, and I felt stupid with my childish gifts, but luckily they have grandchildren. They have also had a lot of exchange students before–from Delaware, Australia, and Tennessee…and now me. Thankfully, I love my room. I am on the deuxième étage (3rd story) in a cute little attic. I have my own bed and desk, wardrobe, and shower right in the room. The WC is one flight down but that’s okay. I think this is going to work out well. We had a fabulous dinner and talked a lot about America….politics, health care, family…my favorite subjects. They were overall quite impressed with my French…I still feel as though I have awhile to go, but little by little it is getting better. Tomorrow morning I have orientation at the university.
Anyways, the first round of postcards should be on their way soon; I have had literally no time for anything; I just spent close to 2 hours writing this blog, though it felt amazing to relax. Until then, a few photos!
The Mona Lisa in Le Louvre
Paris on top of the Arc de Triomphe
At a local club
Le Centre Pompidou
Kissing Oscar Wilde’s tombstone at Père Lachaise
“Real friends stab you in the front.”