Today was a pretty relaxed day. We went to breakfast, and after that, we went to l’eglise St-etienne du mont, which is where the remains of St.genvieve and pascal and others are kept. This was a really nice church, and some people think it is one of the most beautiful churches in all of France because it has a different architecture. There are stairs that go above the alter, and they are so amazing. We got to see where the remains of St.genvieve are kept, and actually got to see part of her thumb bone. It was pretty amazing. Then we got to see where pascal was kept, and where some others are kept as well. We sat in the church for awhile and just thought about stuff, and this church was also nice because it wasn’t very crowded.
After we went to the church, we went to the Panthéon, which was right across the street. It was originally built as a church, but now holds the cryptes with some of the most important French thinkers. We walked in, and it is this huge building with all these floor to ceiling paintings on the walls, and then in the middle is Foucault’s pendulum, which was so amazing to see. He hung the original in the exact same spot. It was so cool to see after taking a physics class. After we saw the top, we went down to the cryptes, where the main pieces in the beginning were Rousseau and Voltaire, which is funny because they were rivals, and now their bodies are facing each other. My favorite part was where the Curies were held. They had notes written to them, and some people put flowers there. There were so many notes in all different languages and on all different types of paper. It was cool to see.
When we left the Panthéon, we walked down the street to a tiny café and picked up lunch, and went and ate on a street corner. I had a small cheese pizza, pain au chocolat, and an orangina. It was a really nice lunch outside, the sun was shining, and everything was great.
After lunch, we went to les jardins de Luxembourg, where we saw where the senate sits in France. The gardens were super busy, but they were super beautiful. All the little kids were running around a fountain with their boats. It was so cute to watch this little girl push her boat around. We learned a little bit about the Medici family and their influence on France. After that, we were on our own for awhile. Most of us went back to the hotel and then went to Monop for a cheap dinner.
After dinner, we went on a boat tour of the Seine. It was a little windy and chilly on the boat, but it was cool to see Paris from that perspective. On our way to the boat tour, we stood on the bridge where lady diana was killed. There were all sorts of messages written on the wall, and it was kinda depressing there. The boat tour made up for it. One group of guys on the shore mooned the boat, which was kinda funny. We saw the Eiffel Tower and it was gorgeous. I definitely like looking at it more than looking from it.
When we got off the boat, we stood on a bridge and watched the light show for the Eiffel tower, which was cool to see it all sparkly. Laura and I danced on the sidewalk on the bridge, which was pretty fun. After that though, we just went back to the hotel and went to bed!
Today was a shorter day. We woke up in the morning and had our usual breakfast. The breakfast room was hoppin’. Literally, overnight our hotel exploded with business. After breakfast, we went to St.Denis Basilica. It was a super long ride on the métro, so naturally, I fell asleep, and was the only one from our group sleeping. It was a out a 20 minute ride. We get to St.Denis and walk around this market for about 3 minutes, and then some of us laid out in the sun on this weird concrete squiggly bench thing and just sat for about 15 minutes. It felt so good. So then, Dr.V told us that the museum part of St.Denis was closed because the workers were on strike, so we could only see the church part of it, which was fine because it was free.
We went inside the church, and it was beautiful. It was very similar to Notre Dame because it was built right before it. When we first walked inside, it was so quiet and peaceful. This church is on the rims of Paris, so not a whole lot of tourists get to it. We were the only group there, so it was nice to walk around in silence and not have to push through crowds. This was by far one of my favorite churches so far. When we were in it, Laura and I just sat and prayed and reflected for a long time, which was so nice. We sat in peace and quiet in this amazing church. We had to leave after a little bit, and since that was our only sight for the day, we had the rest of the day off. Maria Theresa wanted to take all of the girls shopping to some really famous fashionista stores in France. The opera district.
Once we arrived at the opera district, we immediately went to le grand magasin, aka Galeries lafayette. This was the biggest department store I have ever been in, and by far the most expensive. We went in, and one of the first stores we saw was Chanel, of course that would be the first store. They had a roped off line for Chanel. They had a limit of how many people could be in the store at once. It was a tad bit ridiculous. They had a whole floor of shoes, which = heaven. Then, they had a cosmetics floor, and they had multiple floors of big name designers with their own sections like dg, prada, and etc. There was not a piece of clothing in that apartment store under 50€. It was really expensive, but it was really cool to seem. It definitely puts Nordstroms and Saks to shame. Also, all the trends in Paris are completely different, so if I were to wear clothes that we in style here to the US, I would get some really weird looks walking down the street. Anyways, that was a great store, and I loved it. After that we went to mango and then Printemps, which is another fancy shmancy department store. I fell head over heels for this one purse, but of course it was over 300€. I did buy a pair of light brown leather oxfords though, which I am absolutely in love with. That was one of the items I wanted to buy here. That and a blazer and a fedora. Then I will have a complete Paris look. This store was just as expensive as Lafayette, so we left and went to Zara, which was insanely crowded, so we left so after and got ready for dinner.
For our dinner, we were going to Montmartre to meet some of Dr.V’s friends, and we ended up losing Allyson on the métro, but don’t worry, we found her. While Allyson was on her way back to meet up with us, we went to the friends’ apartment and had champagne and hors d’oeuvres with them. After that, we went to this whole in the wall neighborhood bistro, where there was karaoke. Our group was so big, that we basically filled the bistro, that’s how small it was. Laura and I sang aka shouted the first song of our group, “bad romance” by lady gaga. We just kept singing a bunch of different songs with everyone, and it was great. We had these beef kabobs with French fries at the restaurant with red wine, and strawberries to finish. It was fantastic. We had such a great time, and didn’t get home until about 1:30 or 1:45 in the morning. We had a blast though!
Today, we went to les invalides, which was where wounded veterans could go to live, and it served as a hospital type thing for invalids. There is this amazing bridge that you have to cross to get there, and there is all of this gold flake everywhere, and it is a beautiful bridge. Once we crossed the bridge and took our pictures, we went and had lecture in front of les invalides. We learned about napoleon and the end of the monarchy.
After lecture, we went into les invalides and ate at the cafeteria. It is ridiculous how expensive drinks are here. There was a bottle of coke there for 4€. It is way over priced, so I just had water with my spaghetti and baguette. It was yummy anyways. We sat in the cafeteria and talked for awhile, and then went into the memorial and tomb of Napoleon. His tomb is very modern and HUGE. It was a big tomb for a little man. Overcompensating for something???? Anyways, the church where it is located is gorgeous, and there are many other people buried there too. Around Napoleon’s tomb, there are all these freezes on the wall of his reign and the things he did. It was cool to be that close to a man who conquered so many, and who was one of the best military leaders known.
After we saw his tomb, we we to the army museum, which is what les invalides is now. There are all these exhibits on different wars and different time periods. We got to see the armour and the canons used, and all the different weapons over the times. It was funny in the Napoleon exhibit, they had his actual horse stuffed and on display. They also had his dog on display, but we must have missed it. They had one of his necklaces on display too and some extremely famous paintings of him. Then, we went to the WWI and WWII exhibits, and I thought that the WWI exhibit was pretty boring, but the WWII was really interesting. For the first time in my life, I got to see an actual Nazi flag up close and personal. It was eerie seeing it. Also, I got to see the BBC microphone that Hitler used for his announcements and such. It was really interesting to see the affects of the war from another country’s perspective. I never realized how many Nazis took over Paris. There was a picture of Notre Dame with all the Nazis and soliders in front of it. Paris was literally in the hands of the germans. Also, it made me feel pround to be an American because we totally kicked butt. If it wasnt for us, then half of Europe would be Germans. We totally owned everyone in the world wars.
After the museum, we headed back to the hotel, and had this amazing amazing amazing tea with Dr.V’s Algerian urban planning friend Oussama. The tea was so good. It was like hot sweet tea with mint in it. He taught us about the history of Algeria and showed us some pictures of some of the cities. There is one city where when a woman and man are walking towards each other, the woman literally has to turn and face the wall until the man passes. Or if a woman is engaged, she can only show one of her eyes. There are so many social rules there that are completely different from the united states and Europe too.
After we learned aout algeria, he took us to a mosque in France. We couldn’t go into the prayer room, but we were able to see the gardens. Then, we went to a restaurant right next to the mosque, where we had middle eastern food. I had vegetable couscous, and it was so delicious. It was my first encounter with middle eastern food, and it was definitely a positive one. Except, I almost got stuck in the bathroom, and Laura had to pull the door open for me. The restaurant was great though. It was so pretty inside, and I liked it a lot.
After dinner, we walked around, and we walked to this gelato place. They all the coolest flavors, and if you got a cone, they made the ice cream look like a rose. It was ice cream art. So great. The flavors I had were rose d’orient and bacio (a chocolate ice cream with a really strong hazelnut flavor). The rose was one of the best flavors I have ever had. The chocolate was delicious too. We just walked around Paris and ate our ice cream and ended up coming back to the hotel.
Of course, when we got back to the hotel, we stayed up way too late and “journaled” aka talked the whole time, but it was still a great day in Paris!
Today was easily the best day of the trip so far and the best day of my life. We got up and ate a great breakfast at 8:45 am, and we were out the door at 10 am heading for Versailles. We took the métro to a larger train station, where we hopped on a train out to Versailles. The trip was about 30 or 45 minutes, so it’s not too far away from Paris.
We arrived at Versailles, and had to walk down the street to get to the chateau. Immediately when you see it, your heart skips a beat. The place is HUGE!!! At it’s peak of use, there were approximately 20,000 people living there. Originally, it was used as a hunting lodge. Before you enter the gates, you see a giant statue of Louis XIV “the sun king”, and that leads you up to the chateau. There are huge golden gates, and then you are in this open area surrounded by some of the buildings, and then there are another set of golden gates that actually lead you into Versailles. I have to say that walking through the chateau was my least favorite part because it was so crowded, and maybe only 20-30% of the chateau felt open. I enjoyed seeing the ceilings and the living quarters of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. It was amazing seeing how big her jewelry “box” (more like a jewelry armoire) was. The rooms were equipped with multiple chairs, so people would watch her and him sleep and do other things as well. Also, I really enjoyed looking at all the wall paper as well. There were all sorts of colors and materials that looked like the change colors in different types of light. The rooms are so small, and there are so many people that are pushing and sweating, and it makes it a slightly less enjoyable experience, but still cool because it was a French chateau used by a multitude of kings. The views from each window are so regal and huge, and you can tell why all of France revolted against the crown. We went through a huge hall of all the pictures of battles that France participated in. We also saw the rooms of the dauphin and the dauphine, which were pretty cool and huge because they were for the first son.
After walking through the chateau, we had lunch in the first part of the gardens. I had a Margarita pizza with French fries, and it was so delicious. We had such a great lunch just sitting in the shade in the middle of the versaille gardens. There was a very regal feeling about it. Some people fed a cat orange sausage, which was interesting. Laura wanted to touch the cat even though she is allergic and already had one allergic reaction this week.
After lunch, we walked around the gardens for the rest of the day. There are tons of fountains, but they are too expensive to turn on everyday, so they only turn them on for special occasions. Of course they turn them on the day I leave. Oh well. The gardens never end though. They are so vast and lush and symmetrical, so it is amazing to see them. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The lake goes on in all directions, and you can rent row boats and see rowers practicing. There are swans and ducks and fish, and it is just a great place to be. It was funny feeding the fish and ducks because they would fight each other and follow each other to get the food. After we walked around the beginning of the restaurant and saw the mini ampitheatre, we rented bikes, and rode around the gardens for an hour. We went and saw Marie Antoinette’s cottage, where she pretended to be a shepherdess, and it was interesting seeing how large it was because normal people still didn’t have cottages that big. We rode our bikes around the lake that was there, and it was so beautiful because we just kept riding through lanes and lanes of trees. It was the prettiest bike ride I have ever taken. At the end of the river, our group took a picture that had all of Versailles and the gardens in it, and whe. I got off of my bike, my kickstand fell off, and Emily had to try to put it back on. Something like this would happen to me. Moral of the story: if you are ever in Versailles, rent the bikes and ride through the gardens. It is breath taking.
After the bike ride, we went and got glaces italiennes, and I had a twirl of strawberry and vanilla. Most refreshing ice cream I have ever had!!!! We had our lecture next to the lake on a bench in the shade, and we learned all about the French Revolution. It was such an ideal way to ,earn about the revolution.
We then left Versailles because the park was closing, at 8:30 pm to be specific. We ended up spending about 10 hours at Versailles, which clearly means it was the best day of my life. I want to live in the gardens in Versailles for the rest of my life. It was crazy to think that we walked on the same land that some of the kings and queens of France walked on. Wow! I love it so much, and want to go back so bad. It is a slice of heaven.
We then took the train back, and came back to the hotel and journal. It was such a great day to be in Versailles. The weather was perfect, and so was the entire day.
Today was an extremely long, but SO amazing. We woke up at about 5:50 am and went down to an early early early bird breakfast, and left the hotel by 6:45am. We went to the métro, and took it to the St.Lazarre train station, where we hopped on a Deauville-Trouville bound train that left at 7:11 am. Deauville and Trouville are two towns in Normandie that are right next to each other. Deauville is the higher end town that looks straight out of Holland, and Trouville is a cheaper town with more character, and it reminds me a lot of Seattle because they have this rather large fish market there. They are both amazing towns that are right on the Atlantic Ocean/ the end of the English Channel.
We basically got the whole day to do whatever we wanted there. It was really cold at first, but as the day went on, it got a lot warmer. We first walked to Trouville and went to this little café, and I got a mint tea. It was amazing. Laura got this tasty little treat in the shape of a pig. Anyways, we sat there for awhile, then we wanted to walk up to this gorgeous church on the top of a hill there, and asked a person for directions, of which, we thought we understood, but obviously didn’t because we got lost walking up this road, but the views of the ocean were amazing. We then asked this random guy walking down the street for directions and he didn’t help us, so we just awkwardly followed him on this narrow road for awhile. We were being a little creepy. So, after walking all around this hill, we finally found the church, and of course this would happen, it was locked. Since when are churches locked during the day? In the process of trying to get in, I think we might have broken a door handle, and then the bells started going off, so clearly someone was there and just didn’t want to let us in. So after that, we walked back down to the main road, and went to the fish market. It was cool to see that some of the fish were still alive.
After that, we headed over to Deauville and walked around there and stumbled upon this flea market thing, where there were all these boat shoes and clothes and food. Emily and I both ended up buying these dresses, and it was cool to see the market. We continued walking around, after we lost Neil in the market, and found this beautiful fountain and these street signs in the middle of the road that were attached to bells that would ring on the hour. It was so cool. Best street sign I have ever seen. We then went to this café called Mourny’s where we had lunch. I had salad with eggs. It was the best salad dressing I have ever had. We also had this cidre that Normandie is famous for. It was so good. It tastes like a mixture of a light beer, champagne, and apple juice. It was tasty. We sat there and studied for our test a little bit, and then we went to the Longchamp store, where they got mad at us for touching this one wall of bags.
Later, after we left the store, we walked to the beach. It was awesome because it was a huge beach because of the tides. We walked around in the sand, but in some parts there were a lot of broken shells, which hurt our feet, so we went back to the boardwalk. They had all these stalls that you can rent out and put your stuff in, and each one is named after a famous person, like jack nicholson and Elizabeth Taylor. It was cool. There were a lot of American actors on them. We also got to see the umbrellas of Deauville, which are super famous because there are a ton of them and they are really colorful. We then went to this outside bar thing on the beach and got cokes and studied. There were tons of police everywhere though because the G8 summit is there this year. It starts in the next couple days, so there was security and posters and walls everywhere.
After the beach, we went to this antique store with Laura and then went and had crèpes in Trouville. I had mine with Nutella, of course, and it was amazing. We then got back on the train at like 7 pm and took our test and went back to Paris. It was a pretty ride, except for the fact that I slept the whole time.
After we got back, we went and had a couple beers at the Velocipede and it was a ton of fun. One of our better trips there. Then, we came back to the hotel and Laura tried to put her whole fist in her mouth. It was great! Then we journaled the rest of the time!
We actually made it on time to breakfast today. Yay us! After breakfast, we walked through our neighborhood on the way to our site for the day. Our site was the Place des Vosges. It was so great walking through Marais because there are so many cute boutiques and stuff. We are going back there later. We got to the site, which was a Renaissance park, and we walked around and we listened to a lecture on the Renaissance by Dr.V. We did that for about an hour, and then we walked around the Jewish quarter.
The Jewish quarter was a lot smaller than it used to be. Today, the entire group went together to lunch to a place called the Falafel King. It was interesting. It was my first encounter with Mediterranean food, which was alright. I got a falafel pita. I liked the pita bread, the falafel, the onions, and the cucumbers, but I did not like the beet things, the eggplant, and the sauce. It was very interesting. We also got French fries, which were good, of course. It was bad though, Laura had an allergic reaction to the sesame seeds, which was not good, but she is fine now, and Amanda had this weird beef pita, which looked like it had green meat. It was really strange. The water also tasted really weird there. So basically, it was a dining adventure. After lunch, we went to a Jewish bakery, and Dr.V bought us each a pastry, so I had pain du chocolat, which was amazing of course. Some people were more adventurous and tried the Jewish pasteries that were there, but I like to keep it basic with the pain du chocolat.
After lunch, we walked around the Jewish quarter some more, and we went back to the hotel for about half an hour. The maid was cleaning our room, so we hung out in the quad room. We then went to meeti Dr.V’s friend Anne, and she took us to her son’s middle school. The director of the middle school showed us around, and we got to see what a French collège (middle school) was like. Interesting fact: in French schools, they learn German and English at the same time. So, they are really good at speaking different languages even when they are really young. All the schools you to be gender segregated, but now they are not, but they are all super small because they are crammed in between other buildings.
After we saw the school, we spent about 30 minutes at a café before we went to our next destination. I had a Coke, and I decided that the Coke here is way better than in the United States. Another interesting fact: here, they use cane sugar instead of syrup in Coke. I think it makes it a lot better, and the bottles were a lot heavier here than they are in the US. I also think it is interesting that they have certain types of glasses for certain drinks.
Then, we went to the CGT, which is the largest conglomeration of labor unions in France. It was slightly boring listening to the man talk, but I think it was because we were all really tired and it was really hot in the building. The building had a lot of windows, and it was pretty cool inside. I guess the labor unions here have a lot more clout than they do in the United States, but I don’t really care about that sort of stuff. They gave us a free t-shirt though, which I guess was nice of them.
We then went to Monoprix to pick up a quick bite to eat. I spilled oil all over a pair of my pants, so they are soaking in the tub right now, so hopefully it doesn’t stain, or else I will be really upset about it. The tub seems to be working though. The rest of the night we will just be journaling, and we have to stay in tonight because we have to take a train at like 7:30 am to Deauville-trouville. That will be a fun blog to write tomorrow.
Fun fact: In France they call the Hangover 2, Very Bad Trip 2.
The morning was very interesting. The group was planning to meet for breakfast at 8:45 am, so I set my alarm for 8:30 am, just like all the other days. Keep in mind, we went to bed really late on Saturday. So my alarm goes off, and I end up turning my alarm not, thinking I was snoozing it. There is a knock on the door, it is Amrita asking us if we are up. It ends up being 9:30, and we have to meet at 10. So, we were running around getting dressed up and ate super fast.
After that mess, we went to the métro and went to Bourse, which is a couple stops away from our hotel. We were walking to the Palais Royale, when I saw le Grand Colbert, which was in Something’s Gotta Give. They actually have that movie poster on the door of the restaurant. After that sighting, we made it to the Palais Royale, which Cardinale Richelieu commissioned as his own. Remember the movie/book the 3 musketeers, ya same guy and same king, but not the same events. Anyways, he died and gave the palace to Louis XIII, who died in the same year, so his super young son Louis XIV sorta became king, but his mom held the throne before he was old enough. This palace is super cool, and it has this really pretty fountain and garden place in the middle.
After that, we got to see Molière’s playhouse, which is right next to the palace. We may go see a play there, which would be awesome. Then, right across the street is a side entrance to the Louvre, so of course, we went. The outside of the Louvre is cooler than the inside, I think. The view from it looks straight down the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. So we went inside and I ate a chicken sandwich with this weird mustard on it from a place called Paul. Then, we started seeing the artwork. The statues were my favorite, and I really liked the Mary Magdalene statue, and this Veiled Woman statue. First of all, the Mona Lisa is a waste of time in my opinion. I did not like it very much, and I think a lot of other works deserve more appreciation. Secondly, there were a lot of amazing paintings, but a lot of the. Were Madonna and child paintings or Jesus. I have nothing against Jesus, but it gets a little repetitive. There was a lot I missed, even though we spent four or five hours in there, so I would like to go back and see Napoleon’s apartments especially. It was good to go, so at least I know what it looks like. I was a little disappointed, especially because it is pretty modern on the inside, there were a lot of rooms with the original ceilings from the time it was a palace, but there were a lot more modern places as well.
After the Louvre, we went across the street to café Palais royale. I got the grilled chicken, and it came out as a whole leg of chicken on my plate. It was great, but the presentation was a little weird. Laura had les escargots, which was a little strange, but I think she liked them. After dinner, we rode back on the métro and stayed in to journal a lot, since that is a huge part of the course. The day was a little shorter, so it was nice to have more relaxation time.
Today, we were lucky because we met at 12 instead of early in the morning. We still went to breakfast at about 9 or 9:30. I had my usual. We met and took the métro to the outskirts of Paris to a place called Vincennes. We went to an Italian restaurant called pizza del castello, and it was great. Laura and I split a pizza with cheese, oregano, and this weird type of ham, along with les crudittes, which is like a salad with vegetables, and we each had a scoop of the best mint chocolate chip ice cream I have had in a long time. After the meal, they gave each of us Grappa and Amrietto, which was…interesting to say the least. The waiter was really nice, they bought the girls a bouquet of roses, so we each got a rose for the day.
After lunch, we went to a horse show and watched a couple of riders. The horses were SO pretty. The riders and everyone there were so elegant and they looked like they walked straight out of a Ralph Lauren magazine. It was funny, they were selling cars there, and European cars are very different from American cars. They are very small and have very weird shapes, and are often times more brightly colored like blue or red. There were a lot of people there, and there were also a lot of dogs there, which was strange.
Before we went to the horse show, we walked through Château de Vincennes, which was used as a fortress for the French, and it is now a military run antiquity. There are all types of architecture there. There is medieval, classical, and 19th century. It was really cool to see how many kings used it and built it into this huge complex. When I walked in, I felt like I was in a Renaissance Festival venue. It was massive. The classical structures were exactly the same and facing each other. Dr.V told us that it was the summer home of Louis XIV, and he had one building, and his wife was in the other. Dr.V made a funny joke about how that was how Bill and Hillary Clinton were. I thought it was funny.
Later that afternoon, we took a picture in this Paris sign that is part of a park. We then went into the park and listened to a lecture about the Crusades and some of the kings and philosophers during that time period. We sat in the grass, and it was such a beautiful day out. We learned about this child from a famous philosopher, and his name was Astrolab. Who names their child Astrolab? We also learned that the streets in France used to smell really bad before there was sewage, so they had streets with names like the great fart. That would stink to live on…literally.
We ate at Monoprix again last night because it is really cheap. But, it was delicious. I had this pasta and a chocolate cookie. You can’t go wrong with the desserts in Paris.
After we had dessert, our group took the métro to Pigalle, aka the Red light district. When we first got out of the métro and walked up to the street, the first thing we saw was the Moulin Rouge. It was great. Creepy story: when we got off the métro, instantly, a man walked up to me and tried to kiss me, and later when we were walking, this other man made weird noises at me as we walked by. The red light district is interesting. There is a whole museum dedicated to sex and everything about it. There are all these stores with erotic outfits and penis cups. It’s a little awkward wandering around sex streets with your french professor.
After That awkwardness, we walked up a million stairs to Sacré Coeur, which is on Montmartre. It was great. I was pretty winded after that walk up, but the view from the top was amazing because it is the highest point in Paris. There are a lot of young people there at night because there are people playing live there and singing and drinking and eating. While we walked up to the church, we heard people play “I’m Yours” and “Sweet Home Alabama”. They play a ton of American music here. But, we went into the church, and it was amazing. Some of us stayed for mass, and it was really interesting listening to the mass in French. At first it was hard, but then we got the hang of it. Part of it, we actually spoke in Latin. We got to sing in French, and we listened to the homily in French, and I actually understood it. It was about how Jesus has the way to god, and we don’t need a GPS to get there, we just need to follow Jesus. Also, that when we look at each other, we are also looking at Jesus and he has a face inside us. He is one with the Father, and he is the truth and the way. It was an amazing homily. It was hard though, the kneelers were also made of wood and didn’t have cushions on them, and I was wearing a skirt, so my knees turned bright red. It was an amazing place to pray in though. The Church also cleaned me out of change during the donations. Hope it goes to a good place.
After mass, we walked around Montmartre and some of us went to get a beer at a brasserie. It was a lot of fun. The people who worked there kept playing American music there for us, like Waka Waka and Wavin’ Flag. We had a lot of fun, and we had some good laughs. There was a lot more nightlife on Montmartre. We saw a flat that was having a house party, but we didn’t go.
The day was great, and my favorite part was probably mass because it was so powerful and beautiful!
Today, we spent all day on the island Cité. It is known as being the heart of Paris. Our first site today was the Marché des fleurs, which is on the island and is exploding with beautiful flowers and trees. They had a whole station dedicated solely to orchids, and on Sundays, it transforms into an exotic bird market. After we walked around for a little bit, we then went to the one and only Notre Dame. Pictures don’t do it justice. The intricacy of the carvings is unbelievable for the time it was built in, and when you walk inside, you feel the faith of hundreds and hundreds of years. It is so powerful. There a hoards of sculptures and stained glass windows in the shape of roses. The statues and paintings aren’t even the best part. The sheer enormity of the inside is almost overwhelming, but beautiful at the same time.
After we walked through Notre Dame, we walked across a bridge to Ile St.Louis. This is such a quaint little island with boutiques and biscuit shops everywhere. There are stores with trinkets and keep sakes, like a cheese grater in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. And even better, on the bridge to the island over the Seine, there were accordion players there just adding to the true atmosphere of Paris.
We then went to the Crypts in front of Notre Dame, which basically consist of ruins from Roman buildings and ramparts that were built to defend la rue de Notre Dame, which used to lead straight to Notre Dame. It is amazing how well preserved some of the ruins were. You could really tell that there used to be a staircase or a cellar in some places. Fun fact: the ruins were found when a company was starting to build a parking garage.
For lunch, some of us returned to Ile St.Louis and went to a boulangerie to get sandwiches. We then took our sandwiches and sat on the edge of the Seine. We fed baby ducks in the Seine, and it was picture perfect…literally. Across the river, there was a newly wed couple taking pictures by the Seine underneath a bridge.
We then went to Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie. Saint-Chapelle was easily my favorite church we have been to so far. There is a strong influence of St.Louis there, and you have to walk up this super narrow spiral staircase to get to the chapel part, and the minute you get out of the staircase, everyone just gasps for air at the sight of the chapel. The whole chapel is covered in 15 panels of stained glass windows. It is the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my entire life, and to make it even better, the chapel was built when there was a change in language in France, so a lot of people were illiterate, so the stained glass windows tell the stories in the Bible so people could understand them. It was so amazing. The Consiergerie was alright. Not one of my favorites because it was very factual, but we got to see an actual blade from a guillotine from the Revolution. We also got to look at Marie Antoinette’s cell, and we got to stand where Robespierre spent his final hours. It was interesting, but I would not go see it again.
For dinner, we ate at le café Française, and I had my first Croque Monsieur. Surprisingly, I liked it. We then went out for a beer at the Vélocipede again, and I really like this beer 1664 Blanche with a slice of lemon.
Overall, it was a great day, and the chapel was literally the most beautiful and breathtaking thing I have ever seen!
Today was a long and eventful day. I woke up at about 8:30 and had breakfast with some group members at about 8:45. I endulged in a croissant with strawberry jam accompanied by a chocolat chaud. C’était magnifique! After breakfast, we took the métro to the Arènes de Lutèce. (By the way, I am a pro at the métro now. Earlier today there was an actual band playing at the station on la rue de st. Michel). Anyways, our site today was an old arena created by the Romans. The arena was absolutely breath taking. It was built during the 1ere siècle, which means it’s almost 2000 years old, and there are many of the original bricks in it. At the site, we learned about the origins of Paris and the Parisii, along with the Roman invasion and occupation of Gaule (Paris when the Celtics lived here), and the Barbarian invasions. I know all of this doesn’t mean a whole lot to some people, but we literally covered 1000 years in history in about 2 hours. Funny story: the steps in the arena are really tall, and I stepped up the biggest one, and guess what happened…I ripped a hole in the crotch of my pants. Embarrassing, I know. Anyways, there were all these French children running around in their red caps, and they were adorable. We actually talked to some of them because they were super curious. Another funny story: Dr.V was lecturing outside and it was super warm and sunny, so I put my hair in a ponytail. Little did I know that I was getting fried, so now I have a sunburn on one shoulder. First French sunburn!!!
After the arena, we walked around the Latin quarter, which is such a gorgeous part of France. We went to a market and walked to Le Musée de Cluny, a medieval museum. Before we went in, we all split up to go eat. Laura, Amanda, and I went to a little café and each got a panini, a drink, and a crèpe du buerre sucre for only 5€50. We then walked around and went to stores and boutiques. We walked to the Sorbonne, which is the French university. It was THE prettiest school I have ever seen. Then we searched for a bathroom for about 20 minutes. Note: If you ever go to France, go to the bathroom whenever you can because there are very very few public restrooms. After we found the bathroom, we went inside the museum, and there were the most beautiful pieces of art. It was very religious art, so there were a lot of crosses and crucifixes. One of my favorites was a wooden panel, carved by hand, of the Passion of the Christ. It was mind blowing. Also, everyone should google the tapestries of La dame et l’unicorne. It will really make you think about your desires.
We then were set loose for the rest of the night. The métro was so insanely crowded, so some of us walked back to the hotel. Neil, Laura, and I stopped and got beers at a café close to the hotel. It was very relaxing, and we just sat outside drinking beer and people watching. That is one of the best things about Paris; there are so much diversity. We then grabbed a quick bite at the Monoprix. Le pain du chocolat is my new favorite dessert. Then we came back to the hotel and talked in the lobby. It was quite relaxing.
P.s. I am getting much better at using the shower.
Today was our first full day in the city of lights. We had breakfast at the hotel, and we had fresh croissants and bread, along with a choice of chocolat chaud, café au lait, or jus d’orange. The croissants are AMAZING. Our first destination was le parc des Buttes-Chaumont. It was by far the most beautiful parks I have ever seen. There is a bridge located in the park and is known as the suicide bridge because two forbidden lovers jumped off together so the could spend eternity together. The park had amazing views and is located in the 19th arrondissements. After the park, we took the metro to les champs-elysée, and we ate at a French fast food restaurant that served these amazing sandwiches, but I didn’t like the cheese on it. We then walked to l’arc de triomphe and looked at the tomb of the unknown soldier. We then went to the stock exchange in Bourse and exchanged money and went to the bazar, which is a small store that has the most random things in it. We then walked through le passage des promenades.
It was so amazing. I bought some stamps and this shirt/dress from this amazing boutique. We then went to monoprix, a French supermarket similar to Target, and then went to dinner at a place called Vèlocipede, where I had nems au poulet, which are basically chicken egg rolls. They were really yummy. Then to cap the evening off, the group got back together and went to watch the sun set on the Eiffel Tower. It was breathtaking. There are really long lines, but it is completely worth it. You get to see all of Paris. Going to the top is a little scary, but you can see for miles and can see the intricate symmetrical streets of Paris. We finally got back a minute ago, so it is pretty late here, but it was a successful and busy day!
After a flight to Omaha, a flight to Minneapolis, and a flight to Paris, I finally arrived to France. So you might be wondering, what were my first six hours like in France? My answer would be Charles de Gaulle airport. We spent the first six hours in the airport waiting for the flights of my fellow classmates to arrive. That was the worst part of the day and the worst part of the trip. After we left the airport, we took the RER train into Paris and managed to find our way to our hotel, l’hotel Bellevue et du chariot d’or. Fun fact: When the Nazis occupied France, they actually stayed in our hotel, and much of the hotel was left the same. After we got situated in the hotel, we took ate at a cafe le compas d’or (the golden compass). Then, we walked around Paris and saw the Seine and we went on an island in the middle of it, and had our first orientation right next to the water. We got to see a church and went to le gibert jeune, a famous book and stationary store. We learned how to work the metro and came back and went to bed early. Another fun fact: Our shower does not have a shower curtain, and you have to hold the shower head. It is quite interesting!
Bon soir from Paris!