Salut tout le monde! Here’s a wandering, picture-full recap of my few days in Paris.
The First Day
So my friend Camille’s flat is very cute and very Parisian. I’m so grateful to her and her roommate for letting me stay with them and for all the help they gave me while I was there. The first morning, Wednesday, Camille and I went down the street to a bakery and got pastries for breakfast… Right from the get-go, I felt très français!
It was raining pretty hard, so we stayed in the flat and hung out for the morning and most of the early afternoon. Her flatmate’s friend made us a zucchini and goat cheese tarte for a late lunch, which was ridiculously delicious. Then Camille and I headed out for a walk along the Seine and to see Notre Dame. I saw the cathedral last time I was in France, but it’s one of my favorite places in the world, so of course I wanted to go again!
I also got my carte jeune from the train station that afternoon – it’s a card for people aged 12-27 that gives reduced rates on trains and other travel. That was basically all I did on the first day… I was still so exhausted from traveling.
The Second Day
Thursday afternoon, Camille had to work, so we slept in a bit and then I decided to head to the Louvre. It was rainy again, so it was the perfect kind of day to spend in the museum. I attempted to meet Eliza, my friend from the airplane, there; however, we underestimated the horrors of no cell phone service and overestimated our directional skills, leaving us with no way to contact each other when neither of us could get to the place we were supposed to meet.
So I explored the Louvre by myself! (Well, one wing of it. That place is huge.) After having to ask an embarrassing question of the staff – pardon, comment est-ce que je peux entrer le musée? – I descended through the huge (random) glass pyramid to the magical world below. And guess what? I got in for free! Because I’m a young (-26) European resident, I didn’t have to pay anything. What a wonderful world.
I couldn’t see everything in one afternoon, obviously, so I basically just spun around and picked a wing. I went through the Ancient Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Egyptian exhibits, the Arts of Islam exhibits, and the Spanish, French, Italian, and English paintings. Yes, I did see the Mona Lisa! How many tourist points do I get?
It’s a bit strange to me that that’s the only painting you’re kept so far away from/that has so many visitors. But hey, I’m no art expert. Anyway, here are a few highlights from my visit!
(I KNOW THIS IS A LOT OF PICTURES I’M SORRY)
ANYWAY I have loads more pictures, but I’m not allowing myself to put any more in this post. I may post them on facebook later on if I just can’t help myself.
Some random things: I caught a guy trying to take a picture with his lens cap still on – when he realized it and looked around, I pretended I hadn’t noticed for his sake, but I was laughing internally. Also, I’d seen a lot of these paintings in pictures before (shout-out to Honors Beauty), but I didn’t realize how absolutely massive they are in person. A lot of these paintings are way taller than a human. Exhibit A:
It also hit me in the face that there is so much famous art based around biblical themes and stories. Especially the Virgin Mary. When you’re in the hallways filled with paintings, she never stops watching you.
So the Louvre was fantastic, and I can’t wait to go back and explore again. After that, I met up with Camille and was so exhausted (are you sensing a pattern?) that we just walked around a bit more and then hung out at her place for the rest of the night.
The Third Day and Traveling to Pont Audemer
On Friday morning Camille and I went to meet our friend Breanna. The three of us had met when Breanna and I were studying in Angers two years ago, and Camille was one of the teachers’ assistants for our program. We’ve kept in touch over facebook since then, and it was so exciting to find out that Breanna was accepted into TAPIF too! And she’s in a region not too far from mine, which is going to be great. (Her blog is at bbinfrance.blogspot.com, and you should all check it out!) She had landed in Paris the morning before (Thursday), and we wanted to meet up and see each other before things got crazy. So Breanna, Camille, and I decided to visit Père Lachaise, a huge old cemetery that has a ton of famous people buried in it. And a ton of rich people. To get a plot there now, you have to be put on a waiting list – seriously. I’m not entirely sure how you move up the list, as everyone before you is definitely going to die and need their plot, but what do I know about posh graveyards?
It was amazing, and it being fall certainly gave it a classic ~graveyard~ atmosphere.
Here are some of the famous graves we saw:
And last but certainly not least…
Wow, what a fun time we had. Afterwards we thought about popping over to la tour Eiffel, but we decided not to push it, as it was on the other side of town, and I had a train to catch. We went back to Camille’s for lunch and hung out until I had to get to my bus stop. After taking my luggage down the terror-inducing, creaky, tiny flat elevator and walking to the bus stop, I said à la prochaine to Camille and Breanna. Much love again to Camille and Soraya for letting me crash in their flat!
So the bus I was on was supposed to take me directly to the train station. Of course, it did not. Instead of going its whole route, the bus stopped halfway there at the stop for the Louvre and the intercom told me that I had to get off. It was raining again at this point, so I found an awning to keep my baggage dry and tried to figure out what to do. I wasn’t panicking; I still had a little more than an hour before my train was supposed to leave, but I was a bit worried. I asked a lady (in French!) at a nearby shop if she could tell me how to get to the Gare St. Lazare; I had to ask her to repeat her answer a couple of times to make sure I understood her directions, but I was proud that I didn’t need to find someone who spoke English. She told me that I would have to take my luggage’s worst enemy: the metro. Of course. I had to do it, and I had to move pretty quickly at this point, so I just put my head down and started hauling my clackety-clacking bags down the stairs.
After taking line 1 back in the direction I had just come from, I walked forever and a day through the underground, up and down so many flights of stairs, to catch the 14, which does take you all the way to Gare St. Lazare. When I got to the train station, I eventually made it to what I
really really hoped knew was the correct train with 15 minutes to spare! I then had to go through the ordeal of figuring out where to put my luggage in the little train car. In case you don’t know Mme Malone, or my story up to this point hasn’t convinced you, let me just say – bring the least amount of luggage possible when traveling abroad! It is such a pain to get around.
After I got somewhat settled, I had a nice a conversation with an older lady sitting across from me who was très sympa. Every conversation I have in French is helping me get more and more comfortable. Everyone I’ve talked to thus far has been very gracious about my much-less-than-perfect grammar and pronunciation and has also been willing to help correct me, which I really appreciate. On the train, everything started to feel real – it began to sink in that I was really in France now and headed towards my new home. While I was definitely freaking out, I was also so excited to meet the teachers I had been e-mailing for months and to see Pont-Audemer for the first time!
Delphine, my contact teacher for the middle school I’ll be at on Thursdays, met me at the train station in Bernay and drove me the half hour from there to Pont-Audemer. Both she and Nicolas, my contact teacher for the high school where I’ll be working M/Tue/W, have been incredibly sweet and so helpful. That night and the following night I stayed with Nicolas and his family at their house while I finalized my flat arrangements – but that’s a story for the next post!
Thanks for reading! Tune in next time for gelatinous food and a bagpiper dressed in purple.
À bientôt xx