Friday, April 10, 2009
Today, we went to the Arc de Triomphe. And we had to walk up it ! It was so bad going up, but going down was easy. The view was so beautiful. Probably one, if not the, best things that I’ve done. Then we walked down the Champs Elysees. It was pretty cool. We walked to the Louvre which was fabulos. Especially the Mona Lisa. We then went on the boat ride on the Seine and it started raining. Then we went to the Eiffel Tower. We went up to the second floorand had to wait 45 minutes for the next elevator ! But it was worth the wait. It was so beautiful. I saw a soccer game going on and video taped some of it. After that, we went bak down to the first floor and had a delicious dinner. Happy birthday Caitlyn !
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Today we said good-bye to our families and we left for our hotel in Paris after dropping off the Illinois kids J We took the metro together and then walked around l’île de la Cité where we visited Notre-Dame de Paris. We found some lunch in the Latin Quarter (the Uniersity District). I gorged myself after attemting to appear like a non-stereotypical American in my host family. After a long walk along the Seine, we visited the Musee d’Orsay and a guide told us about the history of impressionistic paintings and the development of painting throughout history, We returned to the hotel and after freshening up, we went out for dinner at Montmarte where we ate a « raclette » (cheese melted on top of potatoes and cold cuts). Then we climbed a mountain worth of stairs to the highest point in Paris and walked around the Sacré Cœur and the artists’neighborhood (la Place du Tertre). It was a beautiful night in Paris.
Just a note to tell you that all students are back with me in Paris. Some of them had a real hard time leaving their French families, but everyone is excited to visit Paris. We'll try to give you more details in another blog tonight and/or tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Today, I woke up around nine in the morning, after Celine had gone to school. I ate breakfast with her mom and dad, Lise and Benoit. At ten o'clock, Lise and I went to her yoga class. It was much smaller and much different than my yoga class, but still really fun. It was hard to understand what the teacher was saying, but I understood well enough. After that, Lise and I went to a really cute outside french market, something you could not find in Columbus. We bought food for lunch and for dinner. Since it rained today, we didn't do much. We arrived back at home and Lise went to pick up Celine from school while I did some packing. When Celine came home, she, Lise and I ate lunch. We ate an avacado and tomato salad, green beans and "hamburgers" (without buns). For dessert, we had the macarons that Celine, her friend Alexandra and I had made the night before. Then I did some homework, (yes, I was assigned homework by my teachers), and Celine's best friend Flavie came over! (I love her). We watched Moulin Rouge until supper time. For dinner we had delicious raclette (a cheese) and we melted it onto potatoes. Delicious! Then Flavie, Celine and I hung out for the night!
I'll try to sum it up quickly, because these French keyboards are extremely confusing. If I tried to elaborate on everything, it'd take all day to type! Also, my English has deteriorated considerably, so please bear with me if this isn't as eloquent as it should be.
My family stay has been fantastic, thus far. The only thing I could complain about is that it seems as if I just got comfortable with this situation, and tomorrow is my last day with the Chauprades. My correspondant, Tiffany, is a great match - we're both just geeky enough to enjoy museums and France Miniature (now I've seen every monument in France that matters!), but we also have fun bowling and going "out on the town." It's also interesting to live in a house full of girls. It will be strange to return to a house with five more men in it than here.
Yesterday, I woke up in my own time, because Tiffany has exams all week to prepare for the BAC. I enjoyed my usual breakfast of black coffee and toast with nutella. French food, at its best; truly magnificent. Then, I met Tiffany at school and tried to find someone to tag along with for the day. I ended up presenting in an English class with three others from our tour group, and then found Emma Reber and her correspondant! Yea! I followed her to another English class, in which they were discussing 1984.
After school, Tiffany, Florent (her boyfriend), and I watched a movie at her house. Last night reminded me of home, because everyone had their activities and I watched Mme Chauprade juggle each schedule flawlessly. I accompanied Tiffany and her mother to their dance class after dinner, in which they are dancing to songs from Chicago. It was exhausting to watch. Finally, we got home late, and I nodded off while watching "Nouvelle Star," the French equivalent of "American Idol." I somehow managed to pull myself to bed.
Wow, what an interesting, short, to-the-point blog! Thanks to whoever read all the way through it, ha.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Today is the second full day of my family stay. The first night with the Pichon's I went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, and yesterday I have had a wonderful time going to Paris with Apolline (My french host) Briana, Natalie (from the Illinois group) and their French hosts. Today while Apolline was studying for the Bac (a really hard test you take in school) Briana, Elenor (Apolline's little sister), their friend Rachel, and I went to Mass. I had never been to a Catholic mass before and it was different especially when I can't understand everything that the priest is saying. After Mass we had a picnic lunch and then saw the castle of Maison-Laffitte. Maison-Laffitte is the area in which I am living, it is northwest of Paris. After seeing this wonderful little castle we went to see the horseraces and see the horses jump obsticales. Maison-Laffitte is know for their horses, on the road and paths were horses and riders. It was different to see horses on the street where cars usually are going by. We then went to the stables to see more horses. Right now I'm waiting for supper, its 7:30pm by the way, and am planning on spending the evening at home unless Apolline wants to go somewhere. The family stay has been so much fun so far it is so interesting to experience a different side to France. Tomorrow I'm off to school! It should be fun!
The first night was scary at first because i did not want to sound weird or be wrong, but once we started talking it was good. Then on saturday i started to get the hang of it. We still talk in a mix of english and french if one of us does not understand. We went shopping in a largeish group me, Deborah, Ludavine, Jamie, and Celine, we shopped the whole day! and then met up with Deborahs parents and went up all the 284 steps of the Arc de Triumph and we saw a band play. Then we found food at a pizzeria and got a lot of pictures in front of the arc de triumph at night.
Friday, April 3, 2009
After an early start this morning (6 :30 am wake up call !), we drove to Chambord. It is an enormous castle with over 400 rooms and was really impressive despite the lack of furniture. The woods surrounding Chambord for the King’s hunting trips was as large as the city of Paris ! One of the castle’s most interesting features was the double helix staircase where we split our group between the two staircases. There are windows to see the people on the other staircase, but the two never cross paths. The architecture and design of the entire castle were really interesting because they varied in style from Gothic to Renaissance to Classical. We went to the terraces and Lauren (Stoll) noticed that there was a Rolling Stones symbol mowed into the grass. Everyone thought she was crazy (including Audrey, our guide), but it turns out Lauren was right !
Then, we got back on the bus and headed to Chartres. After a light lunch and some shopping, we went to the Cathedral of Chartres. Its two differing spires are a result of several fires destroying parts of the cathedral, causing parts to be rebuilt in different centuries. The main attractions in the Cathedral were of course the stained glass windows. They were enormous, and hearing Audrey explain the process of making these windows let us appreciate them even more.
Later, we got on the bus to go to Sartrouville to go and meet out families. The mood on the bus was somber and anxious. We were all sad to leave Audrey and Patrick (our driver), and everyone was getting nervous to meet their families.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Today, in the morning, we went to the castle of Chenonceau, which was beautifully decorated. Each of the bedrooms displayed pictures of Christ, or the people that lived there. In the kitchens, the bronze pots were hung up on the walls with different sizes of bowls and pans. Stuffed deer and boars heads were in several rooms looking down at the visitors with open mouths and blank expressions. The river Cher flows under the Castle of Chenonceau, so most of its windows displayed a picturesque view of the running water and the outdoor gardens, not yet in bloom with the changing season.
Lunch was in Amboise, with its massive castle. Although I did not visit the Cathedral where Di Vinci is thought to be burried, my group stopped by a local bakery with the best chocolate ever. I bought a small piece of dark chocolate cake which tasted like rich chocolate mousse and melted in my mouth.
After lunch, we journeyed to the medieval castle of Loche, which is built in stone and was later turned into a jail. We learned about torture methods and I felt a bit uncomfortable since the methods were so cruel and the rooms were dark and gloomy.
Later, when we returned to Tours, Audrey made us walk all around the narrow streets of the old town. Finally, we turned at a corner, ad there it was : the Cathedral of Saint Martin. It was breath-taking. The Cathedral was sculpted in a lacey gothic style, protected by gargoyls and stretched its tall towers to the heavens. It was the most beautiful place to end the day’s tour.