Paris was so sad to see us go she cried…again Tuesday, Jul 7 2009 

Tuesday Jaclyn got up to go in to IES to take her last final and I got around to go in to the final picnic they were providing.

Lunch was a blast, it was a great way for everyone to chat and discuss plans for the last night in Paris. Afterwards we all did a little bit of last minute shopping and then we headed home to do last minute packing. Katie came over with her suitcase because she’s leaving it at our apartent while we travel because her family is going on vacation too.

The grand plan of the night was to have a final picnic at the Eiffel Tower with everyone but the weather did not cooperate. It rained off and on all afternoon/night so we decided to go to a nearby fondue restaurant instead. It was the best decision yet! The food was delicious and we all had a blast! There were 8 of us there and it was amazing! I was the only one that had been to a fondue place before (thanks Tom & Deb) so I guess that made me the resident expert. I tried not to screw it up too hard.

After the fondue place, the gang headed to the Bastille to meet Meaghan, Emma and Harrison for one last hoorah. We all went back to the Indian restaurant we visited a few weeks ago and had one last round of drinks and chats together before saying good-byes. It was a little difficult, I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be so strange not to see the same people all day every day for the rest of the summer. At least I’ve got an extra week of travel with some of them to help soften the blow.

On that note, the rest of the updates are going to be few and far between, if they happe at all. Katie, Andres, Jaclyn, Sarah and I leave bright and early in the morning to head to Prague and after that it’s on to Ireland. I’m hoping we’ll have computers with internet at the hostels so I can update the blog but if not I promise to do retrograde posts when I get back to the States. Thanks for following along with me through Paris and I hope everyone enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it!

Advertisements

I’d say a stir was caused, but that’s just me Sunday, Jun 28 2009 

On Sunday I decided to carry out the plans I had intended for Saturday before my need for country won out. After getting up and getting around I headed to the Centre Pompidou.

The Centre Pompidou is named after former president Georges Pompidou and houses the National Gallery of Modern Art, along with several galleries for visiting exhibits, cinemas for independent films and several educational spaces for children. The building is very strange and futuristic looking, with most of the activity happening outside. The elevators and the escalators run up the outside of the building and several sculptural exhibits are on outdoor terraces. It’s said that President Pompidou once said “this is going to cause a stir” when he saw the plans for the building that was to be his namesake, I think he was right.

The ouside of the Centre Pompidou, the red are the escalators.

The ouside of the Centre Pompidou, the red are the escalators.

Inside was just as incredible as outside. While the sculptures in the water fountain were cool, I think the sculpture inside was better. I was incredibly lucky and got to see the visiting Alexander Caulder and Wassily Kandinsky exhibits!

The Sun Bird sculpture in the water fountain outside the musuem.

The Sun Bird sculpture in the water fountain outside the musuem.

Caulder has always fascinated me. His sculptures are so lithe and full of movement. His little wire contraptions always dance around in the most delicate way, it’s as though he had a second understanding of the natural environment around his art and could see how it was going to change from second to second, depending on the breeze from an old woman fanning herself or the gusts from a little kid running in circles around the stand. This exhibit also made me realize that the second half to his art is the shadows created by the works. In the silhouette created by each figure you could see a different piece. Hallowed out faces became fuller and expressions of anger and hate softened to almost smiles.

Caulder's "Fishbowl". His pieces are just so lighthearted and fun spirited. You can tell he enjoyed making his art and wanted his viewers to enjoy it too.

Caulder's "Fishbowl". His pieces are just so lighthearted and fun spirited. You can tell he enjoyed making his art and wanted his viewers to enjoy it too.

As much as I enjoyed the Caulder exhibit, the Kandinsky one was a little bit better. Kandinsky had a long career and was able to impact several different movements and periods in modern art. His art reflects the fear and uncertainty of central and eastern Europe during a time when war was always imminent and life as everyone knew it could change at any time. Even though he lived in a scary and depressing time, his art always appears to be optimistic, he painted images of life of joy and happiness. The man had a very strong faith and was an eternal optimist in my opinion and that shines through in every painting. His development over time was interesting to see too. He began with a very basic, elemental style and advanced to more complex and complicated compositions and movements and then went back to the basics. At one point he stopped mixing his colors and stopped using advanced shapes. He heralded the strength and simplicity of the primary colors of red, blue and yellow and the starkness and well-known comfort of the circle, the triangle and the square.

The main gallery wing was devoted to an interesting look at women in art during the modern movement. I was stunned to see just how suppressed and underrepresented women have been in the modern art era. For some reason I’ve always thought of the art world as being more open and accepting of women than other fields. Just so long as the creativity and desire to look deeper is there I thought that was enough for the art world. The numbers would disagree. A study was done of the art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and it showed that less than 3% of the art is by a female artist, but nearly 84% of the nudes are women. I guess this just goes to show that, even in the art world, women are still just seen as a form in a lot of ways. Their beauty is heralded and renowned and praised, but that’s that, they are to be looked at and appreciated but not examined on a deeper level. Hopefully that’ll change soon.

The openness of the museum also allowed for an incredible view of the city. I almost think it’s the best view I’ve seen yet. From the top floor you can see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, the Paris Balloon and a ton of other beautiful monuments. Despite being a little hazy today I could see for miles and just stopped to appreciate the beauty of teh city. Sometimes it still feels a bit surreal. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here nearly 5 weeks already and only have a few weeks left. It’s gone by so fast and it’s been amazing for every second of it.

Sacre Coeur as seen from Le Centre Pompidou

Sacre Coeur as seen from Le Centre Pompidou

The Paris balloon that goes up for 10 minute rides over the city. We almost went up for Katie's birthday but the weather didn't cooperate.

The Paris balloon that goes up for 10 minute rides over the city. We almost went up for Katie's birthday but the weather didn't cooperate.

The Eiffel Tower...again

The Eiffel Tower...again

All Venezuelan stories have sad endings Saturday, Jun 27 2009 

So Thursday was Katie’s birthday. We went to Contemporary France and I got her a pain au chocolat (remember-croissant with chocolate baked in) and Meaghan brought her a hot chocolate cake thing. That was fun to watch Katie eat because it was a too hot to pick up with her hands but she didn’t have a spoon so she had to use a small plastic cup. Not the best idea but it still tasted amazing so it was okay.

Impressionism had another excursion so again we had a lot of extra time between classes. I actually had to run home because I’d gotten roses from Ben for my birthday and they needed to be put in water. When I got back to IES (fasted Metro ride ever) Harrison, Andres, Meaghan, Katie and I got lunch at our favorite bakery and then just wandered around close to IES for a while. Us girls went in a few shops to look at the sales and Meaghan found some shoes while Katie and I found jackets for less than 20 euros, it was a good shopping excursion.

When the boys had to head to class, the three of us got on the Metro to head to the meeting point for our excursion. This time we went to the Rodin Gallery. It was pretty awesome. I’d never realized just how much his sculptures broke from the classical idea of sculpture. He rarely used marble and his figures were hardly ever the perfect, smooth, beautiful creations from the classical era. Instead he focused on movement and human form and left rough edges. His “Gate to Hell” was a very intresting piece that is based on Dante’s Inferno. Rodin did such an incredible job showing all the levels of hell and the anguish of the people stuck there.

After the museum I had to go home because Jaclyn and I had dinner with the Chalufours. I got home none to soon because just as I walked in the door it started pouring down rain. I’ve never seen such hard rain in Paris before, I felt like I was back home for a minute. This was bad news though because Katie had wanted to take some wine and maybe some desserts to the Eiffel Tower and sit outside and relax for her birthday.

When dinner was over Jaclyn and I called to find out what was going on. It turned out Katie had talked to a friend of ours from Mizzou who’s been studying in Paris since February. Stephanie had gone to dinner with Katie and some others that didn’t have family dinner and Stephanie said she had a friend with a big apartment where we could all hang out. Jaclyn and I met up with them at their cafe and off we went.

The apartment was the perfect size for a big group and Stephanie’s friend (also an MU student) and her French boyfriend were super nice. Everyone just hung out there and enjoyed some wine for quite a while. Eventually though, just when we thought things were winding down, Stephanie asked if we wanted to go out for a while because she knew a really great club with good dancing. Now there’s nothing Katie likes more than dancing so of course we went. At this point though, one of our new friends, Marissa, was feeling her wine. (Marissa and her younger sister Taylor are really fun and we hope to hang out with them more in the last week or so.) For some reason, Marissa was convinced she was Venezuelan like Andres and could speak “Venezuelan” as well. When we got to the club and got in she thought she needed a beer too and needed to be on the dance floor as well. That was a bad idea so Harrison and I kept her preoccupied by asking her to tell us a Venezuelan story. She told us one about a boy and his coconut that went out on the ocean in a boat and sank. All Venezuelan stories have sad endings she said.

Before too long the sisters went home. The rest of us stayed for a while longer. Katie, Jaclyn, Meaghan, Emma, Andres, Stephanie and her friend were having a blast dancing while Harrison and I held down the fort. Eventually though I was tired and we all decided to go home because we had to be up early the next morning. When we got outside we realized it was raining again…harder than before. It was a truly bonafide thunderstorm going on. We saw lighting and heard tons of thunder. Somehow we all managed to grab cabs and get home without being completely soaked, just 80% or so. Off to bed we went to sneak in about 3 hours before we had to be up for the IES excursion to Giverny!

Please don’t feed the birds Sunday, Jun 14 2009 

Sunday was a homework day but we all decided to make it more tolerable by going to the Luxembourg Gardens.

I was getting my stuff together and just getting ready to walk out the door when Katie texted me and told me to pick up some food because we were going to picnic in the park while we did our work. I told her that was great and I’d pick up some fruit on the way, she said that would work but to also get a baguette or two. One of the great things about having a market right outside the front door is the abundance of good fruit. I bought a half a kilo of black cherries and a kilo of peaches and headed to the Metro, thinking I’d find a bakery on the way.

I was right, I did find a bakery, in fact I found 3, unfortunately they were all closed. I tried not to worry and just hopped on the Metro and headed to Luxembourg thinking I could find one there. When I got off the Metro I started to walk around the garden looking for a bakery or something else that looked like it might have bread. Again I found plenty of things but nothing open, just cafes. I made a full loop, complete with voyages up side streets, with no results so I headed back to the main gate. Katie and Meaghan were waiting with some food as well. Since Katie is so good at finding things she set off to find a bakery while Meaghan and I started to look for a picnic site.

90% of the ground of Luxembourg are not for sitting on, they’re picky about their grass. We finally found and area and staked our claim. Katie found us a little while later and what do you know, she found bread. So the three of us sat down and started munching while we waited for the others. At one point Katie thought it would be a good idea to toss a bit of the cheese rind a few feet away for the birds (meaning pigeons) to eat. This was not a good idea as instantly about 8 giant pigeons landed and started devouring the cheese and swarming us. After throwing her pen at them Katie managed to get them to leave and promised to never feed the birds again.

Eventually Emma, Harrison and Jaclyn arrived too. Everyone ate… a bunch ( I think combined we ate 4 giant baguettes, all the cherries, half the peaches, 2.5 things of cheese, 3 liters of water and various cookies.) It was a great time. Afterwards we did our homework, Meaghan went for a run, Katie wrote some postcards and I sketched. I’m finally pretty happy with the results, I’ve got some pretty good looking peaches and cherries in my sketchbook now.

I’d say we chilled in the gardens for a good 4-5 hours before packing it up and headed home. Harrison set off in search of an English copy of the book he has to read for his History of Paris class…that’s due tomorrow…good luck to him!

When I got home I did my laundry in the sink and wrote some postcards myself and now I think it’s time to decide what I want to see after class this week.

This wine tastes like a Christmas tree Sunday, Jun 14 2009 

Friday started off with a trip to Park Monceau for Katie, Meaghan and I. Harrison, Andres and Jaclyn had to go into class because their class was cancelled on Tuesday. As usual the other girls ran while I did some sketching. I’m fairly happy with how the rose I did turned out but next time no flowers. I need to diversify.

After that the other two went home to shower and went home to trade in my sketch book for my camera and then it was off to IES to meet the others, but Meaghan didn’t come because she had things to do before the ballet she was going to. The first order of business was lunch, we decided on the university cafeteria and Martin tagged along, that made things interesting. Lets just say he has very strong opinions that aren’t always what everyone else would think and he likes to express them.

The original plan was to go to the catacombs after lunch but we decided to scrap that because it costs money and was something we could do between classes some day. Instead we set off on another walking tour from Katie’s book. This one took us through historical areas from the Revolution.

We saw the church St. Germain and learned that over 200 killings took place right in front of it in a three day period during the Revolution. After that the tour was supposed to take us to several historical buildings but we couldn’t find them because the book sucked. We did learn that the area used to be the book center of Paris but then the rent got too high and companies like Christian Dior bought out the buildings from the bookstores. Sad.

L'eglise St. Germain (Church of St. Germain)

L'eglise St. Germain (Church of St. Germain)

Inside the church

Inside the church

Prayer candles inside the church

Prayer candles inside the church

The Chrisitan Dior store that replaced one of the most famous bookstores/publishing houses in Paris

The Chrisitan Dior store that replaced one of the most famous bookstores/publishing houses in Paris

We did find one bookstore so of course we had to go in. I’ve been searching for a copy of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” in French ever since I got here and I thought this store looked like a good place to find it. They didn’t have it but they were really helpful and gave me the exact title in translation and  the shop wasn’t a total bust because I found some books by my favorite author, Italo Calvino, in French! I’m super excited about them!

After that we headed to Sacre Couer. It was incredible! Jaclyn was already at the top so we climbed up there to meet her. Let me tell you, that’s a lot of steps! I’d like to see Sylvester Stallone run up them in victory! The view from the top was incredible, all of Paris was laid out before us! Inside the church was gorgeous too. I’d love to show you pictures of that but pictures inside the church are forbidden so I respected that rule.

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

This street preformer was insane! He didn't so much preform in the street as he did on a light pole above the city!

This street preformer was insane! He didn't so much preform in the street as he did on a light pole above the city!

The view from the top of the Sacre Coeur

The view from the top of the Sacre Coeur

_MG_2070

After Sacre Couer we walked the grounds and found a pretty garden that gave a great view of the back of the church, sweet! Then we headed back down to the main street level. Harrison had dinner with his family so the rest of us headed off to find dinner. Somehow we wound up back in the Latin Quarter. Go figure.

Andres found a Hispanic restaurant so we gave it a try. It wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t great either. I was happy to finally have some spicy food again though.

From there we decided to get some wine and go hang out on Le Pont des Beaux Arts, a bridge across the Seine just for people where it is common for groups to just hang-out and enjoy a drink and the view of the river and the Eiffel Tower. When buying the wine I saw one that was a Greek wine and thought it sounded interesting so we got it. Big mistake. It was the last bottle we opened and while I opened it perfectly, it tasted like a Christmas tree. It was horrible! Needless to say it did not get finished. We tossed it and called it a night. That bridge is awesome though and I think we shall be hanging out there some more. The view of Paris at night with the river and the lights was just perfect!

The view of Paris at night from the Pont des Arts on the Seine river

The view of Paris at night from the Pont des Arts on the Seine river

Apparently I’m really good at saying the Spanish word for “puddle” Friday, Jun 12 2009 

The French are just as bad at generalizing Americans as they say we are about generalizing them. Our Contemporary French teacher is usually pretty cool but Thursday she just made herself sound like a jerk because she kept saying how Americans don’t really have standards and are okay with everything–basically she thinks everyone in America loves everything and nobody has an opinion on anything. Some people were pretty offended so we did our best to correct her on this and hopefully we got it through to her in a respectful way.

In between classes we did the usual lunch thing, except it was extra exciting because Harrison went and picked up our rugby tickets! We are now officially going to a scrimmage between France and England on Saturday night! The only down side is the entire program found out about the match and so now nearly 20 people are going, o well though, we’ll still have a blast! When Harrison got back we went to a bakery to get him some lunch and ended up all getting coffee and bread with chocolate chips baked in (genius!) and chilling until class.

Impressionism was fun, we’re starting to get more comfortable in that class too and everyone is talking more. The more and more I see of the movement and understand it better the more I love it. I really don’t care that some of the “more cultured” people in our class think Impressionism is the most overrated art movement of all time, I think it’s wonderful!

After class we hopped on the Metro and headed to the Latin Quarter to hang out for a while. A few other girls came with us so our group was a little expanded and it was nice to hang out with some new people for once. Everyone chilled at a little club for a bit during happy hour and then everyone but Andres, Katie, Jaclyn and I left to have dinner with their families. That’s when the 4 of us set out to find dinner.

After walking all over looking for a cheap dinner that we could all agree on we finally settled for a bit more expensive place on the condition that they give us free drinks. It was good but the only expensive meal for the week, if not two weeks for us. After that we headed to the Eiffel Tower to chill for a bit and Jaclyn brought a bottle of wine for us to share under the Tower. It was fun and we just sat around chatting.

Somewhere along the way the Spanish word for puddle came up, which is “charco.” According to Andres (and I think he’s pretty accurate being from Venezuela) the “R” is supposed to be rolled, something us girls can’t do. He was getting very frustrated because Jaclyn kept saying “charcoL” and he tried to explain there is no “L”. Just for grins I gave it a try and surprisingly he said I got it right! Then Katie tried and she couldn’t get it quite right either so he admonished the two of them by saying “Come on, even the Hillbilly can do it!” I’m not quite sure what to think of this new nickname but I am pretty proud of my ability to say Spanish words, you never know when I’ll need to warn someone “Hey watch out for that charco!”

How is it that twins turn 21 six hours apart? Wednesday, Jun 3 2009 

Wednesday was Meaghan’s birthday, her 21st birthday to be more specific. That made the day super special and everyone knew it. Meaghan also has a twin brother, he’s in Virginia, on EST, therefore she turned 21 six hours earlier! There are actually several of us having birthdays over here so it’ll be fun!

Contemporary France was a movie day today. I fully believe that French films are hit or miss, they’re either super good or super weird/bad. This one was super weird. It had no plot and no real ending, we all pretty much just laughed and made fun of it the whole time as this girl looked for her lost cat all over Paris. The cat ended up being behind the stove for 12 days. I’m not kidding.

Between classes Meaghan, Katie and I did our reading for the next day’s Contemporary France class and learned just how many political parties France has. We already knew that the political system is extremely complicated. I don’t know how anyone here can be an informed voter! There’s too much information!

Instead of actually eating lunch us girls just walked around and did some more window shopping. Because it was Meaghan’s day we went where ever she wanted. We ended up going in several stores and trying a few things on but nobody actually bought anything. Actually, that’s a lie. I bought an umbrella because this weekend is supposed to be cold and rainy. Super.

After lunch we had Impressionism and it was so cool today. We learned about how Japanese art influenced the early Impressionists and how that helped set them apart. I never knew that happened but looking at the two together I can so see it. It was awesome! So many things make so much more sense now! I just love that class more and more every day!

When class was over it was time to have some fun for the birthday girl. Katie bought a couple bottles of wine and we borrowed a wine opener from the shop owner. He was super nice and helpful, I think his establishment will be the store of choice for the next 6 weeks. We then hopped on the Metro and headed to Les Invalides, where Napoleon is buried.

That place is pretty awesome, it has its own moat (except there’s no water anymore, just grass). We took some pictures there. Besides our usual 6, we had a newcomer, Martin (a frat guy from MN with many layers). The church at Les Invalides was beautiful, the natural light was perfect for pictures! Afterwards we headed towards the actual tomb but discovered the ticket office closed at 5:30 and it was 5:34. I thought Harrison was going to cry.

Les Invalides

Les Invalides

Yep, those are canons guarding the moat.

Yep, those are canons guarding the moat.

The entrance, the flag was at half staff in honor of the passengers of the lost AirFrance flight.

The entrance, the flag was at half staff in honor of the passengers of the lost AirFrance flight.

Who could that be? Maybe Napoleon? It is his tomb after all.

Who could that be? Maybe Napoleon? It is his tomb after all.

Beautiful natural light on a beautiful old organ.

Beautiful natural light on a beautiful old organ.

After that we walked to the Eiffel Tower, very close, to drink our wine in the grass there before Jaclyn and I had to go home for dinner. It was very surreal, sitting in the grass drinking wine out of plastic cups, but it was a lot of fun. I’m really happy we could make Meaghan’s birthday in Paris a little better.

Jaclyn and I were really worried we were going to be late for dinner but all was good. Dinner was fun, it was another great family affair. After dinner we watched the news and Jaclyn and I helped Flore write a cover letter and format her resume for an American job application. Very impressive! I’ll be very surprised if she doesn’t get it.

Just one more day of class this week!

Pasta is a drier, not a washer Sunday, May 31 2009 

After the park and lunch, Jaclyn and I met up with Katie because she decided to buy a French phone so she could call her French family. She was hoping ot just use the extra phone Jaclyn brought (her brother used it in Hungry) or the extra phone she had (her friend used it in Italy I think) but neither worked so she had to get a new phone.

After that was all worked out we met Meaghan and went from there. It seemed like the day was full of trips around and neighborhood and to the apartment and back for no reason of real importance. We did a little window shopping and explored other parts of the 17th.

The view of the Arc d'Triomphe that we see several times a day coming and going from our Metro stop.

The view of the Arc d'Triomphe that we see several times a day coming and going from our Metro stop.

A little while later we met up with Harrison and plans were to visit the Andy Warhol exhibit at La Gallerie Nationale (the National Gallery) but one of Jaclyn’s friends from home was in Paris and wanted to meet up with her at the Eiffel Tower instead. When we got there we couldn’t find her friend and her friend’s phone was dead so no calling her so we were sort of up a creek. Eventually we gave up on trying to find her. At this point (nearly 8 pm) we were all starting to get hungry so we left and headed in the direction we thought the Metro was.

We wandered for quite some time, past Napoleon’s tomb and the Military Academy and the original Calvary building but weren’t really finding the Metro. We did at least have some deep, philosophical discussions along the way.

Eventually we found a Metro station and took a line back to Harrison’s neighborhood, the 10th, for dinner (we want to visit all our neighborhoods before this is all over). He showed us his building (right by the Metro stop the lucky duck!) and found a cafe for dinner. It was a nicer, sit-down place so it was a little more expensive than the meals we’ve been eating but it was worth it!

Us girls all ordered the cheese tortellini and Harrison had moules/frites (mussels and fries). It was fantastic! I’m pretty sure we drank at least 6 bottles of water too. Harrison had a ton of mussels so we all ate on to help out. Katie was afraid to try one so she refused to do so without water to wash it down with just in case. We were out of water and the waiter was hard to catch. She still had a bite of her pasta left so we said that would work, her response was "pasta is a drier, not a washer." Meaghan finally gave her some of her wine to drink and so Katie finally ate the mussel.

Harrison had to leave before dessert, which was incredible! Andres came and took Harrison’s spot. All day we’d been wondering where Andres was and it turns out his host family got him into the French Open! He spent the day watching Fedderer play and win! He also managed to get the waiter to give him the beer that came with Harrison’s meal–I swear that kid is always getting something free! (We tried to explain to him what a badass is but it didn’t work) Jaclyn’s dessert was a creme caramel (caramel cream) and Katie had chocolate mousse, both were incredible. Mine was a double espresso and everybody was stunned that I could drink that and still go to sleep. They obviously don’t know me that well yet.

We hung out there for about another hour or so before heading out. It was getting late and starting to cool off considerably and the music was driving Andres crazy! The radio station played a strange mix of American music, from Van Halen to the Bee Gees to the Village People again. “YMCA” is up to a tally of two, we’ll see how high it gets.

From the top of the food chain to the bottom Friday, May 29 2009 

I’m actually going to start this with a little more about Wednesday night after my last post. During dinner we had some great conversations and I’m now completely sure of Vladimir’s smartass-ness! The Chalufour’s silverware has monogrammed “P”s on it and Vlad wanted to know why since no one in their family has a P in their name. Mme Chalufour said it was a family heirloom and someday it would go to one of their children. Vlad answered this by saying they should have named the kids Pierre, Paul and Patricia!

Jaclyn and I also introduced the Chalufours to peanut butter with apples. They enjoyed it but couldn’t believe some of the other ways of eating it we described but they were mortified by the idea of PBJ sandwiches. The discussion then turned to candy: they hate Hershey’s but they really want to try Reese’s!

And now Thursday!
We started the day with our placement exams, hopefully they won’t say I’m too dumb and send me home!~

After the test we had another orientation about culture shock and how to handle it both here and when we return. The next part of the day was incredible!

The IES faculty arranged for us to go to a 3 star restaurant and cook our own meal! AT Chez Guy Martin we were split into two groups and shown to the kitchens, I didn’t make it in the group with Katie and Jaclyn but I met lots of other students. Our chef was named Rudy and he helped us make quinois (similar to kous-kous) with vegetables and chicken with chocolate souffle for dessert. First we chopped the vegetables and had a bit of a hard time translating some words from French to English. It was bad enough that most didn’t know what fennel was in English so the French just made it worse! I was also really surprised to hear many of the other kids say they had never cooked before!

Each of us had our own station with our knives set beside, it was just a little intimidating...

Each of us had our own station with our knives set beside, it was just a little intimidating...

Chef Rudy showed us how real chefs chop onions so you don't tear up or cut yourself.

Chef Rudy showed us how real chefs chop onions so you don't tear up or cut yourself.

Most of the other kids were pretty nervous about cooking and were uncomfortable at first but in the end we all had fun!

Most of the other kids were pretty nervous about cooking and were uncomfortable at first but in the end we all had fun!

All the chopping and dicing went well and no injuries were reported. Then came the actual cooking. The veggies went in with the quinois along with some white whine and bouillabaisse. The chicken got fried in olive oil and then it was time to plate. This was the part where I found out I watch Food Network tooo much (thanks Sam!) We used round cutters to hold the quinois in place, then the chicken went down and we topped off both with some herbs and balsamic vinegar. Chef Rudy said my plate was the best looking, I guess watching so much Iron Chef America paid off!

My plate!

My plate!

The meal was delicious and the conversation was a lot of fun. I got to know the other kids and hear about their host families and from the sounds of it, Jaclyn and I got the best one! Dessert was chocolate souffle and all I can say about that is “WOW!”

Chocolate souffle!

Chocolate souffle!

A trip to the Musee d’Órsay was next on the schedule. I caught up with Katie and Jaclyn and some of the others from lunch yesterday. We took the |Metro and walked some and then we were there. The walk went by the Seine and I got my first good look at the river and was pleased to find it just as pretty as I’d imagined. Just off the Seine there’s a statue of Thomas Jefferson and we had some fun with that since there’s one at MU too. Our new friend Meaghan is from Virginia and she was ecstatic! She just had to get a picture with “TJ”.

A bridge over the Seine, one of 21 in all.

A bridge over the Seine, one of 21 in all.

Statue of Thomas Jefferson along the Seine.

Statue of Thomas Jefferson along the Seine.

At the museum we received a special guided tour, complete with earpieces a la James Bond! The tour was okay, but after an already long day we didn’t really have the patience for an art lesson, especially in French. I was blown away by the artwork and the building thought. Seeing Degas'”Ballerina at 14 years old” and Van Gough’s self-portrait in person was indescribable! I can’t wait to go back with my Impressionism class!

Van Gogh's self-portrait, a little shaky I'm sorry. I'll get a better one before I leave.

Van Gogh's self-portrait, a little shaky I'm sorry. I'll get a better one before I leave.

The main lobby/entrance to the Musee d'Orsay. A converted train station, the building was designed to be both beautiful and functional, it was also one of the first cast iron structures in Paris.

The main lobby/entrance to the Musee d'Orsay. A converted train station, the building was designed to be both beautiful and functional, it was also one of the first cast iron structures in Paris.

Monet's view of the Seine at Giverny. I can't wait to go here myself!

Monet's view of the Seine at Giverny. I can't wait to go here myself!

The little ballerina at 14 years-old.

The little ballerina at 14 years-old.

Wen we were released from the tour we were on our own. Because I still needed a cellphone and some others needed SIM cards we went back to the 14th arrondissment by IES to go to the Phone House (real name I swear). Jaclyn, Katie, our new friends Meaghan (Virginia TJ-lover and hilarious redhead), Harrison (satiric History buff from Chicago minus the tweed) and Andres (Venezuelan with a quick wit and reserved exterior) managed to wander the entire 14th before getting the phones taken care of. I still didn’t get one worked out, but that”ll be in my next post.

Meaghan had to go to dinner with her family but the rest of us were free so we tried to come up with a plan. The Montparnase Cemetery is really close to IES so we headed over there. By this time it was 7:40 pm. Note to self: cemeteries close at 7 pm. Because we didn’t think climbing the fence was a good idea, we walked away to look for dinner and to find some fun.

We grabbed some crepes with Nutella at a vendor, Andres convinced us to buy them so the vendor gave him his for free! He’s a sneaky one. When we finished these we decided to just get on the Metro and take a random stop. The closest line happened to be the 6th, which goes to the Eiffel Tower.

AT this stop we gawked at the tower for a few minutes before we decided food was more important. That close to a big monument all the cafes were super expensive so we kept looking. Finally we found the “Sandwicherie”(again, real name). It was the sketchiest place I’ve ever eater but it was cheap. Harrison didn’t trust it so he went to the more expensive bakery.

Katie and Andres at the Sandwicherie with their cheap dinner.

Katie and Andres at the Sandwicherie with their cheap dinner.

After eating we went back to the Eiffel Tower and took the obligatory photos and just hung out and people-watched. We saw so many different people taking different pictures in front of the tower. Everything from Harri Krishnas to bikers in Santa Claus hats to the cute Italian couple who took our photo. The man spoke some English and regaled us with his tales of visiting 35 states!

Harrison, Andres, Katie, Jaclyn and myself in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Harrison, Andres, Katie, Jaclyn and myself in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Just in case anyone is confused, this is the Eiffel Tower.

Just in case anyone is confused, this is the Eiffel Tower.

By 9:30 we figured we should all head home. The boys headed to their Metro stop and we took ours back to the Champs Elysee. Because of the dark Jaclyn and I walked Katie home and then came back to our home. It was a long, busy, fun day!

I definitely feel like I’m in Paris now!