The Latin Quarter

July 4th, 2012

Yesterday, our class explored the Latin Quarter.  It has narrow streets and tall buildings, which at the time they were constructed was normal since they likely did not use any form of transportation other than walking or boat.  They must have been really crowded though at some point!

Because of the very limited amount of space, there has not been room for growth in the area, causing it to become a tourist area.  It mostly consists of restaurants and gift stores.  However, as we were walking through the streets, we found a little bookshop, which could not have stored any more books inside if the owners tried.

At some point I want to go to a Jazz Club (Caveau de la Huchette) in the Latin Quarter, mainly because it is located where rebels hid during the French Revolution and executions were held.

 

Afterwards, our class stopped at a comic store.  Comics and graphic novels are much more popular in France than they are in America.  I personally am not that knowledgeable about them, but the store was still really interesting.

We then continued on St Jaque, a major street, which became narrower as we entered a later, poorer area when it was built.  All of a sudden, at a cross street we could see the Pantheon.  The point for compression (tighter spaces) and release (a sudden opening) planning is so that the unexpected grand buildings have a powerful impact on people.

What a full first day!

July 3rd, 2012

Last night, I was too tired to post so I went straight to bed instead of posting!

Yesterday morning, a few of us went to find cell phones.  I feel a lot better now that I have a way to contact people, but I am definitely spoiled by having an iphone back home.  After that, Maddie took us to a restaurant that she had been to before, where I had my first pizza on the trip!

Our first time meeting for class was in a cafe.  Professor Smith talked to us about the expectations and what we will be doing for the month. I am really looking forward to going to a different part of the city each day and becoming an expert of the city’s layout and history.  Hopefully it will make it so that I can navigate around the city myself!  Afterwards, we walked around some and came across a 30 pound chocolate hippopotamus!!

 

MICEFA took the whole group to dinner at the Creperie de Cluny.  (http://www.creperiedecluny.fr/). The crepes were so good!  I had a ham, cheese, and egg crepe, followed by a chocolate one for dessert.

Following dinner, we went on a boat tour of the Seine River.  There were spectacular views of Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and many other significant buildings because Paris was initially built along the river.  The kings would have their palaces and other powerful buildings built facing the river so that everyone entering the city by boat would be impressed by the architecture and the power behind it.  There are 37 bridges along the Seine! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bridges_in_Paris#Seine) They each had different designs based upon their time period and purpose, but are all stunning.  Another similarity is that they all had to be at least a specific sight so that they would not impede boat traffic.  The grandest of all the bridges is the Alexander III Bridge, which was completed in 1900.

I am in Paris!

July 1st, 2012

Yesterday, or at least I believe it was yesterday even though it doesn’t feel like it, we boarded our flight to France.  I sat next to a French woman who brought her chihuahua in a carry-on bag.  During the flight, I couldn’t help but observe the French mannerisms of her, the stewards, and a couple with a young baby (who had the cutest French baby talk!).  They were polite and could seamlessly go back-and-forth between speaking French and English, but, of course, they preferred French.  During our meals, I felt like I was eating much faster than those around me .  The French woman next to me kept to herself until towards the end of the flight when we bonded over her hiding her dog in her lap and another woman who could speak neither English or French.  Then, she asked me all about where I was from and what I was doing in Paris.  The woman said that her daughter became stronger, more independent, and developed a better sense of responsibility when she traveled abroad, which is exactly what I hope to gain from this experience, aside from the beautiful sites and delicious food.

Once we landed, we took the RER to Citie Universitaire, which is where we are staying.

This is the building that I will be living in for the next month

My roommate, Anna, and I then explored the campus and nearby streets.  I have already seen so many beautiful structures, which I was constantly taking pictures of while we walked, and cannot wait to learn more about Paris.

my faux pas for the day (I’m hoping this list gets shorter or becomes non-existent during the month):

I didn’t catch the price of my lunch so I asked the man “repetez s’il vous plait”… he didn’t respond for a few minutes (which maybe I’m exaggerating, but that’s what it felt like) and seemed very exasperated that I would even ask

I made eye-contact with a woman and smiled at her out of instinct (we were told in a booklet that, in France, you do not smile at strangers, especially not at men who think it’s flirting and permission for them to make advances)

I attempted to leave a metro stop where people are supposed to enter

a man sitting on the street greeted us in French and I had to try so hard not to laugh

and I’m sure there were many other things that I did which made it obvious that I was an American

It’s Almost Time

June 29th, 2012

Bonjour! Tomorrow is the big day when I fly to Paris!  I will be taking a historic preservation course for the next month there.  I am all packed and ready to go.  I am really excited about the upcoming month, but I still can’t fully believe that it’s finally happening.  I’m sure (or at least I hope that) once I have arrived in Paris it will feel more real.

Wish me luck! (Bonne chance!)