Friday, July 8, 2011

Je suis à Paris

I finally have access to the Internet and can start my blog. I've been here for two weeks today and have had some interesting adventures. The first was getting from the airport to the hotel. I was given a free number to use to contact City Shuttle using France Telecom, but I couldn't get it to work until an English lady tried. I was so excited to find the man driving the shuttle to take me to Paris! Here's a picture down the street from my hotel near the Bastille.

Once in Paris, we started driving down la Rue de Charonne; and when I saw some of the hotels, I was praying they weren't mine. Well, mine did look a little nicer, but it was nothing to brag about - except the location, which was great. Here is a picture of my single room. The French don't know about "climatisation" - air conditioning. Fortunately, there was a big window (no screens), but it was on the street which had loads of cafes (I can't use the accent marks for some reason - darn!) so it was noisy until the wee hours of the morning. Il fait tres chaud samedi et dimanche! It was very hot on Ssaturday and Sunday - even Monday. I thought I was going to roast to death. However, it cooled down and there was a nice breeze the rest of the week. The first day was a lazy one because I hadn't really gotten any sleep on the plane. Saturday, my Parisian friend Olivier came to the hotel and brought the box I had mailed with all my protein powder. He took me to the Orange store to buy a French cell phone (needed for class) and then to the Gare de Lyon (one of the train stations) to make my train reservations to go to Nancy and Avignon. We took the subway (metro) everywhere and I was glad he knew where we were going, but it's not really too difficult. There a beaucoup de lignes, but there are good signs. We then went to Notre Dame. Unfortunately, it was closed for some reason. We walked along the Seine waiting for the "jardin" to open so we could take some pictures. From there we decided to eat lunch so I had a crepe avec jambon, fromage et champignons. It probably had too many carbs, but I had been walking and standing forever so I figured I deserved it. From there we went to the Cimitiere Pere Lachaise where a lot of famous French people like Colette and Balzac are buried. There are some other famous people buried there like Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde. Unfortunately, we didn't go in the gate where they distributed the maps so we didn't find too many. The place was completely crowded with tombs and mausoleums that were very old. It didn't look like anyone takes much care of the area. I'm hoping to go back to see some of the famous tombs. Here's Balzac - one of the authors we had to read this year in French 371.
When we returned to the Place de la Bastille, it was super crowded and then Olivier realized that there was a gay pride event going on. It was definitely a site. I saw a lot of people with feather wings, different color hair, and very different attire. I also saw one fellow who had a sticker on that indicated he was a homophobe. Nervy, I guess. We returned to the hotel without indicent and Olivier left. I was ready to go to bed!! Here's the top of the Bastille monument.
On Sunday, I found my way by metro to the paroisse de Paris of my church - the Church of Jesus Christ des Saints de Dernier Jours. I was so excited to go to a church service totally in French. It was nice to sing the "cantiques en francais" (hymns in French) and to listen to the lessons and have sacrament in another language. And ... I understood!! Saturday afternoon, I just relaxed and watched some French TV.

Monday was an exciting day. I took a tour with Cityrama to Mont Saint Michel - a dream come true for me. We traveled from Paris into the region of Normandy which was a flat patchwork of greens and browns - fields of green corn stalks and wheat - with lots of cows. Normandy is known for its dairy products and is the home of Camembert cheese. A woman made it from brie. We stopped in a small town called Bevron en Auge which is famous for its apple juice, cider, and a type of wine made from apples and pears. I drank a glass of cold apple juice which was delicious.
From there we continued our journey to Mont Saint Michel. We stopped at Le Relais de Mont Saint Michel for lunch and had salmon which was very tasty. I was so disapapointed I couldn't eat the cheesecake that was for dessert! Finally, we could see the abbey from the terrace of the restaurant. It was a cloudy and very overcast day, and I couldn't get my polarizer on the correct lens so many of my photos had to be adjusted. But ... my dream to see this famous place had finally come true! I knew there would be stairs - that's why I had to lose weight to come - but Paris' metro stairs are nothing compared to the stairs we had to climb at the abbey. I'm so glad I made it all the way!!! I couldn't believe how many pictures I took. Unfortunately, it's not furnished well, but there is a city on this mall island. There are two other islands near this one - one of which served as a prison where Fouquet, one of Louis XIV's treasurers, was sent.

We got back late that night, but it doesn't get dark here until 10 pm, which makes one feel like it's much earlier. The CItyrama office is near the Tuilleries. When we got off the bus, I realized that there was a gigantic ferris wheel there so, of course, I had to take some pictures before getting on the metro and heading back to the hotel to collaps! Here's a picture of the ferris wheel which was lighted with the status of Jeane d'Arc in the front.
All in all the first three days in Paris and Normandy were a success!


Carol Younce said...

Wow, you have packed it to the limit in the few days you have been traipsing about. We miss you at home and hope you are having the time of your life! Paris is wonderful and so full of life, but I love the countryside best. Sois sage, and see you soon,
Carol Y

Angie said...

I have been axiously waiting your first post! Such a fantastic trip. I hope you can enjoy every minute of your dream vacation. Miss you.

Cath said...

Claudia - We love your pictures! And we were thrilled to get your postcard!!! Thank you so much for thinking of us. How wonderful that you are there. In France! Speaking your language!!! Love that you're living the dream. And goodness - have you lost weight? You look fabulous. Sure love you. And miss you. Hugs to Aimee too. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Bonjour Claudia,
Ton blog est très sympathique.
Je ne m'étais pas aperçu que la France était à ce point agréable.
Merci et à bientôt,