Published: September 23rd 2009September 22nd 2009
I've been going into Paris every day and doing a very haphazard tour of the sights every day so far this week. I bought a week-long métro pass, so I figure I should use it! The sightseeing is haphazard because I can't really be bothered to sit down and come up with an organized plan of attack and because things in France are randomly closed, so I often have to go back and see things a second time. The métro system is very organized and trains come every couple of minutes, so I can hit several neighborhoods in one day, if only for one museum.
Monday, I got up early (which is hard to do here...they have these fabulous metal shutters that block out ALL light) and went into outskirts of the Latin Quarter to meet Sarah. She's Canadian and will be an assistant in Douai with me. She's great and wants to travel a lot, so yay! I have a friend!
We wandered around, deciding to walk instead of taking the métro everywhere. We saw the Centre Pompidou, which houses the modern art museum. It was built so that the inside of the building is on the outside,
so it looks rather strange and futuristic. We explored the gift shop since we were too cheap to pay the entrance fee to the museum. We tried to see some other museums, but one was only open for a few hours in the afternoon (how typically French), and the other was closed on Mondays (again, typical). We saw some fountains, churches, and stores along the way until realized we were starving.
There are cafés and restaurants and little stands selling crêpes, etc everywhere here...but they also cost a small fortune. Seeing as we probably won't get paid until the end of November, we are trying to économiser. That means we are skipping the cafés and choosing to picnic instead. We bought something that we think was whole wheat bread (whole grain hasn't really caught on here...everything is super processed white bread or baguette), a giant wedge of Brie (which was cheaper than the bread!! only 1,26 euro...about $1.80) and apples. I bought a mint yogurt...bad call on my part. The yogurt here is unsweetened, which is fine but a little surprising the first time you eat it. The mint yogurt, though, tasted like I was eating spoonfuls of sour
cream after brushing my teeth. Ick.
We got a bit lost in a heavily African neighborhood trying to find Peter's métro stop, but now I know where I can go to get some yassa ginaar. Mmm. It'll probably be about $30 a plate, so I suppose I'll just have to wait until I head back to Senegal.
We were meeting up with my friend from Pittsburgh, Peter, but weren't quite sure exactly where to find him. Each métro stop has multiple exits that take you out to different parts of the intersection or even further away than that. Thank god he's super tall, so we were able to find him without too much of a problem. After seeing his host family's really nice apartment, we set of to see some more sights, including the Jardin du Luxembourg (a really nice park near the Senate building) and the Panthéon.
Tuesday, I returned to Paris without my friends (apparently they have things to do other than hang out with me whenever I want them to). I went back to the Musée des Arts et Métiers (the oldest science and technology museum in Europe). They have the museum set up
so that you can see the evolution of inventions (like thermometers, microscopes, bikes, radios, planes, etc.) They even have Foucault's original pendulum! I also went back to the Mémorial de la Shoah, which was a memorial and a museum. They have walls listing all the Jews who were deported during WWII, and there were some Henschels among those listed (though I don't believe we are related to Daisy and Leopold). The museum was fascinating, but I think it was more brutal and uncensored than some of the Holocaust things we have in the USA.
I also went to the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe for the obligatory touristy photo shoot. I strolled along the Champs Elysées for a bit, but it's kind of boring to be surrounded by a bunch of things you can't afford (the stores are things like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, etc.) Even the McDonald's there is more expensive than the usual outrageous prices!
Last night, Aude made me watch a movie called "Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis" because it is about the region of France that I will soon call home. The title in English is translated as "Welcome to the Sticks"...uh oh. Is it
too late to get out of this?? Can I transfer to a school in the south of France? Whenever I mention Douai here, people act like I have received a death sentence, and the movie makes it seem like the West Virginia of France. Aude tells me this is a bit of an exaggeration, and that the people in the North are the nicest in the country. Oh boy...should be an adventure!
There are more photos below