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Published: September 20th 2009
Well, I arrived in France and am still very much alive. However, I don't appreciate comments like "why haven't you blogged yet?!" Give a girl a chance to get over jet lag and eat French food! I do have things to do here other than blogging for you 😊
I left the good ole US of A Thursday afternoon, and it was a very uneventful journey. One of the members of the Redwalls (one of my favorite bands!) sat next to me in the lounge waiting for our flight to Paris. Apparently the band had a really bad falling out and he's with a new band now, so I'll have to check them out. Maybe I can see them on their European tour. I sat next to a girl on the flight who is also heading to France for ten months, and I felt a bit better knowing she was dragging along just as much luggage. After not managing to sleep AT ALL on the flight (we landed in Paris at the equivalent of 1am EST, a time at which I am usually still awake), we stumbled off the plane and into the awful Aéroport de Charles de Gaulle.
Getting through immigration was super easy...they don't even make you fill out customs forms! After pretending to look like he cared about my identity, the nice customs man stamped my passport and voilà. C'est tout. Welcome to France. After waiting for what seemed like forever, both of my (rather large and heavy) bags came around the carousel at the same moment that my favorite Frenchie showed up to get me!
I'm so lucky to have someone in France who will let me sleep on their couch for ten days. Really, I probably would have died trying to get my luggage right from the airport into Paris via RER and then onto a train to Douai. As it is, I think I am going to have to leave some of my stuff here at her apartment and come get it in a couple of weeks or so.
Anyway, Aude and Nico have been super nice to me. They are teaching me "real" French...apparently the stuff they taught us in school will not help me understand the young people here. They put up with my terrible poker skills last night when a bunch of French boys came over for a
tournament, and they answer all my silly questions.
Yesterday, we went out to Poissy and Feucherolles to take care of all my family obligations. We went to Aude's mom's apartment for lunch, and it was délicieux! (and so French, too) Champagne, rosé wine, baguette, fondue, pear tart. Mmmm. Afterwards, we went to see her aunt and uncle and then her grandparents. It was just like visiting family in the US...they all asked what I was doing with my life, what my plans are for the future, etc. Oh, I just love my adopted French family!
Today I made it all the way in to Paris. I'm staying in Boulogne-Billancourt, which is nice and quiet and just thirty minutes from the centre of Paris by métro. I tried to see some museums, but this weekend is le week-end du patrimoine (Heritage Weekend) which means the museums are free. Great, right? Wrong-o, mon ami. It meant every Frenchman and his brother was out waiting in line to see things without paying the normal admission. The lines for everything were out the door and wrapping around the building.
I did manage to go to Place des Vosges and see Victor
Hugo's house. For those of you who don't know mon ami, Victor, he wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables. His house has been a museum for over a hundred years now, and it's full of paintings, drawings, manuscripts, etc from his life. Quite interesting.
I tried to go to the Mémorial de la Shoah (Shoah is the Hebrew word for catastrophe and is used synonymously with Holocaust here in France), but they had closed for the weekend. Perhaps this was due to Rosh Hashanah (l'shanah tovah to all my Jewish friends!) I will have to return another day this week, I suppose.
Instead, I stumbled upon the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation (Memorial to the Martyrs of the World War II Deportations). It reminded me a lot of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, with lots of concrete and silence and depressing imagery. In this memorial, you walk down a long staircase and are completely surrounded by high concrete walls and all you can see is a bit of sky and the water of the river Seine through a barred window.
A bit more wandering led me to Notre Dame (no hunchback visible today,
too bad), but the line to see that was ridiculously long. I met some nice Columbian girls who took my picture in front of the church. There were lots of street performers out today on the bridges, so I watched several of them. There was a group of guys playing wine barrels like drums. Perhaps I shouldn't have quit drumline after high school...I could have a whole career here in Paris!
On the way home, EVERYONE on the métro was wearing jerseys for the local soccer team, Paris St-Germain. The game is tonight and quite close to the apartment. It was a bit like being in Pittsburgh when the Steelers play (but obviously not as awesome!) We wanted to get McDonald's or KFC for dinner (it's like I never left the States, haha), and the lines were soo long because everyone wanted to get fast food to watch the game at home. We ordered our Royal Cheese (quarter pounders with cheese) and fantas (omg, I am SO excited to have REAL fanta again) and headed home to watch the game. After two hours of Nico yelling "putain!" and "sa mère!" (quite rude phrases) at the TV, the game ended
in a tie. Oh well, tant pis.
Tomorrow, I am off to Paris again to meet up with Sarah (a Canadian assistant who will be in Douai with me) and Peter (who is giving me a phone! yay!)
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