Saturday, June 29, 2013

All the Things

This has been a long and busy week, so as a result this is going to be a long and busy post... My apologies.

On Friday I had to say goodbye to two of my friends who've been in Paris for the last few weeks. I was sad to see them go, but spending the night eating Nutella crepes under the Eiffel tower was a pretty great way to send them off. Plus, it was the night of the Fete de Musique which meant two things; one, there were twice the amount of people out and about late at night, and two, there was a marching band dancing down the steps leading to the tower. It all made for a pretty eventful night.

Saturday, we explored the Latin Quarter and visited a few of the open air markets and busy shopping streets. I had to physically hold myself back from buying all the peonies in sight. Somehow all the flowers here are more beautiful than any I've seen in America.

Because of the never-ending rain, Sunday was devoted to catching up on work and lounging around the apartment. However, I did make it out of the house at the end of the day to play trivia at The Thistle with my friend Moira and my friend Ingrid's older brother Berent who lives in Paris. We came in complete last place and didn't even win any points for our creative name, The Loch Ness Trains Harry Potters (an attempt to win the favor of the Scottish/Irish/British bartender). Despite the loss, we all still had a fantastic time.

Monday, we started off at the Louvre for one of the girls' oral presentations, but we found ourselves frustratedly looking for the room containing Louis XIV's portrait only to realize it was closed off in a construction area. Since we couldn't see the portrait in person, we did the next best thing and headed to a cafe where we could pass around Maile's iPad and "gaze lovingly" at Louis XIV while enjoying a cafe au lait. 

Next, we began walking around the city to look at the development of bourgeois and royal homes throughout Paris. We stopped at Saint-Gervais to admire it's contradictory classic front facade and gothic sides. It also had really interesting modern stained glass windows inside.

Continuing on, we saw a handful of fancy houses called "hotels" which are kind of a mix between an estate and a small castle set in an urban area. The architecture was beautiful and one even had a semi-well manicured garden behind it that we got to listen to our lecture in.

Between houses we made the executive decision to take a much needed eclair break at L'eclair de Genie in the Marais. Words cannot express how simultaneously beautiful and delicious these eclairs were. I shared a raspberry chocolate eclair with my friend Dorie, which we marveled over for a few minutes before sacrificing it's beauty for the sake of our cravings.

Tuesday we met in front of the Fountain of the Innocents for one of the girls' presentations. Afterwards we headed a few blocks down to Saint Eustache, which from far away can be seen poking out over the construction around Les Halles. The church was big and beautiful, as have been all the cathedrals we've visited so far. The best part, however, was that in one of the chapels we discovered a minor modern art exhibition with tall canvases covered in drippy glitter paint.

Then, we made our way over to the Gobelins, which was and still is a tapestry factory in which workers create tapestries and rugs on massive looms. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures of the people actively working on the tapestries as we walked through, but photography was allowed inside the exhibition so you can see the end product.

Watching the artists work meticulously at the creation of one knot of string completely put into perspective the time and effort that went into the finished works we got to see in the exhibit.

Wednesday was the day we've all been waiting for. That's right. VERSAILLES DAY! My friends Max and Kelsey have been in town since Tuesday night, so they tagged along for the day as well. Walking up to it from the train station I was half thrilled to finally get to see this amazing place in person and half terrified of the amount of people that would be inside of it. The interior was beautiful, all mirrors, velvet, and painted ceilings. No stone was left un-decorated.

But it was the gardens that really got me excited. I'm fairly certain the gardens just go on forever and all that other urbanized land around Versailles is just an illusion. All you can see when you're standing up by the house is green and I LOVED IT.

Unfortunately, Versailles was our last day with our professor, Maile, which made us all very sad when class ended. But after hugging Maile and trying to follow her as she walked away... We've developed a bit of a mother duck problem in that the second she walks somewhere we automatically follow, so it was even harder to say goodbye. But! Now we're all excited to get to know our new professor, Abigail, and learn about impressionism in the next half of the course.

Before moving on, we explored the grounds a bit more and found out where Marie Antoinette's house was. The second class was over I just kept repeating, "I want to find Marie Antoinette's peasant village. I want to find the peasant village.", and y'know what, we did. And it was awesome.

On Thursday, we had a brief informational orientation in the morning, and then were set free to do whatever we wanted with the rest of the day. I met up with Max and Kelsey in the Tuileries so that we could walk through the garden, grab some lunch, and head over to the Musee d'Orsay. 

Unfortunately you aren't allowed to take pictures in the Musee d'Orsay, but just imagine all the awesome paintings from the pre-impressionist, impressionist, and post-impressionist era all in one place.

We'd been on a mission to find ice cream all day and after walking back into the Tuileries we found an Amorino gelato cart right away! Needless to say, the gelato blew my mind.

Keeping on the sugar binge, we then sought out Laduree, the famous macaron brand.

On Friday we didn't have class, so I spent the day exploring with Max and Kelsey. We spent most of our time at Les Invalides where we saw loads of interesting war memorabilia and Napoleons ridiculously giant tomb. There's also a really cool museum  about Charles de Gaulle in one of the areas of the building with interactive screens and audio tours that aren't finished being translated into English.

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