All posts tagged: history

Sopranos and Soccer Stars: why I chose French

One of my great friends in Chambéry was an outspoken and inquisitive Italian named Elisabetta. We hung out practically every weekend, cooking with friends, watching movies, but we had rarely spent much time one-on-one, mainly because we were surrounded by so many wonderful friends. One weeknight during the February vacation, all our friends had returned home, were traveling, or had family visiting, and not wanting to waste an evening, we naturally made plans, just the two of us. After watching a movie (Alceste à Bicyclette, one of my favorites!), we were cleaning up from dinner when Betta, sponge in hand, said, “Okay, sorry. I have this song in my head so I just need to play it, do you mind?” “Well, we’re in your house…by all means!!” And she put on the opening Witches chorus from Verdi’s opera Macbeth. Being just elitist enough to want to wake up with opera stuck in my head, but uncultured enough to know next to nothing about it, I pretty much thought that was the greatest thing in the world.

ONE MONTHIVERSARY!

That’s right, gang. It’s June 15 which marks exactly one month since I arrived (May 15) and one month until I return (July 15). Pretty crazy, right?! Since I now have lived in two of the greatest nations’ capital cities, I present to you the following lists to commemorate this momentously bittersweet occasion. Top Things Paris is doing better than DC 1) Bread. Step into any boulangerie and you’ll smell what I mean. Unless you go for the artesanal Harris Teeter Bakery loaves, most of the bread we eat in the States is square and comes in a colorful bag. Which is not to say that stuff doesn’t exist here because I guess some people make sandwiches out of it. The last bag of “pain de mie” we bought was actually called “American Sandwich” I kid you not. But that’s because the French have even perfected the sandwich beyond what we can handle in America. Take a look at the popular baguette sandwich. Compact, flavorful, hearty, everything I love in a sandwich plus the added benefit of …

Delusions of grandeur

Visiting the Chateau de Versailles can feel daunting. There’s a lot of pressure to “do it right” and “avoid the crowds” and “avoid weekends”  and “go early”…….oops. Our attempt to mix these words of tour guide advice with our college student sleeping habits led to rolling out of bed and to the train station by 10:45 and arriving in the quaint city of Versailles around 11:30. It’s so interesting, because as Americans, our history was founded in small wooden town halls by farmers and business men. Our concept of “American royalty” lies somewhere between George Washington and Beyoncé. And our most extravagant palaces are the big white marble buildings of DC or privately owned celebrity mansions. The Chateau of Versailles is completely foreign territory, and not just because it’s in another country. I struggle to think of a way to describe it other than enormous and sparkly. No seriously. Everything is covered in gold. And that’s just the outside.

Le week-end de royauté

This past weekend was many things. Exhausting. Delicious. Shiny. Charming. Vast. Ridiculous… I spent a very large part of Saturday in VERSAILLES, touring the Chateau and Jardins there. I have overall a Ridiculous amount of information and pictures to share with you all, so I’m saving that particular journey for a future post. Here’s a little teaser, to whet your appetite. After a very tiring Saturday, I decided to take a rest day…I met some friends at the beautiful Places des Vosges, thanks to Saida Dagata and my host mother for the recommendation!! La Place des Vosges (pronounced sort of like voj) is the oldest planned square in Paris, built in 1612. It’s a perfectly symmetrical plaza, completely surrounded by identical buildings (called pavilions) and a big arcade walkway. Some really famous tenants have occupied the pavilions, including Victor Hugo (his building is now a museum), Cardinal Richelieu, and the seat of the Academy of Architecture! It’s such a lovely and private square. I would love to go back to study or picnic or just hang …

Bonjour Westgate!!

Bonjour Third Grade, à Paris! (Hello, from Paris!) I’ve been here almost 2 weeks now, and I’ve been learning so much. Mrs. Donnelly told me you might want to learn about Paris too, so I made this post for you! This is the Eiffel Tower, the most famous building in all of France!  In French we say La Tour Eiffel, but some people call it “la dame de fer” which means The Iron Lady. This monument was built in 1889 for the World’s Fair in Paris. It’s named after Gustave Eiffel, the man whose company was in charge of building it (his company also made the frame of the Statue of Liberty in New York City!).