I decided to map out what I did during my first week.
Week 1 // Arrival
Left the USA around 4pm. Attempted sleep. Failed.
Arrived at Charles de Gualle International Airport around 6am, 45 minute train ride to Denfert-Rochereau metro station on the RER, 10 minute walk to the FIAP Jean-Monet (home). This day felt like years, considering my lack of sleep and beginning my day at 6am, which in Eastern time was midnight. We managed to stay on our feet, getting a tour of our neighborhood (the 14e arrondissement) and settling into our rooms. That night, all 13 of us went for dinner (I had a delicious stew of beef and potatos) and walked to the Champs-Elysées to view the Arc de Triomphe.
Happy birthday to me! Today started off with our first FIAP breakfast, a choice of: hard boiled eggs, slices of deli ham, corn puffs, cocoa crispies, corn flakes, canned fruit, apples, bananas, pain au chocolat, baguettes, croissants, nutella, apricot jam, and yogurt. Next, we went to the Fnac (think Best Buy) to buy our novels for class. It was love at first sight with Italie 2, the closest mall to where we were living where I would spend most of my euros. 🙂 Some of us then went to see Notre Dame, and grabbed dinner at a restaurant Cafe Pané. This was my first Croque Madame, and arguably the best one I had. We went to Amorino’s for gelato for desert (I had citron and framboise). After dinner, we met the rest of our group in front of the Fontaine St Michel, then set off on our bike tour of Paris! The bike tour was one of my favorite nights. Everything was so new and magical and breathtaking, and I was constantly in awe of the fact that I was actually in Paris. What a great birthday present! After the tour ended, some of us went to a bar to watch the world cup game. My amazing new friends surprised me with a creme brûlée.
Today, we took our language placement test at the Sorbonne, which would determine what level course we would be placed in. Later, we found a delicious crêpe place that would become our favorite. We thought it was called the Secret Garden and continued to call it that until we found out it was actually called La Belle Ronde.. oops! This is also where I had my first Beurre et Sucre crêpe, which I believe is the best kind!
Our first day of our UNC course called Edgy Paris, taught by Dr. Tanner. My friend Jamie came to visit Ben and we went and sat by the Seine river and had a great evening. Paris showed us exactly why it is called the city of lights. There is nothing that compares to the way the orange-yellow street lights reflect off of the purple-blues of the Seine river at night.
The scheduled excursion to the Musee Carnavalet, which is a museum about the history of Paris, ended up not working out. The museum was closed for a strike! We decided to tour the house of Victor Hugo and the Pompidou museum. After, a couple of us (I believe it was Ben, Jamie, their friend Caila, my roommate Jamie, and Phil) went back to Cafe Pané for dinner. We followed that up with a trip to the Laduree on the Champs-Elysées to try their infamous macarons. We then went to the Eiffel Tower and took photos of it light up and twinkle. It twinkles every hour on the hour, and I have never seen anything so magnificent.
This was a jam-packed day! In the morning, I went to the Musee de l’Orangerie, home of Monet’s water lilies. His paintings are arranged as a panorama, and the experience is incredible. You could sit and stare at each piece for hours and see a new brush stroke, new angle, new perception of the image. They look like blobs of color from close up, but create beautifully-accurate scenes from afar. Next, we saw the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in front of the Louvre, and then went up to the pyramid of the Louvre. That afternoon, I saw Montmartre for the first time. Starting with the Moulin Rouge, we climbed up to the Sacré-Coeur and oggled at the amazing aerial view of Paris. The Sacré-Coeur is very interesting architecturally, because of its domes. We decided to walk back behind the Sacré-Coeur to see what was back there and I am so glad we did. It instantly became my favorite view of Paris, and I had one of those moments where I was overwhelmed with appreciation for this place. I want to live there in Montmartre.