Sunday, August 24, 2008

Week One In France

Salut!  It has been a quick week of beautiful sites.  I'll give you a short rundown of the things I have done since I arrived in Paris last Tuesday:

Upon arrival to our dorms at Cite Universitaire, our group wandered the streets around our campus.  We found a rummage store, which was promising because I had read somewhere that you can not find reasonably priced clothes in Paris.  Supposedly even the thrift stores are expensive and filled with high-end designer clothes.  After rummaging around we headed to a little square that had a street market and an excellent crepe restaurant.  I had a crepe with chantilly and pineapple ice cream. Magnifique!  After crepes we headed to a department store called Monoprix so I could pick up some things that I forgot to pack.

Our second day in Paris was fun.  We started a walk in the Jardin Des Tuileries.  I had been there during my previous trip to Paris, but we walked down a different side so I got to see some new things.  For anyone who travels to Paris, you must visit the Tuileries.  The garden is very beautiful with many amazing statues.

Later that day we visited Notre Dame and then the Latin Quarter.  We saw many funky shops and restaurants.  This area is a happening place for nightlife.  I found a wonderful clothing store that sells fancy gothic and victorian clothing.  I forget the name at the moment, but I will be heading back there when I have more time to shop.  That evening we saw some street performers doing break dancing in mime masks.

Thursday we visited Musee Quai Branly.  Our group went to explore the extensive works of African Art.  My feet hurt a lot from the rigorous day before, so I didn't get to see a lot of that art, but I am familiar with the beautiful and ornate masks and jewelry from Africa.  The group told me about the things the saw as I rested at the Quai Branly restaurant, where I experienced Africa by eating some Pan African cuisine.

After the museum, our group had a snack at a cafe nearby and then I separated from the group.  I walked through the Eiffel Tower park, crossed the Seine River, and headed to the Arc de Triomphe.  The drivers around there are super crazy.  I believe that the area is uncontrolled because I didn't see any stop lights.  The cars go in arbitrary directions crisscrossing through each other at a very fast pace.  It took me a bit to figure out how to cross the street to get to the Arc.  It turns out that you have to go underground.  I didn't take the stairs to the top.  I am going to wait and do it during the night to see the "city of light".

Friday we did service learning at the American Cathedral of Paris.  The recipients of our service were very kind and we enjoyed serving them food.  We will be continuing to do service there during our stay.

Friday afternoon we took a train to Tours in the Loire Valley.  There is great shopping, especially for lovers of European shoes, on the rue Nationale.  We had dinner in a funky square called Place Plumereau.  It has narrow cobblestone streets and lots of restaurants and clubs.  After dinner we went to a concert by the river and I hung out with the band for a little while.

Saturday we visited a couple of beautiful chateaus.  My favorite part of the day was visiting Leonardo Davinci's home.  We also visited his tomb.  I was hoping that by our being there that we may absorb some of his genius.

So now it is Sunday and we are back in Paris.  I am resting while I type this entry and soon I will head off to explore.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Au revoir!

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