Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Guitar Hero and Lots of Holy Water

Bonsoir one and all!
I enjoyed today even more than yesterday! The weather was perfect and I covered a lot of ground (literally!) I feel like I am making progress with the language - I guess when you start with nothing, you pretty much have one way to go! It made me wonder if the French language will be my Guitar Hero? (Bill, Gabby, Jamie and Lindsay - you can guess where this is going...) You see, I tried to play Guitar Hero for months and just could not get the hang of it. I would get so frustrated that I just refused to play. Then, one night, it just clicked. I went from nothing to holding my own in minutes flat making Bill wonder how I'd suddenly acquired eye-hand coordination. So, I'm thinking French may be like that. I am struggling now, but any time now, voila! I'll be semi-understandable. I can hope anyway...
After class, a bunch of us went to the crêperie on the corner and I had a crêpe with ham, Gruyere cheese, and mushrooms. It was très magnifique! Even more magnifique, I ordered all in French, and they understood me!! After lunch, Stacey and I went to Les Halles where there is a HUGE shopping mall. No, I didn't buy anything. I was more excited to go to our next destination - the Église St. Eustache. Only problem was that Stacey and I could not find our way out of the mall! Normally, that wouldn't be a bad thing, but I was itching to do the history thing (yes, I really was!!) and we were supposed to meet my roomie, Lisa, there. St. Eustache is the church where Cardinal Richelieu, Moliere and some others were baptized and where Louis XIV made his first holy communion. It was amazing! I was sure to bless myself with some holy water before I left...kind of cool when you consider Louis XIV may well have blessed himself from that very font.
From there, Stacey and I went on to find a store she wanted to see. It was supposed to have discounted designer stuff, but we found it was still "très cher" (very expensive). We then went on a mission to find more historic stuff. One thing I am learning the hard way is that the map makes Paris appear much smaller than it actually is. Another thing I learned today is that they don't number their blocks the same way we do. They just count, so if you're at 374, rue St. Honore and need to get to 276, rue St. Honore, you need to walk not 1 city block, but past 50 buildings which encompass several city blocks. However, my mad survival skills saved us when we couldn't figure out in which direction to go. My prowess in geography paid off when I said that we needed to go down hill because we wanted to be by the Seine River, which clearly would not be up the hill. I know you are so impressed.
So, as we were walking to the Madeleine (the church, not the little school girl with red hair) we passed every high end designer possible - Chanel, Dior, Ferragamo, Hermes, Lauren, Prada, etc. I honestly didn't care - I knew I couldn't afford it and I just wanted to get to the history stuff (again, I am dead serious!) We went into the Madeleine and from the steps, we could see the Obelisk that stands in the Place de la Concord (where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lost their heads - literally!) The Madeleine (Magdalene, in English) was beautiful, but we were not permitted to take photos. On our way out, I blessed myself again with holy water.
We went on to find the Salon of Madame Geoffrin. There are about 3 of you reading this who will actually know who this was. The rest of you shouldn't feel badly, because it appears as though 99% of Paris doesn't know who she was, either. We found her house, and there was a plaque there, so I went into the courtyard. I looked around and no sign of a historic salon was to be found. So, I went into the office building that was connected to what should have been her home/salon. The young man at the reception desk had NO idea what I was talking about. His English was comparable to my French, so we were up the proverbial creek. He thought she was a live person. I'm saying, "Non! Elle morte!" (no she's dead - or I think the literal translation of my Tarzan-speak is actually "she dead") which seemed to confuse the poor bloke even more. He finally pointed to the elevator and said, "Up. Two." So we went up to the second floor where Swarovsky Crystal office was located. Hmmm...Geoffrin...Swarovsky. Nope - they don't even sound alike in my worst French. The male receptionist there was very nice and spoke very good English, but still no luck. So, we left...
We headed way, way, way down the same street and found the next church I wanted to see - Eglise St. Roch. Mme. Geoffrin was supposed to be buried here (I was bent on seeing Mme. Geoffrin one way or another!!) and Diderot was supposed to be buried here, as well. The church was unbelievably beautiful. One of the most moving parts was a chapel dedicated to the martyrs of the Holocaust. It had the name of each concentration camp on the monument and a "Pieta" sculpture there, as well. Although I was in awe, I could not find Diderot or Geoffrin I stopped a nice looking (not "hot" nice looking, but "kind" nice looking) man and asked, "Ou est Diderot et Geoffrin?" to which he replied, "Tu as quelle nationalite?" (what is your nationality?) I couldn't believe he didn't think I was French! Anyway, it turns out that he was the priest and he spoke excellent English and was quite the historian. He explained that during the French Revolution, the church was ransacked and they took the dead bodies (bones) away. After the Revolution, they tried to gather as many of the bones as possible, but because they were all thrown together, they didn't know Geoffrin's femur from Diderot's tibia. So, they threw them all together in a sort of bone potpourri and buried them under the church. When he found out I was a history teacher, he took us to the sacristy and gave me a booklet on Admiral de Grasse - who he claims was more critical to the American Revolution than LaFayette. I don't know exactly what he did, but it has to do with America's victory at Yorktowne. I look forward to reading the booklet and learning more! Oh yeah, and before I left, I blessed myself with holy water.
After that, I took the metro home.Turns out, it was good to have 3 blessings-worth of holy water on my body. It was the first night I went on the metro solo (Lisa was somewhere else) and, well, you know all those mad geography skills I mentioned earlier? Yep, you guessed it - out the metro window. I got totally lost coming home. I ended up going out the wrong metro exit and it put me on the wrong side of Creepyville. I did, however, ask for directions in French and understood the man's response and found my way home. Uh huh! That's right...I hear that Guitar Hero playing, too!
Tammy - I plan to drink wine for you. What kind would you like? (I've been here 4 days and only had 1 glass of wine - I think that might be against the law...I'd better get busy!)
Mom and Dad - don't you love me??? You haven't emailed or posted on my blog! What's up with that?!
Sean - do you even know I am away?? Show your sister some love! Drop me a line! or at least have my lovely sister-in-law do it...I know she'll write to me even if you won't! *LOL* Hugs to Draven!!

Bill, Gabby, Will and Maddie - je t'aime beaucoup!! XOXOXO


Grace said...

Bonjour mon amie! Sounds like you are having a fabulous time. I love hearing about your daily experiences. I should have reminded you about the steps! My bad. Have a crepe chocolate for me... A tout a l'heure.

The Family said...

Your family loves you!

It sounds like you are having the time of your life!

A couple of more holy water sprinkles can't hurt!!!

-The Fam...

Anonymous said...

one glass of wine will NOT due, so hop to it sister! :) and make it something red, please. I can't wait for your next post. XXXOOO

Kristin Jacobs said...

Ca va, ma belle-soeur? I love reading your blog! It's like I'm there tasting the baguettes, exploring the great sites, getting lost on the Metro, everything. But I must ask you: what is your fascination with holy water? Tres bizarre! Sophie is a huge fan of the Madeleine series and she's already asked when we can go to Paris. I told her we'd have to get some insider advice from you first. When are you going to the Louvre? A tout a l'heure!

Kristin Jacobs (again) said...

Ma belle-soeur,

I just found out there's a special Camille Claudel exhibit at the Musee Rodin in Paris. You MUST go and PLEASE tell me all about it! Here's the website with all the info:

Anonymous said...

Did the Admiral in question lead the French fleet that stopped the British from getting in to help their stranded buddies at Yorktowne?? If so, he may have an arguement.


History Nerd (aka--Truly)