Friday, June 20, 2008

Hanging Out with Royalty

Please forgive me for not writing yesterday...all of my walking about is catching up with me and I am super tired. Tonight is Lisa's last night here, so last night 4 of us went out for dinner and I didn't get home until close to midnight. I was just way too tired to write! So, now this will be a super long post since I have 2 day's worth of sight-seeing to report. Now would be a good time for you to grab a drink, get comfy and prepare to read a bit!

Let's start with yesterday - Thursday, June 19th. Lisa and I went to the Police Museum yesterday morning before class. It was really amazing. There was a ton of French Revolution stuff, and a pretty big section on Emile Zola/The Dreyfus Affair. I had taken quite a few pictures when some man who worked there came up to me and said "No photo!" Of course it was right after that that I came across some amazing French Revolution stuff. Another man walked by, and so I asked Lisa to ask him if I could just get a couple photos. He told her that the boss wasn't there and as long as I was discreet I could do it. So, Lisa was my lookout while I snapped away - not as many as I would have liked, but a lot more than it could have been. While we were there, we heard a bunch of whistles and yelling/chanting outside. My first thought was that yelling crowds + Paris = Revolution. And I was kind of right. Apparently, there was some huge protest - about what, I have no idea. We stayed inside until it was over, though. As interested as I was in seeing it, I was more interested in not getting arrested.
I went on my own to order lunch and again, was able to order a "sandwich avec camembert et tomate" with no troubles. I have found that Camembert is the best cheese ever on a baguette. I hope I can find it at Weis Markets...

Our class went all together to Montmartre to see the various homes/studios of the Impressionist painters, the Moulin Rouge, the Sacre Coeur, and various spots from my favorite movie "Amelie Poulain." I saw the homes of Degas, Renoir, Lautrec, and VanGogh as well as some of their favorite hang-outs. I had wanted to go inside the Museum of Montmartre, but didn't have time, so I am going to try to go back there. Just as we were approaching the Moulin Rouge, it began to pour. I was the only one with an umbrella, so I was trying to shelter as many of us as possible. The rest of the class decided to leave, but Stacey and I stayed in Montmartre. Before we parted, our teacher told us that we would have a test the next morning - I was freaking out because I had plans all night and couldn't figure out when I would study. Before I panicked too much, we ran up the street to the Cafe des Deux Moulins - the restaurant that Amelie worked in. I got a glass of Cote du Rhone and Stacey and I shared some melon, proscuitto and bread. It wasn't long before I forgot about the upcoming test...well, not really, but the wine made it all seem less urgent.

After that, we headed back into the heart of Paris to meet Lisa and some others for dinner. We thought we knew where we were going, but of course got lost! It was all good, though, because I was able to get my French Revolution fix. We got off at the National Assembly metro stop and I was in heaven. We crossed the Pont de la Concorde and I went to the very spot where Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI (among others) were executed (see Vanna White-ish photo). I didn't cry, but I felt honored, for sure!
After the Place de la Concorde was the getting lost part. We needed to meet Lisa at the Musee D'Orsay at 7. Apparently David Copperfield was in town because we saw it, then it disappeared. Really! So, I asked a guard where it was, figuring 1. he would know,because he is an "official" kind of guy; and 2. he would give me correct directions, because he is an "official" kind of guy. Well, either he didn't know or he did and gave us incorrect directions. My bet is on the latter. To make a painfully long experience short, just know that it involved a lot of walking, frustration, and cursing. I finally gave up and we sat down where the D'Orsay should have been according to the guard (it was actually the Grand Palais). I was now 30 minutes late, had no way to contact Lisa, and was very, VERY hungry, tired, and cranky. Thankfully, Lisa was able to get my cell phone number and called me. We all found one another and went to dinner at a restaurant near St. Michel (by the Notre Dame) where I had French onion soup (what else would you call it here?? Maybe "freedom onion soup"?? ha ha) beef burgundy and chocolate mousse. I also had a small bottle of Beaujolais with my dinner. So, Mom and Tammy, yesterday I made up for the lack of wine thus far on my trip. And it is a fact - I toasted you two at the Cafe des Deux Moulins before I had my wine there!

On our way home, we listened to a bunch of happy Germans singing b/c Germany won against Portugal in futbol (soccer to us Americans). When I got home I was way too tired to study for my test, so I took a shower and went to sleep.

This morning, I had my test. I guess I must be learning something because I got an A. The couple things I missed I knew right away what I did wrong. Now if I could just speak it as well as I can write it...
After class, I was going to just go home and sleep because I felt so exhausted, but decided to go to the Basilque St. Denis and I am SO glad I did. All but 3 monarchs from French history are buried here, beginning with Clovis I (from the 400s AD...I don't remember the exact date off the top of my head). But, the highlight of it all was seeing the tombs of the Bourbons (especially Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette). They actually had the real heart of the dauphin, Louis XVII in a glass urn. It was so cool. I also saw the tombs of Catherine de Medici and Henry IV (Navarre). I was literally surrounded by royalty all afternoon. Granted, they were all dead, but I still loved every minute of it!

Lisa and I hung out at home the rest of the afternoon and evening. In fact, we are watching "Enchanted" with Sebastian and Aurore (the children at my homestay) right now. Very interesting to see it in French. I also had an amazing dinner tonight - Stuffed tomatoes, French style (the meat was done differently than we would do in the US) and Vienetta glace (ice cream). It was unbelievable!!! I had 2nds on both - they probably think I eat like a horse! They just eat so much later and I walk around so much that I'm super hungry (that's my excuse, anyway!)

I imagine this has gone on long enough. Sorry to keep you all so long. I will have some cool stuff to report tomorrow night since tomorrow is the big "Fete de la Musique" - it's the annual country-wide music festival. I am also going to the Musee Carnavalet (Museum of Parisian history) and to the home of Victor Hugo.

I hope you all have a fun and safe weekend!


Justine said...

Wish I were there to share in your exciting adventures. Maybe in a couple of years I will be able to join you on one. I am so glad you made it through your flights. Check out some hair & makup styles to share with me. Be safe & enjoy every day to it's fullest which I am sure you will. I love reading your blog

Tammy said...

So I tried once to call Bill today on his cell, but was unsuccessful in reaching him and didn't want to leave a message in case he doesn't have his phone with him. I have something to tell you and I thought I could wait until you get back, but I'm not so sure...we are trying to keep it some what quiet for at least a little longer, so all I will say is we are thinking of you and so happy you are having fun, Aunt Jennifer. XXXOOO

stacey said...

What an adventure! Wish I was there with you. Great pictures. I am glad your having a wonderful time. Scott wants to know if you could get him a magnet for his refridgerator and some french fries.