Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Slowly getting into the swing of things...

With a stomach full of baguette, I will recall the past few days in Paris!

On Saturday, I met the rest of the people in my program at a breakfast our director arranged for at La Coupole. La Coupole is a restaurant in Montparnasse famous for its intellectual regulars of a bygone era, such as Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Josephine Baker, Hemingway and Picasso, to name a few. The restaurant is huge and has ornate art deco decor. Having been so tired and drawn up in the chaos of getting to Paris, we hadn't eaten anything since we arrived. And for a first meal in Paris? This is was great! A warm welcome to Parisian gastronomy. I had the freshest orange juice I've ever had, followed by cafe au lait served piping hot in two separate pitchers: one with coffee, one with steamed milk. We feasted on assorted pastries. I finished off a pain au chocolat, and a croissant with cherry preserves. Yum!
La Coupole
After breakfast, we strolled to class through the Jardin du Luxembourg. A few hours later, with a better idea of what my program entails, I ventured off with a few friends to find the largest MonoPrix in Paris, or so we were told. MonoPrix is perhaps the French equivalent of Target. Probably nowhere else could I have bought a notebook, a rug and a baguette in a single purchase. Hungry from all of our walking, we headed to a restaurant called Le Paradis du Fruit for dinner. The greatest thing about their menu was that healthy options were labeled with angels, and those options that were unhealthy or "gourmand" as the French would say, were labeled with a devil.
At Le Paradis du Fruit eating "Salvador de Bahia"
Sunday, we did as the French do, and took the day to relax. We walked a bit around our neighborhood, but besides some kids playing basketball in the park, it was quite quiet. Today, we again met for class and had individual interviews with our teacher to help plan out our classes. Afterwards we grabbed a cheap lunch in the Latin Quarter and happened upon the Pantheon. We explored the Pantheon which was really quite beautiful, and then spent a fair amount of time wandering around the crypt. We saw the graves of Rousseau, Voltaire, Marie and Pierre Curie, Dumas, Hugo and Zola, all the while trying not to get kicked out (French guards kept shh-ing us for being too noisy). Afterwards we checked out some of the sales currently blanketing Paris, but after trying on some peculiar Parisian fashions, we left stores empty handed. I rushed on back to my dorm, swinging by a candy stand for delicious, brightly colored marshmallows, and made it back in time for dinner. I dined with my new friends and met some other Americans here as well, and then called it a night. It's been quite a few days and I can't wait for more to come!
With friends outside the Pantheon
Inside the Pantheon

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