It’s been one week…
Orientation ended on Friday so next week I will be off starting classes and settling into my semester sched. (kind of, because many French university classes won’t start until February).
Cara and I explored the neighborhood around Montparnasse on Tuesday afternoon after buying her cell phone plan (the provider is called “bouygues”. Try saying that 5 times fast.) Anyway we wandered around La cimetière du monparnasse and saw a few famous graves. It’s the final resting place for some of France’s intellectual and artistic elite. Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras, Eugene Ionesco, Man Ray, Jean-Paul Sartre, and more. Cara and I noticed that other visitors left metro tickets, pens and other small things on the grave of Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre so we added our two tickets to the mini-shrine thing. Cemeteries freak me out on normal days with their ornate carvings and crazy gravestones; and we went on an especially cloudy day… super creepy. (We warmed up afterwards w/ a cheese plate from a cafe… mmm brie, camembert et chèvre)
Wednesday: Went to La Maison Rouge with orientation group in the afternoon. Passed by the Seine for the first time! Plus the sun decided to come out so it was especially beautiful walking by the water. La Maison Rouge: Interesting (read: odd and slightly terrifying) museum on the boulevard de la bastille. Our group went on a tour of the exhibit on vanity and death. Lots of skulls and contorted humans.
Thurs: Visited La Conciergerie where Marie Antoinette and Robespierre were imprisioned. It was the Palais de la Cité, the residence of the kings, but the ground floor became a prision during the revolution and during the Reign of Terror. Cold and creepy!
During the afternoon, my group took in an exhibit at the Centre Pompidou, the museum of modern art that is like 6 stories tall and provides a great view of Paris. The exhibit, “Danser sa vie” was all about the intersection of dancing and beauty and aesthetics, etc. Some very cool sculptures, paintings, videos, and even live performers doing modern dance in corners.
At night, Cara and I explored the Latin Quarter and went to our first French bar. Wicked crowded with both French and Americans though. Very exciting and glamorous (to me, the non-city girl) even though it was a student dive bar. Practiced French with locals and ex-pats.
Friday: Final day of orientation… afterwards went to find the Bouygues cell phone store only to discover that the branch we had gone to on Tuesday was practically empty because it was being closed permanently. Hmm. Wandered around the Marais area where there were expensive stores, vintage stores, and other fun things.
Saw Eiffel Tower at night! Even though it is this huge hunk of metal that the French originally hated (supposedly), it is SOO beautiful and cool when it is lit up at night. A beacon of light shining over the city. Pretty cool to be so close to this icon of Paris!