I have officially been in France for over a week, but in reality it feels like I have only just arrived. Despite being a newbie, I don’t feel like a complete outsider. Yes, when my friends and I ride the metro we are noticeably louder (take note, Americans...the metro is not a place to discuss last night's game or talk about funny jokes or smile or breath. All jokes aside, the metro tends to be somber unless you are riding line 1 or 4 through the center at three in the morning) and when I go to the supermarket and they ask me anything besides “voulez-vous un sac” I make quizzical faces. However, I also feel like I can go outside and walk around (at a parisian pace, of course) without looking like I just flew in from America. The RER scares me, but the Metro and bus are my two best friends. I know how to order water and make sure they give me tap water for free instead of a teeny bottle of Perrier for 5€. It’s coming slowly but surely because there is no other option when you live in a city. Sure, I could rely on my friends for language barriers and metro guidance, but working it out myself challenges me and helps me work on the obstacles I came for. That being said, I conquered my first weekend in Paris...just not actually IN Paris.
Friday I stayed in the city with my friends. We (the 6 American CIEE students) got together and had a jolly good time. This sums up how I enjoyed my night...sitting on my friends floor in jeans and a sweatshirt eating popcorn:
That’s all I’ll say about that. Around 11 PM, Catie (aka controversial boyfriend) and I parted ways and went (safely, hi to all the moms and dads reading this) on an adventure. We started all the way on the right side of line 1 and rode until the Champs-Élysées stop. Along the way, we met a giddy group of Venezuelan and French students who insisted we join them in attending a club. So, we went! There was a rad DJ (Oliver Koletzki for those who care) and fun to be had by all. Sure, there were drunk people around us, but European culture differs from American in that drinking until you’re piss-drunk isn’t seen as a fun time. There are plenty of ways to have fun without seeing stars the next day.
Here’s what the club looks like:
Saturday and Sunday were the real highlight of the weekend. I went with my host sisters to meet their father and his family. Turns out I have host-step-siblings! From back to front it is: Aubertin, Luna, Alba and Lillian! Aubertin and Lillion are just as cool as Luna and Alba and we bonded right away. Aubertin is a pastry chef and made a delicious cake for our first night all together. Lillion and Luna are the same age and she’s so sweet.
Here is the house that the father (Pascal) and his wife Laurence/Lou) are renovating in the countryside:
The picture does no justice to how incredible it is there. The views are stunning and the area is breathtaking. Saturday night we ate a big dinner of pasta with fresh vegetables from the garden and drank homemade peach wine. How much better can it get, right? Well, we went to bed right away because Sunday was reserved for two activities: visiting Le Mont-St-Michel annnnddd SKYDIVING! While I personally didn’t skydive (another time), Luna and Aubertin took the leap...literally….bad joke, je sais. Here they are before:
And during (I don’t have an after photo, but just know that they were thrilled):
Also, I don’t know this man, but he just looked very French with his scarf neatly tucked into his sky-diving suit, so I sneakily snapped a photo:
After sky-diving, we all piled into the car and headed towards St. Michel. It’s a castle surrounded by quicksand on the west coast of France. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone to do a little trip to visit. Plus, there is a restaurant where you can drink the “St. Michel beer” if you really want to commit to your visit.
Here is it from the front:
The interior has teeny little passages that wind up to the top. I’m warning you now that it is touristy beyond the initial walls, but the views are worth every France license plate and overpriced crêpe you will encounter.
We returned to the unbelievable country home and had one last meal together before Alba, Lillian and I returned into the city. I would have stayed longer, but I am working as an english teaching assistant in a school every Monday and Tuesday at 8 AM and needed to show up with at least a few hours of sleep under my belt (more on that later!)
This week is just as jam packed as the last, but I’ll be sure to find time to write again! I'm a little bit sick at the moment, but it seems to just be that time of year...cold and wet :/ Oh well, as I've been saying non-stop since I arrived, "C'est d'accord parce que c'est Paris!"
C’est tout pour le moment!
**This is another way of saying hey. It’s informal, so you probably shouldn’t use it when you meet François Hollande. I just think it is adorable!