Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Vous êtes charmante, mais...

I think that title was the beginning of a sentence from my history professor, followed by some vaguely comprehensible phrases (something like, "You are charming, but you need to practice speaking French... a lot more").

Anyway, if that doesn't give you an inclination as to how I'm doing in mes classes...Well, the point is, I'm still quite miserable. But at least I'm "charmante". Ew. that's the phrase a lot of thugs use to catch the ladies around here. I wonder if any of them are EVER successful.

However, in spite of school, life is much better after my samedi à Paris!!! Before, I was still pretty skeptical of my continued presence here, but now that I've tasted a little of what I expect to enjoy for the rest of the semester (at least on the weekends), I'm a happy camper.

First, Laura, Kelley and I rode the train for about an hour to get to Paris (around 10 AM), but sadly, when we arrived, it had started raining. But it was only a drizzle, so we walked along the Seine before deciding where we would take the métro for the day. And what do you know? We came upon the Notre Dame!!!!! Now I understand why that cathedral is so well known around the globe (as compared to the lesser known Cathédrale Sainte-Croix in Orléans): it's astoundingly large and ornate in every detail. We looked on in awe, taking a gazillion or so pictures, but we didn't go inside to meet the Hunchback because the line was ridiculously long (it's still vacation time over here).

So, after some light shopping, getting a cup of tea and doing some more sight-seeing (everything is so historic in Paris) we decided to head in the direction of Montmartre (where the Moulin Rouge and the Sacré Coeur are). Figuring out the métro all by ourselves, we got there and almost immediately after we arose out of the underworld, I caught a glimpse of the Sacré Coeur. We headed in the direction of that beautiful basilica, but Laura warned us that while it might not seem like much, it's a pretty big endeavor to climb all the steps it takes to get to the highest point in the city. But climb those steps, we did! After, of course, we shook off some tourist traps (a.k.a. guys who try to wrap string around your finger/wrist to where you can't escape and then who charge you outrageously for the permanent bijoux). I was proud of myself for escaping with pretty stealthy ease, but poor Kelley was almost caught! Luckily, Laura and I saw that she was stuck, we told her to come on and I yelled at the group of men to allez! Laura said they called us lots of bad things in French, but I didn't care. What could they have done to me in such a large crowd (and in front of a church no less)???

Anyway, after a great many steps, we finally reached the top and saw laid out perfectly visible before us, the city of Paris. It was spectacular!!! While the clouds were gray, the slight rays of sunshine that peeked through them cast beautiful colors on the thousands of buildings below. And the air! It was so clear and smooth! I felt like staying up there for the rest of the day. But Laura and Kelley had other plans, so we almost didn't even go inside the actual church, but after peeking in the doors to see when/if we could entrer, we found that we could! And oh my heavens!!!!!!! That is the most beautiful church I have ever seen in my life! (And I feel I have some credibility in that sentence now, after going inside 3 other very old churches for mass or otherwise.) It has so many stained-glass windows with the most touching and the most tragic stories of Jesus' life depicted upon them (after all, it is called the Sacred Heart for a reason). And the number of tabernacles! I've never seen so many in one church before! I almost didn't know if I should genuflect before each one, but then I realized in my utter stupidity that only one (or maybe 2) had candles lit beside them. I spent probably what seemed like too much time to the others looking around (they finished before I did for sure! But alas, I'm the only Catholic among us) but I had to ask when I saw the basilica store if they had books with the mass in French. Unfortunately, the librairie was closed until 3 pm, and by then I knew we'd be exploring elsewhere. But I do fully intend to get one soon so that I feel like I can understand at least the majority of mass!

Anyway, after descending the massive staircase, we had another quick brawl with the swindlers (they kept asking me if I was French because I only angrily spoke French to them. It was kind of a compliment, or at least I took it as such! :) Haha- I told them, "C'est une église, c'est sacré!" because I was mad that they were hustling people outside this magnificent basilica). But then we got a little lost looking for the Moulin Rouge (which we never found) and after giving up, we decided now was the time for the Eiffel Tower and crepes!

We mounted the métro again and walked the rest of the way to the Tower, looking in desperation for a crepe stand (we were all pretty hungry at this point). But then I finally saw a full glimpse of it! When I was with Hakim's sister before, I had only seen the tip of Le Tour Eiffel, but now that I could see the whole thing, I almost died. We walked all around it and under it, but once again the tourist lines were much too long, so rather than ascending the tower, we crossed the street to purchase our ridiculously over-priced chocolate-banana crepes. But oh man oh man, that crepe was the best thing I've ever bought. EVER. Then we explored and shopped some more (and by that I mean Laura shopped because I'm too scared to spend too much money right now), got lost again (in Paris! it's okay when it's in Paris) and returned to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night (when it sparkles on the hour for 10 minutes) before heading home.

What a marvelous day!!!! Now I will confess that there were some events later that night which were nothing but unpleasant, but nothing could ruin the beauty of the morning/afternoon. I will also confess that it is my renewed goal now to find me a French boyfriend who has a car, lives in the 16th district of Paris and will buy me things and come with me and my friends when we want to go places at night (the latter part being the most important).


PS- Aunt Mary, I left a comment for you in my previous post! :)


  1. OMG those creepy people with the bracelets at the Sacre Coeur!!! AHHH!!! I thought that they were going to sell me and Emily into slavery if we didn't buy those stupid string things. I think Emily's broke the next day, and I eventually lost mine. Bleh.

  2. Paige, I am glad you're having a better time of it, but don't get too comfortable over there -. I couldn't handle you spending more time away from us! I can't wait for you to share the pictures you took- I so wish I could see those places in person with you!
    I will be scouring your room for your phone box so that I can send it to you. Any progress in getting your own laptop yet? We will be looking for that to come in soon.
    Well, we all miss you lots! Love, Mom

  3. Thanks for the comment back on the other post. I enjoy your messages, too. As your adventure in France goes on I keep thinking "wish I was there", and even Rick Steves messes with me - this morning his show was in the Dordogne region of France. The area was not all that tourist-y but beautiful and quaint. The have roofs on the houses from around 1730 or something like that, that are made of slate stones farmers found while clearing their fields. Amazing, rock roofs on houses! Anyway, it made me think of all you are seeing and getting a first hand experience - makes me say "Paige, I hates you" but then I think you are going to write wonderful stories that include some of the people customs and sites, that will thrill me. So I take it back. "I loves you and want you to remember your favorite aunt when you are rich and famous." Oh, another thing Rick Steves said about France - it is about the size of Texas - so you really haven't gone that far.

    And about MySpace... (I am standing with my arms crossed and my foot tapping) ... what happened to principles? Is this what France does to you? Well!