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Posts Tagged ‘Croissants’

Yes, the weather was lousy this weekend. Yes, this was my last weekend in my apartment in the 10th. Yes, I had my first final on Thursday.

But despite all of this, the weekend was a fantastic one, because my Berlin-based friend, Tim, came back for a second action-packed weekend of Parisian adventures.

Wednesday night, I took the RER — regional express train, kind of like the metro but not as nice and kind of weird and sketchy at times — out to the Charles DeGaulle International Airport, where Tim was waiting on the train quai. We got right back on that train — it’s a really expensive ticket, but if I stayed in the train system I didn’t have to pay, hat tip to my friend Claire for that helpful hint that would have been really useful for retrieving my parents back in April — and took it to Gare du Nord and my neighborhood, where we celebrated our reunion with an expresso and a delicious plate of gorgonzola and pear.

Thursday, we traipsed on over to the Musée d’Orsay for some art watching — finding time to run into somebody I know from UNC who is in town for a summer project on ballet, waiting in line outside the museum, crazy tiny world that this is — and I went off to take my first of two finals.

It wasn’t terrible — multiple choice and an 11-page essay on media models in transition, in English — and it feels good to be that much closer to being finished with school.

We spent our Friday picnicking in the Jardin de Plantes, drinking coffee at La Caféotheque and avoiding hordes of tourists in the Louvre — it helps when both you and your guest can get into museums for free, yay European youth benefits! — finishing up with a victorious second attempt at the strawberry-asparagus tart — more butter, almond powder and creme fraiche this time — and a movie outing at the Action Écoles Cinema to see Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest.”

Saturday, more coffee wanderings, coupled with a marvelous and lively rendition of Manhunt on Ile-Saint-Louis. More epic chase sequences, more distracted and angry tourists and more sweating international young adults meant a fantastic game. Plus, at one point I avoided being tagged by rounding a street corner and ducking between rows of school children on a field trip, using their adorable small size and charming tendency to hold hands to create a tiny human barrier between me and my huntress. It was quite, quite epic.

We ended the day with some delicious asparagus risotto chez moi and a happening party at the uber-posh apartment of one of my journalism program friends who lives right next door to the Eiffel Tower. The party was a lot of fun, and Tim actually found a girl from his hometown of Dusseldorf — a girl who had been in my French language class here — with whom he shared a lot of mutual friends.

Capping off our weekend of adventuring with a delicious Sunday brunch at Breakfast in America in the Latin Quarter — so much American drip coffee and a big pile of raspberry-coconut-white chocolate chip pancakes YUM — we again rode the RER to the airport, saying goodbye only until July 1, when I will be staying with Tim in Berlin as part of my European Opera Adventure.

This week will see me:

1) Moving out of my apartment

2) Taking the LAST final of the year

3) Going to see “Rear Window” at Action Écoles

4) Running along the Seine

Stay tuned, dear readers — la fin va arriver!

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Whew.

It’s been quite a week. I must apologize for my long absence from this blog. What, with classes at SciencesPo finally ending, my summer planning getting into high gear and the arrival of my high school chum Charlotte for a weekend in Paris, I’ve been out and about and moving around and hardly had any time to keep you, my dear readers and friends, updated on the goings-on in my life.

And as I’ve said above, it’s been a wonderful week. True, the weather was iffy, and true, when it wasn’t rainy the tourists came out in droves, but I had many wonderful adventures and now will do my best to relay some of them to you.

Classes ended last Wednesday — or at least our journalism program ended; I still had a class on Friday — so the director of our program took everybody, and I mean everybody — all the students, many of the professors and even our guest speaker for the day in French reporting, British author Stephen Clarke — out for drinks at a lovely little bar close to the journalism school. We all had a fantastic time getting to know our professors in a more informal setting, and afterwards all the students went to Rue Mouffetard, a student area in the Latin Quarter, to continue the evening.

It was weird to think that our program was over, and here we all were, in a bar in Paris, realizing for perhaps the first time that we really did enjoy one another’s company. We parted ways Wednesday, agreeing to meet up again for dinner parties and such before we all fly off to our respective home countries in June.

Thursday was a lazy day, as I waited for my old Cranbrook  friend Charlotte to arrive from Ireland for our madcap weekend in the city. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a fantastic afternoon playing a game of extreme urban hide and go seek tag on Île Saint-Louis — because I did.

The game, called ‘Manhunt,’ was brought to us from Montreal by our friend Alain, an exchange student from Concordia University there. Essentially, the game is this: players assemble in a public square and count off in an ‘eeny-meeny-miny-moe’ type fashion until all players have been counted out. Upon getting counted out, the player takes off running as fast as they can, and the last person standing is ‘it.’ The person who is ‘it’ must then tag all the other players, with each subsequently tagged player also becoming ‘it’. Finally, there is one player left, who must avoid all other players until the round’s time limit is reached and all players return to the starting point.

All players must wear some kind of identifiable arm band — we chose plastic bags of various colors — to make it easy to see the player in a crowd of people. Players must stay outside, in public places, within a defined playing area. We chose the Île Saint-Louis, one of the two main islands in the Seine. The island is mostly residential, with no metro stops, few access points and lots of tiny, twisty streets. Along with the Île de la Cité — the island on which the famous Notre Dame resides — Île Saint-Louis is often cited as the place where the city of Paris began hundreds of years ago.

And for us, the Île Saint-Louis was the birthplace of one of our new favorite games.

We ran around the islands for a few hours — half of the island on the second round, seeing as the whole island was far too big for the small amount of players — dodging tourists, hiding behind cars and sprinting away from our plastic-bag wearing antagonists. At the end, we all agreed to play it again, and soon.

That came later, but first I had to pick up Charlotte from the Porte Maillot bus stop. Charlotte, one of my good friends from high school, was visiting Paris and staying with me at the tail end of her end of term European tour. She spent her spring term in Bologna, Italy, but realized she couldn’t leave the continent before visiting Paris.

We had a fantastic weekend, visiting parks, having picnics, exploring the Musée d’Orsay on the once-a-year free museum night — La nuit de musées — and most importantly, playing Manhunt on Île Saint-Louis. This time however, there were many more players — and with the warmer weather, the island was covered in tourists.

By the time we finished playing in the early afternoon, it was clear to us that the tourists on the island were sick of the crazy kids yelling and screaming and hiding behind cars. I must add, however, that there was a small coterie of island-goers who got into the game, yelling encouraging thoughts and discreetly warning us when another player was close by.

Sure, I could talk more about our weekend adventures — the tasty croque monsieurs at Le Select, the most delicious croissants in Paris near Place de la Bastille, the delightful picnic in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, the Sunday night showing of “It Happened One Night” at the Cinéma Action Christine, the spectacular frittata we cooked for dinner one evening — but just know that we had a fantastic time.

Now, it’s just me and Paris for a few days — most of my friends in the city are off having continental adventures of their own, and my Carolina friend Alison doesn’t arrive until Thursday night — but that’s alright. I’m looking forward to researching opera at the Mediathéque Mahler, running around the canal and cooking tasty meals for one, among the other things that have come to define my time in Paris.

I have just under a month left in this chapter of my life, and I’m going to make the most of it. If you happen to come to Paris in the next few weeks and seek to find me, go to the Île Saint-Louis. I’ll probably be there, with a plastic bag on my arm, hiding behind a car.

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I realize that I have not really revealed much about what I have been doing these past few days. My last posts, while perhaps amusing and interesting, did not, for example, describe the lovely faux press conference we had on Thursday in my French Culture Reporting class, nor did they detail the absolutely delicious salmon dinner I prepared at the home of my dinner party friends on Friday night.

So this post, from this spring-like, chilly yet sunny Sunday afternoon, will attempt to alleviate all of these gaps and holes in the narrative of my term here in Paris.

As indicated above, Thursday’s French Culture Reporting class focused on the art of the interview, and also featured a guest speaker, Madame Marie de Tilly, a self-proclaimed etiquette expert, who answered all of our questions on exactly what it means to be polite here in France.

It was a fascinating discussion. Madame de Tilly, a rigid yet friendly woman, described her work, what she sees as essential for the aspiring polite French person — dress well, arrive late to functions, know how to eat properly — and also how she thinks that good manners and politesse can help people “mix” in all types of society.

We were supposed to write a brief article describing the visit and what it told us about French etiquette — which I have done — and will reflect on the “press conference” next class period. I can really tell that this class will be one of the more interesting ones I take this term.

It also should be said that I made an absolutely kicking pasta dish Thursday evening: penne mixed with garlic, tomatoes and mushrooms sauteed in olive oil, butter, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt and other such goodies. It was spicy, savory and ever so good.

I did not have class on Friday for some odd reason — administrative duties or some such nonsense — so instead I made tentative plans to visit the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery on the eastern edge of the city. Père Lachaise is one of the most frequently visited cemeteries in the world, and it’s not surprising why: they have such luminaries as Sartre, Simon de Bolivar, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde, among others. It’s absolutely gigantic, and entrance is free, so I thought I might head over there and walk around, seeing as Friday afternoon was particularly sunny, if not terribly warm.

But then, some impromptu plans with my dinner party gang arose, and I decided that it would be better to run to the cemetery in order to save time and also get a run into before heading out for the evening.

I am glad that I made this decision, because the cemetery was closed to the public due to the large amounts of ice and snow covering the stairs and winding pathways inside. I will just have to wait until it is warm to visit the cemetery. I’m not worried. It isn’t going anywhere, nor are its famous residents. I hope.

Friday evening saw me wandering around in the cold with the gang, then returning to their warm apartment, where we made a positively SCRUMPTIOUS salmon dinner, complete with a honey-balsamic-mustard glaze and sauteed veggies. We finished the evening with a round of movies — a cautionary note: “Nine” is NOT a good film, nor is “New York, I Love You” — and I accidentally missed the last metro.

It wasn’t a big deal, as there was room enough for me to crash there for the evening, and I awoke — at noon, so WIN — on Saturday for breakfast and the cold return home.

Safely ensconced in my warm apartment, I did some homework — which I finally have! SUCCESS — and waited around until my evening with Victoria, my American friend from high school. I met up with her at the tiny art gallery where she works as a part of her university’s program here in Paris, and we went off for dinner with some of her French friends.

A tasty clam dinner and a lovely café coffee conversation later — tout en Français, bien sûr! — we called it a night, agreeing to meet again tonight for dinner at Breakfast in America, the kitsch-tastic diner that serves, as its name suggests, American-style diner food.

Today, I did a little more homework, read some news online, went for a lovely run in my favorite park and had one the best croissants I have ever eaten from the luxury chocolate and pastry shop down the street from my apartment — only 1 euro! — for lunch.

I suppose you could call this a good weekend, and I imagine this week will only continue to get better. The weather is seemingly on the edge of changing over to spring, the Euro keeps going down thanks to the financial woes of Greece, Spain, Portugal and all their friends and my classes seem to really be picking up in both interest and work level.

So, things is good. Spring, good food, cheap(er) currency and interesting learning-times. What could be better?

PS Also, a belated update on the Parisian Public Peeing Count: We have passed 10 Parisian Public Peeing People. I’ve been advised to drop my count by those in the know, because apparently when the weather turns nice, I will not be able to keep track.

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