Monday, November 24, 2008


Yes, I know. It must seem commonsense that we, the Lovely Ladies of Lyon, would never be able to forget our three month long trip to France. I mean, no one could ever imagine completely shutting out such an amazing experience from her mind. However, I feel as though I have an important fact to clarify. Just like all other extraordinary opportunities in life (such as attending Franklin Pierce University), we aren’t solely going to remember our experiences when confronted with a blatant picture of the Eiffel Tower. On the contrary, our memories are going to be triggered by all the little things that have contributed to our French experience, and only we are fully going to understand their meaning and significance in the overall picture of France and our lives. No matter whether the memories are amusing, disheartening, exciting, daunting, or frightening, they’re almost certainly going to be effortlessly conjured up in the most ridiculous settings in our future lives, and at the particular moment in time, we may not have anyone to reminisce with about them. However, we do have cell phones in America, and texting can be the perfect way to quickly share this knowledge, so it isn’t much for us to worry about. In any case, as our French experience comes to an end, we’ve tried to identify some of the little things that will forever generate memories. Below is the “Official” list. Please be aware that a majority was required for each of the following items to be featured. Enjoy!

  • Official Address: 19 rue Honoré de Balzac, Villeurbanne, France
  • Official Best GA: Christine Lewis
  • Official Book: France by Colin Jones (Cambridge Illustrated History)
  • Official Club: Dance Boats on the Seine River
  • Official Supermarket: The Super U
  • Official Form of Dance Exposure: “Contemporary”
  • Official French Phrase: “Avec La Gauche!”
  • Official French Rapper: Sefyu
  • Official French Song: "Champs-Elysees"
  • Official Game: Spite & Fury (Gotta love cards!)
  • Official Instrument: Accordion
  • Official Metro: A 
  • Official Non-Shopping Day: Sunday (Can you believe even the mall is closed? And don’t even try to go food shopping after 12:00PM. It’d be pointless. Trust us.)
  • Official Pet Peeve: Waiting extended periods of time for the trams to arrive
  • Official Professor: Wendy Dwyer
  • Official Soundtrack: Disney’s Mulan
  • Official Tram: T3

Avec l'Amour,

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Well, I’ll just say it: When Wendy made the suggestion that we all consider attending Beaujolais Nouveau, Lyon’s very own midnight wine celebration during which 450 liters of wine is offered to the attending crowd, I wasn’t the least bit thrilled. In fact, I couldn’t have whined more about it! First off, the fact that I don’t drink alcohol (seriously) completely nullified the overall potentially alluring offer of free wine. Secondly: a MIDNIGHT festival? Was she serious?! It’s November! I don’t care if we’re in France, having a gathering in the middle of the night ANYWHERE (in these kinds of latitudes) probably means it’s going to be cold outside. Therefore, if I did go, I’d have to actually make the effort to put on multiple layers of clothing, bundle up with at least a scarf and my mittens, and make sure my jacket was buttoned up tight. Third, it was a Wednesday night, and we had an early day scheduled for Thursday. Wasn’t it irresponsible to stay out so late on a school night?

Nevertheless, I was conned into going. You see, after Wendy saw my highly unenthused facial expression regarding the potential late night activity, she used her second piece of alluring Beaujolais Nouveau information: The event was going to contain a fireworks show. Now, I had yet to see fireworks in France, and as I assessed the situation, I realized that I really hadn’t had the opportunity to see any since around the fourth of July. Plus, as the girls explained to me, it was officially our final ten days in Lyon, France. We would most likely never get the opportunity to experience such activities together—as the entire Lyon 2008 group—ever again, and truth be told, things just don’t get more Lyonnaise than this activity. Overall, they felt it was worth experiencing—at least worth documenting with my camera—and I might just enjoy myself.

[Of course, as I later figured out, the girls also had ulterior motives because if I was around, it meant they all got some extra sips of my undesired alcoholic beverage.]

In any case, upon our arrival in Place Bellecour, we were greeted by the musical delights of Lyon’s very own marching band! The band followed behind a horse drawn wagon baring the actual barrel of fresh wine, and the overall crowd included numerous individuals holding torches in order to brighten the street. As the procession slowly made its way toward a tent at the far end of Bellecour, we recognized and humorously sung along to numerous American songs such as the “YMCA.”

Finally, around 12:00AM, the wagon has reached its final destination, and we pushed our way into a crowd of people surrounding what appeared to be a decent sized stage adorned with even more barrels of wine! All of the sudden, loud techno music began blaring, lights began flashing, and fireworks filled the sky above our heads. As the crowd became overwhelmed with awe and amazement, glasses of fresh wine were passed out to the crowd. Overall, it was such a captivating and amusing display that I actually FORGOT I was cold (which is not an easy feat with me because I’m ALWAYS cold). Therefore, I actually had a really great experience and was extremely happy that I didn’t miss it.

[And, just for your information, my camera died at the very BEGINNING of this event meaning I only got about three photographs of the marching band, but I STILL enjoyed myself. I guess my friends and Wendy were right after all. ☺]

Avec l'Amour,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


  • Louis and Auguste Lumiére (brothers) were two of the earliest filmmakers.
  • Both grew up together and attended college in Lyon, France.
  • The Lumiére Villa was their home and used to be referred to as the “Lumiére Castle” by local inhabitants of Monplaisir, the neighborhood where it is located.
  • Today, this Villa houses the Lumiére Museum.
  • In March of 1985, the Lumiéres set up their Cinematograph and made their first film: La Sortie de usines Lumiére.
  • The First Film Warehouse appears in the background of this film!
  • La Sortie de usines Lumiére was first shown in December of 1895.
  • Even though they received numerous offers, the Lumiére brothers refused to sell their Cinematograph because they preferred to retain control.
  • They sent trained operatives around the world to bring back images so that they could show “the world” the world.
  • Louis Lumiére invented the photorama in 1901, which enabled photographs to be projected into a six-meter high, 360-degree panorama!
  • There is a replica of this photorama, which contains an image of Marseille, in the Lumiére Museum.
  • Both brothers also made advancements in medicine such as “Lumiére tulle gras,” a dressing for burns, and mechanical hands made in the form of hooks and clamps.

Well, I didn’t know any of these facts until Wendy brought us to the Musée Lumiére on Tuesday afternoon! As you can probably tell, it was a very intriguing experience, and I learned a lot of new information of which I had never previously found myself curious. Plus, I got some amazing photographs of the different devices featured in each of the Villa’s rooms including the Cinematograph and two of the highly intriguing mechanical hands that the brothers’ designed.

Of course, it wasn’t until I got back to my residence that I took a second look at all of my images and came to a stunning realization: I had captured something else on film, which could be considered “highly intriguing.” In a photograph that was intended to capture the view outside of one of the Lumiére brother’s bedroom windows, I captured a clear reflection of a man: A balding, older man baring a stunning resemblance to Mr. Lumiére himself. Was it a ghost? Is it just my imagination? I’m not sure anyone can be entirely certain, but the mystifying picture along with an image of Mr. Lumiére is featured below for your viewing pleasure.

Avec l'Amour,

Sunday, November 9, 2008


It’s official! Since Saturday, November 8th I have been on vacation from everything school related. Now, would you like to know the best part? My vacation doesn’t end until November 16th! That’s right. I get over a week of free, vacation/holiday time. I don’t even know WHAT I’m going to do with myself. Of course, I do have some schoolwork to keep me busy, and I caught up on my blog over these past few days, but I can’t spend every waking moment on school stuff. It’s impossible. Plus, I’m going to have fun this week (and finishing up schoolwork doesn’t necessarily always count as fun-filled time).

Now, although I can’t truthfully say that I’m using this time off to be highly productive in the “visiting as many different cities and countries as one possibly can” sense (I’m actually just planning on spending the week in Lyon), some of the other girls are doing just that! One went back to Paris with her mother, another is in London staying with family, and many of the girls are lucky enough to have their families visiting Lyon. Therefore, overall, it’s been a very joyous weekend filled with a lot of love and excitement.

However, I’ve come to a conclusion that I feel I must inform you all about. Since I am supposed to be using this vacation as a break, I’ve made the executive decision to break from blogging for this week UNLESS something absolutely noteworthy occurs. Therefore, this entry is goodbye for the week! I hope you all have a fabulous one, and I’ll be back to telling you all about my LAST TWO WEEKS’ experiences around the 17th. Keep well!  

Avec l'Amour,


On Monday, November 3rd the students of Franklin Pierce University’s Vienna study abroad program made their way into OUR territory. Yep, that’s right! They came to see the lovely city of Lyon, which the girls and I are all so proud to call “home.”

In order to best take advantage of the unique opportunities that this presented, both the Vienna professor and Wendy Dwyer decided it would be a magnificent idea if the “Lyon Ladies” took the Vienna students on a tour. Before it began, Wendy informed us all that the tour didn’t have to be highly supplemented with historical content. Instead, she preferred that we truly showed our peers the aspects of the city that we loved and explain to them why they were so important or significant to us all. Therefore, we were able to take them on a very short, but highly packed tour. We started at the sculpture of Louis XIV in Place de Bellecour, pointed out the Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica as well as the Metallic tower of Fourvière, and, after walking down Rue de La Republique, we were able to point out Lyon’s Opera House, the Place des Terreaux, which features Bartholdi’s Fountain. Finally, we took them for a walk down the side of the Seine River and pointed out the boats, works of art, and recreational areas that Lyon boasts. Although we were happy to walk about, the Vienna students seemed more like Victims of our tour than willing guests. They were not very impressed with our city.

When the tour was complete, we were all informed that we would be dining together at a local restaurant in Vieux Lyon at 8:00PM that evening! Although we spent our late afternoons in our separate study abroad groups, having dinner together was a great idea! It was fun to catch up with friends, meet new people, and experience French food together. Plus, the Vienna Victims didn’t seem to be suffering as badly during this excursion. They were enjoying themselves, and they were great company.

Ultimately, even though the Vienna Victims didn’t seem that impressed with our lovely homestead, that doesn’t change our opinions about it! Lyon is our primary location, and we know it inside and out. We’re just as connected to it as they’re connected to Vienna, and therefore, it makes sense that they wouldn’t be able to appreciate it at the same level as us. Although I don’t know about any of the other girls, personally, I took no offense at their harsh opinions. Besides, Paris is still the number one city in my mind… and I think I’d probably take more offense to someone knocking Paris than I would to someone knocking Lyon any day.

Avec l'Amour,


  • I woke this morning and felt ridiculously depressed. It was my last day in Paris, and I didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t ready to go yet, and nothing about returning to Lyon seemed the slightest bit appealing.
  • A few of the girls (including myself) got up early enough to eat our last quick, free breakfast downstairs around 9:00AM at the Hotel Marignon.
  • At 9:45AM, Wendy led our small group back to the Notre Dame so that we could attend and experience what Catholic mass would be like in such an enormous church. It began at 10:00AM, and it was another one of those indescribable experiences.
I used to think I was healed. My old wounds were wrapped up and put away. I had moved on. I mean, I was successfully living my everyday life, right? Well, due to my experience at the Notre Dame, I now know that I was just in denial. I was fooling myself. I’m nowhere near healed, and I’m not really sure anyone ever can be.

Hmm… that was kind of cryptic, huh? Where do I start so that you can fully understand what I mean without revealing my whole life story? Okay, I’ve decided. I’ll start here: I used to be Catholic.

Growing up, my family was fairly religious. We went to mass regularly, and I received the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation. However, as I got older, I truly began understanding religion, and I realized that the values held dear by the Catholic Church didn’t align with my personal values. Therefore, I stepped away from Catholicism and, with time, so did my family. At that point, I declared myself a nondenominational Christian.

However, I don’t really know what that means. Religion isn’t truly a large part of my daily life anymore. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that I probably only think about “religious” things twice a month (if that). Of course, certain unpredictable and uncontrollable experiences have the tendency and ability to bring us closer to religion on a whim. Both of my grandfathers passed away recently. They were very religious men, and the last time I was in a Church, I’m pretty sure it was for one of their funerals.
Knowing this, attending mass at the Notre Dame was ridiculously overwhelming. Everything hit me like a ton of bricks. Although I couldn’t understand the language, the procedure of mass was exactly the same. It brought back hundreds of memories of masses from when I was younger, and it brought back the painful memories of those two funeral services. Even the smell of the incense made me think of my grandfathers. Unable to help myself, I cried the entire mass through. It was a beautiful service, and I made the choice to receive the host at communion by the end.

In its conclusion, I wiped my eyes and thought positively. If France has taught me anything, it has taught me about what genuinely means the world to me: my family. When I go home, I can’t forget how blessed I am for having them. I must find everyway possible to show them how much I appreciate their love, encouragement, and influence in my life.

  • After mass, we headed off in our own directions stopping at souvenir shops, getting lunches, and then meeting back up at the Hotel Marignon in order to grab our bags. We would be heading back out onto the Metro and trains today in pursuit of Lyon. 
  • Our train left from Paris Gare Lyon station at 2:54PM, and we were all very well settled into our seats with our books, cards, and iPods before it started bustling off. Even so, I was not very thrilled. Of course, there was nothing I could do about it, so I let time, which had initially led me to Paris, to lead me even farther on my life journey. Besides, I figured the sooner I reached Lyon, the sooner I would be able to find myself back in Paris someday, someway, somehow.
  • At around 5:00PM, we found ourselves back in Lyon’s Part Dieu station, and my amazing trip to Paris was complete.
Avec l'Amour,

Saturday, November 8, 2008


  • After breakfast, we took a sight seeing walk to the Louvre during which we got to see the many faces featured on the sides of Pont Nuef, Paris’ newest bridge over the Seine River.
  • When we arrived at the iconic pyramids of the Louvre, Wendy decided it would be a great place for us to do some contemporary dance improvisation!
You’re probably wondering what it’s like to dance outside such an iconic structure in the middle of Paris with groups of people watching. At first, it’s very unsettling. It’s hard to get into the right state of mind and feel as though you’re truly settled into your body. Personally, I just keep thinking about the people watching and judging me. I want to show them that I have proper technique and skill and training, but I also know that those characteristics aren’t exactly what my professor is valuing. She wants to see us releasing into ourselves and truly dancing from our hearts and souls. Luckily, after only a few moments of calculated movements, I tend to lose myself anyway and feel more comfortable. I forget where I am and just dance. It took a lot of practice and trust in myself to be able to do this, but I’ve slowly learned this really important ability since being in college contemporary dance courses.

Finally, when it specifically comes to dancing outside of the Louvre, I didn’t know that strangers were watching, taking photographs, and video recording us until after our “performance” was done! Ultimately, I was a bit embarrassed by Wendy’s request at first, and I didn’t want to dance in such an open, tourist filled area, but I’m really glad we all did it! I mean, who else can say that while they were in Paris they danced outside of the Louvre? Not to mention, it’s on film! That means, it’s totally undeniable. Personally, I think it shows that each of us are confident and free spirited women, and those are genuinely good qualities to possess, don’t you think?

  • Inside the museum, we all split up so that we would all be able to individually see the works of art that were personally important to us. I went off and found The Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa, the Coronation Crown of Louis XV, Venus de Milo, and Saint Mary Magdalene! Unfortunately, we only had two hours to explore the museum, but I wasn’t as upset about the lack of available time this time around. You see, I was prepared to not be able to see all of the featured artwork due to my previous research on the Louvre. From this quick Google search, I discovered that it literally takes a full twenty-four hour period JUST to walk through the entire Louvre! Therefore, I knew it would be impossible for me to see everything in one quick visit, but I was really glad to be able to experience the pieces that I did.
  • After we grabbed a quick lunch at a local restaurant, Wendy took us to a store she had discovered on her last trip to Paris: A taxidermy shop! It was quite intriguing to see all of the animals featured and discover new types of insects that I had never seen before.
  • When we were all taxidermy-ed out, we made our way to the Musée d’Orsay, which is THE impressionism museum of Paris. Before entering, I couldn’t recall any artists from the impressionism and post-impressionism eras except for Monet and Van Gogh. However, when we entered, I found a small work of Degas and almost freaked out! I HAD to see his work in person. He was THE artist that constructed numerous paintings and sculptures of dancers, and since I’d been dancing since I was six years old, I’d had recreations of works by Degas in my life since I was a very little girl. Ultimately, his work was hundreds of times more inspiring in person, and I’ll never forget he’s an impressionism era artist ever again.
  • Once I had experienced enough art for one day, I headed back to the Hotel Marignon with a few of the girls for a nap! Haha.
  • The evening plans featured a group dinner at a nice restaurant during which I put my past love aside (READ AS: I had a pet snail growing up) and tried escargot. As I had been previously informed, it was positively AMAZING. In fact, it was SO ridiculously good, I’ve made the decision that I MUST eat it again before I leave France. Who knew something so strange could be such a great treat? If you’re looking for a recommendation to try them, go for it! What’s the worst that could happen? You spit it out into your napkin? Don’t miss the opportunity.
  • After dinner, we went to see the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph at night… and I fell in love with Paris AGAIN. The Tour Eiffel is officially my favorite iconic structure. I want one for my backyard. I want to live on it. I want to put one over the giant Bubble on Franklin Pierce’s campus. I mean, wouldn’t that just look fantastic? Haha.
  • It was Halloween in America, our very first (and only) full day off in Paris, and we all decided to take a walk of the wild side by sleeping in for a whole hour! Okay-okay, I know it’s not THAT wild, but who wants to sleep their entire free day away when they’re in PARIS? Now, moving on…
  • After eating breakfast at the Hotel Marignon, a few of the girls and I headed out on our day’s excursions.
  • My small group of five decided to start our day by visiting the famed Moulin Rouge! We purchased our own tickets and took the metro system to a stop known as Blanche. When we got out of the station, we felt slightly unfulfilled to say the least. Moulin Rouge was NO sight to be seen, and we couldn’t stop laughing! It was an old building stuck in between a “Quick” fast food restaurant and a motel. Even so, we got some pretty great pictures of it and some videos of us performing the cancan outside its front doors! Plus, we got to watch some clips from the recent cabaret shows while we meandered around the official gift shop, which was highly entertaining and gave me some lovely choreographic ideas! Haha.
  • Next, M and I decided it was time to embark on our trip up the Eiffel Tower! 
Feeling highly independent and capable for women traveling in a large, foreign city, we had just enough confidence to effortlessly use the metro system as our form of travel in order to quickly arrive at the Eiffel Tower. However, after getting there, we came to a rather stark realization: we had absolutely NO idea how to even go about climbing the 1000s of stairs! I mean, we knew it would cost money, and we knew it could take us all afternoon, but, unfortunately for us, all of the signs regarding Eiffel Tour climbing information were, of course, in French. Therefore, we used our combined knowledge of the French language (for we lacked French-to-English dictionaries today) in order to choose a line. It took us approximately an hour before coming up to the ticket booth, and after standing for so long in the rather chilly temperature, our initial plan to save some money by actually trekking up the stairs of the tower seemed highly unappealing. Not to mention, when we did the math, we realized that in order for us to reach the top floor of the structure, which can only be accessed by an elevator, we’d have to pay around 10 euros, which was only 2 euros cheaper than taking elevators all the way up to the top! So, we splurged the 12 euros each, and embarked on one of the most amazing experiences!

Due to the fact that the weather was highly unimpressive (for it was slightly drizzly, quite cold, and the top of the tower was encircled in fog), we were able to make it all the way to the top without having to worry about overcrowding! As the elevators slowly made their ways to the three different floors, we couldn’t stop snapping photographs. Not only would we be able to show these photographs to family and friends and claim they were from the Eiffel Tower, but also, due to the fact that some of our photographs even captured parts of the tower’s metal beams, no one would be able to doubt our pictures’ authenticity! We had proof of our excursion, and it felt so good.

On the second level, the fog wasn’t an issue, and we experienced some amazing views of the entire city. Up on that floor, it seemed unconceivable that we were so much higher than we had been on the Notre Dame. In fact, I had to convince my eyes that what they were seeing was truly real—right out in front of me: the endless expanse of Paris.

Finally, we traveled up to the very top and as the elevator made its journey up, up, and further up, our visibility slowly cut down. We were literally in the clouds! It was quite amazing. I felt as though I was floating, and I didn’t mind that I couldn’t necessarily see the city from this view. Just the second floor alone had been worth the time and money in my mind. I mean, I had been there. I could say I’d been there, and I had pictures to prove it. I had pictures of the view and pictures of the tower itself! I even took pictures of the elevators’ mechanisms. Haha.

On the third level, we could walk outside, and we did! We walked right through the clouds, breathing them in and posing for pictures as we “ate” the cotton candy-like air masses. Overall, this level was the most informative. It featured images of the city below each “window-pane” with the important, monumental structures labeled so that one could easily find them on a clear day. It also had a room with wax models of Gustav Eiffel, his wife, and Thomas Edison! Plus, some walls even featured dioramas of Mr. Eiffel’s other experiments involving pigeons and falling humans. Haha!

As we descended back down, I knew for a fact that, once again, I was in love. How could Paris be this utterly amazing and perfect? I just couldn’t wrap my head around it… and by this point, I’m pretty sure my head (and entire body, actually) was already out of the clouds. Haha.

  • All of that “walking” up those 1000’s of stairs made M and me VERY hungry. Therefore, after making a few souvenir shop stops, we made our way to a small boulangerie in the area and had lunch. As we were there, the other girls that we had visited the Moulin Rouge with earlier in the morning invited us to meet them at Shakespeare & Co.! Of course, we couldn’t turn them down.
  • Unfortunately, by the time M and I had walked our way to Shakespeare & Co., our other friends had already left. Even so, we cherished our time in that beloved bookstore, and I purchased my previously talked about coffee table book!
  • By the time we were done, we were completely ready to head back to the hotel and rest for a bit.
  • Of course, when we arrived, the other girls were already getting into the spirit of Halloween and getting their crazy costumes together! We made plans to leave the residence at 9:00PM in order to start our “exciting” evening out.
  • Unfortunately, since we were traveling in a large group of nine on a Friday night (and all dressed up in ridiculous, not very appealing costumes), we didn’t get into any of the places we wanted to! Many of the girls were upset, but we were able to make the best of things by purchasing some amazingly yummy crepes and candy for a great night spent back at the hotel. Plus, we promised ourselves that once we were back at Franklin Pierce, we’d all get together and have our own costume shindig just to make up for the night!
  • Just in case you didn’t know, although Halloween clearly isn’t celebrated in France, All Saints Day IS. Therefore, if you plan on attending any museums, exhibits, or cool touristy sites on this day, BEWARE! They’ll probably be closed.
  • We began our day with the normal 8:00AM breakfast at the Hotel Marignon and then heading off to our first mandatory activity of the day: the flea market held in Clignancourt each weekend!
  • It was a huge flea market that spanned the multiple streets and sold everything from electronics to clothing to antiques to toys to more! Since we didn’t want to squander all of our money away, we decided to only hang around there for about an hour and crossed our fingers that the damp, rainy weather would let up.
  • Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything worth buying (haha) and the weather didn’t let up, so Wendy decided that our afternoon plans of having a picnic in the Luxemberg Gardens would have to be canceled. Knowing that, she allowed us to spend the rest of the day exploring on our own!
  • CL and I were overjoyed at this announcement because we knew EXACTLY what we wanted to do! We were going to visit the catacombs. We took our free metro tickets from Wendy and found a straight shot to the catacombs’ location by way of Metro 4. After getting loads of good luck wishes from the other girls who were none to eager to join us on such a scary expedition, we embarked on our excursion.
  • Unfortunately (and yes, this day is FILLED with unfortunately-s), when we arrived at the catacombs, there was one of the most depressing signs ever created… and it was taped to the entrance. It read: “Catacombs fermes le 01 Novembre 2008!” We were SO upset. CL even made a quick video out front of the door/sign describing her feelings about the closed catacombs. Now what were we to do? We had been looking forward to this trip all week long! If we knew they were going to be closed today, we would have gone there yesterday.
  • In order to brighten our moods, we went in search of a café and found something even better: Starbucks! Now, although we never told any of the other girls about this secret afternoon outing, which included caramel muffins, espresso brownies, and white chocolate mocha drinks, we weren’t necessarily ashamed of our actions. As far as we concerned (and we decided this at the table), Starbucks was highly warranted by the depressing morning we had experience, and it had been far too long since either of us had enjoyed a little taste of home.
  • When we finished our drinks, we decided to walk through the Luxemberg Gardens in order to get to the hotel. The rain had slightly let up, and we were wearing the proper attire, so it seemed like a good way to spend a little bit more time out before we returned.
  • Even in the gloom, one could tell that the gardens were very beautiful! Who knew that flowers would still be blooming in NOVEMBER? I took plenty of pictures and truly tried to enjoy myself even though the world seemed gray.

  • Back at the Hotel Marignon, we met up with a few of the other girls, spent time talking about our day’s escapades, and then completely conked out!
  • Luckily, we woke up just in time to get ready for our evening’s performance: Europe Hip-Hop performed by Accrorap! That’s right. Wendy bought us tickets to see a Hip-Hop performance in Paris! Of course, it wasn’t her first choice, but it was the last alternative, and she knew we’d appreciate it.
  • Overall, even Wendy admitted that the performance was extremely inventive, inspiring, well thought out, and entertaining. Personally, I found myself on the edge of my seat for most of it, and I couldn’t write down my “dance performance inspiration” notes fast enough! I wanted to see it all over again. I wanted to meet with the company! I had so many questions for them such as how they began, where they come up with their ideas, how they choose dancers, how they decided who manipulates his body in specific manners, etc. Basically, it was awesome!
  • On our way back to the hotel that evening, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower to watch it sparkle one last time, and we also stopped by the crepe/Panini restaurant located right down the road from our hotel. Surprisingly, the man behind the counter knew exactly what I was going to order before I ordered it! I felt like I was a “regular,” and more than ever before it made me feel like I truly belonged in Paris. It was a bittersweet feeling. Yes, I was in love, but I was leaving soon, and there was nothing I could do about it. I had to say goodbye to Paris, to owners of crepe shops who know my order by heart, to historical sights and people focused on a future, and to a city with its very own heartbeat that, for some unknown reason, effortlessly aligns with mine.
  • Back at the hotel, I finished my lovely Panini, and packed up my suitcase before heading off to bed for the night.

EIFFEL IN LOVE WITH PARIS: A Timeline of Week Nine in France

It’s true. As soon as I stepped off of my first Parisian metro and onto the bustling city streets, I was immediately enamored with it all. In fact, I can honestly say that spending a week in Paris was one of the best experiences of my entire life! Academically, I feel it was highly productive, and socially, it was filled with fun and entertaining activities. Overall, it was just positively everything I could have wanted it to be. No wonder I had such butterflies in my stomach the day before we left!

Of course, if I could have blogged Paris, it would have been one of my primary activities (because now I have SO much catching up to do that I’m starting to feel a little stressed out), but that was impossible. Therefore, I’m just going to take my time and slowly fill you all in on our crazy escapades in a day-by-day timeline! Sound like good, clean, organized fun? That’s what I thought!

So, although you’ve now officially read the beginning part of this entry, keep making sure to check back on it regularly over the next few days. As I find bits and pieces of free time in my hectic Lyonnaise schedule, I’ll use them to my advantage in order to keep updating the timeline with small blurbs about the highlights of my Parisian experience.

Oh yeah! Enjoy the reading. ☺

  • Our bullet train left from Part Dieu station in Lyon at 11:00AM, which meant I was up and getting ready at 7:30AM… ick!
  • We arrived in Paris at precisely 12:57PM and got ready to take the crazy, stair-filled, metro system to our hotel. We were pre-warned by Wendy of the obnoxious metro stairway systems, but even so, almost all of us had packed our belongings in small suitcases on wheels! Haha… we’re SUCH girls.
  • After our arrival at our new residence, Hotel Marignan, we went out to make the most of our first day in Paris!
In order to orient us with the city, Wendy decided to take us on a Beateaux-Mouches tour, which is a boat tour of the city from the Seine River! Even though it was drizzling outside, I personally feel as though it was a gorgeous tour and most definitely worth the price of the ticket. First off, we were all able to sit inside of the boat instead of standing on deck, and we could still see the entire city! Plus, it wasn’t a very crowded experience, and, due to the fact that this particular tour was given in a series of languages including (but most definitely not limited to) French, Spanish, English, and Japanese, we were able to learn some really intriguing facts about the iconic structures of Paris. For example, I learned that the Botanical Gardens were originally constructed in order to be medicinal gardens for royalty and the highly famous Louvre wasn’t always a museum! On the contrary, it used to be a palace used by Louis XIV until he decided to move to the Palace in Versailles. Overall, I believe this tour prepared me for what was to come on our trip to Paris. Not to mention, it jogged my memory of important facts I’d learned from my required reading assignments for Reason & Romanticism, and coupled with this fact, helped me to gain an overall fuller experience of Paris that most definitely had academic value.
  • We returned to the Quartier Latin where our hotel was located in order to have a group dinner at a local, cheaper restaurant. The food was tres bien, and some of the girls returned to this exact restaurant for dinner later in the week!
  • When we returned to the hotel, we decided it was time to get a taste of Paris’ nightlife!
Today was a very lucky day for AD, or at least I think so. You see, not only were we heading from Lyon into Paris, but it was also her twenty-first birthday! Can you imagine spending your twenty-first birthday in two amazing cities in a foreign country on a study abroad? In order to make her day as special as possible, we determined to dedicate our entire evening out to her happiness. Since we had met up with a few members of the Franklin Pierce Vienna Program (they too were staying at our hotel until Wednesday morning), we invited them to join us! Only ZT decided to take us up on the opportunity, but in our minds just that little bit of fresh, male blood was good enough, and we headed out right away to start our night of fun. Overall (and just because I feel as though it’s probably improper to divulge details of this night on here), I can only say that it was probably one of the most memorable nights of my entire life! It was filled with many unexpected adventures, lots of interesting people and places, and gave us a really great sense of how truly alive the city of Paris is—it most definitely has its very own heart and soul, and I’m not sure that any other cities could genuinely boast about such extraordinary traits.

  • We all met downstairs as a group for breakfast at 8:00AM because the Hotel Marignon (luckily) provides free breakfasts to all of its guests! The breakfast, although simple and similar every morning, was most definitely superb. It consisted of one’s choice of thé, café, ou chocolat chaud, a baguette, and enough jam, butter, nutella, and cheese for each individual present at the table. Ultimately, I looked forward to breakfast every morning!
  • After, we headed out to walk to the Notre Dame!
I would have never guessed that seeing the Notre Dame in person would have caused such an intense reaction in me. I never felt any special connection to it before. In fact, as far as I knew or cared really, it was just another religious building—probably gorgeous in architecture featuring unbelievable painted works and many golden attributes. However, as seems to be the usual occurrence in France, my first, inexperienced impression was highly incorrect. Yes, it is true, the Notre Dame is a beautiful and magnificent sculpture where Joan of Arc’s heresy trials were held as well as being the location where Victor Hugo decided to set his famous novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but, due to some highly indescribable element, it is also so much more.

I don’t know how to explain it to you. It’s somewhat overwhelming, but also calming and humbling. And I not only felt it consuming me when I was standing inside of the Church, but I also felt it after I walked up all 400 steps to the top of Notre Dame’s bell tower. I felt it when I stared into the frightening faces of the gargoyles, when I looked out over the bustling city and could just barely make out the commotion from below, and when I fell in love with Paris all over again. It felt amazing, and I hadn’t felt this way once yet since being abroad.

Gosh, it was a breathtaking view, and I tried so hard to really take it all in, memorize the scents and sounds and visions, so that I would never need to strain to remember it. However, unfortunately, memory fades. In fact, even as I write this entry today, it’s not as crystallized as it had been that early morning. Although I can still tell you the overall color scheme of the city from that angle and the exact pitch and overall sound of the bell ringing from the tower itself, I can’t give exact details. It frustrates me. Why do our memories have to be so unreliable?

What I do remember, however, is engaging a very intense, private conversation with my Professor while staring out over the horizon. I think I rhetorically asked what someone’s career would have to be in order for her to be able to just take off and travel to places like Paris, France on a whim. Of course, although I didn’t mean to do so, I’m pretty sure I stated this pondering out loud, and Wendy actually replied. She suggested numerous options I had never even considered, and as I gazed out into the vast abyss of the city and pondered over the vast abyss that is my future, I got chills. I literally have the whole world at my fingertips. I could do anything, go anywhere, and be anyone. I COULD live in Paris if I wanted. All opportunities are open to me as long as I’m willing to put the time, energy, and passion necessary into securing them for myself. It’s kinda cool.

Ultimately, the Notre Dame has a very special spot in my heart now, and I wish I could take all of my loved ones up the twisting tower stairs to where I had one of the greatest epiphanies of my life. I mean, who knows, maybe it’s magical. It sure felt that way to me, and I’m willing to share the magic with anyone else who’s willing enough to take the chance on it. Promise.

  • After all of that walking, we felt as though we’d earned some dessert! Wendy took us to find Amorino, an ice-cream and candy shop that had been suggested to our group by my friend JF back in the United States. Using Wendy’s guidebook, we found it very easily, and everyone got a cone of flower shaped ice-cream goodness! 
  • As we ate our beautiful ice-cream creations, Wendy suggested we walk to an English bookstore in the area called Shakespeare & Co.
This has become one of my most coveted spots in all of Paris. Just standing outside of Shakespeare & Co. gave me chills. It was so surreal. I just couldn’t imagine it was truly a working bookstore and not just a studio bookshop being featured on a movie set. Of course, stepping inside of the store was even better!

It reminded me of an old, dusty library, or maybe the bookstore featured in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” The walls were lined with books from the floor to the ceiling and ladders could be found in strategic locations around the busy store for customers and workers to grab any and all books of choice. Upstairs, real writers sat at old typewriters, sipped tea, and easily passed the time. Ultimately, the entire top floor was a reference library (except for the children’s section), and many people also found cozy spots just to review the books. It was quite wonderful to witness. I could have stayed there forever.

As I continued exploring the space, I just couldn’t stop thinking that my brother would positively be in Heaven if I took him to this store. It’s just right up his ally and very artistic. Plus, the owner of the store is a very generous man. In fact, as I learned from Wendy, if he happens to come across a likable person in need, he’ll offer her free lodging IN the store! All of his lucky chosen individuals are allowed to sleep upstairs on beds he provides, are given free access to water, a refrigerator, and a stove for cooking, and all that they have to do in return is help to maintain the shop. It’s an opportunity that, in present day, seems so unreal. Yet, it’s a tradition, and he’s kept it up for years.

As a record of this generosity on his part, the entire upper floor walls are filled with little notes, letters, drawings, and photographs filled with gratitude for the store and what it provides. Many of the letters are most definitely heartfelt and refer to the owner as a father figure. In fact, after reading a few, I was almost in tears. They were most definitely touching and prove why kindness is so important in our world.

Knowing all of this information, I came on the realization that “I” could live at the store, and I’m truly considering it. I mean, what can I say? I seriously fell head over heels for Paris! And I truly think I would be willing to leave everything else behind for a new life in this city. It’s so rich here. There’s not only a history but also a future filled with unlimited amounts of possibility and opportunity. Plus, there’s this shared, fast-paced, city lifestyle that I’ve never found anywhere else. And, there’s an undeniable life force to Paris that just pulses through everyone’s veins. It’s exhilarating and inspiring and, possibly, life altering.

In conclusion, Shakespeare & Co. was so much fun that I decided to use some of my free time later in week in order to visit it again! Luckily, on this excursion, I was able to find a really unique book to purchase, and the cashier used her blue inkpad in order to stamp “Shakespeare & Co.” on the inside title page for me! Now I’ll never forget where I bought it, and it’ll be a great conversation starter in years to come if I decide to display the book on a coffee table or the like.

  • Next, we took the metro to Montmartre, the highest part of Paris (boasting some of the best views of the city) and the area where the gorgeously stone white Basilica du Sacré-Cœur is located. Even though it was somewhat drizzling outside, we didn’t let that stop our adventures. We took great pictures of the city skyline, spent some time taking in Parisian culture as we walked around the area where the famous French film Amélie was partially recorded, and even stopped at a local café for lunch! 
  • In order to conclude our day in a productive manner, Wendy offered to take us all to Pére-Lachaise, a Parisian cemetery that boasts the gravesites of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, and Isadora Duncan, the female American dancer considered by many to be the mother of contemporary dance! Although I positively LOVED this experience, it was a reaction that was to be expected from me. You see, I happen to find graveyards and the like very intriguing places to wander around. At home, I enjoy reading the epitaphs, attempting to determine what a person’s nationality was based solely on his last name, and coming up with (most likely ridiculous) stories about the lives and deaths of those who’ve already passed on. Of course, not every other girl on the trip was as thrilled with being “held captive” in such a spooky cemetery. Therefore, I felt it could be fun for you all to read an excerpt from another girl’s journal concerning her personal, more unsettling (but highly entertaining!) experience in Pére-Lachaise. L wrote:
”First of all, we just came back from Pére-Lachaise, a huge cemetery. This was probably the creepiest thing ever! It didn’t help that Halloween is in a couple of days, the sky turned completely black (gradually), and all of the trees there were completely dead(!), which I don’t understand because every other tree in France is beautiful! It was really cool to see where Isadora Duncan is buried. It was great, but SO FREAKY. I think [M] and [G] each waked with me at certain parts of the journey because they could tell I was freaked. When we got to Isadora Duncan’s we had to walk up some stairs to the second level, and there were no lights there. I think the moonlight was the only thing helping us! And at one point, I saw black smoke in the sky, and I said ‘What’s that smoke?’. Everyone around me said, ‘I don’t know.’ Then, [A] said, ‘Oh… I know what it is. It’s the –,’ and [M] cut her off telling her to be quiet. Then, I figured out that it was the crematorium, and I said, ‘It’s the cre—‘ and [M] cut me off with, ‘Don’t worry [L.] It’s okay.’ Ugh! So freaky! And to top it all off, as we were journeying to the exit it started raining! Great! Rain, dead trees, black sky, crematorium, and the biggest cemetery I’ve ever seen… and I was in it? What?! AH!”
  • After we left, a few of the girls and I spent our night relaxing at the Hotel Marignon and writing about our day’s escapades in our mandatory journals.
  • Today, we realized we only have one month left in France… thirty-one days. So, we’re gonna make the most of it. ☺ 
  • After our 8:00AM breakfast at the Hotel Marignon, we headed off to the local boulangeries in order to purchase sandwiches for our preplanned afternoon picnic.
  • At Wendy’s premade schedule’s request, we took the Parisian metro to Le Château de Versailles! Once we had arrived, Wendy revealed to us that we could each receive an English language tour via the use of individual headsets! It was such a luxury to have because it made our tour of the palace much more informative and meaningful. Plus, it highlighted the important pieces featured in each room, which helped us determine what to photograph for our families and friends!

  • After touring the palace, we decided to brave the cold weather, eat our lunches outside, and then go explore the positively magnificent gardens. Although such an idea didn’t truly appeal to me (it was ridiculously cold outside, and I was already the Queen of Layered Clothing), it was most definitely worth it when we reached Marie Antoinette’s personal gardens.

  • Fortunately, we got out of Versailles just before the skies opened up!

Doesn’t that sky look VERY daunting and foreboding? I’m glad this wasn’t our first view of the beautiful Palace or we may have felt rather uneasy and wouldn’t have been able to see the gardens.

  • Back at Hotel Marignon, the girls and I spent our evening journaling, finding yummy sandwiches to eat for dinner, discovering the luxury of Nutella filled crepes, and shopping in the ridiculously numerous souvenir stands.