The week, in highlights

Back for seconds? Never too soon. 
Tuesday: returned to the Marais (tied for first in my favorite Parisian neighborhood list) for a falafel lunch, followed by a 30- minute wait for a 10- minute cartoon artist exhibit at L’Hotel de Ville (not worth the wait in the [feels-like-sub]freezing temperature). 

Wednesday: I met up with friends for a late afternoon visit  to La tour Eiffel (which, I should note, is a straight trip from my metro line), before joining our ACCENT program for dinner at a fondu place in the Latin Quarter (second place in favorite neighborhood list). 

Thursday: Following my first day of French grammar class, Erica and I went to Montmartre for an afternoon visit to Sacre Coeur. (Montmartre= tied with the Marais. SUCH a lovely, quaint area!) The air was slightly warmer atop the hill—all signs pointing Erica and I to succumb to an afternoon nosh on a crepe while sitting on the steps in the town’s central square. We continued along, hopping aboard a bus to the Champs- Elysees: Check for the typical tourist picture. Check for the afternoon’s second snack: a small splurge on a macaroon, a well- known Parisian delight. 
Eric and I at Sacre Coeur.   
1.85 euro for a macaroon. Pricey but tasty.

Friday: Revisited St. Michel to purchase books for my French class. Popped into Notre- Dame before heading into the bookstore. No big deal.
Exterior of Notre Dame.

Interior of Notre Dame.
Enamored with the city's massive collection of art galleries. Saturday: visited the Musee de l’Orangerie, a gallery devoted to eight of Monet’s massive, impressionist works (LOVED IT!). Spent Sunday afternoon at the Musee du Luxembourg, a crowded gallery featuring lesser-known pieces by Cezanne. But it’s not solely the art of the museums that I came across this past week. The markets, too, are galleries in themselves, with street art sold by the locals—all with unique perspectives of the city around them. I am literally obsessed with the heap of art in the city-- how I've so far been to five museums, with a bajillion left to see and countless to return to. (Of which includes the Louvre. Return date presently set for tomorrow.)

Maps don’t have live GPS tracking, a present problem for the illiterate map reader: In Monday's search for Le 10 Bar, we ended up at a boulangerie. In Friday's search for the building in which to take my French phonetics test, I ended up walking 20 minutes the wrong direction, 20 minutes back the right direction, 30 minutes late for the time I had planned on getting to the test (we had a window time frame) and 30 minutes late to my French grammar class. My professor was not too pleased.

The study part of abroad counts too. I know, YUCK. As of now, I’ve begun 2 of my 4 classes: French grammar (which began Thursday and now meets daily) and Paris and Civilization (began Monday, meets twice a week). I begin French Phonetics next Friday (as the French say: un sur deux, or weekly every other week. Pretty much as confusing as it gets.) My art history class, a conference class that meets once weekly and taught completely in French, begins the following Tuesday. Art History, French grammar and phonetics is taught through the Sorbonne, where as Paris Civ is taught through ACCENT. Description of classes (aka syllabus: version Emma) to come.

Shabbat in Paris: I decided to try a synagogue a few metro stops away. Sephardic in style and chabad- like in structure, the shul was not quite my preference for Shabbat services. That and I was the sole female representative, hidden behind the cloth mehitza in the back of the small, hole in the wall synagogue. My house mother had invited me for Shabbat dinner with her family that evening, a warm gesture given she isn't required to feed me past the Thursday cutoff (dinner, through my program, is only covered Monday through Thursday). I returned from synagogue at 7:30 (as that had been the time Madame had emphasized dinner would begin). Her son, his wife and their children arrived about 15 minutes later. But Madame’s daughter number two didn’t arrive until 9, meaning dinner, too, didn’t begin until 9. My stomach growls were loud enough to mask all my imperfections in attempting to speak French properly. Dinner conversation was slightly uncomfortable seeing as the family sort of pounced on the oldest granddaughter for she, as I gathered quite quickly, wasn’t doing so well on her baq, a French exam given to students prior to entrance into college to focus their continued path of education. (French students must decide what to, in the American equivalent, major in before entering school.) Should she fail her baqs, life, as Madame’s fam made it seem, would be over. To clarify: college and her dream of becoming a lawyer would no longer be a possibility. The speed of conversation made it difficult for me to completely follow along. I attempted to join in at times the conversation steered clear of the baq, but my French grammar escapes me past bedtime, so I eventually gave up, settling for the cheery smile to signal my appreciation for dinner.

Exercise has finally made it to the weekend schedule. I spent this past semester attempting to train myself to overcome the fear of running outdoors. (Fear: I can’t breathe [rather, I pant. Loudly. Highly embarrassing, not at all Parisian], I can’t run [I waddle], I have all sorts of ligament issues [aching hip, sore knee, pained ankle]). But six months of practice and training, in addition to the daily patisserie (in addition to my house mom telling me I’m going to get fat off brie. Not even like, you’ll just get large, or it’s not healthy. Nope, fat is the word she used. The French are frank. That’s just that.) serves as the perfect blend of an incentive to get me and the running shoes back onto the streets. Running is the perfect way of exploring the neighboring area of my community: I discovered a large park, parks in the middle of the streets and a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower a few blocks away from my apartment building.
Ignore the iPhone camera quality (or lack of). Above: un jardin (a garden) about a 15 minute run from my apartment. Below: A stunning view of the Eiffel Tower about a 5 minute run from where I live.

The time we made dinner as a group, thanks to a house mom who left for the weekend and suggested my friend invite us over. Gripped to the notion of finally being able to cook, we made our way through Monoprix, the Publix or Giant’s of Paris. Dinner: gnocchi, sauce and salad. Dessert: tiramisu. Drink: rosé (boxed) wine, #classycollegestudentonabudget. It was a wonderful night, the first time I truly noticed the drawback of living in a homestay given how rare these nights will be over the course of our stay. Into the evening, we purchased tickets to Rouen: our first day trip scheduled for next Sunday!

Food highlights of the week: Indian food for yesterday’s lunch. 13 euro vegetarian pizza for today's lunch. Waffles and nutella as a snack. Crepe and chocolate as an afternoon nosh. Patisseries, um everyday. As of now, pain au chocolat and pear tart win as tastiest, although two of my friends and I bought a few patisseries to share in order to try a few others out, so the list has by no means been closed. I’m keeping an open mind when it comes to the splendors of any Parisian boulangerie.  

13 euro pizza. Absolutely worth it.

French progress, in highlights: The time the owner of my favorite boulangerie praised me on my pronunciation of “baguette et camembert.” The time the waiter at the crepe restaurant laughed at my Americanized French. So progress? Hmph. Coming along. 

And the blue shoes. They've finally made their way out into the Parisian scene, gracing the streets of the city while allowing me a small rest from the hard soles of my boots. Onwards we go!

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