Thanks for checking out my Paris blog! I'd love to hear from you via email or comment!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In which the Eiffel Tower is the Star

I am a lucky, lucky girl.  I can see the Eiffel Tower from my bedroom and also every day on the metro to (and from!) class, I look out the window up at this beautiful steel structure.  I've been here for four months, and I'm still not tired of looking at it.  

I think my favorite time to look at the Eiffel Tower is this time of day - the sky is a deep royal blue, not yet totally dark, and the Eiffel tower seems to be both grey and gold.  I can't quite capture it, but here's my best shot (from my window): 

And a few more:  

From the Trocadero:

On a grey winter evening: 

On a hazy red night: 

With the golden afternoon light: 

Ok, enough!  I'm back to preparing my presentation for tomorrow!  

Friday, April 23, 2010

Les Petits Plaisirs de Paris

Ahhhhh, I love Paris!  Especially now that the sun is starting to shine and the weather is getting warmer.  I'm on spring break this week, and Paris has proven itself to be quite pleasant when I don't have work hanging over my shoulder.  Some things that I've loved:

  • The "Great Outdoors": here in Paris, this consists of the Champs de Mars (the big field at the foot of that huge iron thing, the Eiffel Tower), the Jardins des Plantes et Luxembourg (fenced-in parks in the city), and the concrete-walled banks of the Seine.  Now that it's nice enough, everyone is flocking outside - to take walks, people watch, or just sit in the sun - something that I've done EVERY DAY this week.  Glorious.  
  • "Bon appetit!"  I've written before about the French love for food.  Eating here is serious business!  A few weeks ago, I went to LaDuree, a French pastry house and restaurant known for its macarons.  I bought one mini-macaron (rose-petal flavored), and then stood outside waiting for my friend.  Just as I was about to take a bite, a passing man wished me a "Bon ap!"  I had a similar experience this morning.  Walking from the boulangerie toward the metro, I was enjoying my still-warm-from-the-oven croissant, when a passing woman said "Bon ap!"  In both these instances, while I didn't catch sight of my well-wisher's face, I took a bite feeling a bit more loved by this city.  
  • Paris metro.  Today I had a girl tell me she didn't like the Paris metro and I was like, WHAAAT??!!  Turns out she didn't like crowds, which seemed to me to be the only logical explanation.  But then I thought some more about it, and remembered that quite often the Paris metro consists of tunnels, where if you take one wrong turn it means a 4-minute detour down a horrible-smelling hallway maze.  But... the metro gets you anywhere you want to be!  Oftentimes, especially in the center of Paris, if you get off at the wrong stop, you simply walk a mere two blocks to your actual desyination, easy as pie - it's worth the smelly ickiness!  But I think that the real reason that I love the Paris metro is because I feel like a connaisseure - a total metro pro.  I speed through the gates by tapping my Passe Navigo (like a SmartTrip or CharlieCard), hardly look at the exit signs, read my french book, and roll my eyes at tourists.  

I could go on and on, but I'm going to Barcelona for the weekend and I need to pack! 

Much love,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm Baaaaack!

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the hiatus - I have been busy !!  Three straight weeks of visitors, including MOM, SARAH, and ELYSE!  And Dad is coming in two weeks - too cool!!!

Let's do a recap, with lots of pictures, of the family visit.

SHOPPING!  Sarah came to Paris with the goal of purchasing a prom dress, prom shoes, and some shorts. While we only hit one of them (prom shoes), she did try on a 400 Euro dress.... Ahh what fun.  Asides from checking out some of the less expensive shopping districts (mostly in Le Marais, in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements), we also checked out some of the oldest department stores in Paris, Le Bon Marche and Les Galleries Lafayette.  These department stores are from the mid-late 1800s when the Baron Haussman was transforming Paris to the city it is today - big boulevards and instituting building codes, etc.  These buildings are AWESOME.

Sarah and Elyse on the escalator (left!) in the Bon Marche

Galleries Lafayette + ceiling

Looking down at the Galleries

Elyse with a Donald-Duck SEQUINED dress.  It could be yours for a mere 500 euros!  NOT. JOKING.



Sunday, March 14, 2010

Much-Delayed Classes Post

I've been here for about 6 weeks and I still haven't blogged about school - and I know many of you (relatives mostly) are wondering what the heck I'm doing besides loving the Parisian life!

Here's a quick run-down:

French Literature "La Quete Identitaire" - Identity Quest.  We're reading Zola, Musset, Sand, lots of novels, so this is pretty fun.  This is a course run through Tufts, taught by a French professor (who is French!!!) and I have American classmates.

French Language: Another Tufts course, again taught by a French professor.  In this class, we're learning how to write in the French style - essays, commentaries, etc.  We're also practicing our general comprehension and speaking - everyone has to give a 10-15 minute presentation and moderate a debate.  Today I moderated the debate on technology (la technologie) - we talked about being slaves to technology, how blogs are self-indulgent, and Facebook.  ("Facebook" in French is still "Facebook").

L'histoire de l'art (Art History) - another Tufts-based course.  We're studying pre-Impressionist to early 1900s French art.  2/3s of our classes are either at the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, or another museum... AWESOME!

La Poesie et les Contes Fantastiques - Poetry and Spooky Stories - this course is at La Sorbonne Nouvelle with all French students.  I even have a French friend!!  Her name is Adeline, and she is adorable.

All of my classes are 100% in French.

For now, I have some studying to do...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Samantha Does Paris, and Galway

So, as you know if you read my last blog post, I recently spent a few days in Galway, Ireland, visiting my friend Kerry.  It was wonderful to see her, and to get to know Galway a bit!

On our two hour bus ride (through the BEAUTIFUL Irish countryside), Kerry warned me that Galway was "a small town."  Even though she felt that she knew it very well, and although she didn't consider it that small, I think all of Galway is about the size of the entire 16th arrondissement.  Yes, Paris is big, but Galway is still pretty small.

Galway is gorgeous though: its cobblestone streets are lined with shops and bars/pubs.  It was refreshing to be somewhere that English was spoken, but I still felt like a foreigner- my American accent gives me away.  (I mostly let Kerry do the talking.)

For now, I'm back in Paris..... trying to get back to the normal routine of things and studying...


Monday, March 1, 2010


Gah, so I know I have quite a few promised posts to catch up on but now is not yet the time.  This is difficult to write....On Thursday I found out that my friend Brendan Ogg (who I knew from middle+high school) passed away the night before.  He had been fighting brain cancer.  Currently, I'm in Galway, Ireland visiting my friend Kerry - instead of going home, we're celebrating Brendan's life here, together.  Brendan will remembered by many, from Silver Spring as well as the University of Michigan.  Brendan will be remembered not only as very intelligent, an excellent writer, and a music lover, but mostly as a loyal friend.

Sending all of my love home,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Some Pictures

Yo yo!

I know that it's way overdue that I write a blog post about school - since I actually am taking classes, but I have to get back to studying for my midterm (!!) and writing my 5 page paper that are both due later this week.

In the meantime, a few pictures, albeit mostly of Americans in Paris (and my room).  I promise we go out!

Stephanie and I:

Tina and Ardy at Le Petit Pont in the 5th, right next to Notre Dame: 

Casey, Steph, Tina and I:

Foggy day in Paris, view from Sacre Coeur:

The Lapin Agile, a salon once frequented by the Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Bruant:


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cliché Paris

Last weekend, I had one of my top "Parisian" experiences.  I was planning on doing some homework, which meant reading a French play, and catching up on emails (despite being STILL without a computer) when my host father, Olivier, proposed a trip to a museum.  We quickly decided on the Delacroix museum, which is part of the Louvre (if the Louvre is like the Smithsonian) but at a different location than the main building.  The Delacroix museum is located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the "chic et cher" (chic and expensive) quartier in Paris, which via metro requires at least 2 switches.  I wasn't paying too much attention until my host dad said that we were leaving toute de suite (right now), "en moto."

"En moto" my host mom repeated, "ca te va? en moto?" which means, "is that ok with you, en moto?"  "Oui, oui" I reassured her, breezily, and then I stated that I needed to go get my coat.  "Oh!" I realized... en moto means a motorcycle, not a car.  I was about to ride a motorcycle- a BMW to be specific!  I put on my leather boots and my windproof jacket and met my host dad down in the street, where he offered me a very heavy duty helmet.  I strapped it on and we were off.

The first few blocks were a little less than fun, as I realized that, like every other motorcycle driver in Paris, my host dad drives fast, and weaves through traffic (kind of similar to the way my real Dad -love you!- drives at home).  After getting used to that, and reminding myself that Olivier drives a motorcycle all the time and I wasn't going to fly off, and even if I did I was wearing a really heavy duty helmet, I tore my eyes away from the back of Olivier's helmet to look around, and good thing I did.  We drove by the Trocadéro and the Tour Eiffel, then along the banks of the Seine, past the Louvre and the Assemblée Nationale and the Musée d'Orsay, then took Boulevard Saint Michel and drove (a bit slower) through the tinier streets to the museum.  The entire trip, and the entire trip back, I had to keep reminding myself that this was real - I really was experiencing Paris as a true Parisian -although they are a great deal more nonchalant and probably not slackjaw and wide-eyed as they pass these historic monuments.  I'm working on it.

Much love,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love and/in Paris

I love Paris!  And Paris, being the city of love, seems to love me back:

  • Paris is easy to navigate, and I'm getting the hang of the different metro lines (I take the 6 to class, which crosses the south of the city, but I can also take the 9, on the 1-direction La Defense is home, 1-direction Chateau de Vincennes takes me through the center along the Seine...)
  • As I alluded in my last post, Paris is a place where I eat well.  90 cents is usual for a croissant, and 1E10 for a "pain au chocolat" (chocolate croissant), but paying 1E10 for a big croissant can be worth it - when the butter literally melts in your mouth!
  • The Louvre generally costs 9E but it's free for me, since I'm an "EU" student!
  • The grass in le Jardin des Tuileries is green, and it's February...trop cool
  • I found a pair of gold sparkly heel/wedges for 12 Euros (I love les Soldes!)
I could keep going on, about what I love, but actually, I'm kind of upset.  I mean, yes, I'm in the city of love, and yes I love the city, and yes the city seems to love me, but what about the men?  I mean, it's already been three weeks, why don't I have an exotic French lover yet?  And Paris is determined to rub it in my face.  Everywhere I go, I see couples.  Couples my parents age making out, yes full-on making out, in the metro.  Couples my age straddling each other on the metro.  Couples my sisters ages making out in the street.  Seriously!!  And since Valentines Day is coming up, all of the lingerie stores (of which there are many) are going all out, in pink and red, and the chocolate stores (of which there are also many) are bringing out their heart shaped boxes....Oooh-whee!

No really, I'm kidding.  I've learned about how to deal with creepy French men (don't make eye contact, especially at night, don't call attention to yourself, walk with a purpose, etc. etc. etc.) and I am not trying to find a French lover on the subway.  I am however, looking forward to my French University classes (hello, La Sorbonne Nouvelle!) and getting to know some French people outside of my host family.  More updates to come!

xoxo, Samantha

Friday, February 12, 2010

My computer is broken!

I know that I've been MIA - classes at the Paris universities are starting, so I've been very busy and running around, finding classrooms, finding books, etc. etc. etc.... and now my computer is broken! So it's off to the Apple store for me, but I probably won't update or generally be in contact for at least a few more days!!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Food in France

Sunday, I spent all day doing something very French: eating!

After "une grasse matinée" (sleeping in), I met Ira and Marcia and their friend Peter for lunch in the fifth.  We arrived around 1230 and took our time.  We took our time ordering, took our time eating (entrée, plat, dessert, café), and took our time between each course.  Everything was, of course, delicious.  We finally left the restaurant at 4pm (the cook left the building before we did!)- and then I went to dinner at 730 and although it didn't take quite as long (only a bit over an hour), I still felt as though I had lived a very "French" day - eating, eating, eating!

French culture places a great deal of value on food: preparation, cooking, eating, drinking...  Food is not to be rushed and is a pleasure.  I love having the option to simply eat cheese and pain grillée (toast) after dinner each night!  And then ... dessert!  I'm learning that chocolate isn't the only option... yogurt nature (plain) with some jelly, or a piece of fruit.  Last night, my host Mother taught me how to cut an apple à la francaise - which includes peeling the skin with a butter knife!  I'm learning...

Along with French eating comes French table manners.  You must never leave your hand under the table (because who knows where it could be?), and cutting the lettuce in your salad is considered rude - better to fold it with your knife and fork.  I've also learned which napkin is mine (each family member has their own, with their own specific napkin holder, never to be confused...)  Whew!  Luckily, it's getting easier every day.

Bon appetit and gros bisoux (big kisses)!

P.S. You'll have to excuse all the French I threw in ... it's hard to talk about French food without the French vocabulary!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Miscellaneous Pictures!

Here's a taste of the past two weeks:

Margaret, Tina and I in a restaurant after dinner:

The other side of the table, Dave, Ally and Pat: 

World War II and Holocaust Memorial in Blois: 

Blois from across the Loire: 

View from my window at night: 

More to come!  

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blois and the Loire Valley

 The Chateaux of the Loire Valley are world-famous for their luminous beauty.  Guidebooks show you the reflection of their spiraling towers on the water, surrounded by blooming colorful trees and flowers. 

On our trip, we didn't exactly get the guidebook-promised experience, since it was about 38 degrees and rainy the entire time.  We still managed to have a good time, and almost the entire group (minus 3 sleepyheads) ventured around the quiet town of Blois and found a bar with a dance floor!  (Le Loch Ness...)

Here are some highlights:

The Chateau at Blois:
This Chateau was built in three distinct time periods, and you can easily see this from the plaza in front of it:

King Francois I built this spiral staircase, kicking off the French Renaissance:

The Chateau at Chambord is one of the most majestic, with 28 towers spiraling up:  

Like Blois, it is barely furnished (and barely heated in winter), as the Kings used to move from Castle to Castle.  It too has a spiral staircase, but this one is a double helix! 

My favorite was the Chateau at Cheverney, probably because it was heated.  (And the noble family still lives there!)  The author of TinTin was inspired by this castle for one of his books, and Ardy, Casey and I recreated the picture - coming soon!

Until next time!  --Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email!  (Thanks Jody and Maria!) 


Friday, January 22, 2010

Arrival Adventures

Woohoo!  The first week is coming to an end and it has been a whirlwind.  After a sprint through security at Heathrow (literally, a sprint), I made it onto my plane and into France.

I'm now bien-installée (all settled in) to my "girly room" (everything is green and pink), and my family has been incredibly warm and welcoming.  Armance, who is 19, and I have already spent plenty of time chatting, trying on each other's clothes, and of course, writing on each other's facebook walls while we're sitting across from each other at the table.  Also correction to my earlier post, Ambroise (age 14) is a BOY!  He's supercool, we are already friends.  Yesterday we sat in his room and compared the way Americans and French write different numbers (sounds boring but I swear it wasn't...).

Tufts has been keeping us busy with orientation activities.  We've done everything from exploring Montparnasse (the area where the Tufts office is), to a tour of Le Marais, one of the oldest areas of Paris, a tour of the Louvre, to practical information such as "15" - the French version of 911 and who to call in what type of emergency.  I've also done some of my own exploring - of my quartier (which is supernice, lots of shopping, I'm exercising all my self-control) to exploring the 5th arrondissement (the student area) with my Tufts classmates.

Here are a few pictures:

The key to my room:

The view from my window.


Tomorrow we're going to the Chateux of the Loire.....  I'll write more soon!  Thanks for reading and I'd love to have a comment!!


I'm here!

I've arrived, safely.  More details later!

For now..... sleep!!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting Excited...

Ever since I was applying to colleges, I knew that I would study abroad in France, most likely in Paris.  Since then, I've briefly considered Geneva, as well as Senegal and Morocco because from a public health perspective these would be AWESOME, but I just couldn't give up Paris....And now, it's finally becoming "real!"

Yesterday, I completed the harrowing visa process by picking it up at the French embassy - where the man called me "princesse" twice: once in a threatening way ("I'll be with you in a moment, princesse!") and once in a more endearing way, with a big smile ("I will now help you, princesse").  It's a relief to have my visa in my hand.  Aside from a few toiletries (hair gel!!), I pretty much have everything that I need to bring to Paris: my passport, a plane ticket, my new boots...

Yesterday I also received information about my host family and I COULDN'T BE MORE EXCITED!  (as demonstrated by all caps, I'm trying to hold back on exclamation points).......!!!!!!!!  I'll be living in the 16th arrondissement, which is on the west side of Paris.  My family has an apartment on the 2nd floor of the building, and my room (described as "very girly!!"....!!!) is on the sixth floor.  I also will have my own bathroom up there, and my 19 year old sister and a few of her friends have rooms on the same floor.

As for my family, my host mother is a history professor and my host father is in the financial/business world.  I have a total of 5 siblings:
-Marguerite, age 21 - currently studying in Spain
-Armance, age 19 - she's the one on my floor!
-Charles, age 16 - currently studying in Ireland
-Ambroise, age 14 - best name everrrr
-Balthazar, age 7 - unless this is the best name ever
They are described as very welcoming and warm and I am SO excited to meet them!  I'm off to go write them a letter of introduction...

Thanks for reading!  I'd love to hear from you via a comment (just press the button at the bottom of this post!, - but remember to put your name so I know who you are), or an email.  Or, since I'm still in the US, give me a call!  I leave Jan. 16th - 8 days!