Salut tout le monde! Sorry for neglecting to write this week. Here’s what happened:
Not a whole lot. I ran in the Jardin de Tuileries which is the public garden overlooked by the Louvre. It is quite grand but not very fun for kids as you are not allowed to walk on the grass.
I spent most of both of these days going to bookstores looking for the books for my theatre class. It was mildly frustrating, because a few of them proved very difficult to find. I needed to get each play in English and French. There are multiple English-language bookshops in Paris, however both Shakespeare and Co. and The Little Red Wheelbarrow Bookshop were both closed for no particular reason (which apparently is normal here) and I decided to mesh my quest with a walk so I ended up traversing almost six arrondissments in the suddenly freezing weather. In the end, though, I ended up discovering some great bookshops and walked through Ile St. Louis (the smaller of the two islands on the Seine) which I think may be one of my favorite neighborhoods here.
Thursday night I went to the theatre with my class to Jean Genet’s Les Bonnes (The Maids in English). It was a modern interpretation of the play that started off with a shock (although I guess it wouldn’t be French theatre without a little nudity). The performances by the actors were very good though, and the theatre that we went to (Théâtre de l’Athenée-Louis Jouvet) was very beautiful. It is in the Italian style (U-shaped house) and we had box-seats, which was extra-special.
After getting up early to go register for my history class at the University I explored the neighborhood it is in for a few hours. It is at the very edge of Paris, at the end of the metro line. The neighborhood is much more American in feel than where I’m living as the buildings are more recent and the people aren’t all wearing fur coats. I found a thrift shop and got three things for 15 euros (the national sales have been happening since I got here). Not bad!
I went to my host-brother Arthur’s student art show. He goes to the equivalent of a private magnet high school for art, and this weekend was their open house. I was super-impressed with everything he showed me. Part of their core-curriculum is furniture-making (!) so he showed a chair he had built, along with his painting and sculpture. A bit of a different side of art than what I’ve been seeing at the musées, but a fascinating one nonetheless. That night I went out to eat at Le Refuge des Fondues, which is a fondue restaurant in Montmartre. Montmartre is primarily touristy now, but it used to be where Picasso and Dali and everyone lived, and it is home to the Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir. We forwent these risqué-er options for cheese and bread (aka the staples of the French diet). Half the fun of fondue is eating it, with those pointy fork things, but the other half was in the ambiance of the restaurant. The manager was THE rude Frenchman, making us wait outside in the freezing cold until the rest of our party arrived, then making half of us climb over the table to get in the booth. Finally, the walls were covered in what was clearly client-provided graffiti and bills (including American USD) with signatures on them. After dinner we took the lift up the hill to Sacré Cœur and saw the view from the top. What better way to see the City of Lights than at night from the top of Montmartre!
Sunday I went to mass at Notre Dame (full name Notre Dame de Paris- there are other Notre Dame churches). It was quite beautiful however I did get scolded by an usher for (being unfamiliar with Catholic communion protocol) trying to return to my seat without having eaten my communion wafer. Embarrassing. I wanted to go up to see the towers, but they were closed due to cold weather. Just gives me an excuse to return! It snowed Sunday morning (yeee!) so I took some photos of the Seine in the snow, and ate lunch in an almost completely empty restaurant since apparently Parisians are afraid of snow. In the afternoon I tried to see The Artist with some friends but the showing was sold out by the time I got there, so I had to go to J. Edgar by myself. It was in V.O. (version orginale- aka in English with subtitles in French) so I just ignored the subtitles flashing across the bottom of the screen. It turns out that in France (or Paris, at least) you don’t show up before the movie and immediately enter the theater. Instead they keep you waiting in the lobby until the exact minute of show time (or after, in my case) and then let you in. Sunday night, as you all know, was the Super Bowl and, as my friend tells me, it’s more important than ever to keep up American traditions now that we’re ex-pats. So, bursting with Patriotism (pun INTENDED) I journey to an international sports bar on the Left Bank where they were staying open to show the game live. Kick-off was at 12:30am and the game wrapped up around 4. In Paris the metro stops running at 12:50 on Sunday nights and restarts at 5:30 so instead of walking across the entire city or paying for a taxi, we stayed at the bar until they kicked us out at 5:15. Late night though it was, the jam-packed (standing room only), commercial-less, multilingual Super Bowl was probably the best one I’ve ever had.
Today I slept until class at 3 (seeing as I went to bed at 6am) so look for an update on adventures tomorrow as I have my first university class (History of Baroque Music 9am)!