Saturday, March 31, 2012

Boat Tour and Versailles

The combination of having a good friend in town and the weather being nice is a really good excuse to get out and do things! On Thursday, Allison and I took a cruise on the Seine. It's the same tour I did with my family in December, but this was even nicer because it was during the day and the weather was nice enough that we could sit on the top of the boat.

You can't tell I'm sitting on a boat but I am! It was really nice. 

And today we took a day trip to Versailles. Versailles is really easy to get to from Clamart because it's on the same train line, and a ticket each way is only 1.75! And of course my ticket to the Chateau was free too, since I have a visa. It was nice and not crowded at all. As inexpensive as everything else was, tickets to the garden were unfortunately not free, however, but I think they were worth the price to get in because I secretly like them more than the palace itself. 

We picnicked and drank hot chocolate and walked pretty far, though not to the Petit or Grand Trianons because our feet were absolutely killing us from all of our previous sight-seeing this week. 

Also, did you know that the have PONY RIDES at Versailles?? Because they do. Next time. Also, they have row boats, which I also like. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Moules Frites favorite meal, mmm. Last night I tried a restaurant called Leon of Brussels for the first time with Allison, Nathalie and Sarah, and it was good! The mussels were delicious, and we definitely took advantage of their offer of unlimited fries.

When we were being seated, a waiter asked us if we were from New York, so I did the normal combination of pointing that is usually done in these situations, "New York, Boston, Los Angeles, near Los Angeles". Then he asked us (in French) if any of us were from Day-Twah, and we talked about how none of us were from Detroit for a while, and I asked him why the interest in this particular city. He called over another waiter for English translation helped, and we finally learned that he had watched a news story about Detroit (guns, violence, etc), and he was apparently fascinated by it.

Earlier in the day, we had packed lunches and picnicked in Luxembourg (brie and salami sandwich, mmm), and of course I had to pick this up along the way:

 At dinner last night (after I suggested crepes when we were done), Nathalie said she was concerned for me because she was worried that I had a tape worm or something on account of how I'm the one who is always suggesting that we eat really fattening food followed by extra fattening desserts, while only gaining a fraction of the weight that I should be gaining with as much as I eat. It's actually not a bad compliment when you think about it, and I am choosing to be flattered. 

Delicious. Today Allison and I are on our way to drink tea at the mosque, followed by ice cream at Berthillon! :) 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Wednesdays, when Lise doesn't have school and Thomas and Juliette only have half-days, aren't usually what I would call fun, but sometimes at least the kids are pretty well behaved. Yesterday went by surprisingly quickly. Even though Juliette's friends were outside playing with the hose and on the trampoline, Lise marched right inside and did her homework before she played with them, which is a big deal. Also, after her shower (which was especially necessary because now she has three sports activities on Wednesday for a total of 4.75 hours, including all of the walking in between and back and worth), we practiced making our monster faces in the mirror. Lise's teeth are still growing in, making for some interesting results. I helped her perfect a smile with one tooth sticking out of her mouth to the side and her eyes crossed....I hope she doesn't take our lesson too much to heart, or else the family is going to have a very interesting Christmas card next year.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Allison & Liz!

It's been a busy few days, involving Notre Dame, Montmartre, the D'Orsay (the Orsay, I suppose), and lots of falafels!

Yes, I am aware that I have the same sorority girl pose in most of my photos. It's automatic. More sight seeing ahead over the next few days, since this is Allison's first real time in France! :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012


It's been REALLY warm in Paris over the last two days! And by really warm, I mean 70 degrees, uggh. I don't like it, but I did like getting to wear a dress with no tights today, so that was fun.

Liz left today (sad face), and Allison is here now! It was really fun walking around with them last night, because who ever thought that the three of us would be hanging out together in Paris? Among other things, we walked to the Louvre after dark when it was closed, and seeing the pyramid all lit up in the dark was really nice.

Today Allison and I and Mariene and her friend who's also visiting picnicked in Belleville, saw the new wall they put up around Oscar Wilde's tomb in Pere LaChaise, and went to Sacre Coeur. Then we got frozen margaritas on Rue Mouffetard (followed by more drinks), and then I had a Nutella Banana crepe for dinner. Successful day!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Big Difference Between France and Les Etats-Unis

It's no secret that France is better than certain things than we are. Like cheese, public transit (better than LA, anyway), and pastries. But something that France doesn't seem to get yet is good customer service.

I guess I'm only bitter because I've worked in so many customer service jobs, so I feel like any corporate employees that don't have to put the effort in that I was required to in all those years have it too easy. I've seen examples of bad customer service here countless times, especially at chain companies, which seems strange to be because they'd be the ones with the actual guidelines, I assume. Once at H&M, I went up to the fitting rooms holding a bunch of hangers with clothes, and I stood at the entrance for a good 30 seconds (which is a long time in retail) while THREE saleswomen laughed and talked to themselves before they even took notice of me. I totally would have gotten yelled at if I had ever ignored a customer like that where I worked. And there have been times when I've been next in line to buy things, and the cashier, instead of telling me "I'll be right with you!" will instead go do whatever errand she needs to do without even making eye contact, while I wait there for a few minutes until she comes back. It's strange.

This week was the worst though. I was buying some groceries at Super U, and at the last minute I decided that I didn't actually want the oatmeal that I had picked up. I handed it back to the cashier, AND SHE MADE ME PUT LEAVE THE LINE AND PUT IT BACK ON THE SHELF. I know I might sound a little snobby at first, but I was actually shocked. The fact that she would make me leave to go do it, holding up the already long line behind me that was just getting longer, to put away a NON-PERISHABLE item, seems like, well, bad customer service. Don't get me wrong -- in my time at three different Barnes & Noble locations, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, a day didn't go by when I wished I could order a customer to put something back where they had found it -- "Hi! See this yellow dress that you're handing back to me? Well, actually, it goes on that wall to the left...and please be sure to put it towards the back, since it's a large, thanks!" or "Excuse me! It would be great if you could pick up this book that you just set down in the Children's section and put it back downstairs in the Sexuality section where it came from!" But the thing is in retail (well, in retail in the US, anyway), you simply can't do that. American companies build their brand around good customer service -- in Anthropologie, we were actually told it was okay if a customer left without buying anything, as long we helped create a atmosphere that made them want to come back in the future. I don't feel bad about being annoyed because I know for a fact that I always went out of my way to be helpful, even before a customer asked for help, but this kind of thing definitely illustrates something that the US, with all its flaws, has a handle on better than France does (we also have better salads, but that's a completely different story).

 I'm not a jerk so I put the oatmeal back where it went (luckily for her!!), but I definitely made the conscious decision to take my time and amble along as I did so. If the people in lie behind me had to wait, it was going to be her fault, not mine!


Thursday, March 22, 2012


I've been completely EXHAUSTED this whole week. On Tuesday, I took THREE naps and still was ready to be alseep by 10. Also, the skin on my face is peeling like CRAZY. Not good.

But at least Liz is here! We had a nice relaxing day full of falafel, cake, pastries, and Luxembourg.

Gotta run -- the last episode of season 5 of the Sopranos is calling!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Night Babysitting!

I took some ADORABLE videos of the kids dancing, but they're taking forever to upload. Anyway, today was unusually simple. Usually, it's only with a lot of effort that I get Lise out of bed by 8:20. But this morning I went upstairs at 8AM and she had already fed herself and brushed her teeth and hair. A little suspicious, but I'll take what I can get. When she came home from school, there was a lot of cuddling as we watched The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and some quality trampoline time with Juliette. And for dessert, Anne had made chocolate mousse and picked up some tartelette au citron because today was Thomas' 15th birthday, so that was fun too. At one point after dinner, I found the two girls sitting next to each other on the couch, and I guess that both of them wanted to be sitting in the middle of the three of us, so they each started offering me better and better offers if I chose them to sit next to ("One big hug" "One big hug AND a kiss!" "One hug and TWO kisses!"). Even Juliette, which was strange because she definitely does not like to cuddle as much as I do (she ended up winning by being in the middle in the end, but on a different couch and through a really roundabout, highly intelligent plan that she had probably hatched even before sitting on the first couch). But she had to endure the joint cuddling of Lise and I, so I guess we won in the end too. 

Before bedtime, Lise decided to start planning for her upcoming theoretical birthday party, writing down her invite list, the songs they were going to play, etc, and apparently I even have some "super" idea for party games. AMELIA FTW. The days when they're cute make up for the days when they're awful for sure. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cemetery Montparnasse

Sometimes I'm amazed at the "American" things I end up taking part in here with the kids that I never would actually be doing at home (i.e. having a High School Musical marathon in which I went from having watched 0 of the films to having watched all three of them in a week, singing Justin Bieber songs, etc). Today was no exception, as after dinner Juliette and I watched the St. Louis vs. Michigan State basketball game on ESPN America. Juliette kept calling it "Sahn Loo-ee", which I found adorable.

Anyway, today it was gloomy and rainy, and I finally made it to the Cemetery Montparnasse!

(please note dog)

(I really think this is the perfect font for a tomb)

(Paris has lovely tombstones and ugly modern buildings)

And then I came home and ate a lot of baklava!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Ahhhh, I forgot to blog yesterday!

Nothing too interesting. I met up with Nathalie, Mariene, Rachael and Sarah for Kebabs, and then we got mojitos in the Latin Quarter.

Today after I tutored, we were supposed to go to the Bois de Vincennes, but it was cold and drizzling, so we canceled out picnic and hung out on Rue Mouffetard instead. Mariene and I tried the inexpensive burrito place we had found, and it was extremely satisfying. I didn't realize how much I love Mexican food until I moved here, where it's practically non-existent. No joke, I think about how much I want a burrito from Chipotle ALL THE TIME. It will be delicious, and I know it will make me feel slightly better about being away from France.

Then, because burritos often require a follow-up with cake, we walked two seconds away to Sugarplum, where I hadn't been in forever. Mariene got chocolate cake with pistachio buttercream frosting, and, because it was St. Patrick's day, I got chocolate cake made with (wait for it): Guiness, whisky ganache, and Bailey's frosting. OMG. I could definitely taste the whisky.

It was so beautiful out for the past few days, so the weather was a little disappointing today, but I look forward to more sunny skies in the future! And this week and next will be realllllly exciting, because my sorority sister Liz is arriving in Paris on Wednesday, and then my sorority sister Allison is arriving on Saturday, yippee! I miss them a LOT, so I really can't wait to see them. I have plans to eat a lot (well, more than usual, anyway).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

More Sunny Days

I've been behind on my blogging! Things around here have been uneventful, yet very pleasant.

On Tuesday, Mariene and our new friend Kelly and I walked the entire length of the Promenade Plantee, which is a gardenish walking/bike path up high on what used to be a train track. It was cool because we were much closer to the decorative top floor of Parisian buildings than we usually get to be, and we packed ourselves lunches. That was so satisfying. Not only had I forgotten how much I truly love peanut and jelly sandwiches, but it FELT SO GOOD to have lunch that I hardly paid for! Mmmmmm, that was the most delicious part.

We took the path all the way to the very edge of Paris, which meant that we even managed to get some excersize without realizing it.

Then yesterday after work at night, I met up with Mariene, Sarah and Nathalie and her younger sister who was in town, and we got drinks on Rue Mouffetard (followed by crepes at our favorite crepe stand).

Today was especially nice. Sarah and I treated ourselves to a reasonably-priced sushi place that we had stumbled upon, and then we lounged for almost two hours in Luxembourg, where we even got to see an ADORABLE elementary school costume parade for what I think was Carnival. I decided that I should eat dinner at sit down restaurants more often, and that all of my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on other days shall fund this plan. I'm also feeling slightly better about money after making my final travel plans:

Basically, I love to travel, but I decided that I'm going to be content with the places that I've gone already this trip, and with the day trips that I'll be taking as well. This is what I decided my final travel plans will be:

1. Chartres in April (day trip)
2. Possibly Rheims (day trip)
3. Giverny (day trip)
4. Nice! My wonderful host mom booked me a plane ticket to go with Lise to her grandparents', so I get to go for a week for freeeeee in April. Thank you, Anne!
5. Possibly Monaco (short distance from Nice, and I heard that it's really easy to get there).
6. Lyon: I already have my tickets for a long weekend in May to visit Jordan, which I'm super excited about.

And, since I've already been to Bordeaux, Scotland and Greece this time around, I'm not going to beat myself up about not traveling more. I'm really looking forward to using the rest of the money I make to fully enjoy the sights and tastes of Paris, instead of being as stingy and panicked as I have been this whole time :)

Monday, March 12, 2012


Today I spontaneously changed out of my shirt and sweater into a light and flowy shirt (and pants), and met up with Rachael and LOUNGED IN THE SUN in Luxembourg! Apparently half of Paris had the same idea because it was full of people. I DIDN'T EVEN NEED TO WEAR MY JACKET. It was glorious.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Good Weekend

I had the pleasantest of weekends this time around.

Yesterday after tutoring, Rachael and I met up and took a long bus ride to Velizy. It's just a mall that we wanted to go to because they recently opened a Forever 21, but I think we were both surprisingly excited to be in such an American setting. It just felt good. At first I was kind of annoyed at how much trouble it took to get there, but then I instantly rescinded that thought, because it's actually better that Paris keeps its shopping malls away from Paris. I love days where I don't have any time constraints, and it felt so good to go shopping, get lunch, etc, on our own pace. And it felt SO GOOD to go shopping with money I had saved because I've been so incredibly stingy over the past few weeks! Shopping definitely feels better when it's money that you've made (but thank you, parents, for the adorable and inexpensive bunny ring you bought me from H&M and the delicious latte that I got yesterday)!

Today was equally as lovely. Sarah and I went back to the Musee L'Orangerie, this time armed with paper and pens so that we could write down the names of artists we wanted to remember. Again, I felt inspired. Then we got chai tea at our chai tea place, and then falafels! Mi Va Mi, the place that Mariene introduced me to, had finally re-opened, so I got to have my favorite falafel again. Also, I went to a Jewish bakery and bought a hamentashen -- it had hazelnut filling, how French!

Then we met up with Lindsay and her boyfriend Damien, and together we all walked across the river to the 5th, where we got good coffee for a euro in a cafe off of Rue Mouffetard (the same cafe that all of us got coffee in on my aunt/uncle/cousin's last night here). Then we went to the River Bar, two minutes away, where we had cheap pints of Leffe and watched the France/England rugby match. Poor France, it was close, but they lost. They're were English people all over the metro afterwards, but I stayed away from them, because Eric is always warning me to "be careful of UK people".


I can't wait. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Musee L'Orangerie

But first, the short exchange I just had with Lise as she walked up the stairs from my floor so that she could go get ready for bed:

Me: "Wait, Lise, you forgot your shoe!" (this was one of her sneakers that she had left down here in my room a few hours ago.

Lise: ::looks at me, then scrambles farther up the stairs instead of towards me and her shoe::

Me: "Wait! What am I going to do with one shoe?"

Lise: ::long pause:: "It's really comfortable." ::scrambles away and out the door::"

I don't really know that means.

Anyway, on a whim, my friends and I went to the Musee L'Orangerie today, which is located inside the Tuileries. I only decided to go because it's a museum, and because it has Monet's Waterlilies, so I guess why not go, right? I didn't really plan on loving what I saw, but in the end I was totally blown away, and left feeling completely inspired.

I've never truly been attracted to late 19th-Century art (except for my Kandinsky period in Elementary school), but kudos to the museum's curators (and especially to the people in charge of the Debussy: La Musiques et Les Arts exhibit), because I fell completely in love. I found that the flow of the museum really worked well with the paintings, and I'm officially a fan! Sarah and I made plans to come back on Sunday and stare extra hard at all of the paintings that we missed (actually, once we made this pact, we tried really hard not to concentrate too hard much on the paintings we walked by just so that we would have an excuse to come again). The Musee L'Orangerie is definitely one of my favorite places I've visited so far, and of course I highly recommend it.

I wasn't allowed to take my own photos, but I really liked this one especially. It's Maurice Denis' interpretation of the Muses.

I hadn't heard of Maurice Denis before, but I really like him, and it turns out that he even has is own museum in the outskirts of Paris. I also really liked Henri-Edmond Cross:

And there was another really great painting of the main entrance of the Tuileries (exactly where the museum is) at night, but I'll have to go back and see who painted that one. It feels so amazing to have a newfound appreciation of an entire art movement and era after a visit to one small museum! MORE, please!! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Today was a nice day. Lindsay came back to hang out with the girls while she's still in town, and it was really nice to have company. Especially since she told me about all of things that she did as their au pair that annoyed them -- which happen to be the exact same things that I do to annoy the girls, and which they always compare me to Lindsay about ("Lindsay wouldn't have said no!", etc). So that was very satisfying!

Usually Wednesdays are hard because it's up to me to make the three kids' ever changing schedules fit in together like puzzle pieces, but today was nice and calm and everyone got along. Lise slept over an hour later than usual (less work for me), and didn't disagree when I told her that at one point we had to get dressed because her pajamas were falling down on the trampoline, and that it was too cold to jump outside whilst naked. All of us girls, including Juliette's friend, managed to time out lunch so that we could all eat at the table together before I took Lise to dance, and she changed into her dance clothes extra early and without our normal fight about it, and she did her homework extremely early, and she washed her hair without a question, and she voluntarily wanted to brush her teeth before dinner (the usual circumstances being that she never wants to brush her teeth at all), and she actually wanted to put on her robe, and she agreed that it was a good idea to put on her slippers, etc. So it was a very nice day.

In disappointing news, after spending a ridiculous amount of time and energy working towards things that would allow me to apply for San Francisco State's credential program, they finally told me that since I can't take the CSET test before the semester starts in August (since I am out of zee country), that I am not eligible for admission for this upcoming year. I'm upset because 90% of the energy I spent applying to all of my credential programs in total went to SF, so I find this annoying. I'm pretty sure that I spoke to someone in the office who told me that I would be able to take the test after I started the semester, but I could be imagining that, or even if I wrote down her name, I wrote it down on a piece of paper 6 months ago which is 10,000 miles away and which I don't know the location of anymore, so that sucks. I can't say that the in-classroom tutoring hours I racked up solely so that I would be able to apply to SF are worthless (quite the contrary, they confirmed to me that I want to be in a classroom, and I really enjoyed the experience and formed from great relationships with my master teachers), BUT I'm still annoyed, and sad because SF would have been really great. At least I guess that's one less decision I have to make about my whereabouts next year....

Monday, March 5, 2012


First Monday back after vacation! Mariene and I started the day early, and walked down the Canal St. Martin. Then I was absolutely STARVING so I stumbled home. Where I ate a lot of unnecessary things.

Nothing much to report. The toothpaste I'm currently using happens to have the exact same flavor of the Doublemint spearmint gum that I chew when I fly, so that my ears don't pop. The consequence of this is that every time I brush my teeth, multiple times a day, I ALWAYS feel as though I'm about to get on an airplane and have an adventure. But there are worse things for your mouth to taste like then travel, I guess.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Today was a nice day. Lindsay, the family's former au pair, came by today to surprise the girls since she's visiting France for the week. It was really nice to finally meet her, especially since talking to her is what made me decide to take this job in the first place (every nice thing she said was definitely true).

We all had lunch together, but before we had lunch, I had a lot of champagne forced upon me (a lot. More than I would ever usually drink). I kept saying no, but according to Eric, I had to drink a lot because "eet eez sunday and zere eez a rugby match!". Then, while I was still working on my champagne, we sat down to eat and the wine came out. Eric had gotten some rose, because that's what Lindsay likes, and some red for me, which I thought was really nice of him. Before long, my plate was surrounded by the champagne flute that I was still working on, my second glass of red wine, and a glass of water because I'm a super lightweight, so water is always a good thing. Eric's really funny, and I think he thinks that I can drink more than I actually should. There was a night a few weeks ago where I had eaten an early dinner at Mariene's (accompagnied by a lot of wine), and when I came home the family and some friends were just sitting down to dinner. I said my hellos and explained that I had already eaten and had had wine to drink and was about to leave and let them eat, and Eric goes, "Ah, but I know what you want!", and poured a glass of more wine before I could stop him. I'm hoping that all of this means that my tolerance will have improved greatly by the time I've left Chez Courteille.

Everyone was in a good mood at lunch, and was therefore being very silly (though, I know the wine helped, not that the kids drink it). Lise and Juliette put on music and were dancing while we ate, and at one point, Lise left and came back to the table in costume (aviator sunglasses and a silly blue glittery plastic party hat), in addition to a lei which she draped around Linsday and a purple feather boa which she wrapped around me. In addition to all of the dancing, at one point she also ended up going the splits on the kitchen counter. The kids also spent much of the meal telling Eric not to sing along with the music, and he was upset because apparently "Zee whole world tells me I am a singer!". Then (multiple times), he turned to me and told me how hard his life was in this house.

And then there was chocolate cake, mmm. I love silly days!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chai Tea Lattes & The Louvre

Sarah and I celebrated the last weekend of February vacation by going to the Louvre today. Even though we came to the joint conclusion that we're tired of old stuff, we somehow ended up trapped in the Egyptian section...and couldn't find a way out until we had pretty much seen the ENTIRE Egyptian collection. And then, after deciding that we were definitely NOT going anywhere near the Ancient Greek stuff...that's exactly where we ended up, sigh. But we saw some other cool things too.

And then we got excellent chai tea in the Marais (I don't drink chai tea a lot, but I loooove it), along with a tarte tatin, which I tried for the first time and definitely plan on making when I get home to the states, mmmm. I seriously can't stop thinking about how good this tart was, 8 hours later.

(feel free to google it for more appealing photos). 

Then, when I was walking home in Clamart, I walked by the boulangerie and heard two little girls call my name...the kids were apparently back! They were with Eric picking up a cake to take to their grandma's new apartment, and it was nice to run into them unexpectedly, especially since they're always a 10 on the 1 to 10 scale of cuteness on the days they get back from vacation. Eric had bought Lise the movie Avatar over break, so we watched it together when they got home (I, too, feel nicer on the days that they get back from vacation!).

And in other exciting news, I got into UCI's credential program! And with a small scholarship too, which is less than they gave me for undergrad, but still definitely appreciated :) I don't know where I'll end up going yet, but at least this means that I'll be going somewhere :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Home to Paris

We got back on Wednesday with absolutely ZERO travel problems. As in, our bus showed up right as we arrived, and we got to the airport with plenty of time. So that was nice.

I spent yesterday and today doing laundry and watching The Sopranos, but I'm definitely getting out tomorrow because I'm starting to feel cooped up. The plus side of being in my room is that I can't spend money on crepes or croissants. The downside is that I eat everything else in sight! It's a big struggle though.  Last time, I didn't have any money, so it didn't really matter how much I spent. This time, when I can see it and feel it in my hands, I can at least try and budget. I keep telling myself that if I just ate 10 less Nutella crepes over the course of my entire stay here (which really isn't a lot. And it's not like I eat them as much as I talk about them, in reality), then I could buy a cute pair of shoes or something! Or 4 scarves! But being in a city that's 1)full of delicious snacks, and 2)really exhausting, which means that one needs food all the time, is my problem. Stupid Paris! No, I take that back, I love you!

I finally figured out how to locate (relatively) cheap train tickets, to places in France and elsewhere. Why is Milan 8 hours away? It's a problem. Same with Barcelona. Perhaps I'll make it to Amsterdam though. OR MAYBE I'LL JUST EAT A LOT OF CREPES INSTEAD.