Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm Alive!

I promise! I meant to blog for real tonight and then all of things exploded that I had to take care of (not literally). It was almost like being president of a sorority again. I haven't had that many emails to send/phone calls to make/meetings to organize (all at the same time) in a long time. It's all fine now.

Real blog tomorrow. Someone please tell me what I should do next year when I get home, because I'm having a really hard time making up my mind about anything.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Musee des Arts et Metiers & The Museum of Hunting and Nature

Yesterday was a crazyyy museum day with Rachael and Sarah. We hit up two off the beaten path museums, both in the Marais, and they were both excellent.

We started out our day in the Musee des Arts et Metiers (Arts and Crafts, but a better translation would be Arts and Sciences), which almost has too many historical machines to look at.

Also, the coolest thing about this museum is that the modern section of the building is connected to the former church St. Martin-des-Champs, which is beautiful and painted inside, and which gives the museum an entire different feel from others:

Airplanes "flying" around inside!

Then we headed to the Musee de la Chasse & de la Nature (The Museum of Hunting and Nature), which is a small private museum which was really great as well.

All of the rooms are themed around a specific animal, and those rooms have taxidermy, medieval tapestries, little art pieces and painting in gold frames, and interactive areas for kids -- most of rooms felt like you were in a fancy living room, and it felt more like a history museum than a science museum. It was hard to capture on film and sort of art to describe, but I really liked it. 

There was also a big game room (with every large animal animal) EVER mounted to a wall. I recommend both museums. 

Also, my friend Jackie (whom I studied abroad with in Bordeaux) arrived yesterday, and she's in Paris for a whole MONTH to do research for her PhD, so I'm really excited to re-live some adventures with her!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dog Cemetery

In addition to going to St. Denis yesterday, Rachael and I ALSO finally made it to the Dog Cemetery in the north of Paris! It was founded in 1899, and there are more than just dogs buried there. It was more interesting than most of the human cemeteries I've been to in France.

"He saved the life of 40 people, and was killed by the 41st"

Those are tennis balls! How sweet :)

GHOST CAT. Earlier, we had seen a lady feeding a different ghost cat, and she told us not to take pictures, but I kind of think that if you're feeding ghost cats, you have to expect that people will want to get photographic evidence of that. 

A horse who died in 1811. 

A sheep!

It was definitely in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, but it was definitely worth going to. I recommend it! Today was also a very productive day. Look forward to blog posts about the Musee des Arts et Metiers, and about the Museum of Hunting and Nature! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Basilica St. Denis

Today Rachael and I trekked all the way to the top of line 13 so that we could visit the St. Denis Basilica, and I have to say that it contributed to me being in a better mood than I have been these past few weeks. Finally, the church that I've been looking for: absolutely FULL of medieval tombs and royal body parts. Definitely better than Notre Dame. When we walked into the necropolis, I accidentally started singing that song that goes, "I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it!!"...and then I had to stop myself...because I was in a necropolis.

The Basilica.

The feet on the tombs of Francis I and his wife. I thought it was an odd choice, personally. 

Me and the heart of Francis I, ewwww.

Henri IV & Catherine de Medici!

Really nice stained glass windows!

The crypt.

Louis XVII's heart. Extra gross.

St. Denis kind of restored faith in France for me! I just need to see stuff like this more often and I'll feel better. Tomorrow's blog: DOG CEMETERY!! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Artemisia Gentileschi

Today was a great day because I finally got to see the Artemisia Gentileschi exhibit at the Musee Maillol! She's a 17th century Italian painter, and I was realllly excited when I first saw the posters for the exhibit because we studied her in my Baroque Rome art history class a few years ago.

She painted a lot of Old Testament subjects, and it would appear that her favorite was Judith, since she painted her so many times:

She painted other things too, though, and she was a student of Carravagio. Anyway, I really like her, and I'm so glad that I got to see some of her stuff up close!

St. Denis tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Musee Marmottan Monet

Today I went to the Musee Marmottan Monet, which I don't have any pictures from because photos are not allowed, but it was a great museum. This year in Paris has taught me that I really really like Impressionists. Also, did you know that Monet painted a lot? Because it's starting to seem that every museum in Paris has at least a painting or two of waterlilies.

The other reason that I like the Musee Marmottan Monet is because of its name. Marmottan is just the name of the person who started the collection, but I like to secretly think of the musum as The Museum of Marmots and Monet....which would actually probably make for a really interesting museum, no?

Also, it's been POURING rain here during the day like never before. And it stops raining every five minutes for ten minutes at a time, which is annoying because nothing is more annoying that opening and closing your umbrella every ten minutes. Today my friend Andrea and I were sitting under the awnings of a cafe in the Latin Quarter, and every so often, a huge pile of water would splash off of the awnings onto the street, giving the people who walked by the experience of being on a water ride at an amusement park at the moment when the log hits the bottom of the drop and two tons of water fall on you.

And of course, three days in a row now, I get home at night after spending a soaking wet day in the city to find ridiculously sunny skies and no rain in sight. And it stays bright and sunny until 9PM here, which just adds insult to injury after walking around gloomy Paris all day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Photos of the French Riviera

I've been behind on blogging because of my limited internet access and because I'm still in a bad mood and I just didn't feel like it. But I did have a great time in Nice and the surrounding areas, and here are a sampling of my photos!

The view from Francelise & Jean's house.


Yacht show in Antibes. 

Coffee, obviously.

Lise & I in front of the bay of Villefranche.

The church in Monaco where Grace Kelly & Prince Rainier were married. 

The view of the bay next to the village of Eze.

Palais Lascaris in Old Nice.

GELATO in Antibes.

Quai des Etats-Unis.

Jewish Cemetry up on a hill in Nice.

So, you can see it was a great trip :)

Also, the coolest thing happened yesterday. I was in my usual cafe, and I saw a girl who looked familiar but I figured that she worked there or that she had gone to my language school or something so I didn't think much of it. When I left the cafe, I heard someone call my name and it was her. I walked back over to her and she asked me AEPhi's secret turns out that I recognized her because she's a member at Stanford and I met her at our last Convention! She's studying abroad here with another member of her chapter, and how ridiculous is it that we should run into each other by chance on another continent?! When she asked me the secret question, I was in so much shock from hearing it that I forgot to answer and just hugged her instead. The funny thing is that only later that night did I make the connection to another AEPhi story....there's a promotional video that the sorority made for AEPhi's 100th anniversary, and one of the people interviewed in an alumna (who's probably in her 80s or 90s). We played the video at UCI during Formal Recruitment two years ago, so everyone in my chapter knows by heart the story she tells about being in Paris once and running into two AEPhis in the elevator. There's a part where she says that they recognized each other and that suddenly they were in each others' arms, and that's pretty much exactly what happened to us yesterday -- a lot of hugging and shrieking when we realized that we knew each other :) 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More Nice!

The Wifi connection here has been pretty on and off, so I've been checking my email on their computer, but French keyboards are arranged differently making it really hard to type, which is why I'm behind on my blogging (wifi is working right now, fingers crossed).

Tuesday was great, because I got to walk around the old town and explore a lot. It's a good thing that I had already eaten lunch because there are so many pizza places that I simply wouldn't have been able to choose one. I had enough trouble choosing where to get coffee, and I eventually ended up at a cafe who's tables I liked the most. It felt SO GOOD to sit and drink a 3.00 euro cafe creme and read OUTSIDE, surrounded by RED and ORANGE buildings. It was just all around a more pleasant atmosphere than Paris offers.

Afterwards, I walked the winding streets with no particular direction in mind, which also felt good. I walked into a lot of little churches, and they too were also nicer than most churches in Paris, because they were super ornate and golden and shiny inside. I also ended up on the beach at some point (at the Quai des Etats-Unis), where I sat down and smelled the ocean for the first time in forever and looked at my map.

Nice is pretty great. I can definitely see myself coming back and spending longer here. I don't think it's a busy enough place for me to want to live in for 10 months, but I imagine that it's great place to study abroad.

Yesterday, Maarja and I went out at night, and I was able to meet up with my American friend Carmen (who is currently living in Bordeaux again) and three of her friends who are also in town visiting, so that was fun. We got drinks and then crepes (go figure).

This morning, Jean took me and Lise to the Parc Phoenix (or whatever it's called), which is a mini zoo with a lot of plants in Nice. I freaked out when I saw the baby wallaby. Have you ever seen one? You'd freak out too, they're too cute. Lise was completely enamored with the baby ducks. We decided to ask Anne if we can get a pet duck when we get home. They also had a whole Western-themed habitat for about a million guinea pigs (???), and a creek with about 100 red-eared sliders just hanging out (photos when  get back to Paris). At one point, Lise took my camera and started taking (blurry) photos of E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G to be surprises for me, but since they were supposed to be surprises, I wasn't allowed to look at her or what she was doing, which was hard since most of the time she was walking right in front of me. We found some cool birds that were like ostriches but not exactly ostriches, and I wanted to take a picture of her with them, but she was too afraid that they would attack her while I was taking the picture, even if she was standing 5 feet away from their cage, which I thought was funny. I haven't looked at the photos she took yet, I'm sure they'll be exciting.

Jean and Franclise have been making me eat and drink a lot. It's starting to be a problem.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Today Jean (Lise's grandpa) took us to the aquarium in MONACO! Woo hoo, another country to check off my list! We walked around a little bit afterwards and saw the Palais, but Lise was in a really bad mood so we left pretty soon after. The aquarium was really fun though, and it was especially fun to visit it with a little kid who was genuinely excited about everything. She's never seen Finding Nemo, so that's definitely on my to-do list for when we get home. We didn't get to see a lot of Monaco, so I might go back when my friend Carmen is in town over the next few days, but I still have to explore Nice and that might be more interesting.

Then on the way home (without stopping, Monaco is probably 25 minutes away from their house) we stopped by the village of Eze, to see the cactus garden up high on a hill in what used to be the location of an old castle, which was also fun.

Lots of uphill climbing during this vacation!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Yesterday, Francelise (Lise's grandma) introduced me to Maarja, who's an au pair from Estonia who lives with a family a few houses away, and today we went to Antibes together. It was really cute, and it looked a lot like Napflion in Greece (best lunch ever: fries, diet coke, cafe creme, and mint and tiramasu gelato). We also walked, like, 6 miles during the day (much of it uphill) because we accidentally got off the bus too soon, but at least my legs feel great!

Also, Nice might as well be Italy, because it looks like Italy, there are gelato stands partout, and there's a big statue of Garibaldi in the Place Garibaldi. Also, and I'm not making this up, every single restaurant is a pizza restaurant.

Also, Lise's extended family is soooo nice (they keep telling me to act like it's my house), and Francelise even gave me a stack of brochures for sites to visit. Also, I get to speak a lot of French here (even though they all speak English), and it feels really good. I spent almost all of yesterday with Mailyse, Lise's 5-year-old cousin, because Lise and Anoa (who's 7) wanted to play by themselves. Of course, by the end of the night Lise was upset that Mailyse seemed to like me more than her, but I guess that's what happens when you ignore someone all day. I got a special hairdo from Mailyse (kind of. She was really excited to braid my hair, but she couldn't really do it that well, so my hair ended up half braided), and then we played in her fort for a while. Also, she's the most ticklish kid I've ever met in my whole life, so that's pretty much a built-in activity.

Also, I get to hear a lot of stories about when Anne was younger, which is fun. today Francelise was telling me about one time when her kids were little, they camped in a tent on the beach for a whole month (somewhere not in Nice), and washed their dishes in the ocean, etc. "Nous etions commes les Robinson."


Lise and I arrived yesterday morning, and so far it's been really fun. It was raining most of yesterday so we stayed in, but Lise's grandparents had just given her a set of (kids') horse brushes for her future imaginary horse, which meant that I got a free hair brushing out of it!

Also, when we arrived at their house, we were met by Clipper, the Largest Dog In The World. He's a Bernese Mountain dog. Lucky for him he's pretty adorable, or else I would have minded more when we discovered that he had snuck into my room and eaten half of one of my ballet flats. I found it funny that Lise's grandma was using the same words to him as French parents use to their kids: "Soyez sage! Doucement! Soyez calme!"

Friday, April 13, 2012

April Vacation

I'm still in a negative funk. I've been feeling extra anti-social, but then I don't really like being in all day either. And things are still EXTRA good, so what's the problem with me?!

It's not so much that things are aren't fun -- it's just that I'm really looking forward to life at home again. For example, I cannot WAIT to be home so that I can completely clean out my closet. As in, I spend my time day-dreaming about what items I can remember are currently hanging in there, and about how much better they would look in a big pile that's headed to Goodwill (or, American Way in this case). I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!

In other news, I'm going to Nice tomorrow for a whole week to hang out with Lise and her grandparents and their oversized dog whom I've been hearing about since I got here 7 months ago. So hopefully this will put me in a better mood.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Metro Posters

I think in this case, "ultime" probably means "final". Because if the Louvre is trying to say that Saint Anne is really de Vinci's ultimate chef-d'oevre, than they are deluding themselves. Or maybe no one really likes The Mona Lisa. It's not like it has its own wall at the Louvre or anything.

Also, can we please talk about the frenchification of non-French proper nouns? Léonard de Vinci? Really? They also like to talk about Michel-Ange and La Caravage (at least they make up for implying that his given Italian name wasn't good enough by giving him his own pronoun though). 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Turning Point?

So, I'm really ready to come home. Nothing bad happened and everything's still great -- Paris is more beautiful than ever, host parents are still cool, kids have been EXTRA SUPER ADORABLE WITH NO PROBLEMS for a long time, my friends are wonderful, I'm finally feeling actually comfortable living in someone else's home -- but I'm just ready. Before, having 8 months left of my time here wasn't enough, and now July seems very far away.

I don't know why, and I'm not unhappy here at all. I think it's just that Paris has lost its luster for me. One of my concerns about moving here for so long was that I wouldn't get to see a lot of my UCI friends who had their senior years left, etc (if you love you alma mater as I do, it's hard to know that for an entire school year, you won't have the option of setting foot on campus and slowly weaning yourself off of college life instead of ending that phase of your life all at once). I know that I will without a doubt stay in touch with my good friends...but once everyone has graduated, I was worried that I wouldn't have the opportunity to run into people who I still cared about but who I wasn't as close to. Thankfully, as soon as I stepped foot on French soil, I totally forget about those concerns because France successfully distracted me with how much fun it is. Now, however, I remember what it distracted me from, and I think that's contributing to feeling anxious about going home.

I don't wish I was coming home earlier, and I have lots of things that I'm looking forward to doing here before July 13th. But I'm not nearly as excited as I was when I leave the house in the morning as I used to be. Also, I'm really looking forward to bagels and cream cheese and good coffee.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Yesterday, Rachael and I took a day trip an hour outside the city to visit Chartres and its cathedral!

Basically, Chartres is pretty much the cutest little French town ever.


It was a nice day. We even found a small "zoo" in the nearby park and squealed over how cute the birds, goats and pigs were. The Cathedral was obviously nice too, and Rachael and I enjoyed eating our picnic lunches on the steps of it. We didn't really love our audio tour though. First of all, a chunk of the cathedral is under construction on the inside, so we missed out that that part of the tour (had I been in America, I totally would have asked for my money back, but I knew that if I tried that here I would have only received blank stares). Also, while I did learn a lot about the religious imagery on the outside and in the very nice stained glass windows, the narrator did not define one word that she used. As in, most of the audio tour involved her saying, "Now look right to the ahbdyug3e, under the qgdjh7h, and you'll see the hjhwgduy which was replaced in the 13th Century." But there were lots of nice statues at least. And I liked the labyrinth. 

Chartres was such a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Paris. Also, because it was Easter weekend, the town was empty, which added to how cute it was. YAY FOR SLEEPY FRENCH TOWNS AND DAY TRIPS.