Well my friend Chrissy left this morning and I'm quite sad that she's gone. As beautiful as it is here it's much more fun with a friend, especially one as exuberant as Chrissy! We had quite the visit together. Perhaps the best part about travelling with Chrissy, as well as the most unexpected, is that we both have the same view on touring the city. Fly by the seat of your pants. Our first day here we started from our hotel and just aimlessly wandered the beautiful old streets of Paris, coming across a beautiful garden from the middle ages and some quaint churches and homes. We went left or right based solely on what looked interesting ahead, and found ourselves in front of the Louvre in no time! From there we managed to stumble upon the Champs Elysees which subsequently lead us to the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel tower! We turned out to be quite the tour guides.
We went to the Musee d'Orsay and just happened to get there the first day of the Manet exhibit, so I was thrilled to be lucky enough to see Olympia, whom I love! I'm sure I could learn a thing or two from her attitude, especially when it comes to dealing with the french! From the Musee d'Orsay we ambled about and happened upon a cute little store where we did some shopping, only to learn upon exiting that we were right next to Laduree! I can see why these are famous! The best macaron I have ever had, nothing before or since has been able to compare. Like the perfect baguette, they have a nice crisp crust but the insides melt in your mouth. Every other macaron we tried was just too gummy.
Perhaps my favorite thing so far, however, was not in Paris but Versailles. The palace is, of course, amazing but a bit to gaudy for my taste (not that I would refuse the crown because of that, more so because of all the beheading business) but the best part of the palace is by far the gardens and Marie Antoinette's Hamlet. The gardens are so vast and beautiful that you can't help but be relaxed and at peace, and the Grand Canal has little row boats you can rent and is lined with French couples making out (which apparently is standard issue here in France). Marie Antoinette's Hamlet was, however, the most incredible thing I have ever seen and both Chrissy and I were ready to hand over our passports and move into one of the charming little cottages. I had no idea that she had built herself an entire TOWN! I thought she had one, maybe two little cottages. Every one had adorable thatched roofs and surrounded a manmade little pond which was bustling with geese and ducks and, of course, swans. All along the top of the roofs were tulips just getting ready to bloom, and each house was surrounded by a quaint fence whose gates were haloed by a twig archway. It made me very excited to go to the countryside to study, and I am very happy that I will be in the calm serene town of Yssingeaux instead of the loud and busy Paris. Much more my style.
What has been another pleasant surprise is that since I have a student visa and am under 26 years of age (if only for another month) I am able to do everything for free! Versailles, the Louvre, and the Musee d'Orsay have all been free, which makes me feel a little bit better about having to fly from Denver to LA for a weekend just to get my visa.
I leave on Saturday for the Lyon airport, where I will be meeting up with my group and taking a bus to Yssingeaux. Monday is orientation and then classes begin on Tuesday. I will try and send photos as soon as I can, especially of my little town where I'll be staying, and once I get there I should also be able to let you know what my exact address will be.
Miss you all!
You can see that I was enchanted by Paris and expecting my tiny town of Yssingeaux to be as quaint and lovely as Marie Antoinette's Hamlet. Well I'm sure that's why they say, "live and learn."