Paris and the Story of the Unlikely Tour Guide

September 13, 2009

Bonjour! Je m’appelle Victoria et j’habite à Paris…

For the first time in my life I can say that I live in a city. And not just any city, but Paris, the most beautiful city in the world according to many many people, me included. It is wonderful and exciting and completely overwhelming! The first night I didn’t sleep at all and had a very vivid dream about fishing-come to find out that according to the internet dreams about fishing mean that you’re struggling to find your identity and place in an unfamiliar setting. Creepy isn’t it?

But on to the important things! I have a very lovely and dynamic family, who have made me feel very much at home. The family living in the house consists of Madame, her oldest son Tiburce, and her third child Ariane. Ariane is 18 and she has been very very kind. She has given me several tours of our Arrondisement and she even took me to a store to buy school supplies. Yesterday morning I went to the market with Madame and Ariane to buy groceries, and I reconfirmed my adoration for the fact that even in a huge city, people still go to the market to buy many of their things! Afterward Ariane took me to one of the beautiful churches in the area, and I was lucky enough to witness the immediate aftermath of a French wedding! Apparently in France women tend to wear hats to weddings. It was so gorgeous that I couldn’t help but try to take some pictures.

Saint Etienne du Mont, which houses the remains of St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris

Saint Etienne du Mont, which houses the remains of St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris

Parisian Women at a Wedding

Parisian Women at a Wedding

While I was busy snapping pictures of the unsuspecting guests, Ariane recognized a family friend and Priest at the church. After meeting me and asking after Ariane’s family he offered to take us to see “Le Collège des Bernardins”, which is an absolutely wonderful building that was just renovated (I think the Pope even came to see it). He explained that it used to be a university, before the Sorbonne existed, and that it was a religious school (I believe that this is correct, though I am relying completely on my French skills, since he did not speak English). The building was a prison during the revolution, and has had many other purposes throughout the years. The newly renovated large hall is apparently the largest Gothic room in Europe (the world?) that is not part of a church. Now I believe that the building is a sort of Catholic life center where people can attend classes and talks and even movies! They have done a fabulous job of mixing the old mostly Gothic style with very contemporary elements. He was very kind and knowledgeable, and it was a really fabulous tour! He even made a joke and pointed out a Michigan license plate in a shop window -I’ll return to get a picture later! But for now, here’s a photo of the main hall.

Le Collège des Bernardins

Le Collège des Bernardins

As you can see it is an enormous room, and I wasn’t even standing at the other end of it!

Oh, Ariane also took me by Notre Dame, and I was able to persuade her to let me take her picture in front of it, on the condition that she could then take mine. I suppose it’s embarrassing to pose in front of something so touristy when you’re a real Parisian, but I just wanted to show you what she looks like!

Ariane and Notre Dame

Ariane and Notre Dame

The rest of the day was lovely as well. I now have internet in my room (!!!) and I’m still trying to settle in. But in spite of all that I am finally starting to get my bearings! Walking everywhere helps a lot, though last night Madame and I drove Ariane and two of her girlfriends to a soiree. I was so jealous! Madame told me she would make up for scaring me with her driving (Parisians technically have traffic laws, but it seems that nobody obeys them, and the streets are ridiculously tiny-I was a little scared!) so she drove me around and pointed out l’Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, le Champs Elysees, and many other famous places. And while I was on the phone with my friend Aisha trying to set up a coffee date for later that night she drove me right by the Eiffel Tower! Even though I saw it at night with my family last summer, I couldn’t help but exclaim “I LOVE Paris!” in English. Rather embarrassing when you’re in the car with someone who has lived in Paris all her life, but I was just feeling the moment okay?

That said, I returned to the apartment-some of my dignity still intact-and I met up with Caroline and Aisha for crepes and chocolate chaud. They were brave enough to figure out the metro at 11 o’clock at night, and we met in front of my apartment (I live in an excellent location). We had variations of nutella crepes and we all shared a hot chocolate at the cafe literally right next door to my apartment. It was fantastic! I think I’m slowly getting used to this whole city living thing…

I slept well last night, and I’m looking forward to whatever adventure I go on today! I’ll be sure to update asap…

A bientôt!


One Response to “Paris and the Story of the Unlikely Tour Guide”

  1. grandma said

    Victoria! You have just sent me the most wonderful information about Paris. St Genevieve is the patron saint! That is your great-grandmothers name. I feel that my mom is now watching over her wonderful great granddaughter. By the way, when do we get a picture of you?

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