24 May 2009

Chez Monet

Friday I ventured again outside the périphérique with my friend Rachel to see the beautiful house and garden of Claude Monet in the charming Normand town of Giverny. This post is mostly an excuse to show off some stunning photographs, which still do not at all capture the vibrancy of the real thing, but I will try to recount my lovely day in words as well.

After just a 45 minute train ride, we were
transported into the quaint and spirited region of Normandy. A pleasant (although hot under the beating sun) five-kilometer walk brought us into the delightfully pretty town of Giverny, home to Claude Monet from 1883 to his death in 1926. The tiny village swarmed with tourists, and we had to wait nearly two hours to enter the Fondation Claude Monet, the artist’s former home and gardens. The wait, however, was well worth it, and pleasant company helped to pass the time.

Once inside the gardens, we were overwhelmed by the colors and smells of rows and rows of beautiful and diverse blossoms. The flowers were each so stunning and lively; the colors were so vivid and striking. As the sun continued to beat down, we took shelter in the Japanese garden portion of the grounds. Bamboo shaded pacific paths besides trickling streams. Tranquility reigned in this iconic garden where Monet’s water lilies were found.

The colors of Monet’s house, especially the dining room and kitchen, were almost as vibrant as the gardens, although the crowd in the house made it a bit difficult to take it all in peacefully.
Throwing a final envious look over the full and flowering garden, we stopped by the bookshop for some postcards and headed out.

We visited Monet’s grave in a calm, little cemetery. Then we found a pleasant little field in which to enjoy our picnic before embarking on the heat- and sun-filled walk back to the train station and our ultimate ride back home to Paris.

In all, it was a lovely day and an unforgettable sight and experience. What a wonderful start to my amazing last weekend here in Paris.

19 May 2009

Je reviendrai

I had my end-of-the-year language evaluation yesterday, and I have to say that I think it confirmed what I've been feeling. Sure, I made a number of fautes [mistakes], but I could feel the change in my tone of voice, my gestures and my rhythm. I felt completely comfortable speaking French.

And that's how I've come to feel about my year here. It's only just recently that I've become fully comfortable with my surroundings: Paris, France, French, etc. This makes it all the more unfortunate that I have to leave so soon. I am increasingly jealous of my friends who are staying for the summer or even for just a month - anything to extend the experience and delay the inevitable.

But one day, we'll come back. It will never be the same...we'll never have the same liberty, the same naivete, the freetime, but we'll find a way. Several months ago, I would have said that my abroad experience had satisified my desire to explore Paris; I probably would even have said that I didn't feel a strong urge to come back in the future. But, oh so suddenly, something has changed. Perhaps it's the inevitablity of my return, but I am now hoping and dreaming that I can find someway to live in Paris again, no matter how briefly.

12 May 2009


I don’t know when it happened.

…but suddenly I feel like I can speak French.

Yes, I’ve been claiming I could all along, but it was a mere mirage au début.

I wish I could remember the exact moment.
I would love to recall how it happened.
I don’t really know how to explain it.
Something has changed in me and I don’t know what it is.

France, tu m’as changée, tu m'as touchée
…mais je ne peux pas l’expliquer ni en anglais ni en français.
France, you’ve changed me, you’ve moved me
…but I can’t explain it neither in English, nor in French.

09 May 2009


VE Day tradition?

To my surprise, I stumbled upon a group of French guys playing American football on the grass near les Invalides today. The mere sight of an American football was enough to pique my interest.

Despite their best efforts, they seemed to be having a bit of trouble with the rules. There were a number of illegal forward passes attempted and even they couldn’t decide if it was legal or not to push someone out of bounds. They appeared to be having a good time though so who would want to spoil their fun.

Aux « States »

As my time in Paris comes increasingly closer to its definitive end (I have but three glorious weeks left here), time runs short and my list of obligations and expectations runs long. I expect these next three weeks to be jammed full of homework, studying and profiting from my last few moments in France. I don’t anticipate having too much time to write about it all, but do not fear my faithful reader(s): I will use my impeccable memory and first few nostalgic days back home to recount it all. So look for more updates after the first of the month.

In the meantime, to quell my return anxiety and remind myself of the wonderful things back home (you know, besides family and friends and stuff) in the States, here are some of the silly American things I am desperately looking forward to:

Cinnamon Life cereal
Deep-dish pizza
Free refills
24-hour supermarkets and stores open on Sundays
Reliable libraries
Prevalent public restrooms