Latin Quarter and First Day of Classes!

Classes finally started at the IES Center! My first class is French 101 with Professor Lerouvillois. I have never taken French language before, but I find learning the language very interesting. I think the language rules are very similar to Spanish which I studied for five years, so I am learning pretty fast.  After class concluded, all of us students went down the street to a local deli.  We also put to use what we learned in class and ordered our food successfully in French! (Je voudrais un sandwich, s’il vous plaît = I would like a sandwich, please.)

The other class I am taking here in Paris is Global Marketing with Professor DeGendre. I absolutely love this class and it is super interesting. We learned about how companies change their advertising campaigns to match the culture of a country. McDonald’s was a unique example I found interesting, as the McDonald’s here in Paris has a very fancy interior, a different menu, and also serves macaroons! I hope to have a career in international marketing, so this class is great experience!

After class and lunch, our group decided to take the metro and tour the Latin Quarter of St. Germain des Prés. The Latin Quarter is the oldest area of Paris and contains all of Paris’ old universities. It is known as the Latin Quarter because the universities used to only teach classes in Latin. We also visited the famous cathedral of Notre Dame and the royal chapel of Saint Chapelle. Notre Dame is famous for its two large towers that I plan to climb to the top of sometime, while Saint Chapelle is famous for its extensive stained glass walls. My personal favorite is Saint Chapelle (bottom photo) because the intricate details on the stained glass are amazing. No two panels are alike and the glass is hand painted.

   

Since the Latin Quarter is famous for being the oldest area of Paris, I of course had to eat at the oldest restaurant in Paris.  I ate at Café Procope, which was established in 1686 and is still open.  I sat outside in the back alley as I was served duck and crème brûlée.  This was definitely the best meal I have ever had (and probably one of the fanciest)!

     

Bon appetit!

-Alissa Smith

Arc de Triomphe, Seine Boat Tour, and Champs Elysees!

What is a summer studying in Paris without a visit to the Arc de Triomphe? This was one of the monuments I was most excited to visit! Something I did not know is the only way to access the Arc de Triomphe is to cross the street through an underground tunnel because the street is so busy all the time. Once we got to the Arc, we decided to climb the tons of stairs to the top for an amazing view of Paris.

   

Our IES group also took a boat tour on the Seine to see all the famous locations of Paris. We learned the history of each monument, and saw all of Paris within a few hours. One of my favorite monuments is the Pont Alexandre III bridge, pictured below, which is the most ornate and extravagant bridge in Paris.

Later on, we went shopping on the famous Champs Élysées. This street houses all of the most expensive stores in Paris, ranging from Louis Vuitton, to Gucci, to Versace. We soon realized we were the most under-dressed customers, but still had a ton of fun window shopping. While on Champs Élysées, we stopped at Ladurée, the most famous macaroon store in France. I had a lavender macaroon and it was one of the best desserts I have ever had. I will definitely have to buy a box before I leave!

   

Bonne Soirée!

-Alissa Smith

Eiffel Tower Picnic!

After attending another IES orientation for French culture in the morning, the entire IES business group decided to head to the Eiffel Tower for a picnic. A picnic on the famous lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower is pretty high on my bucket list, so I was super excited for this! We bought some French baguettes and headed for the lawn space in front of the Eiffel Tower. After eating a freshly made French baguette, I will never be pleased with American bread ever again! Freshly made French bread is like nothing I have ever tasted, and eating it in front of the tower made it even more special!

Since we live in the 15th arrondissement and the Eiffel Tower is in the 7th arrondissement, we had to take the metro for the first time. There are multiple lines and the stops can get confusing, so the metro was very difficult to navigate. After getting lost for a few moments, we eventually found the correct stop. We are slowly getting better at reading the maps, but I think getting lost is part of the fun of discovering new places. Something unique to Paris is that each metro entrance is decorated differently depending on the area.  These are two of my favorite entrances below:

Since one can never get tired of looking at the Eiffel Tower, we decided to go back to the tower for sunset. We watched the sunset from the opposite side of the Seine River and the view was fantastic. We also stayed long enough to watch the tower light up and sparkle at night, which was definitely one of the coolest sights I have ever seen. I am in love with Paris!

Ciao!

-Alissa Smith

 

 

 

First Day in Paris!

After months of preparing and the excitement leading up to studying abroad, I’m finally here in the famous Ville de Lumiéres (City of Lights)!  After an eight hour flight, I managed to navigate the massive Charles de Gaulle airport and catch a taxi to my apartment in the 15th arrondissement of Paris.  My apartment is above a fantastic boulangerie, or bakery, where I purchased my first baguette.  French baguettes are like nothing I have ever tasted before.  Something unique to Paris that I love is that it is completely normal to walk down the street eating a giant baguette with a bottle of wine.

   

Photos of my apartment and room on Rue de la Convention, 15th arrondissement (the old green doors are my favorite!)

After unpacking, I headed to my first Paris outdoor café with my roommates Karlie, Ann, and Nanxi.  At first, we struggled to order food in French and were very unsure of how to politely get our waiter’s attention.  We quickly learned it is a custom in Paris to spend hours eating a meal, where the waiters will only come to the table if you call them over.  There is no tipping waiters in French culture, and the staff will get offended if you don’t finish your meal (lesson learned).  Despite the stereotype that French people often face, Parisians are some of the most polite and friendly people I have met.  Everyone so far has been completely willing to help us with our French and speak to us in English.  In fact, a few Parisians told us they were excited to meet Americans because they wanted to practice their English skills.

Later on, we had orientation at the IES center.  Meeting the rest of the students in the program was a blast and I can’t wait to get to know everyone!  After a long travel day, I am very excited to be in a place I have never been before and experience everything Paris has to offer!

Au revoir!

-Alissa Smith

P.S. I never get tired of looking at the Eiffel Tower!