Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Four weeks in France

View of the Tour Eiffel from the Pont Alexandre

Today marks the end of my fourth week in France. It has flown by. I have not yet set foot in a single museum nor been to any tourist attractions (other than the ones I have walked by.) I haven't eaten at any fancy restaurants or been to any plays or concerts or even had an aperitif on a sidewalk cafe. (Honestly, most of those things I don't really want to do by myself, and I still don't really know anyone here yet.) Basically, all that I've done for fun in the past month is walk. And eat patisseries. (But apparently I've walked more miles than than I've eaten croissants, as my jeans have grown quite loose on me.)

Life has suddenly turned extremely hectic with classes every day, several hours of homework every night, my new job (which is not a lot of hours but so far involves a lot of prep time, not to mention travel time) and three rehearsals a week. And last weekend was completely swallowed up by my choir retreat. (Yes, I survived the retreat. People were very nice and I got lots of compliments on my French. And the music we are singing--the Poulenc Stabat Mater and the Frank Martin mass--is gorgeous and I love the way this choir sounds! But it was still exhausting.)

Place Vendome, a good place to go if you want to feel grubby and unfashionable

Despite being super exhausted and stressed this week, I had a glorious moment on Monday evening. I left my tutoring session on the ritzy Rue St. Honoré (a short walk from the Place Vendome, pictured above.) I was on my way to the metro but it was so warm and lovely and sunny out, and I saw all these people riding by on their bikes, and I passed a velib station and thought--I'm going to give this bike thing a try! So I managed to rent one and I pedaled all along the rue de Rivoli and past the Place de la Concorde and then over to the Champs Elysée. Then I headed south and suddenly was by the Grand Palais and I could see Invalides ahead of me across the bridge and I felt like I had figured out this part of the city. I felt so light-hearted and joyful to be riding my bike through Paris!

The Grand Palais, which might be the first museum I visit (you can see the banners for the current Monet exhibit which looks great)

The Petit Palais (no idea why it's called this, it certainly doesn't look petit)

The view of the Arc de Triomphe while crossing the street at rush hour on the Champs Elysée

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