Décembre?! Déjà?!

It is officially week ten! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!

I have officially narrowed my experiences thus far in Paris into a Top Ten list! These are not in any particular order….that would be incredibly too difficult!

Musée D’Orsay:

This is officially my very favorite museum. I absolutely love it. From Toulouse, Manet, Monet, Degas, to Van Gogh…I can’t get enough of it. My very favorite painting is called La Rue Montorgueil by Monet, and I had no idea it was at Musée D’Orsay…until it was staring me in the face. I was absolutely shocked, and it was extremely difficult to suppress my excitement that this painting was hanging right in front of me. All I wanted to do was scream and shout…but that would have been completely socially inappropriate. So instead, I sat down on a bench a journaled next to it….it was definitley one of those surreal moments.


My dad had always recommended that I should to go to Monet’s gardens in Giverny where Claude Monet spent most of his later life painting many of his masterworks. This trip is simply a short train ride away from Paris, about 45 minutes, and it was completely worth it. Visitors can slowly make their way towards the gardens while stopping in a museum that focuses on Impressionism, lunch at a nearby café, and window shopping at little boutiques. Once we finally entered the gardens, the resemblance to Monet’s paintings  seemed to be identical. I felt like I was walking around in some of Monet’s most famous pieces! I would love to return in the Spring to be able to see the gardens is in full bloom, but I felt so fortunate to visit before it closed on November first! The next day I went to the museum called the Orangerie where Monet’s 8 huge murals are kept. They are all depictions of his water garden in Giverny…such an amazing feeling to have experienced first hand that world of his.



After taking a short side tour to see the MOULIN ROUGE, I headed over to Sacre Couer where there was a harpist sitting on the steps serenading all the tourists …it was lovely. The view from the top of those steps is breathtaking, but that morning we decided to take Montmartre to the next level….up to the top of the Sacre  Couer! 6 euros later, we were climbing the endless spiral staircase to the top of the Sacre Couer (the dome part). Looking down onto Paris from the top of that dome was breathtaking! After circling the dome and capturing every possible angle of the city, we headed over to the artist’s market where I bought my first souvenir, a painting of Paris at sunset. Montmartre is truly magical.

 Tour Eiffel:

Eiffel Tower

I have been waiting to see this in real life ever since I was in the womb. As we approached la Tour Eiffel, I was  SO excited. Trees were in the way of a quality view as we walked towards the Champ de Mars (grassy rectangle) so I attempted to avoid looking at it until it was RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF MY EYES!  I love it. I have yet to climb it, but don’t worry…that day will come. This may be news to some people, but the Eiffel  Tower sparkles at night!!! Every hour on the hour for a couple of minutes! It still brings my so much joy to this very day.

 Biking at Versailles:

Biking at Versailles

One of my very favorite pastimes back in Portland is to bike around, and I was able to bike in Versailles! A couple of friends and I ended up heading over to the Versailles gardens where people are able to rent bikes for the day, and it was absolutely magical. The Versailles gardens are gigantic, so the last time that we visited Versailles, there wasn’t enough time to walk around all of the different gardens. Biking was a great way to get around and experience the entire garden, and when we visited in November, the trees were magnificent!

 Sitting along the Seine at night:

Randomly, a bunch of us will cruise over to the Seine with a bottle of wine and talk the night away while the night lights dance on the water. Although Paris is absolutely beautiful in the day, Paris at night is one of the most beautiful sceneries that I have seen! The name ‘City of Lights’ holds very true when the moon comes out.

 St. Chapelle:

I have not heard too many things about St. Chapelle,  but after visiting a couple of weekends ago this will be one tourist spot that I will be recommending to everyone! After standing in line for about an hour and a half, I finally got into St. Chapelle cathedral, and was absolutely stunned! There are apparently 1,113 depictions of bible stories on the stained glass around the cathedral, and when the light streams through the windows, it’s breathtaking!

 Champs Elysées Christmas Festival:

After France failed at properly celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving, I must admit that they are doing pretty well at recognizing that Christmas is approaching!!! There are Christmas markets that have been open since mid-November, and more are opening throughout December! I have only been to the Christmas market at the Champs Elysées so far, and it is absolutely magical. There are street vendors everywhere, churros and hot wine at every corner, and an epic ferris wheel at the end of the lane. Christmas is coming!

 Sunset at Galleries Lafayette:

One afternoon, my roommate and I decided to attack Galleries Lafayette, probably the largest department store I have seen in my LIFE. It was absolutely exhausting…every floor had endless racks of clothing as far as the eye can see! After slowly making our way to the top floor, we soon realized that people are allowed to go on the roof…the roof that looks over all of Paris! We were completely shocked, this view was so unexpected, and of course we happened to wander onto this roof at the start of a stunning sunset. It was absolutely beautiful! Paris at it’s finest.

 Pumpkin Carving:

One Halloween afternoon, my roommates and I returned to our home after feeling somewhat discouraged due to the lack of costumes and general Halloween spirit that Paris seemed to be lacking…to find a PUMPKIN sitting on the dining room table! Apparently my host papa had bought a pumpkin that morning and hauled it alllll the way home so that his “Gremlin Ladies” would be able to carve a pumpkin! Unbelievably sweet. They set out 4 spoons and 4 knives, and told us to go ahead and dig in! About an hour later, Jaques-o-Lanterne was born! This moment is just one of the many fond memories that I will always remember about my host family. I am so blessed to have been placed with them!


The Catholic Institute of Paris has been such a great experience so far.  Other than the fact that each and every class  lasts for 3 hours, I absolutely love  my classes!  In America, my classes usually last for an hour and a half, so these courses are a bit intense, yet I feel like during those three hours I am learning quite a bit. One of my favorite classes is Tourism and Gastronomy, where we take field trips to places such as a chocolate museum, and a Gastronomical tour throughout the Latin Quarter.  One of my favorite experiences at the Catho so far was during my Written French class. During each class there is usually a 15 minute break so that we can stretch our legs, get a coffee or a snack. Yet as the break approached, our Professor noted that we all seemed a bit tired. Instead of taking a break and recommencing class, he decided to take us all to a nearby Café where we sat and drank coffee, hot chocolate, and steamed milk for the rest of our class. It was wonderfully French!

As my departure from Paris  on the 18th slowly approaches, I keep thinking about the things that I am now going to appreciate in America. I have learned that I do not know enough French to be able to strike up conversations with strangers, or even simply make a humorous comment like I attempt to do in America. I can’t wait to be able to have those insignificant encounters that seem so basic! I feel like I have a new appreciation for my native language, the ability to speak fluently and confidently to another person is something that I have taken for granted my entire life. I also have learned to appreciate cooking, I miss being able to whip up something random (cupcakes) that I am craving! My roommates and I have had the opportunity to cook a couple of things for our host family, but there’s nothing like having your own kitchen where you can freely make a mess in. And lastly, if I am going to be truly honest, I can’t wait to dip some natural cut sea salt fries in a chocolate frosty…Wendy’s style!

BUT, I am in no rush whatsoever to return home… I’m sure that a single lemon macaron will cure any kind of nostalgia for a frosty!

Emily Eastman
Paris, France
Fall 2011

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