Saturday, July 4, 2015

My Trip to France 2015, Part 1

Bonjour!  I recently took a trip to France with six students from the school where I teach.  It was a two-week long adventure and I enjoyed it very much, even when my feet where yelling at me to stop walking so much!

Our small group met several other groups from across the country.  Our group is from Kansas, there were two groups from Missouri, one group from Wisconsin, and one group from Oregon.  The teachers with those groups were all very nice and fun to hang out with.  We also had a very knowledgeable adult leader who dealt with tickets, explained how to use the Métro, coordinated meeting sites, etc.

Days 1-5 were spent in Paris with students.  On days 6-10, the students stayed with host families while teachers had a bit of time to explore Aix-en-Provence and its surrounding regions.  Days 11-14 were spent in Avignon, Nîmes, Nice, and Monaco.

I present to you a rundown of my trip.


Day 1:  On the flight over from Atlanta to Paris Charles de Gaulle, we were spoiled in our Air France jet with fantastic screens, countless movies and TV shows to choose from, and a USB port to charge our phones!  Score!  We even had a channel where we could watch the plane take off and land in real time.  It was fabulous!
Here is the beautiful aircraft that will take us to Paris.

State of the art entertainment center where I could charge my iPhone.  I almost didn't want to get off the plane!

Which time zone am I actually in?

Almost there!

Day 2:  When we got to Paris, we almost literally hit the ground running.  After all the groups finally got together, we took a shuttle bus and delivered our bags to our hotel.  Since the large group was so big (around 45 students), we were divided into two smaller groups so the hotels could accommodate us.  We stayed with the group from Oregon at the Hotel Excelsior in the 10th arrondissement.  
L’hôtel Excelsior, République.

We did have enough time to grab a bite to eat, and I introduced to my students one of the best simple sandwiches known to mankind, le sandwich jambon beurre (ham and butter sandwich).
For those uninitiated, this sandwich may not seem like much.  But to a hungry, weary traveler it is loaded with crunchy flavor!  

We were unable to go into our rooms since it was fairly early in the morning, so we got back together as a big group and bought Métro tickets at the Jacques Bonsergent stop.

Then we hopped on a train and went to Montmartre.  We walked up lots and lots of steps to make it to the top and then we toured inside of the basilica.  Afterwards, we ate on the Place du Tertre.
Sacré Coeur

Sacré Coeur selfie
La Place du Tertre
We met up again and walked through Pigalle, had our first strange experience with a public toilet (more on that later), and began walking toward the Arc de Triomphe, which I love.  We climbed all 284 steps to the top (yes, I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath--why oh why didn't I train before coming to France?), and had glorious views of the city from there.

Aux Champs-Élysées

Qu'est-ce que c'est?

La Défense

It was about time for dinner at this point, and our guide told us we were on our own to find something to eat.  However, our little group had something else on our minds:  John Green.  He happened to be in Paris this very evening and we wanted to go see him.  We knew he was at the Librairie de Paris, but none of us had Google Maps so we didn't know where it was located.  We asked an armed guard at the Arc de Triomphe, but he didn't know where it was.  So we went to a nearby Métro stop and asked a nice lady at the information desk.  She happened to have a tablet and looked it up for us.  We bought our tickets and headed off to see our favorite author.  One of the things you find when you are not used to subways is you think you know how to use it when you get on the correct line heading in the right direction.  But once you get off the train and realize there are several exits, you have no idea which one to use.  So we took an exit that was down the street and had search for the bookstore, but we managed to locate it just in time.

There was a large crowd gathered outside the store and we had just placed ourselves behind the crowd when none other than the man himself stepped outside, to rousing applause.  He made his way down one side of the line and started to make his way up the other (where we were), but he got ushered back to the other side to sign autographs.  I took loads of photos of the back of his head, which I won't post here.  After an estimated 25 minutes, he finally made his way towards us.  I didn't get an autograph, but several students did.  Here is what I did get:

John Green, we love you!

So it was now going on 8:00 p.m. and I had been up for approximately 31 hours.  (Unfortunately, I do not sleep in airplanes.  Thankfully, I think some of the kids had been able to get a little bit of sleep either in the airplane or the shuttle bus from the airport.)   We needed to get something to eat quickly and get back to our hotels so we can crash.  We had to be up and at 'em at 8:00 the next morning.

What did I spy across the street from the Librairie de Paris, but the golden arches of McDo.  Yes, I know I was going against everything I stand for in appreciating the French culture by taking my students to McDonald's.  But I was desperate.  And besides, the chicken wrap had chèvre (goat cheese) in it, something you wouldn't find at McDonald's in the United States.  So I feel completely justified by my decision!  :)

The food was delicious, as I was nearly delirious at this time.  We finally headed back to our hotel and I spied this café:

I took a picture in honor of our firefighter friend Pierre.  :)

We arrived back at the hotel at around 10:00 p.m. where I promptly took a few pics of my hotel room and then passed out from utter exhaustion.

Come back soon for part 2!

Merci beaucoup!






Sheila Bennett said...

How fun!! Looking forward to reading more about your fabulous adventure.

Neal DeRidder said...

Hi Jenn, I'm exhausted after reading that! It sounds like a good trip. Did you miss out on the canicule? Hope so. Looking forward to reading part 2!

Jenn said...

Thanks, Sheila!

Jenn said...

Thanks, Neal! We ended up on the Côte d'Azur, where it was warm, but it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We missed the canicule, thankfully. Just posted part 2. Thanks for reading!