jeudi 25 juillet 2013

Excursion 4: Paris

Hello again, everyone,

As I did not have a moment to write a post for each day, I will give you a brief rundown of what we were up to while in Paris.


Day 1

On Sunday morning, families, stagiaires, and professors gathered at Place Robien - the exact place where we arrived in Saint-Brieuc about six weeks ago - to say our goodbyes to families and friends. As is to be expected, many tears were shed as we pulled out of the parking lot and headed off on our last excursion.

Although our first stop on the Paris excursion has traditionally been the Palace of Versailles, due to an inability to get a reservation, we decided to explore another well-known palace - Fontainebleau.

After our visit, we jumped back in the bus and headed off to our hostel, located in southeast Paris. Once all of our belongings were safely in our rooms and dinner was eaten, we headed off to see what can be considered one of the most well-known attractions in Europe: the Eiffel Tower. Although it was not possible to go up the tower (getting reservations = impossible!), all of the stagiaires appreciated the view and took many photos.

Following our viewing of the tower, we took a stroll beside the river Seine as we headed off to the Bateaux Mouches - an hour-long river tour that travels up and down the Seine, giving a brief description of the important sights that sit along the riverbank.

After our tour, it was back to the hostel to get a good-night's rest in order to prepare ourselves for the long day ahead.


Day 2

On Monday morning, we headed out early and took a quick tour of some of the other well-known sights of the city. Some of the things that we saw include:

Palais Garnier
La Madeleine
Place de la Concorde

As we finished learning about the history of the Luxor Obelisk, we headed into the Tuileries to make our way toward the first major attraction of the day: the Louvre.

Once the palace of the king of France, the Louvre is now one of the world's largest museums, containing both prehistoric and more contemporary artwork. Although it would take days to see all everything that is housed in the Louvre, the stagiaires were given about two hours to explore - enough time to see the necessities, such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory.

After our time in the Louvre, we stopped by the Luxembourg Gardens for a spell and then headed off to the Latin Quarter to grab a bite to eat.

Following our dinner, our next stop was the top of the Arc de Triomphe to get a nighttime view of Paris. Unfortunately, is France is unpredictable at best, the Arc was exceptionally closed that night, so we decided to call it a night and headed back to the hostel to recuperate for our third day in Paris.


Day 3

Heading out bright and early, our first stop was Sainte-Chapelle. A sight to behold, this church actually houses the largest on-site collection of 13th century stained glass in the world.

After spending a moment at Sainte-Chapelle, we headed off to our next destination that just happened to be celebrating its 850th anniversary.

Notre Dame de Paris
Built in 1163, this cathedral is considered one of the prime examples of French Gothic architecture. In order to commemorate its 850th birthday, the city erected an memorial that covers nearly the entire square, which allows for a better view of the cathedral's features than one might get from ground-level. 

Although the cathedral is undeniably impressive, there is another important monument that sits right at the base of the cathedral: le point zéro des routes de France. Acting as the 'zero kilometer' mark for all roads leaving Paris, it is said that, if you set foot on point zéro, you will come back to Paris someday. Needless to say, I made sure that my excursion group all took advantage of the opportunity.

Shortly after arriving at Notre Dame, we split in to four groups and had several hours to explore parts of Paris that were not on the official schedule. Some of the sights that were seen were the Pont des Arts, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and the Catacombs.

After our individual explorations, we met back up together to head to Montmartre to visit not only the Sacré-Cœur basilica, but also to see the Place des Artistes and the Moulin Rouge.

After our visit of Montmartre, we headed off to our final dinner together, which, to the surprise of the stagiaires, happened to be at a karaoke restaurant! Needless to say, we all sang our hearts out and had a blast doing so. Unfortunately, the majority of the pictures did not turn out and I didn't get a chance to take any videos, but we can thank Larry for taking this picture when all of us ran up on stage together. :)

Having sufficiently eaten and sung, we headed back to our hostel to get everyone's bags packed so that we would all be ready for the return to the States in the morning.


Day 4 - Goodbyes

As we headed to the airport on the fourth day, there was a mix of emotions in the air. Everyone was, of course, happy to be returning to the States to see family and friends, but also sad to see the end of the program, to leave France, and to say goodbye to new friends.

After check-ins were complete and bags were checked, it was off to security and, ultimately, back home. Before that, however, it was first time to say goodbye to Larry, Amber, and myself. Without going into too much detail, goodbyes were said, tears were shed, and hugs were given.


Well, this concludes the final blog post for the Stage Indiana 2013.

I speak for my entire team when I say that working with the stagiaires this summer has been an amazing experience. I'm always surprised by the changes I see in the stagiaires from beginning to end, not only in terms of their French, but also in themselves. It really makes the entire program worthwhile.

As a closing remark, I'd just like to say thank you all for an amazing and memorable experience. I have no doubt that you will all go on to do great things and I hope that you keep in touch and let us know how things are going from time to time.


Merci bien,

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