The last week in Paris was insanity! Not only were we prepping for finals and packing, but we all had long lists of stuff we wanted to see and do before we left.
Monday was our last full day of class. We turned in a paper in our morning class and spent the afternoon at the Cluny Museum. The Cluny Museum has a lot of beautiful art. It is connected to ancient Roman baths, which can be viewed from the side of the building. Jennifer and I headed across the river to see a church across the river, but the line was very long. We ended up reading at a cafe for a couple of hours.
For dinner five of us headed up the 4 metro to the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a lot of fun to see a HRC in another country, and the cheeseburgers were absolutely delicious! They had some cool memorabilia from The Who, Madonna and many other performing artists. I spent the rest of the night working on my take-home final for Dr. Freidel.
Tuesday we went to the Musee d’Orsay. Dr. Isabelle Roynier, the director of SMU-in-Paris at Reid Hall, gave us a tour of the building. We spent a lot more time learning about the history of the building and studying the facade than looking at the art work, though we did get time to browse at the end. The Orsay has an impressive collection of impressionists, as well as many other types of work. If you ever go to Paris – you have to go to the Orsay!
We were given the rest of the afternoon to begin studying for Thursday’s final, as well as finish the take-home that was due Wednesday. Some of us wandered over to Rue St. Honore to check out some of the beautiful stores like Chanel and Hermes. It was definitely a day of window shopping and no purchases!
Our last group dinner was Tuesday night at a really cool old Brasserie. The steak and fries were delicious, and the chocolate pudding was to die for! Andrew made a good toast, thanking the teachers and directors for all of their hard work. It was a little bittersweet to think the trip was coming to an end.
Wednesday we spent the morning with Dr. Wellman at the Carnavalet Museum. The Carnavalet Museum has different rooms for each century of French history. It was a great way to sum up the entire month of study, and it was really helpful to see how each of the kings came together. It definitely helped make more sense to help prepare us for Thursday’s final. I spent pretty much the rest of the day studying for Dr. Wellman’s final. I am not a history buff, and it took a lot of work to organize the kings and remember who did what. We quizzed each other and made the studying fun.
Thursday morning we had our final in Dr. Wellman’s class. It was a relief to finish! We got back our final in Dr. Freidel’s class too. It’s nice to have a journal to bring home to show my family of all that I did everyday. After the final we grabbed some lunch and headed to the Champs-Elysees to the Lauduree store. Lauduree is famous for their macaroons, so I picked some up to bring home. They were delicious!
We took the metro over to Trocadero where there is a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. We went to the Eiffel Tower on Thursday night for one last delicious crepe and to see the lights flash. We left fairly early because we had to wake up at 5 a.m. for Normandy Friday morning.
Friday was a long day. Our train left for Caen at 6:45 from St. Lazare. Thankfully it was a 2-hour train ride so we were able to sleep a bit more. It was colder than we expected when we got there. The tour we signed up for (through the Caen Memorial Museum Site picked us up at the train station and took us to the museum. We had half an hour to wake up and shop at the bookstore. I picked up some fun stuff for my family as well as some really interesting books.
We were given a guided tour through the museum and then had a few extra minutes to explore by ourselves. We were given lunch at the museum (steak and french fries!) and then had an hour to explore either the Cold War exhibit or the special September 11 exhibit. We were blown away at how well done the September 11 exhibit was, though it was very emotional for all of us.
Vanessa, our guide, picked us up at 2 to guide us through the beaches. We went to Gold Beach (The British beach), The American Cemetery, Omaha Beach (The American Beach), and Point De Hoc (the cliff the rangers climbed). Our guide was very knowledgeable and helped explain every little thing we saw. We were dropped off at the train station at 7:15 and got back to Paris around 10. I was so glad I found time to go to Normandy, not only because it was beautiful but because of how much American history we share with the French there.
Katie, Jennifer, Britt and I met Drew at Indian Cafe for dinner when we got back to the 14th arr. around 10:30. We got margaritas, nachos, and enchiladas. It was delicious! We had a lot of fun talking about our favorite parts of the trip and what we were going to remember. It was a good way to close out the trip.
As I left for the airport Saturday morning, Britt and Jennifer headed to Disneyland Paris. I hope they had fun; I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to them yet!
I got home Saturday night after some delays due to weather in Chicago. It’s bittersweet to be home. It’s weird to think that only 2 days ago I was in Paris and now I am home, prepping to start my internship. I am glad to be home but I definitely miss Paris and the entire experience that went along with being there.
The great Ernest Hemingway said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Paris has stayed with me and will continue to stay with me for the rest of my life, “for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Thank you for letting me share my journey with you.