On Friday, I had to start what are called "demarches administratifs," or in other words, all the boring and irritating paperwork to get set up as what is considered, essentially, a "French" citizen. Needless to say, this was fairly uneventful. Except for the part where I took the RER (reseaux expres regional, or regional express network) train from Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Saint-Ouen-l'Aumone. That was an adventure in and of itself, and much of the day was spent going up to random people saying "Excusez-moi monsieur/madame....je suis une etrangere et je me suis un peu perdue..." (Excuse me sir. I'm a foreigner, and I'm a little bit lost...), which is frustrating because it makes one feel quite stupid, and I'm no dummy. I'm a pretty darn good navigator and can figure out transportation systems quickly, but the RER is tricky because there are panels on the quais (platforms) that tell you what stations are desservies (serviced), but I didn't know that lights change depending on what stations each train services. GAH. Now I do.
I freaked out because I thought I was going to be late to my schedule training at 9:00 and had left the house at 7 just in case I was confused or lost, which was a good thing, because I did get lost. After two RER train stops and one bus transfer, I met up with Cybele, a fellow assistante de langue and lovely Australian, and she and I managed to find the correct bus stop. Phew.
Otherwise, Friday was fairly normal. I picked the kids up from school (it's a whole 50 feet across the street) where I ran into Mercedes, who is a Spanish language assistant from Salta, Argentina living with a family around the corner who happen to know the Febvrets well. She suggested we go to Paris on Saturday...so, naturally, we did!
My first experience of Paris then was with (and this one's for you Ben!) two Argentines. Mercedes and I met up with her friend Lorena, who is a Spanish language assistant in the Academie de Paris for lyceens (high schoolers) and we wandered the city at will from the 1st district. Mercedes and I got off the metro at Fontaine-Saint-Michel and BAM were right near everything! One of the first things I saw was Notre Dame in the drizzling rain. We wandered around some of the bookshops, since Notre Dame is pas loin from la Sorbonne. I nearly jumped out of my boots at the Sorbonne! It was SO cool! Man, all I can say is that I cannot think of any better place on this earth to study French literature than right in the middle of the Latin Quarter in Paris. I will be on my knees praying to God/Allah/Jesus/Mohammed/Buddha/Anyone you can think of for them to admit me this spring. I, no joke, might go cry in a corner for about five minutes if they don't take me.
After that we ate lunch at a creperie in one of the small side roads to get out of the rain, wandered back through the Latin Quarter and had some fun in a Gap store, then went along the Seine for a bit. From there we were able to see the Institut de France (home to l'Academie Francaise!), and crossed a wooden bridge *blanking on the name right now* where lovers come to lock locks to the fencing and toss the keys into the Seine to signify that their love is forever. All I could think was a) awww, how romantic and b) can I vomit yet? Apparently I've developed some cynicism thanks to certain people in my life (cough, Becca, cough Jocelyn), but apparently so have the Parisians: the police have to come and cut some of the locks off periodically so the fencing doesn't get insane. Sigh.
Across this *loverly* bridge was none other than the Louvre! We spent some time in the Cour Carree (we're being cheap and waiting to actually go to the museum when we get our cartes professionelles and can get in for free), then watched a small street orchestra outside the Comedie Francaise play Pachabel's Canon (AWWW BRANDY, it made me think of you!!). I love classical music, so this was a big treat. I want to try and get to the symphony while I'm here.
Somehow we then wandered through more of the 8th and 9th districts, saw la Place de l'Opera and the Eglise de la Madeleine, la Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries, then strolled up the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. All in all, we walked for about 8-9 hours.
It was interesting, mostly because the three of us spoke in this odd mix of English/French/Argentine Spanish (well...Mercedes and Lorena did...). Lorena comes from Buenos Aires and I explained to her that I have a good friend who spent 13 months there, and he adores it beyond all belief. She and Mercedes joked that I now have 2 reasons to visit Argentina and that in a few months with them, I should be able to learn some Spanish. It looks like Argentina is on my next on my travel list!
I finally left Paris at around 8:30, mostly out of fatigue, and because the Febvrets have to find my set of keys, which are floating around somewhere. I also have no cell yet here, so I didn't really have a way to call them and let them know I'd be late.
There is still so much left to do in Paris, but it's a good thing I've got about 9 more months! A bientot, mes cheres et mes cheries.