Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Adventures of Lindsay in Parisland: Round ?

There's something slightly intimidating about scheduling a rendez-vous with the professor in charge of the French literature masters program at the University of Paris IV, better known as the Sorbonne. This is, for the curious amongst you, what led me to Paris this afternoon, to meet Monsieur Pierre Frantz.

After a short walk from the Jardins de Luxembourg, I turned the corner to 14 rue Cujas, also known as 1, rue Victor Cousin, and convinced a rather annoyed looking security guard that indeed I was not lying and yes, I did have a scheduled appointment, despite not having on my person a university ID card. After two minutes of repeating myself, he allowed me to pass, and in I walked for the first time through the halls of Paris IV.

Paris IV is primarily situated in its antiquated building, and part of its charm is its age, and the fact that the interior reminds me of a smaller, European version of Wheeler Hall (this is for all the Berkeley students). The classrooms are scattered amongst various hallways, which are labeled by their staircases. After getting lost (common theme of the year #2) I asked a guard where staircase P was, and while waiting, drooled over course descriptions posted in the hallway (case in point: Introduction to Research on 17th Century Literature. AMAZING!!!!)

Like I imagined, Monsieur Frantz is an aging but kindly gentlemen, a tad on the rotund side, and like any legitimate professor, sports a solidly academic set of glasses. I reintroduced myself, and to my surprise, he knows Berkeley and my former thesis adviser very well. He also explained that about 15 percent of the masters students in the department are foreign, and the way he spoke made it seem as if I should have no trouble getting in. This, of course, was encouraging; he also suggested that I consider staying for the entire Masters, and not just Masters 1. The French, and Europe in general, divide Masters into two years with two very different aims. Masters 2 is essentially a preparatory year for the PhD, but he mentioned that depending on my doctoral school, I would then possibly be able to defend a dissertation on two continents for a joint PhD. I'll have to think about that.

Afterward, Sam and I planned to get dinner at 6 with friends, as she was in the city on an "English speaking" outing with some of her high school students, so I killed time by attempting to visit the Louvre again (but found out it is closed entirely on Tuesdays), so instead I wandered the Tuileries, the Place de la Concorde, and the Seine to the Eiffel Tower and saw that for the first time. Aside from a fog shroud, the Tower was beautiful. I also found what appears to be a real wedding band made of solid gold along the sidewalk, so we'll see if it is.

On my way back, I got hit on my an awkward Indian man who simply proclaimed "sexy mama," and this was swiftly followed by two more awkward creepers. One, whom I shall call Eiffel Tower Trinket man, stopped me in front of Notre Dame as the bells were tolling at 6 as I went to meet Sam. The bells are beautiful, and I highly recommend finding a bench on the Ile de la Cite just to listen to them at night when the church is lit up. Even though I'm not a Catholic, I would love to attend a mass there at some point. Back to the point: never wait for friends in front alone if you are female. You will get hit on by awkward trinket salesmen. He wanted me to get coffee with him. RIGHT THEN. I told him this was not possible, to which he proclaimed it was "just to get to know you!" because "you speak French very well" (theme of the year no. 1) and "I would have mistaken you for a French woman if you had not told me," but did allow him to give me his number. Then I scampered off to another bench to sit, when Whitney arrived and saved me from a creepy French man who tried to chat me up by stating that the church is indeed beautiful at night lit up, and that I had a "petit accent" to which I replied "well, yes, I do. I'm AMERICAN." Sigh.

Dinner was great. We went to a place called "L'As du Falafel" (The Ace of Falafel) in the Marais, which is coincidentally the Jewish neighborhood, but also somehow Paris's version of the Castro. Don't ask me why or how. The falafel was amazing, and apparently, Lenny Kravitz fully endorses the place, as many a photo of him with the owner hung throughout the place can attest. Such amazing stuff.

After dinner, we metro hopped and walked our way to Laduree on the Champs-Elysee and finished the evening with coffee and mini-macarons (PLEASE PEOPLE, IF YOU HAVE not tried these, YOU NEED TO. Life-changing pastries, if they ever existed!). We have concluded that 1) we need to make Thanksgiving happen in this country, and it might involve cooking cornish hens in a small toaster oven in place of turkey, then a night out clubbing, and finish with a visit to Pere Lachaise at 5 am--again, don't ask me why or how--with Sam's Canadian Friend and her Financial Analyst roomie and 2) Paris is pretty amazing.

More adventures in Parisland are sure to come....

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