Friday, July 3, 2009

Paris Day One (May 26, 2009)

After landing in Paris, we went to the RER ticket desk to find that we would be treated to a very Parisian experience: the mini strike. The ticket sellers for the RER were on a one-day strike and evryone was having to use the ticket machines. But I had no idea how to use the machines (and it seemed many French folks were equally clueless. So the RER workers (below in the blue hats)helped me buy our tickets using the machines. That way they didn't violate the strike and we could get our tired selves on to our hotel.

Here I try to explain the situation to students:

We took a 30-minute RER train ride to the center of town. There I bought our Metro tickets and we were off to our hotel. I was really proud of how well almost (I'm talking about you, Zidane)everyone followed the advice I'd given regarding how much luggage to bring. Everyone was able to navigate the trains carrying their own bags.

The brasserie near the hotel was a logical location for lunch

Eryc, Karla, and Anna get a window seat with a view of the street:

Learning a new currency, the euro:

It was just too damp and chilly to eat outside.
The Jennings are all in love and Paris just has an effect on a happy couple:
The Jennings are joined at an inside table by Robin, Elaina, and Zidana:

Our Hotel was the Holiday Inn at 92 rue Vaugirard in Paris' 6th arrondissement:

Elaina and Erynn taking photos in the hotel lobby while waiting for their room keys:

Once in the room, it's hard not to crash.

And then we went on a cold and drizzly walk around the center of town:

The bridges:

The Louvre Pyramid:
The Louvre Courtyard:
The exterior of the Louvre: The Arcades on the rue de Rivoli:

Novels About Paris Life

Students had a choice of several novels they could read before arriving in Paris. I asked them to write in their journals about their Favorite Characters :
Elaina Ross read
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir:
"I was interested in Anne because she did not pretend. Every circumstance she encountered was told with no reservations or excuses, only a report of exactly what occurred. Even the most basic instinct, caring for her child, is lacking in some way for Anne, but she does not pretend her feelings are different. Anne acknowledges that her life is easier and even more enjoyable when Nadine, her daughter, is gone to Portugal with Henri. Because Anne is aware of her feelings, she can adjust her behavior to include them instead of acting horribly towards her daughter without understanding why. Her self-awareness is heightened, letting her truly be herself at all times."
Erynn Campbell and Jason Jennings read
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas:
"I liked Jacopo because, even though he is a lowly smuggler, he has more loyalty to his friends than anyone else in the book. he stays with Edmond through thick and thin, even when Edmond does not want him. he helps his friends in any way possible, and loved Edmond with all his heart.and even when everyone abandoned Edmond, Jacopo was still there,refusing to leave. How we need more men with that kind of loyalty!!" -Erynn"I must admit [Edmond Dantès] was not my favorite character when I first read this book, but after the diabolical way he deals with his enemies, yet can show enough compassion to forgive, at least up to a point gives a poignant perspective on what we consider justified and what we consider to be going too far, he finally won me over. So this book to me is a powerful look into the passage from child to adult and how this passage shapes a person into what they need to be. Plus this book also explores the power of love/compassion compared to the power of hate/revenge." -Jason
Catherine Jennings, Valeria Rader, and Jessica Catcher read
Horace by George Sand:
"As I read the novel my affections for the characters changed as their action as attitudes changed. In the beginning of the novel I liked Horace; in spite of his shortcomings I enjoyed his attitude on life and the way that he just didn’t take himself or his life to seriously. His attitude was, to me, a great representation of the Parisian lifestyle; one that involves lots of fashion and cafes and enjoying long strolls in the park." -Catherine
"[Paul Arsene] was obviously the most emotionally stable character, if not a little sympathetically stunted. I really liked how they called him 'Masaccio' and could relate to his fears of not being able to provide well enough for himself, let alone any others, on an artist's salary. It annoyed me how stupid Marthe was about his love for her. He was obviously the best choice and the only one who ever legitimately loved her, yet she had to have the exciting and dramatic romances with M. Poisson and Horace. I just don't understand people like that." -Jessica
"I am not sure I have a favorite character....Each of their lives is so messed up and full of pain....I suppose the character I liked the most after writing this and thinking about it was the narrator. He had so much compassion. Compassion is hard to come by these days and it was so refreshing to see him continue to love Horace the way he did" - Valeria

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Visit to the Paris Catacombs

In places, we could see the ancient Roman supports in the catacombs:

"Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead":

We take advantage of a well-lit corner to take pictures:

Above: Eryc Nikkel. Below: Drs. Cowlishaw

Anna Gurley:

Elaina Ross:

One mile beneath Paris...

For more information about the catacombs of Paris, see this link.

Victor Hugo's poem "Death":

Ride on the River Seine

Going under the Very Beautiful Alexandre Bridge


Seeing the Eiffel Tower from the River

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Visit to Sainte-Chapelle

We visited Sainte-Chapelle on the morning of Wednesday, May 27.

Sainte-Chapelle is a tiny church where the kings and queens of France celebrated mass during the middle ages. It's an amazing moment when you reach the top of the stairs and see the towering stained glass windows surrounding you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Story of the French Revolution

Here is the History Channel's very good show about the French Revolution in nine ten-minute sections. We saw parts of this in the meeting on Monday, May 18. I advise everyone to see this at least once before we go. Click on each to watch:
First section.
Second section.
Third Section.
Fourth section.
Fifth section.
Sixth section.
Seventh section.
Eighth section.
Ninth section.

And here is a scene from the movie Danton showing an amazingly realistic view of what it was like to go to work every day for the members of the Committee of Public Safety. Notice the wheelchair Couthon is using. He was a disabled from an infection and was in constant pain but accomplished a great deal. Sometimes his wheelchair is on display in the Carnavalet Museum, so we may get to see it up close.
Clip from Danton.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What You Should Know on Your First Trip to Paris

by Dr. Brian Cowlishaw, guest blogger

I know that for many of you, this will be your first trip to Paris, maybe even the first time you've left the country. I didn't go until I was in my thirties. So I thought it might be useful for me to share with you some things about Paris you probably don't want to learn the hard way.
1. Parisians mostly don't smile.
This is not because they're rude. In fact, they're wonderful, generous people. It's just not a cultural norm for them, as it is for us. They suspect that a stranger smiling at them wants to sell them something--or is stupid or insane. So if you can't help smiling at Parisians, try to do it without showing teeth.
2. You should always bookend a visit to a shop or a monetary transaction with "Bonjour" (until dinner time)/"Bon soir" (at or after dinner) and "Au revoir."
This is considered basic human politeness.
3. Parisian restaurants work differently than ours.
You don't:
--tip more than a small, token coin or two. Generally, gratuities are pre-added into the check.
--speak in loud English only. I'm sure none of you would do so, but it's not unheard of among Americans, and it's ugly to watch. If you don't speak French at all, that's fine--at least say "Bonjour" (or "Bon soir") and then point to things on the menu. Dr. Cowlishaw or I will help, too, if we're nearby.
--get ice in your drinks. As one otherwise unmemorable skit on Saturday Night Live put it, "Zere is no ice in Europe."
You do:
--eat anything on the menu. Some of the things on the menu may not sound appetizing, translated into English--notoriously, "escargots" (snails)--but trust me, no matter what they're cooking, the French make it delicious.
--take your time. In American restaurants, they sometimes bring you the check with the food. In Europe generally, you're expected to linger over a meal and enjoy it. Drink some wine. Drink some more. Have a coffee. Chat. Rest from all the walking.
--eat later than you might be used to. You can hardly even get seated before 7 p.m., so don't bother. Enjoy eating late.
4. Parisians are more private than Americans.
So speak softly to each other, leaning in--especially in Metro cars. You don't want to be the loud American the natives are rolling their eyes about. Manage cell phone conversations similarly, trying not to share them with everyone nearby.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Packing: Step-by step Help

First, what luggage to take:

Second, what clothes to take:

Third, what you take besides clothes:
Fourth, what goes in the carry-on, what goes in the checked bag:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Your Writing Assignments

Everyone will write a "Paris Journal" which is due completed on June 3. This should be a pleasure for you and greatly enhance the entire experience of the trip. It will also provide you with a wonderful souvenir of your time in Paris.
If you are bringing a laptop, you will have more options for when and how to do your writing for the class. It would be very kind of those with laptops to allow a fellow student or two to use their laptops, but I understand if a computer-owner feels the need keep his/her laptop private.
You should make at least one entry in your Paris Journal each day. Strive for 1000 words a day. The absolute minimum is 500 words a day. Here are three different ways to keep your journal. Please choose one manner of journaling and stay with it. Don't hand in some on a disk and some on paper. It should all be in one format at the end of the trip. Here are three ways to do it:
1. Make your own blog of the trip. Using Bolgspot is so easy a professor can do it! ;) You can type in your journal entries and upload your photos. The best part of using a blog for your journal is that your friends and family can follow you along on the trip. Connect the blog to your Facebook or MySpace page. Of course, to do this you would need access to a computer while in Paris.
2. Email your journal entries to me while in Paris. I'll save them and give you credit for your work. Of course, you can also send each entry to friends and family while you're emailing them to me.
3. The old fashioned way: write your journal on paper and hand the whole thing to me at the end of the trip.
Each journal entry should respond to any or all of these prompts:
What did you learn today that you did not know? (It could be something about history, art, culture, or yourself.)
What did your time in Paris today make you think about that you have never thought about before?
Has something you saw, heard, did today led you in the direction of changing your mind about something?
What was an emotional experience for you today?

Your Reading Assignment

At first, this course had two novels as required reading before departure. I'd like to offer everyone more options. Please choose one and email me to tell me your choice asap:
Horace by George Sand
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo
Les Misèrables by Victor Hugo
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flight Schedule - American Airlines

May 25
2:00pm Depart Tulsa
3:45pm Arrive Chicago
5:30pm Depart Chicago
May 26
8:45am Arrive Paris

June 3
12:15pm Depart Paris
2:30pm Arrive Chicago
8:20pm Depart Chicago
10:15pm Arrive Tulsa

Please arrive at the airport at noon on May 25.
I will meet you at the American Airlines check-in counter.

Some Notes about Time and Jetlag
In order to understand what the flight schedule above will mean to you as a traveler, you need to remember that Chicago is in the same time zone as Tulsa but that Paris is 7 hours ahead of Tulsa. Therefore, when we arrive in Paris, it will be 8:45 in the morning there but we will have been traveling for 12 hours! The sun will be bright and people all around us will be on their way to work. It will be the start of a new day for all the Parisians around us. However, our bodies will still be on Oklahoma time and it will feel like it's 1:45 in the morning. We will want nothing more than to lie down and sleep. When we get off the plane, we will have to collect our checked luggage and take it through customs which will take at least an hour. Then, we will have to take a train (which is connected to the airport) into the city. That ride will be about 45 minutes. Once we get off the train, we change to the metro (subway). We will change subway trains at least once before we get to the metro stop nearest the hotel. When we get off the metro, we will walk a few blocks to the hotel. We will probably arrive at the hotel around noon Paris time -- but our bodies will feel like it's 5am and we haven't gone to bed. We will be very tired and cranky but the best thing to do is to keep going. Taking a nap is usually a big mistake. If, instead of going to sleep when we reach the hotel, we go to lunch and then take a stroll in the city, we will all sleep well that night and the jetlag issue will be resolved by the next day. Obviously, anyone with a medical condition that makes going without sleep dangerous should follow the doctor's advice. But, for the rest of us, we'll keep each other awake until at least 8pm Paris time.I strongly advise everyone to abstain from alcohol or sedatives on May 25 and May 26. Even if flying makes you anxious, don't take a sedative or you may make yourself more miserable rather than less. If your doctor advises otherwise, let me know.There should be no jetlag problems with the return trip if you go to bed fairly soon after arriving home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Special Exhibits While We're in Paris

While we visit Versailles, we'll have the chance to see this great exposition:
"Court Costume in Europe 1650-1800"
At the château de Versailles from 31 March to 28 June 2009

For the first time, more than 200 pieces from the courts of Europe are brought together as they could only be at Versailles. The pieces are from private collections, the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the Palais Pitti (Florence), the Frech National Archives, the Louvre, and the City of Paris Fashion Museum. The exposition follows the language of court etiquette through costume and ceremony. Collections from London, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Vienna, Moscow, and Cologne are presented for the first time outside of their countries of origin.

Information :
Where : in the Salles d’Afrique et de Crimée of the château de Versailles
When: Every day except Mondays from 9:00am to 6:30pm
Cost : 15 € (entrance to the château and this exposition)
11,50 € for children and seniors

telephone : 01 30 83 78 00

Guided tours in English at the Musee d'Orsay:

"The Impressionists" Tuesdays at 2.30pm and on Thursdays at 4pm

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Open Markets on the Ile de la Cité

Marché aux Fleurs (flower market) operates daily in Place Louis-Lépine (near the Cité metro station exit). On Sundays it is replaced by the Marché aux Oiseaux (bird market).

Shop the Paris Flea Markets

Paris has many flea markets. I think of these less as a place to buy things than as a kind of open-air museum. Here is a summary from
Marché aux Puces de Montreuil:
Address: avenue de la Porte de Montreuil, 75020 Paris / 93100 Montreuil-sous-Bois
Like one vast car boot sale, this market disgorges mountains of second-hand clothing, parts for cars, showers and sundry machines, and a jumble of miscellaneous rubbish from its dusty, grungy bowels. You'll find little pre-1900, but there are fun collectables like branded pastis water jugs.
Hours: Sat. - Mon., 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Porte de Montreuil (line 9)
Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves:
Addresses: avenue Georges Lafenestre & avenue Marc Sangnier, 75014 Paris
Every weekend of the year, 350 stall holders await you: furniture, trinkets, paintings, fabric, glassware, time pieces, jewelry, military objects, photography, music, and curios. In the heart of Paris, an exciting place that will capture your imagination. It's the place to visit for flea market enthusiasts.
Hours: Weekends; avenue Marc Sangnier until 1 p.m.; avenue Georges Lafenestre all day. Porte de Vanves (line 13)
Les Puces de Saint-Ouen:
Address: 48, rue Jules Vallès (Marché des Antiquaires), 93400 Saint-Ouen (between the Porte de St-Ouen and Porte de Clignancourt, just outside 18th arrondissement)
The world's biggest flea market welcomes 200,000 visitors each weekend. You name it, this place has it: furniture, pictures, new and second-hand clothes — all at rock-bottom prices (especially if you're adept at haggling). There's a jovial fairground atmosphere, with the aroma of food wafting in the air and people crowding round the stalls, hoping to pick up a 1970s leather jacket or rare Louis XV chest of drawers. Make sure to bring cash, as stallholders seldom accept credit cards and the nearest available ATM always has a line.
Hours: Sat. - Mon., 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Porte de Clignancourt (line 4), Porte de St-Ouen (line 13)
Different markets within the Puces de Saint-Ouen complex:
Antica Market
Address: rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
A miniature market, with a wonderful selection of objects in a hushed atmosphere. It is an elegant gallery that lies alongside the Vernaison Market. There are only a dozen or so stands here, inviting you to discover their beautiful objects, tapestries, ornaments, Art Deco, Napoleon III, etc.
Biron Market
Address: 85, rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
A veritable treasure trove, with its paintings and other objects signed by their creators. The market is a favorite with professionals from both France and abroad. Whether you are an interior decorator, a theatre or cinema star, a politician or simply an art lover, you are certain to find your heart's delight here.
Cambo Market
Address: 75, rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
In a completely restored area on two floors with twenty dealers, you will discover a very high quality selection of furniture and fine arts from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Dauphine Market
Address: 140, rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
Inaugurated in December 1991, the Dauphine offers a profusion of genuine antiques, all certified by experts, where you are sure to find something original: from a Renaissance-period dresser to the rarest texts from the Torah, collections of saucy corsets, thousands of rare books, Vintage and industrial art.
Address: 80, rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
The traders here specialize in out-of-the-ordinary, outsized items — exhibiting classical pieces of extraordinary dimensions: monumental staircases, bookcases and woodwork from stately homes, not to mention a garden pavilion and a castle gate!
Jules Vallès Market
Address: 7-9, rue Jules Vallès, 93400 Saint-Ouen
Here you will find a number of specialities and some often unusual objects, posters, antique weapons, bronzes, books or records, military uniforms and a host of other things. The market, with its no-frills stands, is entirely without pretension, looking more like attic space than anything else.
Malik Market
Address: 53, rue Jules Vallès, 93400 Saint-Ouen
With more than 100 traders' stalls, this market is a mecca for clothes, attracting a young and colorful clientele. Here, you can find military surplus, leather jackets, trainers, incense, make-up etc. The atmosphere is more like that of the Forum des Halles in Paris than that of a second-hand goods market.
Paul Bert Market
Address: 18, rue Paul Bert or 96, rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
Always in line with the latest trends, Paul Bert certainly has the most relaxed atmosphere of the Flea Markets. Some of the world's famous decorators come here regularly in search of that rare piece. 220 dealers offer Parisian bistro furniture, decorative ornaments, Renaissance objects, Primitive Art, and more.
Rosiers Market
Address: 3, rue Paul Bert, 93400 Saint-Ouen
Created in 1976, this little treasure of a market contains around 10 stalls, specializing in light fixtures, Art Deco items, Art Nouveau lithographs by Alphonse Mucha, glasswork and bronzes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, lacquerware by Dunand, and furniture created by Majorelle.
Serpette Market
Address: 110, rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
Situated in the former garage of France's first Citroën dealer, Serpette has developed a reputation for fashionable goods and art nouveau of the highest quality, at prices regarded by some as excessive. Connoisseurs and antique lovers will find the 130 dealers only too happy to discuss their latest finds.
Vernaison Market
Address: 136, avenue Michelet, 93400 Saint-Ouen
With lower rents than in neighboring markets, you can find everything here — a veritable bric-a-brac heaven. It is a real maze of alleyways — some covered, others open to the elements. Casual bargain hunters will feel comfortable, as the traders welcome you with open arms.

Shop the Galeries Lafayette

The Galeries Lafayette are originally 19th-century department stores. Visit them for the amazing architecture as much as the fashionable merchandise.
40, Boulevard Haussmann 75009 Paris
Opening Hours : Monday through Saturday 9:30am to 7:30pm
Late night opening every Thursday until 9pm, Closed on Sundays
Metro stations :
* Chaussée d’Antin La Fayette – Lines 7, 9
* Opéra – Lines 3, 7, 8

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Visit the Rodin Museum

The Rodin Museum is a house in which the artist lived and worked. Both inside and outside, you will see Rodin's most famous works. Try to visit on a day when the weather is nice so you can spend time walking through the beautiful, extensive gardens where you see the largest sculptures.
79, rue de Varenne - 75007 Paris -- Metro stop: Varenne
Hours: 9:30am - 4:45pm

Visit the Musée d'Orsay

The Musée d'Orsay used to be a train station and now houses many famous paintings and sculptures.
At 12:30 every Tuesday afternoon you can hear a chamber music concert at the museum.
The restaurant on the upper floor behind the face of the huge clock is lovely!
Don't miss seeing the Van Gogh paintings. No photo or print you've seen before compares with seeing the originals.
Address: 1, Rue de la Legion d'Honneur -- 7th arrondissement -- Metro: Solferino (Line 12)

Visit the Centre Pompidou

The Centre Pompidou is the place to see modern art. Before you even enter, the bizarre architecture and funky fountain will put you in the mood for the edgy side of French culture.

address: Place Beaubourg, 75004 -- Metro: Rambuteau

While we are in Paris, the Centre will have a special Vassili Kandinsky exposition in addition to its permanent collections.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Learn a few useful phrases in French

HERE is a website that's quite helpful. If you click on any of the Frech words/phrases, it pronounces them for you! I recommend you learn to say hello, good-bye, please, thank you, and "Do you speak English?"


Clothing: Bringing more than 3 changes of clothes is a luxury you will have to drag to and from the airport via trains and subways. Remember that clothes that you can wash in the sink and dry overnight on a hanger are your best bet. Be sure you have an umbrella and a sweater/coaBoldt/jacket for when it gets cold at night.

Toiletries: Bring the bare minimum and remember that you can't bring on a plane any container of liquid larger than 3 ounces. All 3-ounce containers must be able to fit in a ziplock sandwich bag. See airline regulations at THIS LINK. Don't waste space on items that you can buy in Paris. The city is full of shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, etc.

Shoes: You need two pairs just in case one pair gets wet or rubs a blister. Alternating pairs of shoes helps prevent blisters.

Picnic prep: We're going to picnic in parks and sometimes you'll want to bring a beautiful loaf of bread to your room. If you have a pocket knife (really good if it has a bottle opener and cork screw too), you're ready to consume French delicacies at your leisure. HOWEVER: Do not pack a pocket knife in your carry-on!

Things to Remember:
  • If you are bringing any electric item or anything that need to recharge by being plugged into an outlet, you will need to have an adapter/converter. Click here to see an example. Don't pay more than $10 for such a thing.
  • Don't forget to pack any cords needed to recharge your phone, ipod, camera, etc.
  • Bring only the amount of any prescription medications you need for the duration of the trip. Pack any needed medications in your carry-on. You will not be able to refill a prescription in Paris.
  • Be sure you have the addresses of anyone you want to send a postcard to!

Things to Forget:

  • Books and any other heavy paper items. If you want to read on the flight, bring something you can throw away before our trek to the hotel. Remember that Paris and airports are always full of magazines and newspapers in all languages.
  • alarm clock, hair dryer, clothing iron: our hotel has these in the rooms.
  • exercise gear: you won't have the time or energy to work out. Leave sweats, t-shirts, running shoes, etc. at home.
  • formal clothing: We'll be business casual the whole time. No fancy stuff needed.