Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vacation Season is Over

Well, as august comes to an end and September is just about to get here, many things have changed around here in Paris in the short time I have been here. Most Parisians are coming back from vacations, and just getting things ready to get the kids go back to school. Parisians coming back from vacations also means businesses that have been closed all these weeks are starting to open up again, and if I thought I had seen some good stuff in bakeries, which I also thought there were quite a few, wow, was I in for a surprise. Starting on Monday on my usual walk to my French classes I started to notice a lot more stores opens including some real nice bakeries, with heavenly smell as I walk past by them, making me want to go back and buy something, which I have to not do, since I am already a bit late to get to class. I even discovered that right next to the door of my building there is a chocolate shop which since it was closed I had never really noticed. In a range of about 3 blocks all around my building I can safely say there are at least about 7 patisseries/boulangeries. Can you imagine what this is like??? I think I definitively have to start trying some of this wonderful things, there is no way I can hide form them, they are everywhere, and each one looking just as or more wonderful that the other one.


I hope I get to master all this wonderful things at school. Now, talking about school, I start tomorrow!! It is not the official start since I won't have an actual class, but it is orientation day. According to what I have been told, and read, I will be getting my uniform, utensils, binder, and schedule. I have to be there by 9:30 sharp, but being that I am a bit anxious, and excited about the whole thing (ok, maybe a lot, more than I am willing to admit). I will take pictures, and promise to tell you all about it.



Back to changes in Paris the other thing I wanted to mention is the weather. I had lived in very warm climate places for the last 12 years, since I left Mexico City to go to high school (has it really been that long???) and I had been claiming all this time that I never got used to the heat since I never felt comfortable or liked being hot all day and night on a daily basis. Well, after a few weeks in Paris, I have to confess that maybe I was kind of used to it after all. I mean I am not complaining since I love the cold weather, and love to feel the cool air in my face, but I am definitively not used to being wearing sweaters in August on a daily basis either. As the last days of August have come, the mornings have been getting a bit cooler. It warms up pretty nice at around 1 pm (which I love since it is not overwhelmingly hot that one has to go hide inside with the A/C on full power), and by night it starts to cool down again. Yesterday morning as I headed out my apt I was feeling kind of cold, and thought it might was just me not being used to this weather (unless it was December or January), so I put my sweeter on thinking I was going to be the only crazy person out there in one. As I started walking towards school, I saw a lot of people even wearing scarves, and jackets, and started to realize that this weather is pretty common over here, so I just have to adjust to this new weather, and get used to the fact that while in some places there might be just one season throughout the year (always hot), there are nice places like here, where one gets to experience 2 or sometimes even 3 seasons in one day. Let’s see how that goes!!


 I'll go get my things ready for tomorrow. I hope you like the pictures, they are not as nice as I wanted them, but I had to sneak into taking them. This is just one of the many shops out there. I will later share some of the other places around my neighborhood.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quartier du Jardin des Plantes

Yesterday I went to the farthest side from my apt of the 5th Arrondisement; this part is called the Quartier du Jardin des Plantes, since as it says the Jardin des Plantes is there.

The first stop of this walk was at the Place de la Contrescarpe, a nice little fountain surrounded by restaurants and ice-cream shops, I was so out of breath by the time I got there that I forgot to take pictures, I will go back and take pictures later, sorry :S.

Then I went to the Arenes de Lutence, which are ruins of an ancient roman arena. Before Paris was the one we know today, it was known as Lutencia, and it was under the Roman Empire. After the romans were out of the area, this arena, was destroyed, and buried under other constructions. Many, many years later, as areas were being distributed, for new constructions this “Arenes” were discovered, and preserved since. These kinds of arenas were used by the romans for theater presentations, as well as gladiator shows. The history sounds pretty impressive, but I found the Arenas, lacking something, I guess I might’ve been expecting something more. Not much to it.


The next stop was the Jardin des Plantes. I only went to a small part of the garden, since I was getting late, and I really wanted to catch the Rue Mouffetard still open.  Well this is a real pretty garden, it was originally created to grow medicinal herbs, and from there a botany school developed, which is still there. The museum of natural history is also found here, as well as the “Menagerie” which is the oldest zoo in Paris. I didn’t see any of this, but just the part that I saw tells me I definitively have to go back to see the rest of the garden. 



College of Zoologie inside the garden

The garden has the First Lebenon cedar planted in Paris brought from the Kew Gardens in the UK

Right as you exit the garden you will find the Mosquee de Paris, again since I was on a hurry I just took a picture of the outside, but will go back to visit, since it said to have a nice tea room, the actual mesquite in the center of the complex, and Turkish baths.

Finally I got to Rue de Mouffetard, this is one of the oldest streets in Paris, and the daily market, also one of the oldest ones.  All the way up to the street, you find, different kinds of store, fromageries (cheese shops) boucheries (meat markets), restaurants, chocolate shops, boulangeries (bakeries), etc.

I also found this cute store, which I just though was lovely with only wood toys.


The overall ambiance, is nice, people going into restaurants, or just buying food to prepare their own. There are several pubs as well as fondue restaurants, even a couple of Mexican restaurants in the area ready to provide students with meals, being that they are really close to the Sorbonne, and its various campuses in the area.

I really liked this street, and I am pretty sure that as soon as I start working and getting some money, I will be going back to spend a few euros in some real nice ice cream shops I saw, as well as to try some chocolates, and breads I might find on my way : )!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Latin Quartier

I have been a bit lazy about doing my posts this week, but here it goes. This one is one of the walks I took last weekend.

I went to the Latin Quartier, which is part of the 5th district. This zone is where the Sorbonne and other colleges are. Because in the earlier days, all schools taught in Latin, the surrounding establishments, such as restaurants, and stores started to put their writings in Latin too, hence the name Latin quartier (I was thinking it was because maybe a lot of Latinos lived in the area, and had a bunch of salsa clubs, but as I later found out I was very wrong).

My walk started at the place de St. Michel which is a very pretty fountain, with a sculpture of Saint Michel defeating a dragon.


I then walked to the Church of St. Severin; this church has a very gothic look to it. The inside is very pretty too. Every church I go into has this real amazing stained glasses, all of them are so well one, and very pretty. 


Down the street from where this church is, I found what has to be the narrowest building I have ever seen, I have no idea how can you even get the furniture inside!

Very close to this church is the bookstore Shakespeare & Co., it had a real nice mood to it, a lot of people just hanging out there. Supposedly when you buy a book here, it is marked with a stamp that reads: Shakespeare & Co Kilometre Zero Paris" which I though was pretty neat since, indeed they are located not even 1 km outside of what is considered the origins of Paris.


A few steps more and you find The Sorbonne of Paris. I always remember my aunt since I was very little saying that she didn't learn English and learned French instead in school because she dreamed about coming to The Sorbonne to study, so it was pretty cool, to actually see this school that I have heard for a long time about. Once the school year starts I will go back and see how the inside looks, since it was closed because everyone is on vacations. The outside of the buildings are all very nice, all decorated, with lots of nice details to look at.


Behind the main building of the Sorbonne you will find the Chappelle de la Sorbonne, which is a nice little chapel, with a small plaza in the front, cafes on one side, and stores on the other, the typical Parisian picture.


Not very far away, you will find the Pantheon. This was originally intended to be the Church for St, Genevieve the patroness of Paris, but after the Revolution in became a cemetery. Through the years many famous people's remains have been moved here. Since I didn't go in, I will find out more info and post it, after I go. In the meantime here is how it looks.


As I was here, I turned around, and I see this beautiful view of Paris, I couldn't resist sharing it, so here:

And finally on the last stop of my walk I went to a little church right behind the Pantheon, called The Church of St-Etienne-du-Mont. This is the church with the altar to St. Genevieve which as I mention is the patroness of Paris.


 I read that the "fence" or "stairs" right in the middle of the church separating the choir section form the rest of the church is Renaissance Style. The stairs or how ever is called, is real pretty. 


The one annoying thing when visiting this church, was the herd of tourist coming in right behind me from a bus parked just outside. I used to want to travel in one of those tours, but after I saw what it means to be trying to take pictures and get to view a place surrounded by the other tourists on the bus, I am not so sure I still want to take tours of that kind.

Anyway I think I am making progress in my French, I can understand a bit more clearly when people in stores tell me how much I am supposed to pay for my food, or I can start to figure out how to say or ask for small things. I have two more classes before my pastry classes begin. Anxiety is beginning to appear, and I am felling a bit nervous of what is to come, but as a phrase I read months ago says: "If God brought you to it, He will bring you through it!!". 

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