Today was my last day working at Lycée Jules Ferry this year. Its a good school, but I’m glad I’m no longer a student and I’m finally on the other side of school life. I’m now in the staffroom not the playground!
My work has been easy all term, so far I havent actually been asked to take any actual classes, just small groups, of maximum 6 students, usually 2 and go to a different classroom and chat to them. I am really just being used to listen to them practice their oral exam for April. I explain what is expected of them, give them some time to prepare and then we have a sort of mock oral and I give them a mark, and fill in a little sheet. The students are mainly quite sweet. I think it helps that I’m teaching a subject whom the majority seem to enjoy and understand the importance of. They all have a good level on the whole as I’ve been focused onto the older students, some of whom are the same age as me!!
The teachers are also very nice. The staffroom early in the morning reminds me of the first street scene in Beauty and the Beast. Belle is walking down the street singing and then suddenly all these people pop out of nowhere saying
“Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour!!”
….. This is what its like in the staffroom, bonjours flying all over the place. I mainly just talk to the english teachers but some of them occasionally greet me. And one time I was texting someone in the corridor (and they have a very strict no phone policy with the students here) and this little french man was shouting “PORTABLE!!” at me. I had no idea he was talking to me so he kept shouting, then I realized and had to explain to him I was the new english assistant. Rather awkward in front of the students but I think he did feel bad afterwards! He now calls me his favourite pupil…..
The school is fairly old and is a circular shape, with the big court in the middle. The décor in the classrooms is very nice, each has an original mural border on the walls. But every classroom is also equipped with computers and most have smartboards too so its also very modern which is great!
I have just started reading The Casual Vacancy – J.K’s new book and am really enjoying it so far. I’m not expecting it to match up to Harry Potter but I quite like its total mundane, everyday life slant she seems to have adopted to separate it from her previous works. Stay tuned for my final review! Tomorrow afternoon I depart for England. Back home for christmas for 2 weeks and am very excited! The shops are christmassy here and starbucks but apart from that not feeling that christmassy yet. Its all normal lessons at school as far as I know and there are no decorations up in the appartment. I’m relishing the thought of getting home and making tray upon tray of christmas sweeties!
On thursday night, after a spot of shopping at Galeries LaFayette we made a little group outing to La Cinémathèque française at Bercy (in the south east of Paris – fairly near me) We saw a film called play time directed by some famous director – Jaques Tati whom I had never heard of, but I’m sure Miranda will know him! The film was a mixture of french and english really as it was about a group of tourists who were visiting Paris – this big group of chattering women getting on and off buses and taking lots of photos in awkward places and then combined with this clumsy, buffoon of a man who kept making mistakes to hilarious effect. It was an interesting experience!
School was the same as usual on friday. I had a bad experience at the supermarket though, I rushed all the way to the massive Carrefour after work and collected all my things and I had a whole basket full that I’d been lugging around the supermarket. I was in a rush to meet Léa but everything was fine until I got to the checkout and I realised I’d forgotten all my money. Quel desastre!
Anyway I’ll be returning tomorrow morning to re collect all my things! I then met Léa afterwards at a house viewing she was at (which turned out to be no good) and then we decided to go to Saint-Michel for dinner. She’s promised to make me try les escargots so we found a typical french restaurant called La Braserade and had them! They were quite small, and you have these special tools to hold the shell still then to scoop them out. A bit chewy but nice with the garlicky, herby sauce. My palate is maturing!! Afterwards I had the confit of duck and then we both had the tart aux pommes with a complimentary scoop of ice cream – délicieux! The restaurant itself was very cute – lovely if a bit bizarre decorations all over the walls and ceilings. The downside was the bread which was rather chewy baguette . Léa and I both turned our noses up at it! But good ambience, great snails and lovely company.
On sunday night, I went to Franglish with Claudia. Safe to say one of the most strange experiences of my life. We went in a little unsure when we arrived, but we were soon given name tags and a voucher for a free drink. We got our drinks and went to our assigned tables and met our first partners! The whole idea of Franglish is kind of like speed dating but with languages as the focus. So its a mix of french and english and you have several different partners, chatting to each person for 15 minutes in total, 7 minutes in french and then the organiser lady comes over and asks you to swap languages. I think I met about 8 people or something, it went on for about 3 hours I think. It was quite tiring though as you’re constantly talking, thinking in another language and also trying to think of something to say! With some of my partners it was okay, but others were a bit awkward! One guy I just couldn’t hear or understand anything he was saying in french or english!
Unfortunately I didn’t meet anyone I really clicked with, there weren’t a huge amount of young students there, it was mostly mid – 20’s/30’s/40’s. And you don’t get the chance to talk to everyone as there’s quite a few people at each event I think. But it was a good idea and I did get to speak a lot of french which was good! I may go again, but I don’t think its something I would do every week – though I met a few people who did do it every week.
On friday and wednesday nights they have late night openings at the Louvre which means that there are far fewer people compared to a saturday or sunday. So I went with Léa and her friend Fanny. We met fairly late so only had an hour or two there so we bee-lined for the most famous paintings – i.e the highlights on the plan! We saw the Mona Lisa – small and disappointing as ever, but you could actually get close up to it which was much better! We saw lots of statues, a famous photo with a woman touching another woman’s nipple and plenty of other works of art from all around the world. I found the actual building itself so impressive though. The incredibly detailed and beautiful ceilings, the complex layout, and the countless works of art at every turn. Having walked round gazing at all the art and the ceilings I think I now understand why it is the most visited museum in the world. It is just spectacular and vast! It actually began as a fortress built in the 12th century by Phillip II, and you can see the remnants. Then it was extended many times to form the present palace. Louis XIV chose to live instead in the Palace of Versailles and so the Louvre became a place to display the royal collection. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation’s masterpieces.
Exhausted when it closed at 9.45 I went back home to sleep! The next morning I met up with Léa at Porte de Clignancourt for the marché aux puces. I had been a month or so ago but it was raining then so not very good. This time there was a lot more to see/buy but most of it wasnt really what we wanted as we were searching for christmas presents but there were some brocante stalls which were nice. We then headed into central Paris and walked around the shops on the Rue de Rivoli and up to Saint Paul. We stumbled upon a little brocante hidden in the streets leading to the Jewish Quarter. And also found the American Thanksgiving shop. It had loads of American stuff in it like betty crocker, aunt jemima, reeses cups, marshmallow fluff all of that kind of things and Léa was loving it! She bought a carrot cake betty crocker kit for her mum. We went to a market along Bastille which was just finishing up and then I headed home.
The colocataire who was here before me had returned this weekend and so tonight we had a big meal together with champagne and starters. Marie cooked this delicious courgette bake with creme fraiche et cheese, it was really good! And then we had my summer fruits cheesecake for pudding. Luckily it had turned out well. So well in fact that Claire and Camille had seconds and Marie Laure had thirds!! They love all the english cakes I make. I also gave them the tin of heroes which mum had bought and Claire loved it, she’d never tasted most of them so dove straight in trying all of them. Explaining what creme egg was in french was a challenge!
On tuesday night Georgia had a fête de noël which was good fun. I made a carrot cake on the monday night which was surprisingly successful. Maybe my new speciality, everyone loved it! Then on thursday I met up with a fellow ELA, Claudia. We decided to go to La Conciergerie found on the west of the Île de la Cité. It is the former royal palace and prison of Paris, and it was where hundreds of prisoners were kept during the French Revolution to be executed including Marie Antoinette. We saw the cell she was kept in, along with other cells which was interesting. The main part of the museum was this huge room full of paintings and accompanied by detailed historical accounts. But then it went into modern day influences, which included a section about the gothic genre and then a whole load of different representations of castles including those from disney and harry potter. So it was quite interesting, and I’d imagine even more so if you were knowledgeable about the history of France! We also got a starbucks and they got my name wrong… – again! I went to the supermarket on the way home as I plan to make the Hummingbird Summer fruit baked cheesecake for Marie Laure and Claire this weekend. Never made a baked cheesecake before so we’ll see how that turns out!
On the first sunday of every month in Paris, a lot of the museums are free, so we had decided to do a couple of museums today. Unfortunately we hadn’t quite anticipated the queues. They were ridiculous! We went to the Pompidou Centre – the second most visited museum in the world after the Louvre, a pretty impressive feat! But we had to queue for about an hour… Luckily we had bought 3 delicious pavés au chocolat from one of my favourite patisseries near Rory’s flat. Its like a pain au chocolat, but flatened and with crème patissière inside – absolutely delicious!! It was freezing standing still in the queue but eventually we were in and we explored the musuem, i had already seen some of it but not the upper floors. We saw the famous Chagall painting with the goat playing the violin which was good. It’s mostly very modern art, some of which is rather bizarre but some impressive and interesting. The view from the top floor of the Pompidou is also very impressive. You can see the Sacré Coeur to your right and the Tour Eiffel to your left amidst the rooftops of Paris.
I then took them to see La musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. Obviously no-one really knows about this museum there were hardly any others there like the last time I went so we strolled straight in, and Heidi and Nick were as I was impressed by all the magnificent animals. We then wondered around and were feeling hungry so I took them to the Jewish district where I had been a couple of weeks back for a falafel. We only paid for 2 but since there was such a bustle and no-one was taking the falafels we managed to get 3 which was definitely a success – well done Heids! (one of our many savings during the trip!!) They’re really good falafels, a nice fresh pitta filled with vegetable falafels, loads of salad, humous and sauce. Would definitely recommend Chez H’anna – 54 Rue de Rosiers.
Then we walked through the Tuileries and over to L’Orangerie. There was a bit of a queue again, but it moved fairly quickly, and the museum was lovely. There was a big oval room with Monets all around and seats in the middle so the idea was that you just sat and stared at them. Unfortunately we didn’t have an enormous amount of time as I had to meet Léa (my new french friend!) and they had to catch their eurostar. But there were some lovely works of art there and a good variety. So sunday evening brought the weekend to a close and I said goodbye to Heids and Nick, but we had a great time : )