“No more days of school, no more days of sorrow, no more days at that old dump and we won’t be there tomorrow”

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So my time at Lycée Jules Ferry wasn’t exactly sorrow and it wasn’t a dump, but this the song mum used to sing us on our last days of school and I have indeed now finished my time there. Last friday was my last day and it was more emotional than I’d expected actually. The teachers had bought be a lovely book of photographs of Paris over the last 60 odd years and all written messages inside. Two other teachers bought be a book called  La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert by Joel Dicker. It won the Prix Goncourt des lycéens 2012, which is a prize decided by students and Lycée Jules Ferry was one of the 50 schools who participated in the judging. It is a massive 700 page long book but I hope to read it soon as it looks exciting! Then in my last lesson and favourite class, the students threw  me a party. They had all brought in snacks and drinks and all signed a sheet which was very sweet. The teachers took me out for lunch at midday and all said what an excellent assistant I had been, and that they usually didn’t make this much of a fuss for them! It was sad to leave but I was happy to have made a difference to the school that year, a few kids personally thanked me and said goodbye as they saw me leaving.

So I now have 23 days left in Paris to enjoy myself! Over the last couple of days, I have been exploring Paris. We went to 59 Rivoli which is basically these open artists studios set over 6 floors showing 30 artists – some of which were actually painting when we went! – bizarre, and very bizarre art too. One woman was painting hundreds of plastic gloves stuffed with shredded paper.

The Jardin de Luxembourg recently housed an interesting art project called the RedballProject. It involves exactly what it says – a Red ball. (And a rather large one at that!) The artist Kurt Perschke has travelled to cities all around the world and placed this ball in public places for people to see it and takes photos. So we did the same.

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Unfortunately we didn’t have much luck with museums this weekend as we found many had enormous queues or were closed. We saw the L’église de la Madeleine which is absolutely huge and was designed as a temple to the glory of Napoleon’s army. We had arguably the best hot chocolate in Paris at Une Dimanche à Paris, accompanied with a delicious patisserie to share of course, and followed by a long stroll around Montmartre as the sun was setting.

Yesterday I went to the Musée de l’Armée. We saw an impressive array of guns, swords and uniforms but there was just so much on display I don’t think we touched even a quarter of it. Afterwards we saw the Tombeau de Napoléon which I’d wanted to see for a while. It was magnificent. The extravagance of the external gold dome is mirrored inside with the most beautiful murals, imposing and serene marble statues on all sides, and then in the centre the enormous tomb. For me, it was as impressive as it was ridiculous with the space and wealth used to enclose his decaying body. Afterwards, finding most things closed on a monday we nipped into the Louvre but soon left as it was unbearably full of tourists. We went to see Iron Man 3 in the evening which I actually quite enjoyed!

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Le Marché Place d’Italie

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We have had more perfect weather here in Paris over the last few days, so we have spent a lot of time in the green spaces of Paris, le bois de Vincennes, Tuileries and Place des Vosges. In their summer get-up the Parisians don’t really seem like Parisians anymore, there is much less of the black chic, and you actually feel you could be somewhere other than Paris – its odd.

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I have also started to make use of the market which is on my road and takes place every thursday and sunday morning. I took my camera with me last thursday to take some photos of all the fresh and colourful produce and all the sellers wanted to get in the photos too so I have a few interesting portraits! I have bought some really good fruit and veg which is so cheap, and also the fresh eggs are delicious. Adam and I have had a rotisserie chicken a few times too – they are very expensive in the supermarkets (€9) but alot cheaper at the market (€5). I am actually going to head to the market shortly. Marie-Laure introduced white asparagus to me which are very good, a more delicate flavour, but I have never seen them in England.

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Alice in Paris

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It seems spring has finally arrived in Paris. The sky is blue and the sun is shining…I’m just hoping it stays this way from now on! Today I had another visitor in Paris, Alice! She was here visiting another friend doing an internship here, and I hadn’t seen her in ages, so I met them today and we went for lunch at a place called Marmite (actually on the same road as my school). We each had a salad which were huge, and delicious, sat outside in the sunshine on the bustling street. We then walked up to Montmartre and sat on the grass in front of the Sacré Coeur and ate macarons! It was lovely to see Alice again, if only briefly!

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Une dimanche dans le Bois de Boulogne

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On sunday there was somewhat of a heatwave in Paris, with highs of 24 degrees! It felt like summer, so we decided to go to the Bois de Boulogne and have a picnic and enjoy the sunshine. The park was full of people as expected but we found a nice spot on the bank of one of the big lakes. We enjoyed baguette, paté, wine and oreos! It was hot all day till about 8 in the evening when we got the metro back into central Paris and sat on the riverside of the Seine as the sun was setting. It was beautiful, and ever so quintessentially Parisian, sitting there….. Hoping the weather will stay nice as I only have 2 more days left of school now!

Le Magenta with Miranda

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The Saturday before last, Miranda was passing through Paris with Joe and some of her friends on her way back to London after a trip skiing. We managed to meet in the 3 hours slot she had here, and we went to a little café near the Gare Du Nord called Le Magenta. I had a delicious salad with roasted mediterranean vegetables. It was great to see her in Paris if only for a very brief encounter!

Skiing in Allemont with Léa

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Over the Easter weekend, Léa invited me to come skiing in her family’s apartment in Allemont near Oz En Oisans near Alpe D’Huez. We arrived late on thursday night, unfortunately the weather over thursday and friday wasn’t very nice – rainy and lots of fog high up in the mountains, so we decided not to go out skiing. Instead we explored the area, there is a beautiful big lake in the village, which apparently is even nicer in the summer. The water was an amazing colour! We also played some games, in both french and english, and went to the swimming centre on saturday which was fun. I tried lots of new things like quenelles – flour – y/potato – y/semolina dumplings. Difficult to describe but tasty, we had them with a béchamel sauce but you can get lots of different types. I also tried Tarte Flambée, a speciality of the Alsace region, very thin dough with creme fraiche, onions and lardons, also delicious!

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On sunday morning, the weather was perfect for skiing, so we woke early, made a packed lunch and set out to the slopes! Luckily I had the same shoe size as her sister so Léa kindly let me borrow all her skiing equipment. It was my first time skiing in about 5 years so I was very hesitant but I soon got the hang of it again. Léa knew all the slopes and all the lifts so she led the way which was great. She was a very good and fast skier and had to wait for me at the bottom of each slope but I think I did okay. I was certainly very very achy after the first day! On the second day we stopped and had hot chocolates in the mountains and had brought with us squirty cream! We both caught the sun a bit on the first day, but it seems to be going down a bit now, after plenty of cream applications! The view from the top of the mountains was so beautiful. I was too worried to take up my new camera but I took a few on my phone.

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Yesterday we left the apartment early and drove back to Lyon and Léa gave me a tour of its highlights. We went to the central square – Bellecour, and along the main shopping street, then up into the old town, La Croix Rousse and saw a view over the city. Also the Bartholdi Fountain at the Place des Terreaux, the Opera house, and we crossed over the river. We sat and had a coffee in a lovely little square overlooking the Temple du Change, the former stock exchange of Lyon. Then she showed me the new big shopping centre called La Confluence. It was enormous and very modern! We sat and ate an almond tuile and I tried the speciality of Lyon – brioche aux pralines, a brioche bun with a bright pink sugar and hazelnut glaze, AMAZING! Then we had to catch our train back to Paris, and I rushed home to drop my things and met up with some friends in the evening.

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