The central hall of the Musee d'Orsay

Bon Voyage! (2)

Salut! This is my second entry of a two week stay in France. I’m here with 15 other students as part of my school’s exchange program. Specifically, I’m staying in Saint Germain-de-la-Grange, a town outside of Versailles (about 45 minutes from Paris). I’m staying with Victor’s family, the exchange student who stayed with me for two weeks in February.

This is the second post from my trip. I hope to post every couple of days (or more) about what I’m doing, seeing, and of course: eating. You can find all of the posts here.

Tuesday, 4/16
Today Victor went to school, but the American exchange students spent the day in Paris. We took the la metro to Le Musée d’Orsay, which was incredible. The museum is an old train station, and reminded me of Grand Central Station in NYC because of the huge central room and the style of arches. Unfortunately, they don’t allow photography, bit I still managed to get one shot from the 5th floor looking over the central hall:

After that, we walked to Le Jardin du Tuileries, and crossed a lock bridge along the way. These are bridges where couples have attached locks to the links to symbolize their enduring relationships. They then throw the keys into the Sienne.


In Le Jardin du Tuileries, we walked around and ate a picnic lunch by the central fountain. Although Victor keeps telling me it only ever rains in Paris, we’ve been lucky enough to have really nice weather. The sun was out and it was nice and warm. Kids were playing soccer nearby, and all kinds of people, from tourists to businessman turned out to eat lunch and enjoy the weather with us.

Next we took a quick detour to get pictures outside the Louvre.

Day trips in France #louvre #paris #glass #pyramid #friends @jackstruck

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We then grabbed some ice cream and headed to the Sienne, where we took a boat tour. We saw the sights, including The Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. We’ll probably get the chance to see both up close next week.

Wednesday, 4/17
I got to sleep in a little today because Victor didn’t have a morning class. When we did go in, I attended a French class, which was like my English class at home, but… in French. I actually though I understood most of what was discussed, but unfortunately not when the teacher decided to call on the Americans. Je ne sais pas (I don’t know) is my new favorite expression.

I feel like my French is getting better though. After so many years of French class, I have all the pieces I need and this trip is making me put them together. Progress!

After school, I went with Victor and his mother to La Place du Marche for lunch. The waiter at the cafe was very nice. When I asked for something called pied du jambon, she told me “non” outright. Knowing I was a tourist here, and very unfamiliar with French cuisine, she steered me away from what turned out to be pig’s foot. Maybe next time. Victor got something called tartare, which was raw meat. Also not for me. But desert was my favorite: Crème Brûlée!

Crémé Brûlée at La Place du Marche in Versailles, France.

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Then we went to Abbaye Des Vaux De Cernay, an 11th century Abbey. I really loved it! It was very beautiful, and one of the largest buildings I’ve ever seen. Everything was huge, and it amazes me that it was all built without power tools or modern technology. The grounds are dotted with smaller structures, trees, ponds, and statues. Everything is so calm. It isn’t advertised or very well known, so it’s not crowded with tourists.

The main buildings have been updated with electricity and running water, but in a way that you don’t see any evidence of construction or wires. Lights are hidden so you only see them when they’re on, and everything has a stately feel. They have a restaurant there that’s very nice, and apparently a hotel as well. I spent the afternoon and evening there, and I think it is actually one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It’s just amazing, and if you ever have the chance, please go. There’s no admittance fee; anyone can come and walk around and relax on the grounds.

(I’ll update this with pictures of the Abbey when I get home.)

Tomorrow I go to see Le Château de Versailles!

Jack Struck

Student in our nation's capital, studying International Relations with a focus on the Middle East. Web designer, runner, reader, and leader.

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