Friday, August 23, 2019

En somme - Summary

Part of my job is to write a summary of the summer in 250 words. I always fail. This year's is 308 words. I am also supposed to choose two to three photos that represent the summer. I have chosen ten. 

Below, please find my summary and my favorite photos from Brest, 2019. 

C'est vrai que chaqu'un de vous me manquent déjà. Vous m'êtes tous spécials. Vous êtes parties de mon cœur.

The first day was the students’ first challenge; flip phones! They caught on quickly. A camaraderie also developed quickly. The first days were spent getting to know one another and the host families, which also happened quickly.

The reception at the city hall was just a few days after we arrived, and five brave students gave short speeches in front of family, teachers and city officials. And we got our picture in the paper!

The weeks were full of studies, sports, theatre, dance and music - and that was all before 3:30 pm. Students spent their free time exploring the city and developing friendships. Then it was back in the bosom of their French families by 6:30.

Our first excursion was to the Île de Batz, just off the northern coast of Brittany. The island was sun-drenched and lush, and we walked the length and breadth of it. (24,000 steps, almost 10 miles.)

In Brest, there were bike rides, trips to the movies (Spiderman and Toy Story 4), and Océanapolis, the aquarium. The French celebrated July 4, just for us! We will never forget the Breton dancing - what fun, but what work!

We had a two-day trip to Normandie; St. Malo, the American Cemetery at Utah Beach and the Memorial at Caen.

We visited the cliffs of Pointe des Espagnols and Pointe de Pen-Hir, the cities of Concarneau and Quimper. And we saw how to make the Breton pastry kouign-aman in Locronon. Oh, là-là!

Paris was a whirlwind two and a half days of; Père Lachaise Cemetery, the King Tut exhibit, lunch in the shadow of Tour Saint Jacques, the Sainte Chappelle, the Consiergérie, an incredible boat tour on the Seine, the Arc de Triomphe, Versailles and climbing the stairs to the second deck of the Eiffel Tower. Whew! (32,000 steps, 13.2 miles - a marathon!)

An incredible summer with incredible people!

Week 6 - Paris Day 2

For our final day in Paris, we started with the Arc de Triomphe, the triumval arch Napoleon had built to honor his victories in battle and the generals and officers who helped him. (It wasn’t actually completed until 1837, 20 years after his death.)

Of course, there was Pookie.

Then we climbed aboard the RATP (the suburban train) and headed for Versailles and the palace thereof. The palace is always crowded with tourists, and it is hard to figure out what room you are in and why it was there. I just photographed students as they passed me in the Hall of Mirrors.

Because of scheduling, lunch had escaped us. So we divided up and sought food. A group of us went to the Marais district, the Jewish quarter and found incredible Halal food. Another group went elsewhere, but saw President Emmanuel Macron’s motorcade pass by them at the Assemblée Nationale (the French Congress) building.

We met in the Champs de Mars, the park at the feet of the Eiffel Tower. We had reservations to climb the stairs to the second level of the tower. And we did it! Each student made it to the second level, climbing hundreds of steps!

We had glorious views of the city as the sun set on Paris and on our adventure.
Here we are , Paris!

Tourists took pictures of Pookie.

It's kind of overwhelming to sit beneath it.

You go Sophia!

On the train platform.

C'est sérieux, très sérieux.

Oui, très sérieux.

The entrance court to Versailles

Yes, Pookie at Versailles

Anything to keep cool at this point. It was HOT.

I don't understand the game, but it was captivating for them.

Some people napped on the way back to Paris.

Ah, here we are!

Yes, Pookie

More Pookie

Level 1, with ice cream!

Couples aren't allowed during the trip. After? Who knows?

Oh! Mon dieu!

Sure, Jack, whatever...

Tara: This Eiffel Tower thing is fun!

Mini Pookie


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Week 6 - Paris Day 1

When we arrived in Paris, it was early evening. We had plenty of time to visit the Cemetery of Père Lachaise. Why visit a cemetery? Well, some of the most famous people of French history are buried there. It didn’t look like a long walk on the map, but it was 30 minutes. And we only had an hour there, as it closed at 6pm. And we had to walk back. But we did get to see the tomb of Honoré de Balzac.

I’m not sure why it was so important for the students to see the tomb of the man whose most famous poems were published in a book called, “The Flowers of Evil.” But what I don’t understand about teenagers could be published in a book.

Our first excursion in Paris was to the Porte de Villette area of Paris to see the King Tut exhibit. This is the last time the treasures of King Tut will ever leave Egypt. And a family friend of one of our students happened to be involved in the exhibit. So we got free tickets!

The woman who was our contact met us outside the entry hall with bises. Imagine our surprise when she followed that with, “I don’t really speak much French.” She was American. She supplied us with audio guides in French, and helped get us into the exhibit.
I have lots of pictures of the exhibit, but few of our students in the subdued lighting of the exhibition hall. As French photographers say, “Sans lumière, il n’y a pas de photographie."

Our group of students who danced to the music of “Pookie” during the family show was determined to dance Pookie throughout Paris. They started at Porte de Villette.

From there, we went in search of a picnic lunch, which we ate in the gardens around the Tour Saint Jacques. This had been a church, but all but the tower was demolished. Today, it is a favorite spot for a Parisian picnic lunch.

From there, we visited the Sainte Chapelle. This is the extraordinary chapel created by Saint Louis (King Louis IX) to house the relics of Jesus, the crown of thorns and a piece of the true cross, that he had purchased during the crusades. It features 30 ft. tall stained glass windows that tell the stories of the Bible.

Our next stop was the Consiégerie on the banks of the Seine. It began as a royal palace, but became a prison. It was here that Marie Antoinette awaited the guillotine. Today, you can see her cell and the chapel adjacent.

Monday evening, we went for a boat ride on the Seine. We took the Bateau des Vedettes. It was a beautiful evening, and the sites along the Seine are incredible.
Literature students with the tomb of Balzac.

Random workout stations all around Paris.

Small statue of King Tut on his throne.
Pookie at Porte de Vilette.

Maria is amazing!

More Pookie at Porte de Vilette

Pookie in front of the Hôtel de Ville Paris.

Pookie in front of the Hôtel de Ville Paris.

All of us in front of the Hôtel de Ville.

Tour St. Jacques

Vivian embraces the Parisian lunch.

Miranda is effusive....

Quit being so cute!

Us in the court of the Louvre!

Pookie in the court of the Louvre

Pookie in the court of the Louvre

Notre Dame, la pauvre Notre Dame.

Notre Dame, la pauvre Notre Dame.

Notre Dame, la pauvre Notre Dame.

What are we doing here? We are waiting for la toilette!

La trinité!




Mason and some strange woman who
just wouldn't get out of the way.

What a group!

Sculpture and stained glass.

The Consiergérie grand hall

The Court des Dames, where the women
could get outside and have fresh air.

This is where we got chased off and told that this was a museum
and not a place of leisure. You are not allowed to sit in French

Not long for sitting.

It's Vivian. I have no explanation.

La Tour Eiffel

La Tour Eiffel