Ch. 24 – Voyage a Paris

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Ch. 24 – Voyage a Paris

Trip to Paris

November 30 through December 2

Price of Trip: 218 Francs

Friday, November 30 – Leave at 14 h 47

Be at the train station by 14 h 30

(Everyone must be together, because you have a group

ticket with a discount)

Arrive at Paris at 17 h 34

Take the Metro to Montparnasse (direction of Etoile-

Charles de Gaulle). Stop at Bir-Hakeim

Walk to the offices of France-Louisiane (17, quai de

Grenelle (15th floor)

The families will be waiting there for you. You will stay

With these families until Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, December 1 – You will go with your family to attend the General

Assembly of France-Louisiane at 14 h.

Sunday, December 2 – Leave Paris at 17 h 28

(Everyone must be together, because you have a group

ticket with a discount)

Arrive in Angers at 19 h 47

Oh, the things we had to do to represent our country! Another weekend away, spent with strangers – but, in Paris! We made plans to meet at the train station, which was out of the way of both the Catho and our dormitory. It was a long walk, and although Angers was not particularly hilly, the train station was down a hill. Going to the station was a lot easier than coming home from the station – especially with luggage.

We made sure we were early, as directed, and packed plenty of food for the road. Food could be had on the train, but the sandwiches, while tasty, were dry by our standards. We also didn’t want to eat too much, because we were sure that there would be some sort of reception or meal at our journey’s end. Someone, perhaps Trisha, had found popcorn in the local supermarket, and had popped it. I think it was air-popped, but she seasoned it with some butter, and we sprinkled Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning on it. This made everyone who got near the bag sneeze, as he or she grabbed handfuls of popcorn from the medium sized garbage bag Trisha had stored it in.

We had a great time on the trip, which took less than 3 hours. When we arrived, it was apparently up to us to negotiate the Metro system with our luggage and to get the the offices of France-Louisiane on our own. We purchased a carnet of tickets to share among us and jumped on in full rush hour. We had to go in two groups, since there were about 20 of us. We eventually emerged at the same stop, and walked together to the office. There was a little reception waiting for us, with wine and some little crackers and cheese. The President of France-Louisiane welcomed us to Paris, and thanked us for attending the General Assembly. Then, we were divided up among families and whisked away to all parts of the city.

I was placed in a home with Miranda, a wholesome girl with the profile of a Greek coin. We had discovered early on that we shared the same birthday, and I liked her a lot. She had opted out of living at the dorm, preferring to try her luck boarding with a French family, so I didn’t get to see her much. We went to stay at the home of Anne. I could have called her a spinster, but that would not have aptly described her – although she was probably in her fifties or early sixties and unmarried. She was very stylishly dressed and independent. First of all, she drove us to her apartment in the only automatic transmission vehicle I believe I have ever seen in France. I was suitably impressed, as I had already decided to take a vacation from driving while in Europe (I had my two accidents at home to live down, and didn’t feel secure learning to drive a stick-shift).

She welcomed us to a lovely old apartment inhabited by her and three black cats. Miranda and I shared a room, and were honored at a dinner party shared with older guests. I don’t remember much of what we said or did, but I do remember the rather retro china and furnishings. They probably had not been replaced since the seventies. We ate, drank, and had a good time – we got to bed fairly early.

I slept late, but Miranda got up early and went to the market with our hostess. I would have liked to do that, but I could not resist the comfort of the bed and the ability to lie in. When they got back, Miranda came up and informed me that our hostess also was born on the same day that we were. I thought that was an amazing coincidence. Miranda had been telling her a little bit about me, and mentioned that we shared a birthday. When Anne asked when that was, and Miranda told her, she laughed and said that her birthday was then, too. Three Leos in the same place – people would have to watch out!

That afternoon, we attended the convention, and just hung around, meeting French people and representing Louisiana. It was fun, but I just wanted to be outside, wandering the streets of Paris. I wanted to go to the Flea Market, especially. That was going to have to wait for another trip. We went to the Boulevard St. Michel as a large group, to an ethnic café in the Latin Quarter for dinner. That was a lot of fun.

Sunday, Anne made an effort to keep us entertained. We were served a great lunch, with a friend of hers – it was just us four girls. I don’t remember what we had, but, at the end of the meal, Anne brought out this bottle of rich, green liquid – it looked a bit like extra virgin olive oil. She said that is called farigouli – it was a liqueur from Provence, made with Herbes de Provence. It was very herbal, and slightly medicinal tasting, but it was certainly memorable.

Before taking us to the train station, Anne took us to the Orangerie museum. Before the Musee d’Orsay was designed and renovated, the Orangerie housed the great works of the Impressionists. It was on the border of the Luxembourg Gardens, a small, special museum. I had a wonderful time gazing at the paintings, and we wandered around for quite a while.

We got to the train station without incident, and made it back to Angers by 9PM, as promised. Three days later, we were summoned to another public appearance, that time to receive a group of Louisiana educators and politicians. Even though it was a weeknight, we were reminded in writing by the directrice that it was our responsibility as Louisiana students to meet these people at the Grand Palais. Wow, our work never ended! More wine, more cheese – at least that time we got to speak more English (of course we spoke some French to prove we were earning our scholarships!).

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