This week, European Art Classroom took on Paris. The learning was dense and we left exhausted, but we will continue to carry the energy Paris gave us throughout the rest of our travels this term.
From the second we stepped off the train, we were immediately emerged in the buzzing city. Slightly groggy from our travel naps, we dragged our bags to a sandwich shop in the station and got some food to go. It was a short walk to the hotel and we were able to collapse in our rooms, finish our sandwiches and unpack some of our stuff before we were right back out into the city again, exploring and learning about Parisian culture.
If I were to include every single thing we did on our trip in this blog, you’d be exhausted after reading it, so instead I’ll give you a list of some of the important things one should know when visiting Paris.
1) There are a lot of churches. No, they are not boring, and no, they are not all the same. Visit them and appreciate the beauty of their architecture, no matter your interest in religion.
2) Sometimes the places with the least amount of tourists are the most valuable ones. (For example, viewers of the Mona Lisa only look at the painting for about 15 seconds due to the massive crowd of people around it. How much does one learn in 15 seconds?)
3) You MUST climb steps in order to truly experience Paris. The Arc de Triomphe has 284 steps. Your knees may hate you, but the view from the top is something you will never forget.
4) Alone time in the city is tremendously valuable. The group found this out during our solos. Whether we chose to visit The Centre Pompidou, the museum of Hunting and Nature, the Catacombs, or any of the other countless museums and monuments in Paris, we were all culturally and historically enriched for 8 hours while we navigated the city on our own. Contrary to popular belief, the French are generally warm people who are willing to help you when you are lost or don’t know how to say, “What is the yellow stuff on that sandwich?”
Édouard Manet, "Olympia", 1863
5) You will never be able to see all the paintings in the Louvre in one day, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are 70,000 pieces of art, so pick a style of art you like, and reserve a few hours to checking out that wing of the museum. Same is true with the Musée d'Orsay.
6) TRY NEW FOODS. Escargot is delicious but you’ll never realize that until you get over the fact that you’re eating a slimy snail.
7) Also, if you want to have the best falafel you’ve ever eaten in your life, go to King Falafel Palace. They also have an extremely clean bathroom, which is very rare for Paris.
8) Very little is more beautiful than a Paris sunset, or the way the Eiffel Tower sparkles at night.
Although it was nice to come home to the green grass and cool quiet air of Aix, I think it’s safe to say we’ll miss Paris and all the fun we had there. The kind of learning that comes from off-campus programs is the kind of learning that lasts a lifetime, and we can’t wait for what’s to come!
Below are some examples of our drawings in the ever important Carnet de Voyage. After those, check out our updated webpages.