Friday, January 16, 2015

Extra! Extra! A Post-Charlie World

That elusive paper...

It’s funny how a silly green newspaper can mean so much. I don’t regularly do much at 6AM, on account of the sleeping and all, but this past week I couldn’t not get up early. I had a mission.

Paris won’t go back to normal. What does normal even mean anyway? While the city will recover from the terrorist attacks on the weekly satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, it’s just not going to be the same here. The scar will stay.

But that’s OK. This is France, the land of revolution, coups d’état, and protests (and amazing over-the-counter cosmetics to cover it up). Things rarely stay the same, anyway. In the 1800s alone they went through two emperors and three kings as well as two republics. That’s a lot of change.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Unprecedented Paris Rally: A City Unites

A look up Boulevard Magenta, reportedly backed up to Gare du Nord

Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions showed up in Paris for a unity rally following the recent terrorist attacks. The AFP reported that more than 2.5 million people were marching in France, with perhaps 1.3-1.5 million in the capital. Official numbers were impossible to ascertain.

Since I live right next to the meeting place, like literally a few steps from the square, I was excited to take part in the event, as a hopefully-future-Frenchman myself. I made it out the front door, but not much further than that. The streets all around Place de la République were completely full by 3PM, when the march towards Nation was set to start. Police and news vans were all I could see in the distance over the heads of hundreds of people. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

#JeSuisCharlie

After attacks at the weekly satire publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris, 12 are dead, and with them, the dream that a free press can exist securely and peacefully has also been taken from us. 

While the nation is shaken, citizens have rallied with no delay. Hundreds gathered at the Place de la République tonight to show their support for the lives lost and to rally against this terrorist act. 

Chanting "Charlie" and "Liberté de l'expression," the crowd raised pens in solidarity and lit candles on the statue in the middle of the square, with lights spelling out "NOT AFRAID."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Fit for a King

Maybe Louis XIV stole all of the architects and designers from the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte back in the 1600s, but he sure didn't steal its Christmas cheer.

Just south of Paris, this chateau dazzles, sparkles, and shimmers at Christmas time with its halls quite literally decked. And they know their way around a Christmas tree at this chateau. Maybe its more popular and bigger, but could the Chateau of Versailles pull off such a festive feat?

No, and here's the proof.

First off, it's a 17th century chateau, and people still live in it, so of course it needed to be decorated...


Monday, December 15, 2014

Provins: Medieval Christmas Market and Other Oddities

Something out of a Game of Thrones episode, or nearly.

Nothing says Christmas like wenches and codpieces – or at least that was the impression I was getting. Provins, a little town just southeast of Paris, is known for its annual Medieval Christmas market one weekend each December. This past weekend, it all happened.

I had been waiting for years to find the right moment to go to Provins. I’ve read about and to me, it was a secret little vault of miracles just outside my front door. But alas, I had procrastinated. But being Christmas, and needing to get into the spirit, I decided it was the right year, month, and day.

An early train on Sunday whisked us away, and in just over an hour, we were there, walking back through time, mostly, through the streets of Provins. I mean, they’re not stuck in the past entirely – they have a Monoprix, after all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Studying at the Sorbonne: Making Money

Work hard, play hard. No need to sacrifice everything if you're earning pennies...

How does a student survive in Paris? I’ve been getting this question a lot lately, and I thought it might be useful to share a bit of info to dispel any notions that we students are all funded by our parents. That is certainly not the case for me and nearly all of the international students I know.

Clearly, it is very possible to live in Paris as a student. Why else would it be the top city for students, in this year’s QS rankings? 

But here’s the thing – nothing s handed to you, and no one will give you the answers if you don’t ask. So since so many people have been asking me, I thought I’d give back a bit of insider info in a nice, convenient, English-speaking manner. While no means exhaustive or universally-applicable, this list should get the ball rolling for any student wannabes in France.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[Old] Orléans, A Joan of Arc Fandom

Heading back to the Middle Ages...
It’s was a Wednesday. I wasn’t working. The sun would be out, so really, all signs pointed towards a daytrip outside of Paris. But where to go?

The destination was selected thanks to SNCF, France’s national train service. Using their website, I found 20 euro round-trip tickets to several towns. After a quick look on WikiVoyage, I kept coming back to Orléans, about an hour south of Paris, on the Loire River.

Now, we had spent a significant amount of time in the Loire this summer, but I had never been to Orléans. More than the namesake for the “New” version in the US, and with less gumbo, it is a hub of medieval history where Joan of Arc famously led French troops into battle against the English.