June 6, 2011
la pluie et un chocolat chaud (rain and a hot chocolate)

Well the rain from last night was present during today as well. But it wasn’t that bad. Like I’ve mentioned, it has been a very dry spring in Paris. A cool, cloudy, rainy day is a nice break every now and then. And today was one of those days. 

I had a museum visit for my art history class this morning at the Orangerie in the Tuileries gardens by the Louvre. It’s a relatively small museum which mainly has Impressionist and some post-impressionist pieces. It’s most famous for being the house of Monet’s “Water Lillies” series, which was pretty breathtaking! He choose the Orangerie as the place to house this series, in two joining oval rooms. He wanted it to be an escape from the city, and it truly was. I especially enjoyed it because during my trip to Giverny a couple of weeks ago with Gersende, we saw the pond and water lillies that Monet painted for that series. So I had seen the real thing that inspired what I was looking at. It all came together! 

I wish I could paint! After our visit, me and three friends decided to walk over to Angelina’s, a very famous cafe on rue de rivoli, just by the Louvre. They are most famous for their hot chocolate, so needless to say, having their world famous hot chocolate has been on my to do list! And it did not let me down! It is served in a pitcher and then you mix in your own milk and whipped cream as you please. The hot chocolate in the pitcher honestly tasted like melted down Hershey’s bars. It was so thick! But with the right combination of milk and whipped cream, it was perfection! I also treated myself to a pistachio macalon, a large macaroon! 

I will never pay so much for hot chocolate again, but it was worth it!! After Angelina’s, we killed a little time in a bookshop and then headed to school to do some last minute studying for our political science final that afternoon. At the bookstore, I bought myself a cookbook that I have had my eye on. It’s called “The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook” and it is written by Mireille Guiliano, a French woman, but the cookbook is written in English. It’s full of simple yet delicious French recipes and I can’t wait to start trying them!! Gersende has proven to me that you can cook a great meal using minimal pots and pans in a short amount of time! Cooking and grocery shopping used to feel like a chore to me, but now I look forward to it! I hope I can keep this same mentality in the States! My room mates will love me, that’s for sure!  

My afternoon consisted of last minute studying and then lots of essay writing. Fun fun. But it’s over now and I’m just down to one art history presentation and one art history final. So close to summer! Although it has felt like summer break the entire time I’ve been here!! 

When I finished my exam, I treated myself to a walking tour! This walking tour was just south of my school, by Montparnasse, but in an area that I hadn’t explored much. I really enjoyed the walk. And the gloominess made it that much better. I saw some of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite spots to hang out and some of the famous art studios of the early 1900’s. The literary and artistic history of the city seems to never end. 

My walking tour ended at a park, so I found an empty bench and began reading my new cookbook, which has quite a bit of commentary to it. Her introduction confirmed my theory that I made a few weeks ago about the cuisine of different countries. Mireille (the author) studied abroad in New York City, where she was exposed to endless amounts of donuts, bagels, cream cheese, and greasy pizza. It was all new to her and she indulged herself. This is what I experienced in Paris—baguettes, croissants, crepes, macaroons, endless cheese, and almond cakes! The New York cuisine was new to her and the Parisian cuisine was new to me, so naturally you indulge. But when you’ve grown up around something, it is easier to control yourself and say no. I am familiar with how terrible a donut is for you, but less knowledgeable on how many carbs are in an almond cake. And vice versa. So naturally, you put on a few pounds in this new place that has new and delicious foods! Thankfully, I bought her cookbook, which will allow me to still eat like the French in the States, but with a bit less bread and cheese!

After a while of reading in the park, I made my way home. I had dinner with Gersende and Alex and did a little work on my presentation. However, I’m finding any motivation for homework/studying very difficult this last week! Everything else just seems so much more important! But I made a to do list of the few things I want to do still and have scheduled them accordingly. I want to take a guided tour of the opera, visit La Defense, and hopefully go back to Versailles to see Marie-Antoinette’s separate house she had built there. All of this on top of school, packing, walking tours, and farewell dinners! I don’t think sleeping on the plane ride home is going to be an issue at all.

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