Paris: AHA semester student Rebecca Asoulin reminisces about their two weeks en France

When I unpacked my bag in Tuscany after taking a sleeper train from Paris (decidedly unlike the ones in the movies!), I found Paris Metro tickets had found their way into everything I own: in the bottom of my shoes, in the pockets of coats I didn’t know had pockets in, and at one point I swear they were multiplying. These tickets are a testament to how much we saw and did in our two weeks Paris.
Our first day in Paris we went to the Louvre with Lavinia and focused on the history of French art: from massive history paintings to delicate Rococo paintings. Our full day at the Louvre was pretty reflective about what the rest of our Paris trip would be like: Harpreet almost fainted when she saw the “Winged Victory”,  we spent half an hour looking for a toilet because there are literally TWO in the entire Louvre (bad museum planning), and a swarm of Brazilian tourists descended upon us as we were looking at Da Vinci’s “Virgin and Child with St Anne” (Emma promptly started talking to them in Portuguese).

 

Tourists scramble for a look at Antonio Canova's 'Psyche revived by Eros' Kiss'

Some other highlights of the trip included an Impressionist walk around Paris in which Olivia showed us the places that impressionist artists had painted, lived and exhibited their work. We stood on the same street that Caillebotte’s “Paris Street; Rainy Day” depicts and we saw a comparison to the painting using a handy AHA iPad.

Caillebotte, Paris Street, A Rainy Day

That night we also had our first Paris crepes at Page 35 which was both delicious and cheap! Other food related deliciousness included Cafe Angelina (Emma’s suggestion) which had the most thick and yummy hot chocolate. Jackie’s dining suggestion led us to L’entrecote, a steak place with magic sauce for Jackie and endless french fries for Harpreet.

We also visited Versailles on a beautiful rainy day to learn about French history with Olivia, visited the Musee d’Orsay where we learned about Realism and Impressionism and visited both the Auguste Rodin and Gustave Moreau House Museums. We learned about modernist architecture by seeing THE modernist building–la Villa Savoy with Lavinia and saw fantastic street signs and bits and pieces of history like recreated rooms, furniture, and royal hair at the Musee Carnavalet.

Steve arrived at the end of the second week to teach us all about modern and contemporary art and with him we learned about Piccasso and Braque as well as how modern movements are related and built from each other.  In fact, Paris was so excited for Steve to come that a fire erupted one block up from us and what seemed like every fireman in Paris came to greet him (!) The last few days of the trip, we went to the Musee de Tokyo and climbed on some interactive artwork and visited the Cartier foundation where we experienced art outside of the canon from places like Brazil and Japan.

By far my favorite experience in Paris was the culmination of two different days. The first in Giverny, outiside of Paris, where we saw Monet’s garden and water lilies and a few days later at the Orangerie Museum in Paris where we saw his eight massive water lily paintings. Being able to see Monet’s water lilies and then see his paintings the next day makes both more alive and meaningful. I enjoyed it so much even my spectacular fall (ouch) and consequent cut didn’t put me off Monet’s wonderful garden.

Yesterday, Emma made up a song and an awesome dance about how lucky we are to
not be in school sitting exams but rather to be experiencing art and food and
life. Being able to be in places and touch and see the world that produces the
art we look at is an incredible experience.

Now back to Italian class!

Ciao

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