So last Saturday we decided to take a day trip to Versailles. It happens to be the last stop on RER (aka train) C, which is basically like a commuter train to the suburbs of Paris. What that means is with our navigo passes (public transportation passes) we can go to Versailles for free on weekends, even though it's in a zone that isn't covered by our everyday passes. Anyway, so yeah: transportation to Versailles was free which was pretty sweet, and only about an hour commute.
When we arrived Jordan and I decided not to go into the castle - she had already been and I plan on returning with the CEA program later in the semester. Jamie and Jordan's friend from home Madelyn took a tour of the castle and met us in the gardens.
Before catching up with them, we went through a small labyrinth, almost rented boats to chill on the water, and hung out in the forest alongside the gardens, which for a Vermonter and Washingtonian, was pretty essential to our well-being. I actually cannot express how comforting the smell of trees is after a month in the city!
So last Saturday, CEA students awoke at 6:45am to make it to a train station by 8:20 to be lead off on a mystery adventure we knew nothing about. We arrive to learn that we were taking a train to northern France in the Normandie region to the coastal towns of Deauville & Trouville. A 2 hour train ride later, we arrive in Deauville with 20 euros to spend and about 7 hours to enjoy the area - which we absolutely did!
After a walk through the Deauville market, we got lunch (crepes, of course, because they're known for their savory crepes) and brought a bottle of hard cider we got from a nice man at the market (which they are also known for) to the beach and chilled for a while next to the ocean.
So Caitlin, aka college roomie bff is studying in Croatia this semester in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Before going there; however, she decided to visit her good friend Ségolène from Belgium who lived with the Douglass family for a year during a foreign exchange program. As I am in Paris, they obviously had to come to visit me! (& the city and sites I suppose, but mostly me.) It was actually even nicer than I expected to have them visit - I think the hardest part about studying abroad has nothing to do with "studying" or "abroad," it's really just being away from the people you love at home.
Unfortunately, while their trip was plagued with some awful pests, (find out more on Caitlin's blog here) we did see some of the classic Parisian sights, and I took my first trip up la tour eiffel!
So this happened a couple weeks ago, but with school starting up life has been pretty crazy here in Paris! One of the things I was most looking forward to seeing while I was here ware the catacombs - aka 6 million skeletons stacked in old quarries underneath the city.
Long story short, the quarries had been dug for centuries to get limestone out of the ground for construction of parisian buildings. Those which were exhausted of their minerals were basically forgotten about until they started crumbling down and either had to be filled in or better supported.
Around this time, (late 18th century) cemeteries in the city began getting too full. This hadn't been an issue before because predeceasing the rise of Christianity in the country, people were buried outside of the city. However, hundreds of years after they had to be buried in sacred soil, there wasn't enough room for them anymore, considering Paris was already overpopulated by the living. And these full graveyards started becoming serious health hazards for the city. Transferring all of Paris's dead to the tunnels took from 1786-1788.
From 1788-1810 the tunnels were merely bone repositories, until a renovation rearranged the skulls & femurs into their current configuration and used tombstones as decorations.
So yeah, check it out! Also, check out the bar 'katacombes' in Montreal modeled after the parisian catacombs.