Fall is in full swing in Paris, and our NOCCCD program continues to flourish in the brisk cool Parisian atmosphere. Unlike the first part of discovering Royal Paris, the second half of our Cultural Calendar emphasizes on daily Parisian life.
We started at the world’s most visited cemetery, Père Lachaise and paird tribute to the famous writers and artists who made Paris part of our daily conversations. Edith Piaf, the La Vie en Rose singer, is still a big presence in today’s society as her tomb is covered with fresh flowers from Parisian and international fans. Students also kissed the tomb stone of one of the most famous writers of all time, Oscar Wilde. Even though we were visiting a cemetery, walking in Père Lachaise in the beautiful autumn weather gave us the first-hand experience and understanding of the great impact these immortal giants still have in our society.
Another great importance in popular culture is soccer, or football as it is called here in France. The game is not merely a sport, it is a religion. Fortunately for us, we got a rare chance to see the French National team in action, preparing for their World Cup with a Friendly Match against Wales. Though it was a ‘friendly’ match, Les Bleus came out with their strongest team, featuring international stars: Antoine Griezmann, Oliver Giroud and Kylian Mbappe; the 80,000-seat Stade de France was covered in a sea of blue with French flags waving from way before the first whistle and long after the last. In the middle of it all, our students experienced the adrenaline rush of the thrilling 2-0 victory for Les Bleus.
For a calmer yet as exciting experience, we enjoyed an opera at the glamourous Palais Garnier. Famed as one of the most important opera houses in the world, this 19th century opera house built by Napoleon III was the venue for Mozart’s opera series The Clemency of Titus. It was also a chance for our students to don their best attire for the performance, and to climb up the marble staircase bordered by magnificent gold-leaf statues. We rubbed shoulders with fancy Parisian businessmen and opera lovers, yet somehow the night was uniquely ours.
Last week, we walked around the artistic Montmartre neighborhood of Paris. Brigitte, our guide, happened to live in the neighborhood. Our simple walking tour suddenly became a very special afternoon. We passed by the famous grocery store featured in the movie Amélie on Rue Lepic, walked into a scene of Renoir’s famous Bal du Moulin de la Galette and more importantly visited Vincent and Henri’s apartments, of course it was Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Last but not least, we took a group picture with the wonderful Brigitte in front of the Wall of Love, representing value of studying abroad – bring the world together.
So, what’s next? A Parisian Thanksgiving dinner, a visit the French cinema museum, the beautiful Saint Chapelle, the Grand Mosque of Paris, a crepe making class and finally, a big farewell dinner.
Program Coordinator, AIFS Paris
The North Orange County Community College District comprises Fullerton College and Cypress College. They work with AIFS Customized to offer three study abroad opportunities to their students each year; Spring, Summer and Fall. See their website for more information on future programs; in 2018 they will be heading to Florence, Madrid and Barcelona!