Poly Prep France 2023
March 18, 2023
When we arrived in France, all of us were pretty nervous being in a foreign country. We took a bus to the hostel we’re staying at, meeting our guides and eating some pastries for breakfast. The weather outside was gorgeous, so even though we were jet-lagged, we were able to walk around the city, seeing the Notre Dame Cathédrale, the River Seine, and various other tourist attractions. We then had an authentic Parisian lunch, containing crêpes and sandwiches from a boulangerie! We ended the day by visiting the art museum, Musée d’Orsay and got our first look at the metro system here in Paris, which although not as intimidating as the subway can be, we managed to get through. We then ate dinner near our hostel, ordering entirely in French, and returned to the hostel to enjoy our evening relaxing in our rooms, being very social due to the lack of phones.
Written by Lea & Khari
March 19, 2023
Today was a rollercoaster of emotions, from the intense passion of taking off your platform boots because they were too uncomfortable to climb the Eiffel Tower in, to the calm feeling of nostalgia on a fast moving boat on La Seine river. It’s definitely best to follow clothing directions, especially for shoes because you will truly regret it if you don’t. But, worth it for the picture. While these kind of lows are low, the highs are high!!! I loved the view from the top of the Tower and the Louvre was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen, next to my bed when I get back of course (this trip is really testing my stamina). While at the Louvre we got to see the coveted legendary Mona Lisa painting, which was so cool. We took a boat ride on La Seine and got to see the Eiffel Tower light up which was so pretty! It was a nice time to reflect on my whole two days in Paris and to acknowledge that tomorrow would be the last before heading to Carcassonne. Anyways it’s “lights out” right now so I’m looking forward to buying memoirs for everyone tomorrow and meeting my host family on Tuesday.
I’m going to try to bear the six-hour trip… Merci!!
Wriiten by Cinthya & Sheimy
March 20, 2023
What happens when you eat a raw potato? Or create such controversial art that the backlash caused you to never paint again? We explored a cemetery in Père-Lauchase and learned about the culture regarding death in France. From Oscar Wilde, a writer, to Jim Morrison, an artist, our guide Melissa gave us an intriguing background (even though her fast French and Parisian accent was hard to understand at times) on the many famous names residing in the cemetery. We also got a history lesson on extravagant graves belonging to victims of the Holocaust and corrupt French government. We gave love to the big (and small) tombstones and wished upon the gum tree. But before that, we climbed l’Arc de Triomphe! We had a conversation with a French worker and wallowed in an overhead view of Paris.
On a brighter note, the group went shopping today in les Champs-Élysée!! We split into two groups; some of us went to the PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) and the rest went to Sephora. After we met up with all our purchases, and let me warn you parents… some of us may have splurged a little too much during the 90 minutes we had. But anyways, after we shopped we went into this cute little cafe and got some lunch. In my opinion, it was the best lunch we had so far. Some of us ordered tuna sandwiches, chicken sandwiches and some other options from the delicious cafe. (The tuna sandwich was the best in my opinion). After that, we went to Ladurée Paris to eat macaronssss. Laudurée Paris was so so beautiful and aesthetic. The store was a relaxing pastel green, flowery and beautifully decorated. Some of us ordered the Fruit de La Passion macaron (Passion Fruit), The Marie-Antoinette (black tea flavored) macaron, Framboise ( raspberry) macaron and some other yummy flavors. Passion de La Passion was the majority’s favorite flavor by a landslide though. Currently we’re on the streets of France having some food from mini markets, and our food just arrived, so au revoir!!
Madison et Kaylee <3
March 21, 2023
Today was quite a long day of travel. We first woke up at the MIJE hostel, gathered and packed our things, and had another breakfast of cereal and different types of bread. We walked a few blocks to the spot where we were to be picked up for the bus to the train station, and made our way there. Once at the station, we visited two different French convenience stores to buy some French snacks.
Once we boarded the train, we made our way up a flight of stairs (it was a two-level train) and sat in groups and found ways to entertain ourselves. We played card games or had meaningful conversation. Or we slept. We ate sandwiches with either an éclair or a tart and each had an Orangina, a common French soft drink. It was amazing to see the cityscape of Paris turn to vibrant green farmland, and then to the acres of vineyards in the south. After roughly five hours, we arrived at Narbonne. Unfortunately, we found out that the next train we were supposed to take was cancelled due to the retirement strikes that are currently taking place throughout France. We played games at the train station and had some relay races. We were also taught a well-known protest song called On est là:
On est là,
On est là,
Même si Macron ne veut pas,
Nous on est là
We loaded up our bags into a bus where we drove another 35 minutes to Carcassonne. The bus was packed with other people whose train was also canceled. Seeing the cité and the snow-capped mountains far in the distance was super exciting. We arrived at a hotel and had a pot-luck dinner together with all of the host families and then split off for the night. We each drove with the families to their homes and had a delicious home-cooked French meal. Some of us listened to music, some others watched movies, and some got to see their family’s bee hives that they kept in their backyard. We all went to sleep, dreaming of the next day that awaited us. 🙂
Mary et Levi
March 22, 2023
This morning started off waking up and having breakfast with our host families. We got to know each other better and practice our conversational French. Then we all met in front of a city inside the walls of a castle. Before going into the city, we walked around the castle and looked at all the architecture. We learned about the legends of the town and how it gained its popularity. The placement of the town makes it very hard to breach but equally difficult to leave. The legend says that the town’s enemies surrounded the city in hopes to starve its inhabitants. Then Madam Carcasse threw a pig stuffed with vegetables over the wall showing the enemies that the town dwellers did not die of starvation. That is allegedly how the town got the name Carcassonne. When we went inside the Cité, we took a tour of the city and through the different parts of the castle. We got to see the different intricate designs inside the walls that protected the citizens.
After leaving the Cité and eating a lunch packed by our host families (which included things like ham sandwiches, pizza, chips, and cookies), we went to Pouzols, which was a very small but very historical town somewhat near Carcassonne. There, a man named Bernard taught us about the history of Santiago de Compostela, which was a pilgrimage that people would make along the northern coast of the Spain in order to get to Compostela, in Spain. Following that, we helped fix and strengthen a wall next to a trail that leads to trail of Compostela that needed fixing. We put stones that had fallen back in their place, and helped mix, place, and spread mortar on the stones to help finish a wall that has been worked on by many other groups. After we finished our work on the wall, we returned to the houses of our host families to quickly shower and prepare for an evening activity. With our host families, we did various activities such as bowling, racket ball, or walking the family dog. Bowling, for example had two very exciting lanes. In lane 7, Claude and Reyhan were neck and neck, with Reyhan’s 96 just barely winning against Claude’s 95. Lane 8 was much more exciting. Fred(Le GOAT) was bowling very well for the whole game, but his son was following close behind for the whole game. Khari bowled very poorly in the beginning, but started bowling very well as the game reached its second half. Fred ultimately took the win. After bowling, we went to an arcade where Khari set a new record on the boxing machine, and the parents held a USA vs France Foosball match. Afterwards, we had dinner, which consisted of new foods such as Charcuterie, and went to bed ready for another exciting day.
Grover et Zach
March 23, 2023
We woke up with our families and ate a French breakfast before continuing our community service with Monsieur Bernard. After the scenic bus ride, we were guided through the history of the ancient town of Pouzols. We learned about the restoration projects, histories of buildings and monuments from the thirteenth century and even saw a bridge built by Poly Prep students on a previous trip to France in 2016. After a long morning of learning, we relaxed and had a picnic. Two women from the village who knew Monsieur Bernard joined us on the tour and afterwards were kind enough to bring us cakes and juices from their homes.
After eating, we got back on the bus and enjoyed a beautiful ride to the beach. Some of us ventured into the freezing water while others played soccer on the beach. A couple of us had forgotten bathing suits and went in the water in regular clothes including Nikash who was possibly the first person to go into the Mediterranean Sea wearing cargo pants from the Brooklyn thrift store L Train. We had some trouble drying off and changing because the showers at the beach were off which left us sandy for our trip to the Museum of Salt (Le musée du sel). At the museum there was more salt than we could comprehend and some of us left feeling a little overwhelmed. Lol.
Next, we took the bus back to the local high school which was the meeting spot with the host families. Many of us stuck around the school to play the French game Pétanque where you roll one small ball and then the players from two teams try to get their “boules” as close as possible to the small ball. Others went home to take showers and warm up after an uncharacteristically cold day in the south of France. Lastly we all had our final dinner with our respective host families and reluctantly went to bed for our last night in Carcassonne.
Leo et Nikash