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Seven Hills France 2019

February 9, 2019

After arriving in Paris, we had a lovely picnic lunch in the courtyard of the hostel and took off on foot to explore the area. The students toured Notre Dame, enjoyed some crepes and peeked into the cafe where Hemmingway, Picasso and Gertrude Stein frequented. Then, we settled into our rooms, did a little window shopping, and had a nice dinner at our accommodations. Now, the students are tucked into their beds and eager for a good night’s sleep before exploring the Louvre and the Catacombs tomorrow. Everyone is content and doing well.
– by Cora D.

February 9, 2019 (continued!)
We got off the plane and got off into CDG airport. We learned fast that the French were very quiet, and us Americans stood out. There were so many different things at the airport. They had a moving sidewalk that moved up and down! After that we got on a bus and met our trip leader, Taylor. We drove through Paris and got to our hostel. We dropped our bags, and ate the sandwiches that Taylor got us. After that we took a short walk to Notre Dame. We looked at the stained glass windows. They were incredible. After we went into the Sainte Michel district and got crêpes. We walked to see the famous cafe, le Deux Magots. We took the Subway, and had some down time. After that we went on a quick shopping trip to the French Macy’s. We finished up there and walked back to the hostel. We had a dinner of noodles and salad. Overall it was a wonderful day.
– by Ainsley M.

February 10, 2019
Today, everyone slept pretty well. For breakfast we had yogurt, chocolate croissants, and coffee. After breakfast, we took the metro to The Louvre. We first went outside and saw the palace. It was huge! We were surrounded by it. Then we went inside the museum. The group first looked at Michael D’Angelo’s unfinished work. Most of his finished work is in Italy. Then we walked around and made our way to the Mona Lisa. When we went in, Taylor told us that it was less crowded than usual, but for me, it was very crowded. The painting was smaller than most people thought it would be. We walked around in the museum more and the size of the museum with its amazing works of art was unbelievable. Lunch, which was located in a charming alley,  was  in a pretty, jungle-like area. It surprised me to see a beautiful modern crêpe place. We all got savory crêpes. Drinking the lemonade was fun because they gave us lemon juice, water, and sugar to make our own. After lunch we walked to the catacombs. We waited in the cold until we were let inside. We walked through the halls until we got to a staircase. It was a long spiral staircase that felt like it never ended. We just kept going and going. When we got down we walked on slippery rocks. We kept walking until we saw a sign that said, “Stop. You are entering the empire of death”. We started seeing bones lined up on the walls. It was weird to think that they were all people before. The group got to the end and we walked up a new spiral staircase. It surprised me that you could make something that people consider to be scary and morbid, and make it something so beautiful and artistic. Switching gears, we walked to a bakery which had delicious sweets. Then we got back on the metro and took it to a restaurant in Montmartre. After dinner we climbed a huge staircase outside the restaurant that led to a good view of a huge, beautiful chapel. This day in Paris made me realize that there is beauty in a variety of things, even the ones people do not consider to be beautiful.
– by Lila B.

February 11, 2019

On the fourth day of our France trip, we were still in the amazing city of Paris. For breakfast, we all had typical French food including yogurt, croissant, bread, cereal, and to celebrate Tre’s birthday some bubbly apple cider. Our first event of the day was touring the Sainte-Chapelle. King Louis IX was a Catholic who built a church. We got to see the beautiful stained glass windows and amazing stone structure. Grayson told us the way to lunch on the metro, and we learned a lot about getting around on public trains. Then, we split up into small groups to pick restaurants, such as Cafe Central or Tribeca. It surprised me that the French eat everything with a fork and knife, even pizza. Next, was the Eiffel Tower, which was huge and had lots of security. We climbed roughly 600 steps to the second floor. Some people had fun walking on the glass floor and looking down. Then there were elevators that took us all the way to the top of the tower. From there, people looked like tiny little dots down below and you can see the whole city of Paris. Another celebration for Tre included cookie time at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Going down the Eiffel tower on the elevator, a quick ride.  I will never forget the stunning view from the top of such a huge metal structure   out we had to walk through the rotating doors. Dinner was at Cafe Jade, which had a wide selection of food. Then there was a cool gelato place, where servers shaped ice cream cones in the shape like a rose. We got to pick 3 flavors to go on the rose shaped ice cream. Unfortunately, the boat ride was closed for unknown reasons, but as an alternative we walked down the Seine. Also there was a tiny soccer field that we played tag on or, for some people, working on their pull ups. Finally, we walked back to the hostel to pack up for tomorrow in Avignon. Overall, Pairs was a great experience and a good way to learn about French culture.
Charlotte G.

February 12, 2019

We left our adventures in Paris this morning. After packing our bags, which was a very tedious task, we drove to the train station to ride to Avignon. When we arrived at the station, I was surprised about how similar it was to the stations I had seen back in the States. I almost convinced myself that we were at a Boston train station instead of being thousands of miles away. We quickly hopped on the train, ate our sandwiches, and played games, which was quite enjoyable. After hours of Nintendo Switch and many episodes of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” we arrived in Avignon. We rode into the city, taking in the beautiful scenery, and finally, the walled city of Avignon. It was a different experience to see the old cobblestone streets inside the walled city, and by the time we got to the hotel, I was amazed by the strange difference between the Avignon and, let’s say, Walnut Creek. We enjoyed the walk to the Pont d’Avignon. This bridge was amazingly large and beautiful, but it was unbelievably windy. We got some wonderful pictures of the Palais des Papes, which was exactly where we headed next. We learned about the rich culture of the palace, and how the first French Pope lived there. I found it interesting, but very, very cold. After our guided tour, we walked around the town where I tried my first hot lemonade. It was delicious. We finally finished off the day with a tasty dinner, which consisted of beef tartare and my first ever delicious escargot.

-Stéphane

February 13, 2019

On Wednesday, our group had an amazing breakfast with fresh croissants, refreshing, different types of juices, and a variety of fruits at our hotel. As our day progressed, we took an hour long bus drive to Arles, where we went to the famous Arena and Antique Theatre. I was fascinated that they were both made during the first century … about 2000 years ago!  Surprisingly, as I was walking in the lower grounds, a bird dropped a huge piece of poop in the center of my head. It took me several tissues to remove the green, slimy, chunky, disgusting chunk of scat on my head with an unbearable smell. At the antique theatre, I saw the remains of what had been a beautiful theater. The stone that was once refined was broken into small pieces. After visiting the two ancient sites, Miles, Stephen, Tre, and I had delicious burgers with bacon, cheese, and a very tasty beef middle cooked to a perfect medium rare. I also had the burger with fries and a watermelon juice. The next thing on our itinerary was the goat farm. In addition to tasting the fresh day old cheese, we were also able to hold the goats that were a couple of days old. It was like holding an adorable dog. The small goats also nibbled on our fingers ever so cutely. As my hunger settled in, we went to dinner at Le Vintage. The steak with fries and salad I had was delicious and savory. I was able to finish my entire plate. Overall, today was an amazing experience and I cannot wait for the next five days to come.

-Mathieu

February 14, 2019
Today we left Avignon and traveled to Carcassonne to meet our homestay families. While on the bus ride, we first stopped at the Haribo Factory, the makers of Gummy Bears, which was both fun and educational. Our second stop was the Pont du Gard, an amazing Roman aqueduct from the first century. It was a perfect place to eat our picnic lunches, hike around, and skip rocks along the river. The structure, which  was large and intricate, gave us insights into the Roman’s advanced ideas. Once we arrived in Carcassonne, we met our homestay families, who all seemed nice and eager to have us. Then we went home with them and had our first homestay meals. We got to know our families and then went to bed. Even on the first day we began to appreciate the homestay families and to learn about the French culture. Not only did we begin to see the unique differences in cultures, such as food and activities, we also began to appreciate our similarities.

– Cole D.

February 15, 2019
Today was our first full day in Carcassonne. We met up at the high school at 8:30. From there we went to the local middle school. We had three interactive activities with the students, including a race to answer questions about French and American culture, charades, and a scavenger hunt around the school. It was fun to meet French students and they practiced their English while we practiced our French. After the games, we went to lunch at the school cafeteria. They served us a dish named “tartiflette“, which was made of potatoes, cheese, and bacon. After lunch we left the school. We split up into two groups after that, half went to a cooking class, and the other half visited the medieval Cite. I was in the half that went to the cooking class. We made cookies at the class. After that we went back to our host families. After dinner, our host family took us to bowl and to play laser tag with Trey, Lucas and Grayson’s family. I learned that my host brother is amazing at bowling and their host brother is very good at laser tag. After that, we went home with our families. Cole and I played our host dad in fusbol. He was insanely skilled and he beat us 40-5. Overall it was a very exciting day.
-Miles K.

February 16, 2019

Today we got our workout on with our community service project. We worked with a man named Bernard to clear brush from a Roman road so that it could be used as a walking path. It was fun. I enjoyed working with a pick ax, a rake, and some pruning shears. We all enjoyed the tray full of croissants that Bernard brought for us then we worked for another long hour before stopping to eat the delicious lunches that our families prepared for us. I had a sandwich with chips and cookies. We also went to the Grottes de Limousis where we explored a cave full of stalactites and stalagmites. Our tour guide was very nice and he showed us the acoustics of the party room (a big room) by jumping hard, the tones of some stones by playing them like a piano and explained how columns are formed. Also, we watched a light show that highlighted the features of the grotto. We finally came home to our families. Grayson, Lucas and I played a fun card game and watched “Le Voice: française.” I can’t wait for tomorrow.
-Tre J.

February 17, 2019
Today was our free day with our families, but first we did a scavenger hunt in la Cité. The rules were that we had to find a place in la Cité, then take a selfie in front of the place. Everyone in your family had to be in the selfie. My family (Lucas, Tre and Grayson) tied with Cole and Miles’ family. Then all of the families went their separate ways for the day. When I got back to my house, we ate lunch, which was really good. Then we found out that we were going over to Cole and Miles’ home to play soccer and eat crêpes. When we got to their house, we went down to a park and played soccer for about an hour. My team won. Then we walked back to the home and ate crêpes. I was hungry so I had 4. After crêpes, we stayed at the house a little longer playing games before we returned home. That is what I did today.
– Lucas