Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Louvre and other Paris adventures

Yesterday, we had our first day of our orientation here in Paris. We heard some general talks on French education and met quite a few people involved in the French educational system, including a few people from the Ministry of Education. In the afternoon, we went to the Louvre, which was so exciting. I wasn't able to go when I was in Paris with the Drew DIS, as we were only here for a day and we tried to accomplish as much as possible. The program treated us to a very general tour, including the most well-known works. There were signs everywhere (as pictured here) for the Mona Lisa, which, as I have so often heard, was indeed tiny and surrounded by tourists. We had fun talking to the tour guide about exactly why the Mona Lisa is so important--including, among other things, the fact that she stares directly at you and the smile on her face.

I took a whole bunch of pictures at the museum, which I'll post somewhere at some point (I'll keep you informed about that)--here's La Victoire (Winged Victory). It was a lot bigger than I could have imagined, especially on that pedestal. Really stunning. It was amazing to see how old some of the pieces were, like a monolithic Sphinx in the Egyptian wing.

When we saw the Venus de Milo, we were told that the sculpture actually had jewels on it, as many did, and they were stolen over the years. Someone also asked if there's any way of knowing what position her arms were in, and it turns out that they do. One of them would have been outstretched, likely holding an apple or a bird, I believe, which is how Venus is often represented.

I was excited to see the painting of Libery Leading the People (which has probably gained popularity with Coldplay's album). It got us thinking about French revolutions, and may or may not have led to the singing of some Les Miserables songs later in the evening.

Last night, post-Louvre, we did a little exploring, bought cell phones, tried to celebrate Mexican independence day (long story), and ended up stopping at a little English bar. It was nice to chat and relax together, but we were all still exhausted.

Today was pretty cool. We heard a sociologist talk about French teenagers (who have a lot in common with American teenagers...) and she brought up some great points. I also met my contact from the IUFM de Creteil, Jean, who spoke to the group about problems in French education--we spoke a lot about the sort of imposed cultural homogeneity in French schools. A lot of people in the group asked questions about how French schools can not allow the display of any religious signs in school (this includes jewelry, clothing, etc.). Afterwards, I got to have lunch with Jean and he told me more about my apartment in Saint Denis. Apparently, it's in a very multicultural area with easy access to a metro stop and a lot of interesting things to do. I'm looking forward to receiving more information about my time there.

For now, I'm off to enjoy the rest of our time in Paris!


mandy b. said...

yay that sounds awesome! I can't wait to see your pictures!!
miss you~

kimmieb said...

wow, i wish i could go to the louvre too! the art looks wonderful! you've made me want to go to the Met... and it's free transit week so i just might ;)
i'm glad you're having a good experience so far!

Martin said...

when i went to the louvre i spilled something on the carpet and they vacuumed with a hoovre then i started to choke and they gave me the heimlich maneuvre and the next day i was off to vancouvre