Friday, July 26, 2019

Week 6 - Paris, Day 3 & Au revoir France!

Hello again parents, guardians, family and friends of IUHPFL!
This is going to be the last post of the program. It’s now almost a week since the students got back home. We hope they’re adjusting smoothly to life back home and we hope you’re enjoying all their stories. Thank you for being patient with these posts, I'm still traveling in France and hence the spotty internet. Sorry to have kept you waiting. Please read on to know how we spent the last day in Paris. 
As usual, we woke up early and headed out after having breakfast in the hostel. We went straight to the Montmartre district to visit the Sacred Heart Cathedral or as it’s called, la Basilique du Sacre-Cœur.  Once there, we visited the Church and a group of students along with Martin went up one of the towers to the dome where they got a 360 degree panoramic view of Paris. This climb was a challenging one but the views are well worth it so the students were happy once they got back down. Following this, we walked down to the artists village square right next to the church and the students got some free time to enjoy the ambiance, the art and also grab some food. 
After this visit, we headed to the Louvre museum but we did take a small detour and stopped by the legendary monument, the Arc de Triomphe and the students got a glimpse of the historic road, Champs Elysées.  We got to the Louvre museum and after swimming through hoards of tourists, we finally entered the exhibition area. Here too, the students got some free time to explore different parts of this gigantic museum including the famous Mona Lisa and the students learnt an interesting fact that she has a different French name, La Joconde!
Here is a picture of the group outside the museum and in front of the central pyramid which was added on much more recently. It was evening by now and we were all tired of all the walking around but no trip to Paris is ever complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower and so, we headed to the gardens of Eiffel Tower for our very last picnic of the program. All groups students picked spots they liked and settled in to have their early dinner with a view! I'm sure the students would've showed you their own photos with the famous 1889 symbol of French technical prowess but here are some photos we took together.

The last stop after this was the ride up the Montparnasse tower to get another panoramic view of the city of love and lights! Unfortunately, we got bad weather with rain and Paris started getting covered by fog. The only silver lining was that at the stroke of the hour, we got to see a part of the Eiffel Tower's glimmering lights which made this a befitting end to our last night in Paris. 
Paris is such a historic city that one needs several trips to explore all areas of the city, however, we hope this first experience left an indelible mark in our students minds! 
We got back to the hostel and soon it was time to return everyone's smart phones, take back their not-so-smart program phones and also do the knighting ceremony. As you all know, Saumur is famous for its horses and its history of brave knights. So throughout the program, the students are asked to uphold certain core values of knights. At the end of the program, we did a little fun knighting ceremony with the help of a wonderfully apt gift by Jordan, a ruler in the form of the words "Chevalier" which means knights in French. Here are some fun pictures for you.


The next day, we had breakfast and we all got a little time to finish packing. We met at the reception area and waited for the bus. We got to the airport with the IUHPFL Saint-Brieuc group and then got busy with check-in formalities. 
And that's an official wrap on our IUHPFL Saumur 2019 experience! Thank you for being a part of the program. It has been a pleasure to share this journey with the students of 2019 Team Saumur and we've indeed made memories for life! Wishing each and every student 'Bon courage, bonne chance et bonne continuation!' for all things to come. 
Au revoir!
- Sneha Ravichandran

Monday, July 22, 2019

Week 6 - Paris, Day 2

Bonjour again! 
This post is going to be all about our Day II in Paris. 
Wednesday, July 17, we woke up early and met for breakfast at the hostel. We left the hostel around 8.15 am and our first stop was Musée d'Orsay or the Orsay Museum.  This old railway station was converted into an art museum in the early 1900s and looks absolutely incredible with large clocks on its façade. We entered the museum together and then gave the students 2 hours to explore the various artworks and sculptures. This museum is home to famous pieces likes the sculptures of Rodin, paintings of Van Gogh and many famous artists of the impressionism movement like Monet, Manet, Degas and Cézanne. 
After the visit, we stopped by the nearby supermarket and each of us picked up our picnic. We then walked across the Seine and got into the Tuileries gardens which is right by the Louvre palace and museum. We found cool shaded benches and had our picnic lunch enjoying the gardens. Post lunch we walked down the end of the gardens to Place de la Concorde and we admired the obelisk from Luxor, Egypt. We also pointed out that we were now at the other end of the famous road “Champs-Elysées” and on the other side stood the “Arc de triomphe”. Once everyone was done taking photographs, we headed to the nearby metro station and headed to the neighborhood called Châtelet. Here we needed to take a small detour where we picked up a wheelchair for Elizabeth M who had badly twisted her ankle in Saumur. What we loved the most was how everyone showed great team spirit and support for Elizabeth. Now we were ready to conquer the rest of our sightseeing in Paris together! Quelle aventure!!
Making our way down small winding streets of this neighborhood with cool street art, we headed to the shopping area in Châtelet and gave students some time to shop while Martin and I rested our legs a bit and had a quick ‘pick-me-up’ coffee. After this, we took the metro to Notre Dame cathedral. Since the fire in April, this magnificent gothic architectural monument has been closed off and one cannot get too close to it. However, we managed to get a lovely photo of the group with the iconic façade. From here, we walked down to the Fontain Saint-Michel and again, the students got some free time to shop and enjoy a part of the Latin Quarter of Paris. 
You might think that after this long day we headed back to our hostel, but no, not quite! We then walked to our dinner and Karaoke restaurant for a night of singing and fun! For dinner, the students got to choose between Chicken, Fish, Burger and a vegetarian salad. For dessert, we had sugar crêpes or as most of us chose, crêpe with Nutella! After dinner, the singing began! Since there were other people in the restaurant as well, we enjoyed and cheered for other people’s performances with as much enthusiasm as we did for ours! 
We finally headed back to the hostel and said bonne nuit to our long but lovely day II in Paris! 
Here are some pictures showing you a glimpse of the day we had. Stay tuned for the last post about our Day 3 and our final goodbye. 

Week 6 - Paris, Day 3 & Au revoir France!

Hello again parents, guardians, family and friends of IUHPFL! This is going to be the last post of the program. It’s now almost a ...