Monday, June 7, 2010
Sunday morning started with a bang- of thunder. Our luck was running low as we headed out to the castle and racetrack of Chantilly. We were afraid the skies would never clear and our outdoor picnic would be ruined. But thanks to some quick thinking, our Déjeuner sur l'herbe evolved into a lovely indoor picnic at the historic Jeux De Paume (indoor tennis court that dates back to 1756) of the Condé family.
The sun emereged as we made our way to the famous racetrack to attend the Prix du Jockey Club, one of the premiere races of the season. This exciting race attracted many famous people, including the American ambassador to France and Omar Sharif, whose horses competed in several events.
This morning, we were treated to a wonderful PowerPoint presentation by the sophomore art history students- a great way to prepare for our Orsay Museum visit tomorrow. After a delicious Daniélou lunch, we headed out to Malmaison, the country home of Napolean Bonaparte and his first wife, Josephine. Our tour guide provided us with a captivating, anecdotal tour of the residence. The girls were very excited to see some of the original dresses and shoes of Empress Josephine, who owned over 700 gowns.
The high point of our day was the delicious dinner prepared by the head chef of Daniélou, also attended by students and teachers from Holton Arms and Madeira Schools, as well as all the French host families. It was a time for many words of thanks and appreciation.
Friday, June 4, 2010
It is difficult to describe the Opéra Garnier in words. Sumptuous, bold, and extravagant, it is a must-see that invites you to discover the lavish, Seconde Empire style of Napoléon III. Now the home of the Paris Opera Ballet, its staircases and Grand Foyer are as impressive as the auditorium itself. We spent all morning exploring and learning about the structure made famous by Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera (yes, there is an underground lake, but it is closed to the public). The famous Chagall ceiling was not our favorite element, but we did enjoy learning about the customs of 19th century operagoers, who attended the opera more to be seen than to actually watch the performance. We also heard a brief history of classical dance, with a demonstration by Maria in the photo above.
We are all feeling exhilarated and a little tired from all our activities, so our afternoon centered around cafés and shopping on the Champs-Elysées before returning to Daniélou to meet our host students and to prepare for a family weekend.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
What better way to lift our spirits than a stop at a pâtisserie on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. After a quick view of the Arc de Triomphe, which is under renovation at the moment, we took a stroll down the famous avenue before our visit to the Louvre this morning. During our ninety minute private tour, we were not able to see all of the more than 35,000 works on display in the museum, but we did see many of the most famous ones, including the Winged Victory of Samothrace and, of course, Da Vinci's signature painting, La Joconde. We had to fight off French school children and hundreds of other tourists, but we did manage to get a few good pictures of the Mona Lisa and her famous smile.
We glided up and out of the Louvre via I.M. Pei's glass pyramid for more photo opportunities and lunch in the Tuilieries Gardens. The weather has been sunny and warm these last few days and the shady garden provided us with a leafy canopy to protect us from the hot, northern sun that doesn't set until 10 p.m. !
Aided by the expert advice of a helpful Daniélou teacher, we shopped at some of the trendiest shops near the Place Vendôme, including Vanessa Bruno and Repetto. Then we were off to number 24, rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, the headquarters and showcase store of the Hermès brothers, the famous saddle makers who founded their business in 1810. There we learned at least 25 different ways to tie the famous Hermès scarf and were also treated to a demonstration of tradional saddle-making - still done by hand. Each girl received a souvenir bag with sample Hermès products, which we proudly toted for the rest of the day. We're becoming pros at navigating the métro system and the French families have been very gracious to carpool us back and forth to the suburban RER link not too far from the school. Another glorious day!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Today we spent the entire day at the Palace of Versailles. The weather was fantastic and the palace is beautiful. To go along with this year's theme of fashion and luxury, we received a private tour of Marie Antoinette's chambers. Not only were these rooms private during the days of the French monarchy, they are still private today! We were taken to rooms that no one else was allowed to go in, including bathrooms, sleeping chambers, dining halls, and of course, the Hall of Mirrors. We also were privileged to see the secret passages between the rooms. Our tour guide's career is making period costumes for movies and theatre and he was amazing. The girls were captivated by the stories he told.
After touring the palace, we ventured out into the gardens where we saw the Temple of Love and Marie Antoinette's Hamlet.
We have been taking lots of pictures. It is difficult to format the blog to fit all of the pictures, so here is a link to the online photo album of our trip:
Please post a comment on the blog if you have any trouble viewing the pictures. In the next few days, I will try to add captions to the photos.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Yesterday we spent our first real day at Daniélou. We all attended a first period English class with the eighth graders. The teacher arranged a special activity where the Foxcroft girls interviewed the French girls and then vice versa. At the end, all the girls had the opportunity to say what they found different or unexpected about the other country. The answers varied from, "They like Taylor Swift also!" to "Their school days are much longer than ours, spanning from 8:30 to 5 pm!"
We left the English class and the girls met up with their corrès to attend classes for the rest of the morning.
After spending a half day at Daniélou, we took the bus to the RER station and then hiked up to Montmartre. From the hill, we had a beautiful view of the city, however we earned that view! To get up to Sacré Coeur requires climbing up 130 meters! We then walked around and shopped in the surrounding village of Montmartre where a few girls had their portraits drawn at the famous Place du Tertre. Many painters and artists onced lived there; we saw the studio of Pablo Picasso.
Our day finished with a fabulous dinner at a crêperie and the musical Les Misérables. The show was incredible! Our French parents picked us up from the show in Paris and drove us home. On the drive, we all got to see the beautiful sites of Paris at night!
Monday, May 31, 2010
Today was a wonderful day. The weather this morning was beautiful and sunny, which unfortunately did not last long, but the rain held off all day. We started the morning learning how to navigate the RER (the surburban train system) and the métro. Then we headed off to Notre Dame to discover its Gothic beauty. The girls then had free time to explore the Quartier Latin and eat our delicious French lunches with the pigeons on the parvis de Notre Dame.
After a scenic boat ride down the Seine River, we made our way to the Dame de Fer, as the French lovingly call their signature monument the Eiffel Tower.
We are all looking foward to visiting classes at Daniélou tomorrow.