THE FRENCH FILES: PARIS IS THE PLACE TO BE
IT'S OFFICIALLY SPRING TODAY! YAY. Now I can enjoy the beautiful sight of flowers and sunshine while sneezing my nose off! I know, I know, nobody likes a sceptic, oh well... And to celebrate this wonderful day with the grandeur it deserves, and to synchronize with my fellow blogger, here's -as you've may seen- the last post of the selfclaimed series The French Files. "The last one?", I hear you say with tears in your eyes. Yes, the last one, but I promise you that it's the best one yet -which isn't really hard to do, if I may say so myself-. Besides that it's THE BEST ONE YET, it's also the longest one yet. I'd suggest to prepare thou self with chocolate chip cookies and a big cup of tea... so yeah, lets start this craziness!
I've go a confession to make, I wasn't initially that keen on going to Paris... don't look at me like that. I've got my reasons. Stop staring! However, I must admit that I've had some fun times there. I've only had two real panic attacks and cried about six times (hereby not counting everything that went through my mind during our stay. I COULD'VE DIED YOU KNOW). The whole journey was in some perspectives eye-opening and maybe groundbreaking (and sometimes frightning and lame, but you can't always have it all).
On Monday we left very very early from Amsterdam (which meant that I had to get up even earlier because it takes me about an hour to come there in the first place *sigh*). Our means of transport was the well known bus. The bus journey self was long, boring and not peculiar enough for my brain to memories anything that happened between the moment of departure and the about six hours after that (except that it smelled really bad. Like are they trying to poison us bad?). But I can assure you that after those dreadful six hours had passed, and we felt for the first time the French air through our nostrils, we all coughed and wished we hadn't taken such a deep breath. Smog ain't that good for the lungs, you know. A week long we would've get the pleasure of severe breathing problems. Nice.
Our stay was arranged with the wellknown (atleast that's what my dad told me) Ibus Budget. I must admit that Ibis was suprisingly OK for a hotel that's got budget in its name. Not mindblowning. Not horrific. It was just OK. Considering, of course.
After settling down, it was time to hit the road for our first museum experience (one of many). The first museum that had the honour of receiving us was Centre Pompidou. Now I could tell you about how the architecture was created within mind that the inside is out -corresponding to eachother- as a metaphore for not only the collection but also the management of the museum and of course the visitors. This concept has however remained unreached (even though it looks like the builders never bothered to finish the building) and is in itself outdated. However, I could also just show you some pictures of the view and such. Yes, I could do that. Nice view, innit.
After Centre Pompidou we went to this sort of Jazz Bar, Chouchou to be precize, and I've ordered a lovely cup of tea (ain't nothing can go wrong with English tea). The waiter initially thought that I was French, the magical powers of a baret I must confess, but came quickly to the conclusion that all I could say was "oui" and "merci" (thanks to six years of French lessons. My teachers would be proud). He found that very funny (aka he'd made fun of me). But he was nice and made us laugh by trying to pronounce Dutch words -which he was terrible at-. So yeah, I've forgiven him.
The following day we visited two museums. Firstly we went to Musée des Arts & Métiers. Although to be honest -not saying that everything stated before was a lie-, I wasn't that impressed by the collection. Although I'd liked the old monestry part of the museum. Stained glass windows, high ceiling and a car randomly hanging in the air. Also weird, infront of the entrance stood a miniature Statue of Liberty...
After eating our lunch we walked to the second and last museum of the day Musée du quai Branly. This museum was formed to give the foreign people in France their own museum wherein their culture would be displayed. This is a big thing, I think, because it's sort of true that when you live as a foreigner in France you've got to give up your own culture. For instance every French person only speaks French, while in the Netherlands every Dutch person doesn't always necessarily speak Dutch. That's of course a sweeping statement, but do you get what I mean? And one could always wonder what's the best way of approaching it. Is there even a way to approach something like that and come to a neatral conclusion? BUT, back to the story, this museum ought to celebrate the not-Frenchness of the French society. Like, "hey, your traditions also matters". However, we Cultural Heritage students weren't all that happy about how it got presented. It's a good looking museum though and if you're interested in the aesthetics of ethnology you should take a look inside. But if you're looking for a good representation of different cultures without the stereotype way of approaching it, this ain't the place.
After we did our visits, we all went to seperate locations to explore it for the assignment for the next day. The assignment being "guiding your fellow students and teachers through the given area and show them the many layers it withholds". The socalled area that was given to us was Palais Royal. We already had done the main work back in Holland (I don't like to call the Netherlands Holland, don't know why), but there's a main difference between seeing something on your computerscreen and seeing something for realzz. So we did our looking around and the next day we happily provided our fellow students and teachers with the many layers that surrounds Palais Royal (which are a lot of layers I'd assure you). Concluding the morning with that, we had the whole midday for ourselves. And you know what that means... SHOPPING! However I didn't bought anything so it's more like LOOKING AT PRETTY AND EXPENSIVE STUFF THAT ARE FRENCH BUT ACTUALLY AMERICAN!
After our little shopping spree we concluded the day with a visit to the well known Louvre. So I did the casual round. Said hi to Mona, chilled in the rooms of Napoleon III and then gracefully went back to the hotel where we yet once again picknicked next to a river. Not as nice as the Seine, though. A bit disapointing to be honest.
Hi, my name is Napoleon III and welcome in my crib...
I like my bling bling like I like my girls. Polished.
After doing all the important stuff, we went to Jardin des Plantes and Évolution. Both museums contain dead animals. Only Jardin des Plantes shows them without skin and Évolution, as you've may gathered, shows them with skin. Not only the on/off-skin part is a clear distinction, also the way it gets presented. Jardin des Plantes shows their collection in a very oldfashioned, scientific, almost dry way. Évolution goes for a more theatre approach and spectical and look at those dead animals looking cute and impressive. While Jardin des Plantes still got the factor of impressive, I guess mainly because you've got the feeling that they've literally tried to fill every little space with their collection (and of course they've got a dino. Lets face it, nothing can compete with a dino).
Thursday was also the day I went to Musée d'Orsay, and for me this was sort of the best thing that happened to me during our stay in Paris. 1) Because they've got some beautiful art (I say Rodin, Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas, van Gogh and many many more. The impressionist-fangirl inside of me couldn't believe her eyes. 2) Because there were people casually walking around with real Chanel bags. I was absolutely flabbergasted. Demi told me that I just sort of needed to bump into them so I could feel the texture of the bags. But I was afraid that if I'd do that I would get arrested or something like that. And you don't want to end up in prison for miscommunication, do you? 3) Because I saw Violet E. (Ashtray girl) just casually walking around. Doing her thing. Looking good. And I really wanted to say hi to her but I firstly didn't had the courage to go up to her. She's quite intimidating. And tall. She's taller than I thouth she'd be. Which comes to point number deux, I wouldn't know what to say. "Hi. You're quite intimidating and taller than I thought you'd be" *complete awkward silence with crickets and all that*. And the third thing I had to encounter with, was that I was in the middle of a group discussion (about the appearance of the museum and how its history can be traced back in the way the collection gets to be presented and shizzle). So I couldn't just wander of and do my own thing. Now I sort of wished I'd done that... but hey, the memory will stay with me forever. Ugh.
This all brings us to Friday. And Friday, being the last day of our stay, was filled with a sort of consciousness to show us that after all the pride and showing off, there's naturally (like every country) a side that's less pretty and less something to be proud of. And this all was perfectly illustrated with Jardin Tropical. Jardin Tropical used to be a sort of zoo for people. The French imprisoned people from their colonies and put them on display for everybody to see (hereby not pointing the finger, because a lot of countries have done something human degrading stuff like this. Not even to mention the position of the Dutch towards colonization). The main thing, a fellow student pointed out to me, was that it was so human degrading (besides of course the obvious) because it wasn't something equal. "We" weren't trapped somewhere beside them, because "we" felt greater than them. Which is naturally bollocks.
The last museum we've visited before heading home (or Amsterdam. And then home) was Cité Nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration. At this point everyone had had it and just wanted to go. Besides, the outside was more impressive than the inside -which really was minimalistic and unimpressive. Especially when compared to the outside and Jardin Tropical. So, after wandering around (and buying some croissants to take home with me), we finally made the journey home. And that's where I'd like to leave this post with. Just imagine a sunset through the window of a smelly bus full of tired students.