Monday, June 8, 2015

Hello from Toulouse

How has it already been a week?! Visiting Catherine and Arnaud in Paris was a blast, bien sûr. Highlights include:

Walking around Paris with Arnaud!


Picnic at Chateau Chantilly!

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise!

Okay, I get it--one of these things is not like the others. But I love visiting old cemeteries so much. It's easily one of my favorite tourist activities. 

One of the strangest things that happened occurred when Arnaud and I were talking through the Marais neighborhood--a chic, well-to-do area of the city. A man stopped me and said that my dress was beautiful. At first I was afraid that he'd heard me speaking English and was trying to distract me in order to get into my bag; Paris is notorious for pickpockets. But he and his friend had an expensive camera, and he asked if they could take a picture for a project they were doing--something to do with impressionism and nature in fashion (my dress had flowers on it). I figured it couldn't hurt to let them snap a photo, assuming it would take only a second. But it took almost five minutes! It was a tad awkward, but hey, who doesn't want to be singled out on the streets of Paris for their fashion sense? I didn't have the heart to tell the guy that it was just a mass-produced dress from Target. Arnaud took a picture of them taking a picture of me: 

Another great thing about the trip to Paris was that I finally got to meet Cathy! (So shall French Catherine be designated from now on.) I already wrote about the translation panel we attended, but she and I also went to Shakespeare & Company together and had dinner afterwards, which was lovely.

Speaking in French has been an adventure. When I was just with Catherine and Arnaud, I spoke mostly English, but when any of their friends were there or when Cathy was there, I largely spoke French. Or rather, I spoke in French occasionally and mostly listened to others speak. I can usually understand the subject of the conversation, but I can't catch all the details and subtleties. It's especially frustrating since I know I can read the language. I wish all the words I recognize on the page would simply inscribe themselves into my brain. Ah, well. Practice makes perfect.

Now I'm in Toulouse! I flew down this morning. For those of you who don't know, Toulouse is in Southwest France, closer to the border with Spain. I haven't seen much of it yet, as I had to wait at the airport for a few hours--my new roommate Benjamin was kind enough to come pick me up after he was finished with work. He's a little quiet--or perhaps he's just as intimidated to speak English as I am to speak French. Either way, I think we'll get along just fine.

It is sweltering here. The temperature's in the 90's, and it's been lightly thunderstorming all evening. I don't remember how humidity works. How is one supposed to fall asleep when it is so sticky? I guess I'm about to find out.

It's late, so I think I'm going to unpack and hit the sack. Tomorrow shall be an exploring-on-foot day. À plus tard!

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