Author Archives: phall

First day at St. Do: Chapel, Classes, and a walking tour of Le Marais

Written by Eleanor Lilly ’18 to recount Wednesday, March 8, 2017:

Today was our first full day at St. Dominique! The day started in the Chapel where we introduced ourselves to the sophomores at St. Do. At first, there weren’t many nervous among

The chapel at St. Do

us because it didn’t seem like a big deal, but then we got to the school. The chapel was an actual catholic chapel, complete with stain glass windows and pews. So when we had to introduce ourselves, there might have been a bit more of an audience than just the students!! I’m laughing as I’m writing this, and don’t worry- no one messed up!

We had two hours of classes- I got to sit in on math and English with Carissa. Math was quite easy to follow because it was basically just a review of what we learned last year. For their English class, they had to present their thoughts

A class with Madame Thibault

about a poster advocating for action against climate change. After each presentation their teacher would turn around and confer with Carissa and me, asking us what we thought, if we could understand it, etc. The teacher seemed very cool to us, but she pushes her students quite hard and I would be nervous about her class if I were a student at St. Do! We each obviously have different insights about the French classroom versus the American one, so I speak for myself when I say that the most apparent one was the difference in the relationships between students and teachers.

We had lunch in the cafeteria at St. Do, and then we headed to the metro. We met a guide for a beautiful walking tour of Le Marais! She was so knowledgeable about the history of all the architecture. She lead us through the narrow roads that existed long before the wide avenues and boulevards, pointing out the “good” street art- the ones that would fade and not leave permanent marks on the walls. After a few hours we made it back to St. Do and waited in the student lounge for our friends. We all had dinner with our host families and enjoyed an end to our second day in Paris!!

A tour of the Marais

From Normandy to Paris

Today’s post, written by Clay Benjack ’18, recounts Tuesday, March 7, 2017:

After a relatively short bus ride, we arrived at Les Sables d’Asnelles, a small, quaint bakery in a town of Normandy. Once there, we learned the history of the town’s delicacy: les sables. These are cookies covered with butter and sugar. We were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at how they are made through the chef at the bakery. He also allowed us to cut our own sables, which we then proceeded to heat and eat. After eating these delicious cookies and thanking the chef, we hopped back on the bus and rode to La Ferme de Billy, a family cider business.

     Here we learned all about the process of how to make apple cider as well as juice. We toured the orchard as well as an ancient, yet beautiful chapel right in the middle of the property. After this, we got to taste two different types of delicious apple juice and decadent caramel. When this was over, we jumped back on the bus and drove to Paris where we met up with our exchange students at St. Do. After catching up, they took us back to their houses for a relaxing start of the Paris portion of our trip.

Second day in Normandy!

Today’s post, written by CJ Ball ’18, to recount Monday, March 6, 2017:

Today was our second in France, and our first real day spending the whole 24 hours in the country. To start off our day, we had to eat breakfast from our hotel at 7:15 in the morning, which is way too early, especially for a spring break day. The morning was worth it, though! Our first visit was to Caen-Normandie Memorial, an exceptional museum about World War II, particularly about D-Day. The museum had plenty of exhibits, following chronological order, spanning from Hitler’s rise to power, all the way to the Cold War. After touring the museum, we saw a short film about D-Day, showing how the Allied Powers liberated France from Nazi control.

Pointe du Hoc

Omaha Beach

After the visit to the museum, we took a ride over to two of the actual war sites from D-Day: Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach. At Pointe du Hoc, the terrain of the earth is filled with craters, with leftover remnants of German bunkers. One really cool part was a giant crater, where a bunker blew up, sending a huge piece of stone (the size of three couches) flying 30 yards away. After visiting the sites, our group visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which pays respect to the American troops who gave their lives during the war. The piece of land is actually American soil, as the French gifted it to the U.S., to show gratitude and respect towards the efforts in D-Day and the rest of World War II. The cemetery concluded our trip for the day, as we picked up some snacks on the way home and wrapped up the day back at our hotel.

Pointe du Hoc

First day in Normandy!

Today’s post, written by Carissa Ferguson ’18, to recount the group’s first day in France,                        Sunday, March 5, 2017:

After 11-12 hours of extensive travel and lack of sleep, we finally reached the region of Normandy in northern France. Once there we stopped by Le Mont Saint Michel, one of France’s most recognizable landmarks to date due to its breathtaking Roman and Gothic architecture. To say it was a little windy would be an understatement. I honestly thought I was going to blow away. But despite that, I think we really enjoyed our visit. 

However, the best part of the day was when we stopped by this small sandwich shop to order lunch. It was my first time I’ve eaten in France and the food is just as good as they say, especially the bread. I’m excited to get the chance to come across more authentic French food, and to experience more of France overall.

Students prepare for time abroad

The French Exchange student group met on Wednesday, February 22, to prepare for their upcoming time abroad. They worked together to craft a “Group Contract” of collective goals for their two weeks abroad and also developed “Daily Leadership Roles” in order to really own and guide their experience. Only a few days left until departure to Paris!

Wednesday, March 11: Centre Pompidou, Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame

Written by Taylor Wing ’16:

This morning we met at our normal place in front of the statue inside the grounds of St. Do. We grabbed our packed lunches and headed to the Centre Pompidou, a huge modern art museum. The face of the museum is similar to the art we found inside. Our guide spoke to us solely in French.

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Inside the museum were many different works of art. As soon as we entered the actual museum we were greeted with neon “open” signs in many different languages. It was interesting to see the many different pieces of art from videos to ordinary objects.

After we finished at the Centre Pompidou, we enjoyed a pique-nique in the courtyard in front of the museum. My friends and I found a crêperie where we were able to buy things from crêpes with ham and cheese to a croque-monsieur. After finishing our meal, we walked about 15 minutes to went to Sainte-Chapelle.

The Sainte Chapelle  is a beautiful gothic church from the 1200s. The stain glass windows in the second chapel were stunning; each panel represents stories from a particular book from the bible. After Saint-Chapelle we walked to the Cathedral de Notre Dame. Notre Dame was breathtaking and it was incredible to visit such a historic spot which is in the exact center of the city.

To end our day together, we had a treat of ice cream at the famous Berthillon. The shop had almost every flavor imaginable: coconut, hazelnut, strawberry, mango, chocolate… C’était super bonne.

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Tuesday, March 10: St. Do and Musée de L’armée

Today’s post recounts Tuesday, March 10, and is written by Miles Fine ’17:

Today the weather was fairly nice; it rained a bit but still nice compared to all the snow at home. Started off the day with everyone going to 4 different classes for an hour each with 15 mins in the middle as a break. Some of us went to a preschool English class, other physics (hard!), and even P.E. We then had a nice lunch at the cantine at St. Do, and then departed for the main event of the day.

Waiting to Cross


After a short metro ride, we exited to be greeted by the Musée de L’armée in the distance.





After the short walk over, we got our tickets and went to our first stop: the tomb of Napoleon. There are five separate coffins in there – one inside another!


Napoleon's Tomb


After our exploration of the impressive room and crypt, we headed over to the armée where we saw arms and armor of sorts, ranging from the medieval era to World War 2. My personal favorite item of this part were the models. Tiny model


We all meet up with our corres back at St-Dominique, and that is where the regaling of today’s events end, but there will be more to come as we still have the rest of the week!

Monday, March 9: Tour d’Eiffel and the Louvre

This post, written by Julie Luecke ’16, recounts Monday, March 9:

We got back into the swing of things today; to start off the week, we visited the Eiffel IMG_8891Tower, arguably the most famous monument in France, constructed by Gustave Eiffel for a World’s Fair and actually considered ugly by most of the French at the time. My, how the world has changed. Anyway, visibility was not great, even from the 3rd floor (not for the faint of hear) as a result of low clouds, but the effect of the gray clouds against the black ironwork was stunning all the same. Many selfies were taken. Ah, but that’s a given at this point.

After snacking on some surely overpriced but sorely needed crepes, we went to the Champs-Elysees for a quick promenade up and down for a little stop in a boutique. It was really very nice outside; jackets were unbuttoned and smiles unleashed. Then we returned to Saint Dominique for lunch (pasta and cordon bleu, a personal favorite) and then headed back out into Paris, to the Musee du Louvre. We wandered around and caught French paintings from the 18th century and since, including Liberty Leading the People and, of course, La Jacunde, or as most of us know her, The Mona Lisa. Here were made many snapchat stories of perhaps the most famous painting ever, in a room to herself.

In front of Musee du Louvre.

In front of Musee du Louvre.

After said long day, feet were dragging and I dare to say we were all ready to see our lovely French correspondents again and to settle down for the night, which I am about to do. Bonne unit de Paris!

A Weekend in Paris

Students spent the entirety of the weekend with their host families and they did a variety of activities. Some visited Versailles, many went to Disneyland Paris, a few strolled around the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, and all enjoyed getting to know their host families more. Today’s post recounts a visit on Saturday, March 7, to Montmartre by Hannah Wheaton ’16, and a visit on Sunday, March 8, to Versailles by Nathalie Danso ’17 and Claudia Woods ’17:

On Saturday, my host sister, Audrey, Elise, her grandmother and mother, and Elise’s host sister, Emma, and her mother and father went to Montmartre, a section of Paris on a hill. The climb up was not easy, but the view was well worth it. On top of Montmartre, we went to the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart). As soon as you walk in you see the dome is a large fresco of Jesus staring at you. Walking around the Basilica there are ornate mosaics and thousands of lit candles.

We sat for a bit and then after we went to small restaurant where we had croque monsieurs and frites (I had mine with mayo, the French way). We walked around Montmartre and saw the only vineyard in Paris, which is tiny! After we descended from Montmartre, we passed by Moulin Rouge. I had never heard of it before, a bit surprising to the group because I love musicals. Afterwards we had a sleepover which is not very different than in America. We ate pizza and chocolate, watched a scary movie, and stayed up a little too late. – Hannah Wheaton

Elise Turrietta and her corres, Emma, visiting Sacre Coeur in Montmartre over the weekend.

Elise Turrietta and her corres, Emma, visiting Sacre Coeur in Montmartre over the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon I went to the beautiful gardens of Versailles with my host family. It was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed sitting down on the grass with our friends, Nathalie, Alex(French), Philippine(French), and Marianne, my host sister! Beforehand, we explored the bedchambers, dinner hall, and more inside the building (which Nathalie will be blogging about as well) 🙂 I also went to visit my 2 aunts in Paris and enjoyed speaking with them and learning more about French culture and the strong Lebanese community in Paris. It was wonderful to catch up with them after several years of not seeing them and even more wonderful for my Mother. (As a young child my mother would visit her father’s sister in Paris as well and I am recreating the tradition). They handed out homemade treats and we bonded over tea and Arabic bread. Later that day I had breakfast for dinner with Marianne in her bedroom while we watched Pitch Perfect. The day could not have been more beautiful. I am enjoying my host family thoroughly and am loving Paris! Merci! – Claudia Woods

Versailles, with its beatiful gardens and ornate rooms, was definitely one of the most memorable places I have seen so far. Almost every inch was covered in gold leaf and the rooms almost all had painted ceilings. Luckily for us, there weren’t as any people as usual. Near the entrance there was also a sign banning selfie sticks which is something some of the other tourists sights should consider doing. Portraits of the architects and the inhabitants lined the walls. This trip was particularly interesting because we had just finished learning about the French Revolution in our Modern European History class before we came to France. Seeing what we had learned about in class first-hand was a great experience and made the events somehow seem more real. The “Hall of Mirrors” was one of the most magnificent rooms I have ever seen. The entire wall was lined with mirrors on one side and windows on the other. On the ceiling there were paintings with gold borders separating them from one another. The enormousness of Versailles was something I never could have imagined, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to visit such a famous and beautiful historical place. – Nathalie Danso