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Our Final Day in France

Written by Gabby Foley ’19 to recount Saturday, March 17, 2018:

Hey everyone! It’s Gabby Foley. Today we all woke up to a rainy, cold Paris. Because today is Saturday, we had a day to join our host families in their day’s activities! Many families took their students to Versailles today, while others went shopping. Still others just took the time to soak in their very last moments in the city.

Myself and my corres, Violette, met up with a few other students today in the neighborhood of Le Marais. We had a petit café and walked through the cobblestone streets in search of thrift shops or as the French call them «Friperies». Much to our surprise, as we walked outside our first store, large flakes of opulent, white snow came hailing from the sky. We were delighted by the weather change and took the opportunity to frolic in the snow and take pictures. Many of us took home small treasures from the Friperie, and the memories we will take from that snowy day in the picturesque Parisian neighborhood of Le Marais will certainly stay in our memory of the 2018 NA-St.Do French Exchange forever.

Overall, this exchange has impacted each student differently, and I certainly can’t speak for everyone. However, in my experience, I have learned so many lessons from this trip, none of which can be taught in a classroom. I have gained more confidence as a leader, worked effortlessly to attempt to better myself in a language, and most importantly learned how to appropriately juxtapose European culture to the culture of the United States and more specifically my community at school. Seeing another culture’s way of life introduced me to foreign ideas of solutions to problems and helped me develop a greater appreciation for difference in opinion which I had needed to work on before.

Thank you so much to our teachers Mr. Warsaw, Ms. McCallum, and Mr. Lilly for helping guide us through this exchange and thank you to the students of St. Dominique for graciously welcoming us into your homes.

À bientôt

Foundation Louis Vuitton, A Scavenger Hunt, and La Défense

Written by Virginia Darden ’19 to recount Friday, March 16, 2018:

Today we began our morning by walking to the Foundation Louis Vuitton, an architectural masterpiece. The building itself is a piece of art, fascinating the entire group with its abundance of glass panels and modern design. The building was made to promote contemporary architecture by the group LVMH.




We then participated in a scavenger hunt all around Paris. There were 12 steps to the hunt which each had to be documented with a photo or video. On the metro ride back to Neuilly, my partner, Lily, and I unknowingly went in the wrong direction, going farther and farther away. Thankfully, Lily noticed and we got off on the next stop and switched. We learned that it is important to stop and realize where you are going instead of just walking into the metro and getting on.

For lunch, some of us stayed at St. Do, while others walked down the street to the local boulangerie. They have the absolute best beignets there, and I will miss them greatly while in the US!

We then spent a few hours shopping around La Défense before returning to St. Do to end our day with a « goûter » or a small snacktime with cookies and other refreshments with our corres’.

The Swedish School and Montmartre

Written by Frances Harrington ’19 to recount Thursday, March 15, 2018:

Today, we started the day by meeting with the Swedish students who are attending St-Do and living in France for this entire school year. We ate breakfast with them and went to one of their English classes where we got to chat with everyone. Then, we had class in French with Monsieur Chatrousse about local slang and formal etiquette. After that, some of us went to classes of French and English until our lunch hour. During our lunch period today, we had the option to either stay at school and eat lunch or go out to find something to eat down the street. When lunch was over, we had a tour of the village called Montmartre with Chloe, and we got to see a beautiful church at the top of the hill with an amazing view of Paris! There was so much beautiful art to see this afternoon and a wall that has the phrase « I love you » written all over it in different languages!

Afterwards, we went back to St-Do to meet up with our French exchange students. Tiphaine and I stayed at school for her Latin class and a meeting about the Bacc for literature. Then we went home, had dinner, and called it a night!

I can hardly believe we only have two more full days here in Paris!

Centre Pompidou and Street Art

Written by Alastair Sterns ’19 to recount Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Salut! Alastair here!

Wow! It’s hard to describe how wonderful of a day the French exchange had. C’était super cool!

The group explored the contemporary art museum, Centre Georges Pompidou, led by a knowledgeable tour guide. Every aspect of the museum, from the inside out, captivated us. We analyzed the use of color, brush strokes, and optical illusions in the work of many different artists, including the big (bull)dog himself, Pablo Picasso.

Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious lunch kindly provided by Saint Dominique and spent time on our own exploring the town surrounding the Pompidou. That afternoon, the group rode the metro to Menilmontant, where we met our hyper-chouette guide Chloé for a tour of the local street art. Chloé showed us the work of famous street artists that usually would not be seen at first glance. There are many individual artists and groups of artists who go out at night to do their work, despite the risk of a large fine if they are caught. Some local businesses, however, appreciate the artwork and even hire the artists to paint their buildings in order to attract attention. The work of the street artists include paper stickers, mosaics, plaster sculptures, and paintings ranging from the size of a hand to giant walls. Street art, for the most part, is an underground operation, but it is a big part of the Parisian culture.

The group took the metro back to Neuilly from Belleville, where we met our French students. It was another fantastic day for the French exchange. We are all looking forward to what our last few days in Paris will bring.

A bus tour of Paris (and John Leo’s birthday!)

Written by Scarlett Baughman ’19 to recount Tuesday, March 13, 2018:

Today we started the day by singing “Happy Birthday” to John Leo (in French, of course), and then we got to go to classes before having a bus tour of Paris. I went to a PE class and a class for young autistic children. For PE, we did Zumba and steps so it was quite different from the PE classes in the US. Meg and I then were able to go to a class with young boys and girls (no older than 6 or 7) who were somewhere on the autism spectrum. Each of the kids was adorable, and we got to play with them, help them get their snacks, and sit with them for their circle time where they sang songs and changed the date on the whiteboard. It was amazing to see those teachers at work, and I’m still so impressed at their levels of patience and care for the kids. After that, we had a free class and explored the area around the school and bought some food for lunch.

After lunch we took the metro to the Louvre-Rivoli stop and caught a private tour bus where we were driven around Paris and given commentary about the city. At one point, we stopped in front of the Eiffel Tower for a long time, so we decided we would ask Sydney to go downstairs to ask the driver if we could move on. It turns out, though, that he had left the bus to get a crepe! We then returned to school, and some of us went with our correspondents to see the Eiffel Tower up close. We all took photos together and enjoyed the view. Then we all got together for a birthday dinner for John Leo where we just hung out, ate, and celebrated. Overall, it was great day!


L’Opera Garnier and the Louvre

Written by Sarah Yue ’19 to recount Monday, March 12, 2018:

Bonjour! This morning, we made our way to St. Do and recounted our “roses and thorns” from the weekend, which involves giving highlights and things that didn’t go so well. We then ventured into the canteen of the school to hear our itinerary for the day and to sample some French pastries that M. Lilly bought for us. As soon as we were done, we made our way to the metro to go to L’Opera Garnier. We met with our tour guide, Chloe, who already showed us around the Marais on our first full day in Paris. She was so knowledgeable about the history of the opera house and told us that people payed for the opera not for the art, but to socialize, gossip, and show off. The steps and ceilings were beautiful, and it was fun ascending the steps as if we were on our way to the show.

Everything was so beautiful and stunning. My favorite room in the opera house was “le coucher du soleil” which contained a beautiful ceiling and lights and mirrors on both sides of the room. The significant part was the addition of copper to the mirrors. It added the effect of the lights becoming more red as the reflections continued, providing the illusion of a sunset. We were treated to 20 minutes of free time and were able to explore the city around the opera house before heading back to the school for lunch.

After lunch, we took the metro to the Louvre and met with our guide, who showed us some of the most famous pieces of art in the museum. We saw the Mona Lisa (of course), Venus de Milo, The Victory of Samothrace, and Liberty Leading the People, which was my favorite because we learned about it in Modern European History class last year. After our tour, we were tasked with a scavenger hunt for certain items in the paintings, ending with the swimming team each getting a pastry (still waiting on the results…). That being said, we were all very motivated.

Our time passed quickly, and soon it was time to leave. We walked back to the metro station after a long but exciting and eventful day, and made our way back to St. Do to meet our corres and head back home. After school, I went to the Champs-Elysees to do some shopping for a little, and soon went home to eat dinner and rest up for the next day. We had such a good and eventful day, and I feel like we all learned so much!

Le Marais and les Champs-Élysées

Please note that our group in France has had wi-fi connectivity issues, and thus, their blog posts are being posted as they come in (sometimes out of order!). Thank you for your understanding.

Written by Sydney LeGuillow ’19 to recount Wednesday, March 7, 2018:

This morning, I took two trains to school with Fanny. After a short breakfast and tour of St-Do, we attended English classes for their second and third periods. Our first lunch at school was full of variety, and we enjoyed eating in the student section of their cafeteria.

Next we met our guide, Chloe, who introduced us to the neighborhood of Le Marais. Highlights included seeing St. Paul – St. Louis as well as a quick introduction to Paris street art. We will get to see more of this later next week.

Our evening was so fun! We took the train as a group to walk Champs-Élysées and to see the Arc de Triomphe. There, we enjoyed a photo shoot and went into the Adidas store with Tristan, Alister, Fanny,  Gabby, and Violette.

Then the real adventure began…when we entered our metro station, Fanny immediately knew something was wrong:  there were 1000+ people waiting for our same train. Fanny instructed me to just push past everyone. Although we got to the front of the platform as soon as the train came and people poured out, I was pushed in every direction; ultimately, I was only able to get one foot on, so we failed at our first attempt to board. The next two trains were not for us, and then finally ready to take a run for the opening doors, Fanny and I managed to get on.
You would think that was the end of the excitement, but NO! We continued to get shoved in our backs until I was on the people around me like white on rice! I felt really uncomfortable having people that close to me, but I held my belongings tight and stayed alert. After the first stop, a couple ended up on me, literally, and the lady, though slightly shorter than me, had her head pressed firmly against my shoulder as she she began to make out with her boyfriend…it was so extremely close to me! I had nowhere to put my face but up towards the ceiling in fear of joining their party! I have to admit I was glad to get off that train and have a place to just breath.
Here’s to more great adventures in Paris!



Sainte-Chapelle, La Conciergerie, Notre Dame, and Berthillon Glacier

Written by John Leo Luecke ’19 to recount Friday, March 9, 2018:

Hey guys! John Leo here.


What a wonderful day in Paris! Despite the cold and the rain, we still enjoyed ourselves at Sainte-Chapelle, La Conciergerie, and Notre Dame.

Sainte-Chapelle was the personal chapel of Saint Louis. When you walk up to the second floor, you are amazed by very detailed stained glass windows that are over fifteen meters high. It was beautiful!

La Conciergerie, as one might expect, was very large and grand. Notre Dame was amazing, especially considering that it was built in the 12th century. The architecture is very detailed and colorful. We were able to go on top of it as well, climbing around 400 stairs. I broke my record for most steps today at a whopping 25,403 steps!

We ate pizza, pain au chocolat, and ice cream from the famous Berthillon’s, all of which was some of the best food I have ever consumed.

After this, some of us took the metro to La Défense with our exchange students and walked around. It’s really cool, I would highly recommend going there if you have the chance.

Overall, another great day. Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Musee d’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower

Written by Meg Woodard ’19 to recount Thursday, March 8:

Today consisted of visiting the Musee D’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower! Seeing famous art that you see online and in class was very cool to be able to see in real life. Our guide at D’Orsay spoke no English during our tour but we were able to understand most of what she said. The theme of her remarks focused mostly on feminine figures in the art and how they were portrayed differently.

Today we learned how to be on time and not to rush the French people. Let me just say that 45 minutes is not enough time to have a sit-down lunch at a Paris cafe. As a group of my friends and I sat down to eat, we looked over the menu, and soon decided on some croque-monsieurs. Time went on and we waited for our waiter, and we realized we had to leave soon. Well by the time the food finally came, and a few conversations with the waiter telling him we had little time, it was time to go. We had to eat quickly and pay the bill where we ended up giving more than necessary because we were so rushed. As we hurried to the metro so we could make it to the Eiffel Tower on time, I would say our navigation and speed-walking improved. We made it to the Eiffel Tower, which was much larger than I had expected, and we got to see Paris from way above. It was definitely a day to remember!

Fromagerie, Orchard, and Arrival at St. Do!

Written by Seth Lucas ’19 to recount Tuesday, March 6, 2018:

After a long slumber, we enjoyed another petit déjeuner consisting of croissants and bread. Drink options included hot chocolate in our bowls, along with orange juice. By 9:30 am, we departed from Le Home de Contentin hostel and said our goodbyes to our first home base. We drove out to a Fromagerie named Réo. They are very well known for their Camembert, and we had the opportunity to experience the process of making and packaging this famous cheese followed by a short tasting and an opportunity to purchase their Camembert.

From the Fromagerie, we proceeded to an orchard. There we met the proprietor, Guillaume, at his family-owned “Billy Farm.” We visited the orchard and took our picture in the chapel which was constructed back in 1492.

We ate a picnic lunch: a typical Beurre et Jambon sandwich on a baguette, a dessert of caramel rice pudding, a bag of chips, a granola bar, and a single-serve container of apple sauce. Guillaume brought out samples of his apple juice for all of us to enjoy.

After our two stops, we made the four-hour bus ride to Paris. As soon as we turned the bend on the interstate and could see the Eiffel Tower, many of us felt like we had truly arrived in France even though we had already been here for a few days. We were incredibly excited to see our host families and headed to our respective homes in the pouring rain!