Monday, May 27, 2013

The day we left and our flight back

The flight back seemed a bit shorter than the flight to Paris (although the flight back was technically longer), the food was so-so again, but that's economy class airline food for you. The French do need to work on their public service and efficiency to be bluntly honest. We waited close to an hour in a line that wasn't moving at all at the airport in France to have our passports stamped at the security checkpoint. When we arrived in the U.S. and got through customs and collected our luggage, we said short goodbyes to those we could see from our group near us and then I went through the final exit, where to my surprise I was greeted by my girlfriend who made a sign welcoming me on my return home.

All in all the trip to Paris was worthwhile for a number of reasons and I am glad I got share the experience with a good group of people whom since being on this trip with I feel a bit closer to and can call them my friends. This experience will stick with me for the rest of my life and I hope to be back to Paris a few more times in my life. 

Being picked up by my parents outside Logan

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Napoleon's Tomb / War and Armor Museum / Final Dinner / Last walk to see the Eiffel Tower

Today a group of us decided to go and visit Napoleon's tomb as part of how we used our free day.

It's quite amazing how big the tomb where Napoleon rests is, and definitely reflects the "Napoleonic Complex".

Napoleon's Tomb

 The building in which Napoleon's Tomb is connected to is also host to a museum of old armor artifacts from different medieval times, as well as world war I and II. There is a lot of info to be absorbed and it is very interesting, I especially enjoyed the WWI and II sections.
Allied Weapons of WWII

 We also saw old musket-style rifles and it's interesting to see the progression of rifles from their beginning and how advanced they had become.
One section of many examples of muskets and flintlock style weapons

an example of what was seen in the armor section of the museum

Once we finished up our visit at the museum we headed back to the hotel. After which we took a trip to a market at La Rue Mouffetard and I got to purchase some really nice chocolate and they had fantastic Gelato there. Tonight was also our final dinner together with professor Delaunay and we went to a nice restaurant on the Champs-Elysees called 'Chez Clement'.
Chez Clement restaurant

Later that night a small group of us went to visit the Eiffel Tower for the last time and we got to see it light up again at 1:00 AM. It was something I definitely am glad I took the time to do again and it was worth the view at night.
Eiffel Tower at night, before the lights go off and it sparkles the last time

1:00am, lights off and it sparkles the last time of the night

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Visit to Chateau de Versailles

Today was our day to visit Chateau De Versailles, even though having been there before, it was still a sight to see. The magnificent golden gate and other grand buildings adorned with gold are beautiful to see.
Louis XIV is the first structure to greet you at Versailles

Outside the gate of Versailles

View of the courtyard inside the golden gate at Versailles

Of course on the inside is filled with plenty of artwork and statues of prominent figures of the time. In particular I enjoyed the artwork on the ceiling.
Imagine what went into painting the ceiling like this?
We got a glimpse of the Gardens of Versailles from the windows, even though we didn't make the trip to the gardens themselves for a visit besides two of our group members.
This quite beautiful view of the gardens from a Chateau window just scratches the surface of what is to see inside them.

After several hours exploring the Chateau, we once again headed back to our home away from home at the ibis hotel. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Eiffel Tower / IBM / Le Showcase

Today's goal was to visit the top of the Eiffel Tower, tour a bit of IBM in France and sit through some lecturing and discussion, then visit the club called 'Le Showcase' under the Alexander bridge.

The Eiffel Tower is an awe inspiring thing to look at just because of the grandeur (very French) of the whole thing. The line we waited in wasn't too bad and we got to see a patrol of French soldiers come through which was cool.
Geared up and loaded soldiers coming through, no big deal.

After the moderate amount of time we spent shuffling forward as the line progressed we finally got to ride up the elevators and reach the top for the best view in all of Paris, probably all of France too.

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The best way I can describe the feeling of peering over the edge of the Eiffel Tower is visceral, but fascinating to see the view as well. 

After we all got down from the Eiffel Tower we made our way back to the hotel to regroup for an hour or so before heading to IBM for a lecture/discussion as well as a short tour of projects they have been working on.

The experience at IBM was very cool and informative, we got to talk with two students in an apprenticeship for IBM and the details of how all that works. I could see myself working for IBM in the future. One of the coolest things I saw there was a manikin with a camera in its eyes that would recognize if you were a male or female and your age and it would pop up items on the screen based on your gender, i.e. a guitar in my case. I could see this being used for some serious advertisement and tracking of what customers are actually looking at on the store's manikins that are modeling their clothing. 
This is software that recognizes if you are male/female and your age, it was inside a manikin at IBM
At the end of the tour we grouped up for a picture and said our final thank yous and farewells to the employees at IBM.
Group shot of us at the end of our time at IBM
Later that night a group of us went to the night club called 'Le Showcase' under the Alexander bridge. This was an interesting experience, for one I don't go to night clubs at home and it had European style night club music which wasn't that bad to dance to although a bit repetitive. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Second presentation with Professor Nivet at Du Pole

Today we went back to Du Pole Leonardo De Vinci University for the second presentation by Professor Nivet, this time talking about the European Union Policy. Professor Nivet gave a great and detailed lecture about different aspects and relationships inside the EU. Once again allowing for open discussion and questions throughout and at the end.

After the lecture I thanked Prof. Nivet and shook his hand for him taking the time to present this to us for no cost.

We took a few group pictures before leaving for the last time at Du Pole University, and then proceeded onward to Montmartre, which is where Sacre-Couer (Sacred Heart) Basilica is located.

In front of the main entrance to the Basilica
Sacre-Couer is just another magnificent piece of architecture in France, it has fantastic rose windows throughout and its exterior is just as pleasing to the eye to look at. With its grand structure and even down to its gutters designed like little gargoyles, it's worth the trip up to Montmartre to see it. The little village around Sacre-Couer was also another reason anyone should make the trip, it is filled with dozens and dozens of little shops, mainly for souvenirs I would say. There was also artists providing a quick portrait for a small fee and they looked very well done for the most part. Montmartre also contains a good selection of cafes, and one in particular I visited with a few of my fellow study abroad students had really nice hot cocoa.

You can get a great view of Paris on Sacre-Couer
After everyone had their fill of shopping and seeing the Basilica, we hopped back on this little train (reminiscent of the ones you see at Disney Land for a tour) and rode it back down the hill to where we started.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Second professor to present at Du Pole

We went back to Pole Leonardo De Vinci University for another presentation, this time on "Transatlantic Relations: a love-hate relationship?" with Professor Nivet. It was an interesting lecture with questions on between, followed by a short discussion with us and any questions we had. 

After we were done at the presentation we then traveled to Notre Dame and toured through the ground floor of the cathedral. Notre Dame has a beautiful interior and spectacular stained glass windows. After that, a small group of us decided to walk up to the top of Notre Dame, which was exciting and a bit nerve wracking at first because of it's spiral staircase 422 steps up to the top. But once you're all the way up, it is quite the view and anyone would be glad they made the trip up.
Spiral Staircase going up and down Notre Dame

View from the top of Notre Dame

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Visit to du Pole

Today we visited the Pôle Universitaire Léonard de Vinci, which involved at first a two hour presentation by Professor Lima (a professor at the 
Pôle university) on the international perception of French culture. It was very interesting to listen to Professor Lima and his way of explaining it, even though my jet lag and slight lack of sleep were bringing me down a bit!

We were then treated to a complementary meal at the university's cafe which was nice of them. After we finished eating and having our coffees, we proceeded back up for our next two hour presentation.

This time we got to listen to three different entrepreneurial ventures from four students, all supported by business incubators, presented by the creators themselves- students of the university. It was interesting and exciting to hear these people talk about their ideas for their business and their plans for it.

Once they were done with their presentations we were then able to ask them questions and they also asked us a few questions regarding where we are from. Overall this was a beneficial and enjoyable experience. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Louvre

We arrived at the Louvre Museum around 8:30 and we stayed until just after 1:00. The Louvre is filled with an astonishing amount of artwork which ranges from all different types, such as clay pottery, paintings, artifacts from ancient cultures such as the Egyptians and many more that it's not possible to see all of it, even in a lifetime. 

Despite that fact I still enjoyed my visit there and got to see a good amount of what the Louvre has to offer.

Some of the more noteworthy pieces we saw include the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Coronation of Napoleon, and others. I also really enjoyed seeing the Egyptian Artifacts and the tomb of Pharaoh Merenptah. 

"The Mona Lisa"

"Venus de Milo"

"The Coronation of Napoleon"

"Winged Victory of Samothrace"
Tomb of Pharaoh Merenptah

Statue of the Patron god Horus

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dinner at Caffe Cambronne

Caffe Cambronne

 After we checked in at hotel Ibis Paris Tour Eiffel Cambronne, we headed across the street to Caffe Cambronne. The Steak and its accompanying "potatoes" were excellent and cooked to order. 

The dessert I had was called "Profiteroles", which are cream puffs with (in this case) vanilla ice cream in between and whipped cream all around. The syrup on top was Raspberry and I have to say it was génial!(fantastic!)

After dessert I had a small coffee (espresso basically) and it was definitely a
different taste than I'm used to, but still good nonetheless.

Skirt Steak w/Salad and "Potatoes" (and a glass of white wine)

"Petite Cafe"

Arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport

The flight to Charles de Gaulle airport on this two-floor jumbo was pretty good. The food was decent as far as economy seating airplane food is concerned and the flight attendant staff were nice and courteous, the only problem I had with the airline was leg room.

The weather in France was rainy when we arrived, but that was expected. 
The group of us just after grabbing our luggage