West Virginia University in Vendée, France


In the City of Lights...
June 1, 1999  

Today, as so often, was another adventure.  The strikes continued to haunt us, and Dr.  V. Lastinger and I were forced to take an early morning bus to Nantes to catch a TGV for Paris.  In Nantes we had a few minutes to stroll through the "Jardin des Plantes" or botanical gardens just across from the station, photo from Nantes below.

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The delays resulted in a very narrow margin of error for our 3:00 meeting with the Vendéens under the Eiffel Tower.  Pressed for time and fearing being late, we split up.  I took to the streets in a jog and Valérie took the Metro from our point of separation.  I feel like our West Virginia hero John Henry in that I was under the Tower and with our Vendéens several minutes before the machine and the professor it carried.  If you were with me now, you would know at least the "odor" of my efforts.  Thank goodness our hotel is very well equiped for such situations!  The most important point, though, is that our meeting with the 1999 Vendéens went well.   Below are a few photos of our visit to the Eiffel Tower.   Just for those anxious about such things, our preliminary lecture extracted from the students their previous knowledge of this edifice.  Ask them about that.   Their task was to build on that by noting the "functions" of the Tower now and since its construction for the 1889 celebration of the French Revolution.

Here, a few of us try to topple the Tower.  I did feel it leaning!

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A modest group pose of almost all of us over the skyline of Paris.  We await tomorrow the arrival of Kathleen Kubal and Caolyn Graeber.

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By eye we could make out many of Paris's great monuments from the view below.   In this reduced internet perspective, you'll note mainly the Seine River that is the heart of Paris.

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Tomorrow we will likely visit Notre Dame in the morning.   As of the moment, we are not sure of the rest of the day, since many of the museums are still on strike.  Just to put this in perspective, here in France such strikes are close to the moments back home when GM or Chrysler try to shut down.  France has the greatest and the best museums in the world.    When the people who run them roar, this nation listens!

Special thanks to Professor Sophie Crêtaux (researcher for the prestigious CNRS and sister of V. Lastinger), for her assistance in publishing these pages.

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