West Virginia University in Vendée, France



Bigger is not always Better


1 juin 2011




The 2011 Vendéens are the smallest group we have ever had the pleasure of taking to France, but our small size definitely has its advantages: we are all on time and happy to meet Dr. Orlikoff in the lobby of the Hôtel d'Amiens.  Dr. Orlikoff, our art historian in residence, will be our tour guide for the next couple of days.
Our first stop is a few hundred meters from our hotel on the steps made famous in the Amélie movie.  If only Dr. Mike were here, he would explain, with an enthusiasm that only belongs to him, how we saw the movie being shot on this very location.  I think that makes us all stars by association, if you ask me... 

Our traditional starting point for our tour of Paris on foot is at the Fontaine St. Michel, at the entrance of the Quartier Latin, the part of town made famous by the Sorbonne and its students.  Let us hope that we will not meet a dragon today, since our very own Saint Michael Lastinger is in Vancouver and will thus be unable to defend us...
Now, this is what I call gracing a garden!  Holly, Miranda and Shannon sit on the edge of the pool in the Luxembourg garden.  On Wednesday afternoons, as children do not have school, they can be seen walking around the pool with long sticks, used to push their boats, engaged in frantic races.

During the mid 1800's, Napoléon III undertook a profound renovation of the city of Paris.  He wanted to transform the antique city into a beacon of modernity and comfort, ordering many amenities for its inhabitants.  Thus, Paris was the first city to have gas-lit streets at night, earning its nickname of "City of Lights," as well as a reputation of safety. 

A very important aspect of the renovations was the inclusion of numerous parks inside city limits.  Parisians,  who often live in cramped quarters, enjoy the outdoor life of the many gardens and parks.  Here, after a long day's work, young and old enjoy a healthy competition of pétanque.  A little further, we witness the beekeepers harvesting honey from the hives kept in the Luxembourg gardens.

After our long walk through the streets of Paris, we hop on a bateau-mouche and enjoy a leisurely cruise on the Seine.  If you look very, very closely, you will notice that this is an academic trip: Michelle is clutching the  notebook she uses to write down every piece of cultural information the Drs. Lastingkoff impart.

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