Wednesday, August 18, 2010

France: the recap! Part 1

I just returned from the Vincentian Heritage Tour that took me all around France to follow in the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul and learn more about the university's mission. I was so lucky to have been chosen and I'm so grateful for getting to experience this wonderful trip! Here is a summary of the first few days with pictures below!

day 1: we arrived in paris after a brutally uncomfortable flight and immediately did a tour of the city. we made a pitstop near notre dame for lunch. i had a delicious quiche with bacon and then we walked around the area and spotted owen wilson checking out the cathedral! so cool! after a shower and a short nap i went for a short walk in the nearby promenade which is filled with pretty flowers and great sites. then we had a group dinner and then i promptly hit the hay! i was pretty overwhelmed with the city but excited to check out sites in the days to follow.

day 2: after a delicious breakfast at the hotel we went to the Vincentian Motherhouse which has a small museum with some incredible relics like Vincent's shoes, robe, watch and other interesting items. the highlight was the chapel that holds Vincent's remains. They have a very creepy realistic wax efigy of his body but underneath his remains are kept. it was pretty amazing to be able to see that. we also went to st. sulpice which had a Vincent chapel and a beautiful fountain in the front. We went to the Daughters of Charity Motherhouse which has a beautiful chapel that has Louise de Marillac's remains. The Daughters live to fulfill the mission of St. Vincent de Paul by serving the underprivileged. We got shushed out of the chapel so it wasn't as moving as the Vincentian Motherhouse. After that I went with some coworkers to explore and find dinner. We ended up at a one dish place that only served steak frites. you sit down and they ask you how you like your steak and then bring you a salad. they bring out half the steak and a serving of frites at the beginning. it had a delicious mustard basil sauce on it that was perfect. after youre done with that portion they bring out the rest of the steak and more frites! it was to die! one of my favorite meals for sure. i really bonded with one of the women on the trip and ended up spending a lot of the trip together.

day 3: this was one of my favorite days. we took a bus trip to folleville. the mission has its origins in a sermon that Vincent gave at the church here. it was my first glimpse of french countryside and all the beauty that comes along with it. i really enjoyed getting out of the city to the quiet of folleville where i could focus on soaking up this moment. there are castle ruins on the grounds too that were pretty cool to see (pic below). then we had the most wonderful lunch. this was my first non jetlagged group meal and i really enjoyed it! we had a delicious meal including a cheesy crepe mushroom casserole thing and a chicken dish and a decadent dessert. so yummie! after that we drove a bit to amiens to see the famous cathedral. i really wanted to stick around in amiens longer because it looked so lovely but we only visited the cathedral which is ENORMOUS! its so grand and overwhelming. i loved having the opportunity to see that. after that we headed back to the city and i connected with vanessa, my bff currently living in germany who came to visit! we caught up for awhile and then ventured out to dinner and ended up at Bofinger which is supposedly the oldest brassierie in Paris. i started with the onion and cheese soup (holy moly!) and then got steak and green veggies. we shared sorbet afterwards. it was funny though because i don't know any french at all and saw the word porc and figured id just go with that but the waiter kept trying to tell me that it was pork foot. when i finally realized what it was i went with the steak instead! it was like a breath of fresh air having nessa there. i didn't have to think about what to talk about or worry about making good impressions. we talk almost everyday on gchat but being in person is so much better!

day 4: in the morning the group went to a few churches and the original site of St. Lazare. afterwards i met vanessa for some site seeing! we grabbed quiches and raspberry tarts from a nearby bakery and sat in the sun to enjoy the quiches and took the tarts for later. that quiche is still one of the best things i ate the entire trip. we took the metro into the city center and went to notre dame and then ate our tarts in the courtyard infront of it. they were SO good. the rest of the day is a blur - i don't remember what order we did the following things in - we sat in the park behind notre dame and listened to live jazz, got gelato at a famous shop, shopped at some souvenir stands, visited a famous plant market and then went to champs elysees for some shopping. we ended up at the arc de triomphe for photo ops. after that we tried to go to the bistro nessa ate at on her last trip to paris but it was too full so we went next store which is owned by the same company. it was one of the most decadent and delicious meals EVER! we both started with lobster salads and then i got shrimp ravioli in an artichoke foam. crazy. then we split an amazing chocolate tart. all so wonderful! then we busted a move to get to the last boat cruise on the seine. i got free tickets for us through the trip. it was a bit rainy so the boat was totally empty. we tried to sit outside but we kept getting wet so we watched from inside and went out for the big sites. we were both so full we could barely move! afterwards we caught the eifel tower light show at midnight. so lovely :).

more updates to come!

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