*French women do not shave their armpits. False. That may have been true at one time, but all the women I saw seemed to be rather hairless there. I think that being hairless in more in style than ever these days, even in Europe. But there are exceptions to that as well. So if you can’t get to a razor, don’t sweat it—you will blend right in.
*Everyone wears a beret and or/a striped black and white shirt. False. I saw only one French guy with a striped shirt, and no beret. I saw an American group of students all wearing a beret so that they could easily locate one another. All the other berets I saw actually were sold in touristy shops in every color imaginable.
*The French are rude to Americans. False. No French person was rude to me, either of the time I have been to France. Everyone was very kind and helpful. I also speak French, so that may have made a bit of a difference! Like I said, learn some phrases to help you get by, and you’ll be just fine.
*Accordion music plays everywhere you go. False. You can find old time French music in restaurants and things, but there are really no speakers blasting it across the land.
*Frog legs and snails are a delicacy. True. You can order snails (escargots) pretty much anywhere you go, and they are usually served with garlic and butter. The frog legs are not as commonly found on menus, but they are actually really good. They taste like chicken, and you can usually get them fried with a batter of some sort.
*Everyone smokes. False. Not everyone smokes, but you will see people smoking, and from a young age. It’s still not as taboo in Europe as it is here in the U.S.
Day 1: Saturday, July 7th, 2012: The city of light, the city of love. Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world. The moment I stepped off the plane and onto the airport ramp, I was giddy and I felt like I had stepped into a magical place. All around me, I could hear people speaking French, and I saw signs in French all over the place. This was my own personal Disneyworld. I met up with my friend Chad, and we set out to explore the city. The funny thing is, it rained off and on all day. It wouldn’t rain while we traveled to things, but the moment we got to a site, it poured. This happened at least 3 times! Our first stop was la basilique de Sacré Coeur de Montmartre. It is a large basilica with a great view that overlooks the whole city.
|La basilique de Sacré Coeur
|The view from Sacré Coeur
It’s absolutely beautiful. Next up, we went to La Tour Eiffel. You can spot it from many places around the city, but there is nothing quite like standing right in front of its majesty. It’s an architectural wonder, and the very symbol of Paris.
|La Tour Eiffel
Lastly, we went to la Cathédrale de Notre Dame. We didn’t go inside, because the line of people, much like the Eiffel Tower, was insanely long. We took some good pictures from afar and went along on our way.
|la Cathédrale de Notre Dame
Day 2: Sunday, July 8th, 2012: I woke up at about 10a. Wow, I really slept 12 hours! I met our group in the lobby and was introduced to those I hadn’t previously met. We all headed to lunch at a nice restaurant. We discussed our game plan for the week. Then we had a multiple course meal. We split appetizers, (escargots (snails)—soooo amazing! They were in a garlic butter sauce!) food (I ordered duck), and dessert (crepes and mille-feuille, or “thousand layers”: a pastry with layers of flaky thin crust sandwiched between a thick vanilla cream). I also had eau gazeuse (or carbonated water, which is amazing. I love the bubbles!) Eau plate means flat water (no bubbles).
|Des escargots (snails)
|Mille-Feuille (a thousand sheets)
Day 3: Monday, July 9th, 2012: I woke up early and headed to breakfast. I loaded up on chocolate croissants (My favorite! I could eat those thing non-stop, all day, every day).
I attended a few morning sessions, and then I headed out for adventure part 2. As a side note, I was asking for directions at the conference center, and got hit on by a French boy! Woohoo! Although Chad and I did a whirlwind tour of the city, and didn't actually go into most of the touristy places, we got good pictures and we saw a LOT, which was perfect. We met under the Arc de Triomphe. Underneath the arc is a tomb of an unknown soldier who died fighting for France.
|L'arc de Triomphe
|Tomb of the unknown soldier (underneath the arc)
|Place de la Concorde
|Le Jardin de Tuileries
|le Musée d'Orsay
|Le Moulin Rouge (red windmill)
Day 4: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012: Ian and I attended a great youth session, in which several youths talked about their experience getting young people involved in their local NMO, or national member organization. Afterwards, I made it to our booth, where we were handing out educational materials. The exhibition hall itself was huge, with many booths set up. I made a donation to WFH and got to have my picture taken in front of the world map. I was the only Wisconsinite!
|Pinning my location on the world map
Day 5: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012: I attended a session called Women's Voices. This was a really cool one, because it was basically a bunch of women from all walks of life and all over the world discussing their experiences, successes, and challenges living with a bleeding disorder. I attended a lot of sessions throughout the day, and then I snuck out for a few hours to do a little shopping on the Champs-Elysées.
|Les Champs Elysées
Day 6: Thursday, July 12th, 2012: The last full day of the conference. It's funny because I went to H&M, which we have in the states, but shamefully, I couldn't tell you if we had the same products or not. It was cheap, and so I bought some cool stuff: 3 cocktail rings, a necklace, 2 dresses (an orange one and a pink zebra one), a neon pink skirt, and a pair of bright blue heels. I also bought a pretty rainbow Egyptian themed necklace from Zara (we don't have those in Wisconsin at least). We had the cultural dinner at the Pavilion Dauphine. This night I got to hang out with our group a lot and I really got to know everyone so well, including my 3 new adoptive moms who I absolutely adore!
|Me and my 3 adoptive moms: Jordana, Mary Ann, and Edie
The Pavilion Dauphine was beautiful. There were tables set with a silver candleabra holding white and blue candles, blue flowers, and blue bottles of water. We were served a salmon appetizer, guinea fowl for dinner (the only meal i didn't really care for very much), and a pastry type dessert with pistachio. Then, the dance floor opened up. I took a lot of pictures there. I love the dancing part because there are so many people from all over the world dancing, all brought together by a universally spoken language: music. I think the U.N. needs to have a giant dance party. It would really break the ice.
|Now here is some trouble: the three young Americans: Alex, Ian, and I.