C'est si bon!

Bonjour à tous! Je suis Vanessa, étudiante de 20 ans en France pour le moment. Je viens de Pékin, mais j'étudie à la fac à Chicago.

Hello! My name is Vanessa, a 20-year-old student in France for the moment. I come from Beijing, but I go to college in Chicago.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Being Parisian: 5 not-touristy things to do in the City of Lights

wanna see the Eiffel Tower like this?

Bonjour à tous!

Finally, after almost a month, I feel like I am settled in enough to call myself a Parisian in the making. I'm all moved in, have been cooking on my own, working out regularly, got internet in my room (FINALLY), and most of all been exploring Paris day and night!

So today I came prepared with a list of 5 things that almost no tourist knows to do - read attentively if you want to know the secret to being truly Parisian...

1. Do not shop at Galeries Lafayette or on the Boulevard des Champs-Elysees. Go to Rue de la Paix instead! Obviously the Galeries and Champs-Elysees are still charming for their architecture and view, but the stores there are ridiculously crowded, full of tourists (thus bad service), and never fully stocked. Instead, take an afternoon promenade on Rue de la Paix not too far away. There, you will find a variety of stores from luxury brands to chic boutiques to satisfy your shopping appetite!

2. Go to the Louvre on a Wednesday after 6PM. During the day, the Louvre is notorious for its insane amount of visitors, mostly thanks to foreign tourist groups who hustle through the museum just to see Mona Lisa. Do not, and I repeat here, do NOT be that tourist! Of course, if you're a first time comer in Paris, you gotta see the Mona Lisa, but keep in mind that the Louvre offers so, so, so much more than that. Every Wednesday, the museum has late opening until 9PM, which is a great time to visit because then you can literally lie down on the bench in front of Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People (1830) and marvel at it without disruption!

3. Go to a local market. So far I've only been to the Bastille Market, it's open every Sunday morning till noon. The vegetables and fruits are so fresh there, sometimes the lettuce even comes with its roots still in the dirt! Also, there you will see many typically French things such as arrays of cheeses, wines, olive oils, etc. Definitely a gem.

4. Drink a glass of Kir before dinner. This thing doesn't seem to exist outside of France (okay, maybe outside of Europe). So what is it exactly? It's white wine with cassis syrup, and it tastes simply heavenly - a little sour, a little sweet, with an aroma that makes you seriously want to marry it.

5. See the Notre Dame at night. Yes, during the day it is lovely and grand, but at night it has a special charm. Hear the Seine water lap quietly, take a little stroll along its banks, and watch Notre Dame in all its mystic glory. Sometimes there are amazing spectacles by street artists if you are lucky enough! I can guarantee you it is an experience of a lifetime.

Vanessa :]

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Just to let you know I'm still here...

So guys, unlike you might have suspected, I have not dropped off the face of the Earth. I've just been traveling, more or less without Internet. I was first in Istanbul, and then in Paris, Giethoorn, Amsterdam, Ghent, and then back in Paris. I have now settled down in my foyer - youth apartment - and will start my fall program in Paris tomorrow. Right now I'm sitting in a nearby McDonald's typing away because I have yet to access Internet connection in my foyer. Once I do, I promise to update you on my life in Paris!

Donc à très bientôt!
Vanessa :]