“Paris is always a good idea”

Hello again! Long time, no talk! You’ll have to excuse me for not writing, October was an eventful month to say the least. Just to get you up to speed, last month I hosted Canadian Thanksgiving at my flat here in Fribourg and I’m happy to say that it was a big success! We had it all: turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, stuffing, gravy and even homemade pumpkin pie (which is not an easy feat in Switzerland as pumpkins are not usually sold in grocery stores here). Needless to say, my guests were extremely happy to eat a big homemade meal as opposed to the regular stir-fries and frozen chicken nuggets that have become daily staples.

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve really started to feel at home here in Switzerland. It’s surprising how long it takes to fully settle in. By the end of the first month I felt comfortable enough in Fribourg, however looking back on that time, I can say now that I hadn’t fully established myself in my new surroundings. You can always tell you feel at home in a place when you travel outside of it and are happy to return ‘home.’ And recently, I’ve been doing just that. In mid-October, I spent a long weekend in Nuremberg, Germany visiting a family friend and just yesterday I arrived back from a five-day stint in Paris.

Having heard a lot about Paris before I went, I had built up some pretty high expectations of the city. But, just as everyone says, Paris is spectacular! I absolutely fell in love with the French capital and by day five, I wasn’t ready to leave. My friend Julia and I took in all the sights and then some walking through the different arrondissements.

I was happy to learn that it’s relatively easy for students to ‘experience’ all that Paris has to offer even if on a limited budget. Reasonably priced restaurants can be found all over the city and the quality of the food is always up to par. During our travels, I picked up a few tips that could be helpful to future Brock exchange students visiting Paris:

1)  Don’t splurge on hostels. If you’re there to see Paris, then you’ll really only be in your hostel at night for the sole purpose of sleeping. With this thought in mind, a hostel really doesn’t need any more than the basic comforts and amenities. Plus, you’ll save money on lodging that you can put towards other things.

2)  On the first Sunday of every month, many of the main Parisian attractions are free. This includes the Louvre, Versailles, Le Musée d’Orsay, etc. so if you have the flexibility of planning your trip the first week of the month, it could save you from some entrance fees. And I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff?

3)  My friend and I were walking past the National Opera of Paris and decided to pop in and check it out. While asking for the ticket price of a ballet that was being shown that evening, we were thrilled to learn that the Opera sells reduced visibility tickets for 9 Euro apiece! Knowing that, we finalized our evening plans for that night and were lucky enough to secure the last remaining tickets of Jean-Guillaume Bart’s La Source. It was a really cool experience and well worth the expense so if you’re ever there, check it out!

Essentially, our trip to Paris was one devoted to architecture, culture and food – I cannot forget the food. Each morning was not complete without a trip to the nearest bakery for a pain au chocolat or a croissant… or both. One sunny afternoon, we did what every tourist should and bought a warm baguette, three different kinds of cheese and salami and parked ourselves in a park beneath the Eiffel Tower. Needless to say, it wasn’t a shabby view or a shabby meal!

Now back in Fribourg, I’ve just drawn out a long to-do list of things I need to do for school. November is really picking up and it’s hard to believe that in a month’s time students will be leaving on Christmas holidays! My time in Paris was great, but the plan now is to get cracking on some final essays!

À bientôt,

Claire

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