Monday, September 29, 2014

Professor Landfried's CNX 117 Americans in Paris

We have enjoyed the great pleasure of collaborating with Professor Carrie Landfried's class on Americans in Paris this fall.  In addition to completing their questionnaire about life in Paris, we benefited enormously from their reviews of the wonderful exhibit, "Building Memory: Architecture and  the Great War," in the Phillips Museum Sally Mather Gibson Curriculum Gallery (September 4-December 7, 2014), curated by Professor Kostis Kourelis of F&M's Art and Art History Department.  Among other Franco-American connections, we discovered through our partners the French influence on the memorial at Valley Forge, designed by French architect Paul Cret and clearly modeled on the Arc de Triomph in Paris.

We also exchanged summaries of our class discussions on the French role in and experience of World War I.  This week, we look forward to sharing reports of our visits of sites of American influence or presence in Paris.  Merci beaucoup to CNX 117 for your engaged and thoughtful contributions!

Learning about Ledru-Rollin

Our study abroad center, ACCENT, is just a half block from the closest Métro station, Ledru-Rollin.

Many of us use this Métro station every day; certainly we all walk by it frequently.  It occurred to us that we should probably learn a little more about its namesake.  Alexandre Ledru-Rollin was born in Paris in 1807.  A lawyer, he championed workers' rights and participated in the banquet movement that provoked the 1848 revolution, ultimately serving in the revolutionary provisional government.  An opponent of Napoléon III, Ledru-Rollin lived in exile in England until returning just before the fall of the Second Empire.  He was elected a member of the National Assembly before dying in 1874.

Hannah took this wonderful picture of his grave in the Père Lachaise cemetery:

Ledru-Rollin is also prominently represented on the front of the Hôtel de Ville:

We think it is fitting that he is remembered on ACCENT's street since Rue de Faubourg Saint-Antoine was a center of revolutionary activity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  This plaque at the Place de la Bastille gives some sense of the role that events on Rue de Faubourg Saint-Antoine played in the revolutions of 1789, 1830, and 1848.  (In 1848, 65 barricades stretched down Faubourg Saint-Antoine between the Places de la Nation and de la Bastille.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hôtel National des Invalides

This week, both of our courses focused on World War I, a topic of special interest and attention in France this year due to its centenary.  Like many institutions, the Musée de l'Armée (Museum of the Army), housed in the Hôtel des Invalides, organized a special World War I exhibit this fall.  We visited that and the museum's permanent exhibits on World War I and World War II as well as the Church of Saint-Louis and the Dôme des Invalides, which contains Napoléon I's tomb.  The Hôtel des Invalides was founded by Louis XIV in order to care for injured, homeless, and elderly war veterans.  Its courtyard has long served as a site for military celebrations.

The Dôme des Invalides houses Louis XIV's Royal Chapel and Napoléon I's tomb, surrounded by a 10 bas-relief sculptures representing the accomplishments of his empire.

After a long afternoon in the museum, we gathered for dinner at the café-restaurant Le Carré des Invalides, which taught us that it is possible to find a bad meal in Paris!  (We had a good time nonetheless.)

Among other things, we discussed at dinner the exhibits' presentation of the French participation in World War I and what we learned about French history.  Having just read about the American role in the war, including the Parisian experiences of American troops led by American General John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, we were delighted to see this photograph in the exhibit of French President Poincaré joined by Pershing in the inner Courtyard of Honor of the Hôtel des Invalides reviewing French and American troops.

As we exited the Invalides through the Jardin de l'Intendant, we stopped at the water fountain dedicated to Victims of Terrorism (Nicolas Alquin, 1998).  Last Friday, the Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, attended a ceremony at the memorial commemorating the victims of terrorism.  There were fresh flowers from, among others, the Mayor of Paris, in memory of French mountaineering guide Hervé Gourdel, who was executed on Wednesday, September 24, in Algeria by terrorists.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Caroline's Patrimoine Experience: BNF (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

By chance, I went to the French National Library near l'Opéra. I only waited for 30 minutes to enter the library. (Before that I had most delicious Japanese noodles and dumplings I have ever tried.) I loved the exhibition called "de rouge et de noir" of Greek porcelain (3rd picture). The museum also displayed manuscripts from the time of Louis XIV. I certainly enjoyed the peaceful, graceful, and grand library atmosphere! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Kianna's and Tessla's Journées du Patrimoine

The View from Tour Montparnasse
After walking up 400+ steps, I made it to the top of Notre Dame Cathedral!
We waited about 5 hours in line, through the sunshine and the rain, but we finally made inside the Élysée Palace.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Journées du Patrimoine

Saturday and Sunday marked the annual Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) begun as a Council of Europe initiative in 1991.  Fifty European countries participated this weekend, opening to the public 176,000 public institutions in addition to organizing 23,000 conferences, walks, concerts, workshops, children's activities, etc.  In the Île-de-France (Paris and its surrounding regions), visitors toured some 1700 monuments and sites, gaining access to many rarely seen spaces important to French public life.  The line to visit the Palais de l'Élysée (Presidential Palace) was extraordinarily long, but many sites were immediately accessible.  Among others, F&M in Paris visitors checked out the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) and the Ministère de l'Intérieur (Ministry of the Interior) in the Hötel de Beauvau.

Hôtel de Ville

Assembly room for the Conseil de Paris, Paris City Council and General Council for the Départment de Paris, inside the Hôtel de Ville

Interior courtyard of the Ministry of the Interior

Friday, September 19, 2014

American Library in Paris

Thursday, September 18, found us two blocks from the Eiffel Tower at the American Library of Paris, where the students became members, benefited from an expert orientation session, and began working on their research projects.  The American Library has a rich and storied history in keeping with the theme of one of our courses, that on Franco-American relations.  From its origins in 1920, when the American Library Association collected books mailed to American soldiers during World War I, through the dark days of Nazi occupation, when the Library staff maintained clandestine lending services to Jews, through today, when the American Library in Paris "remains the largest English-language lending library on the European continent," the Library has served as a European center for authors and readers of all ages and nationalities.  Among others, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, André Gide, André Maurois, Colette, Thornton Wilder, Archibald MacLeish, Mary McCarthy, Richard Wright, Samuel Beckett, and Adam Gopnik have all played a role in the Library's past.  (For the basis of this summary and for more information, see  Here the F&M students gathered with External Relations Manager Pauline Lemasson and Reference Librarian Abigail Altman:

After working in the Library, we repaired to a nearby restaurant for our weekly Thursday night dinner.

On Friday, Meredith met with Professor Mitchell in the Café Mollien of the Louvre Museum to prepare for leading Tuesday's class on World War I.  Our table overlooked the Jardin des Tuileries, which provided an excellent opportunity to review the history of the violent destruction of the Tuileries palace in 1871 at the hands of the revolutionary Communards, about which we just learned in class.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hannah's Birthday

Today, before class began, we celebrated Hannah's birthday with pains au chocolat, chaussons aux pommes, et croissants.  Bon anniversaire, Hannah!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dreyfus Affair and "Welcome to the Feast"

Today in class we discussed the Dreyfus Affair and its resonances in contemporary Paris, including the placement of a statue of Alfred Dreyfus on Boulevard Raspail rather than at the École Militaire, where Dreyfus underwent the ceremony of degradation depicted in this January 17, 1898 issue of Le Petit Journal:

Boulevard Raspail

This evening, the American Library in Paris screened the documentary "Welcome to the Feast," about the lives of expatriate English speakers in Paris.  In particular, the film sought to discover if the writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers, and musicians drawn to Paris by the romantic images of expat life, forged especially in the 1920s, were still passionate about the City of Light after years of living there.  The filmmaker John McNulty and several of those profiled in the film led discussion of the film after its showing.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The American Liberation of Chartres and le Jardin du Luxembourg

After we visited the Cathedral, we walked through the beautiful town of Chartres, where we encountered a parade organized by the Historial Militaire de Chartres et de l'Eure-et-Loir to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the American liberation of Chartres by the U.S. 5th Infantry and the 7th Armored Divisions of the XX Corps of the 3rd U.S. Army Command under George S. Patton.

On Sunday afternoon, a group of us gathered in the idyllic Jardin du Luxembourg with other F&M students studying in Paris this semester through the IES and IFE programs.  Fummers à Paris!


On Saturday, September 13, we visited the town of Chartres and its renowned twelth-century gothic Cathedral, famous for its extraordinary stained glass windows and medieval statues.  We were fortunate to enjoy perfect lighting while in the Cathedral, where we were guided through the intricacies of the windows' biblical stories by Malcolm Miller, lecturer there since 1958.

Just another day visiting the Eiffel Tower...Happy Selfie Sunday!

Friday, September 12, 2014

September 11 and Parisian Geography

Thursday, September 11:  We began class by discussing the French response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, captured most famously by Le Monde's September 13, 2001 editorial, "Nous sommes tous Américains (We are all Americans)."

Thursday was also a day of studying for and taking the class' first test of Parisian geography:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

By visiting Montmartre, you'll be able to see the beautiful basilica "le Sacré-Coeur." This is one of the most eye-catching of the city's monuments with religious significance as a place dedicated to eternal prayer.

         A beautiful place to have a picnic or to just enjoy the view at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

         A history lesson! What it is called now –– the Place de la Concorde, where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined. 

on the bridge, near La Seine

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Classes Begin

Classes started on Monday, September 8:  the history and politics of France, Franco-American relations, and lots and lots of French!  Today, some of us did French homework in between classes at ACCENT: