October 3, 1977 - I tried again to get into L'Institut Catholique. And, they told me to come again on Wednesday. French bureaucracy!!
That night I went to the a "Son et Lumiere" at Notre Dame. The "lumieres" were absolutely magnificient, and I only regretted that I didn't have a fancy camera to catch all the lights. The text was rather literary..it covered Notre Dam's part in Parisian & French history - through Joan of Arc, Revolution, WWI, WWII, especially through the writings of Victor Hugo.
October 4, 1977 - As I was working this morning, Marie-Charlotte came in after daily trip to he market and a visit with her sister. She immediately asked if I liked rabbit. She then plopped down on the table a rabbit - its hair matted with blood...Of course it still had the bullet in it. Yesterday was the opening of hunting season and her brother had shot it, along with some pheasants, at her father's forest. Slightly offending smell!!
Susan in Labadee – Royal Caribbean’s Private Hideaway
Valentine’s Day found me swimming, relaxing on a comfortable lounge chair under a palm tree, enjoying the crystal clear water and dining on a scrumptious BB-Q. From waterslides and park for the kids, to an extensive craft market with some lovely pieces of Haitian Art Work or a bit of “romance” for a couple this was a special treat and the port highlight of my trip.
October 2, 1977 - It was great refresher course in architecture. First, the tour guide gave a short history of Gothic churches, those before Notre Dame - St. Denis, Laon, and then after - Bourges - Perfection of Notre Dame, Reims, Amiens. Notre Dame was begun in 1163 under the direction of Pope Alexander III & Maurice de Sully. He pointed out the asymetry and, yet, equilibrium of the building, the orientation of Notre Dame - It was originally oriented toward Jerusalem but then after a couple of hundred years the orientation was changed toward the East. We also read one of the three doors - The Porte of Sainte Anne.
That night I went with the Couraults to a baptism. It was in a Catholic church, St. Julien Le Pauvre, but it's a church which still practices the original litanies, rituals, etc. of a Byzantine church. First the baby was exorcised of all devils and evil spirits. Then, she was baptized by immersion - unclothed. Oil mixed with water was dabbled on her head, hands, feet, back...a symbol of the strength of the Grace of God. Then, she was confirmed, i.e. the catechism that most Catholic children undergo when they are ten or eleven.
Throwback Thursday - More aerogrammes from France, 1977....
October 7, 1977 - I go to the market for daily shopping. It's almost similar to Mexican markets, except clean and not usually situated in a square! Each store has its own specialty/product...boulangerie - bread; cremerie - butter, milk & cheese; boucherie - meat; patisserie - deserts, etc. Of course, everything was fresh. Marie-Charlotte does her shopping everyday (I'm just thankful I'm not a French housewife). Once we got back home, she showed me how to make mayonnaise - which is really very simple.
On Sunday, I decided to begin at Notre Dame. I arrived at the end of the Grand Messe communion time. I stayed seated for the next mass. The organ certainly filled the cathedral and brought reminiscences of greater times. That's what I really enjoy doing - imagining what has occurred here before - the crowning of Henri VI in 1430 as King of France - the coronation of Napoleon & Josephine and de Gaulle coming to Notre Dame after the liberation of France from the Germans in WWII.
If it had been a sunnier day, the rose windows would have been beautiful. The church was cold - a penetrating cold - but the organ music virtually eliminated that feeling. I went up the tower - 422 steps to the top, a total of 69 meters, so I definitely had my exercise for the day. The steps become increasingly narrow and dark. The view from the top of Notre Dame is one of the best in Paris. The gargoyles are especially intriguing - angry, intimidating, certainly not reminiscent of a loving God. I went into the Bell Tower again - the South Tower. The bells only ring on holidays and festival days so I want to listen for them on Toussaint - November 1st.
Do you remember writing or getting letters from Europe on the thin blue stationery that also served as the envelope “Aerogramme – Par Avion”. When I spent ten months in France, I wrote over 40 letters to my mother and father (my mother so kindly numbered them as she received them).
To set the stage…
I had completed my undergraduate degree in French Literature in 3 years so I decided to spend my 4th year in France. Since I had no money at all to my name, and my parents steadfastly refused to pony up any funds, I had to figure out how to work while I was there. Through the auspices of the French government, I applied for an “au pair” (nanny) position in Paris. Then, at the mature age of 20, after my father so generously co-signed a bank loan so I would at least have money to buy a plane ticket, I went off on my own to Paris – knowing no one at all and with virtually no plans to speak of. ….
Here are excerpts from my travelogue letters…
September 24, 1977 (Luxembourg – Bien Arrive – Stop ) Postcard –Well, I arrived here safe and tired. I slept at a youth hostel last night, so I had to buy a youth hostel card. Maybe it will come in handy. Am waiting for the train to Paris. Everything is going very smoothly. Spending more money than I had estimated.
September 25, 1977 – (L’Arc De Triomphe et La Tour Eiffel) Postcard – I made it to Paris yesterday. I had to change trains twice but each time a guy helped me with my suitcase. Thank God for chauvinism. I wouldn’t have made it otherwise.
September 27, 1977 – I’m having a great time. I’ve been running errands like you have to do when you move to a new city. It’s been a lot of fun. Paris is so expensive you really have to look to find the cheaper places. Sometimes it almost hurts to eat.
I went yesterday to the Accueil Familial..I was slightly apprehensive at first; they seemed to be in a really run down place. But their office was okay. They sent me to a family immediately and I am going to try them for a while (8 days). The husband is working on his PhD thesis in economics and the wife is a secretary part-time. They have 3 children – ages 15 months, 5 and 7.
September 30, 1977 – “I’ve been having a great time here. Mainly just walking around and learning where everything is. I’m staying and working with a family who live in an apartment in the heart of Paris – a really great location for me. They live next to the Seine across from the Louvre & the Jardin des Tuileries – in the quartier next to Notre Dame, the Sorbonne, Musee de Cluny…
I find everything expensive (2014 note: some things don’t ever change!!) I’ll be paid weekly 140F, which is about 30$ per week. …I tried to send you a telegram but it was going to cost me more than $12 for what I wrote so I gave that up. I have yet to figure out how to work the phones.
Some of the things I have found interesting: Workmen everywhere. Almost every street has something torn up or something being restored. That’s the big thing – restoring old, ancient buildings and churches. Dogs everywhere and the results of them as well. They’re permitted in restaurants and that takes some getting used to. Big dogs too, lapping at your feet.
Paris stays busy at all hours it seems like; and it really feels safe. Especially this quartier (7ieme). The Couraults tell me it is one of the safest. But, don’t worry I am still cautious…