By Lily D.-L. ’17
Photos by Andrey Drobot
At the Palais Garnier in Paris, an animated and effervescent set of individuals forged a bond that would carry through for the rest of our time in France. While the grandeur of this legendary opera house was unforgettable, what we saw on the boulevard outside was even more spectacular: Our very own LCDS students took part in a street musician’s routine. With more than a hundred passersby stopping to listen, Elliot Rhodes ’16 belted out Adele songs while the rest of us sang along and encouraged him. As we danced and cheered Elliot on, we all soaked in the marvelous spontaneity of the moment. But before I get too far into our trip, let me back up a little.
Its art, architecture and culinary delights help make France one of the most culturally rich countries in the world, and what 19 Country Day students and three chaperones experienced over 10 spring days exceeded all expectations.
Sixteen hours after departing LCDS, the skyline of Paris emerged before our eyes and we caught our first glimpse of the majestic Eiffel Tower. Our first experience with the French language occurred at a quaint Parisian café where we ordered delectable croque monsieurs (toasted bread topped with fresh grated cheese and broiled ham) and the first of many café au laits. The flavors of France — from boeuf bourguignon, to fried Camembert, to Ladurée macarons — became some of our most cherished memories.
The next four days in Paris were a whirlwind of art, taking in some of the world’s finest pieces at the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre. After seeing da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Duchamp’s Fountain, and Monet’s Blue Water Lilies, we took a turn being artists ourselves, during a sketching class in front of the ornate Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre, the heart of the artist district.
The views in Paris seldom disappointed. Our thousand-foot climb up the Eiffel Tower was rewarded with the blustery nightscape of the City of Lights below. This experience was only outdone by the view out the window of our boat as we traveled down the tranquil Seine another evening. The bustling, glorious Champs Elysées at rush hour, the Palace of Versailles and the gardens of Marie Antoinette were stunning to behold.
Too soon, our time in Paris came to an end as we found ourselves aboard the fastest train in Europe, en route to the French Riviera.
There, we traveled the Mediterranean Coast from the palm-lined streets of Nice to the royal Grimaldi palace of Monaco. Atop the village of Saint-Paul de Vence, where painter Marc Chagall is buried, we beheld a surreal view of the Mediterranean on one side and the Alps on the other.
After descending the hilltop, we played a rather rowdy game of “boules lyonnaises.” The French liked to remind us, repeatedly, that this game that bears a striking similarity to bocce is uniquely French and not to be confused with its Italian cousin. Our instructors were former national boules lyonnaises champions, and were awed when we split into two teams and became infected with a competitive fever.
Our final day began at the Fragonard Perfume Factory, which left us all smelling like irises for the rest of our time abroad.
I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to be a part of this incredible trip to France. It would not have been possible without the careful planning of Madame Drobot, her husband Andrey and Ms. Wolanin. I made memories that I will never forget and became closer friends with everybody on the trip. Merci beaucoup!