I’m sitting here reflecting after my trip to France. Though I was there for a little over a week, the trip feels almost like a dream: too much activity shoved into too little time.
But it was a really fantastic trip, nonetheless.
I saw parts of Paris I hadn’t seen before. I really loved Montmartre, and I loved walking along the Seine at dusk.
During this trip I also ascended the Eiffel Tower, which I didn’t do the first time I was in Paris. I wanted to climb the stairs, but unfortunately a minor knee injury kept that from occurring. So up the elevator I went.
The views were quite lovely. I went all the way to the top, and I had a Marilyn Monroe moment on the upper level because the wind caught my skirt. I’m pretty sure I didn’t handle the situation as gracefully as she did, and I hope there are no photos circulating for that particular memory…
After descending, slowly and via the stairs, I bought a coffee and caramel corn from a vendor (en français). The vendor complemented me on my French (en français). I found a place to sit, and I journaled until the twinkly lights of the Eiffel Tower came on at 10:00 p.m. It wasn’t even dark yet!
As the lights twinkled on and on (five full minutes), I was overcome with a mélange of emotion. I felt grateful for being in France again. I felt the loss of my grandfather while remembering his Eiffel Tower recommendations for me when I first traveled to France in 2005. I felt extraordinary happiness to be back in Paris and to have the opportunity to go on this great adventure. I felt melancholy about some of the things that have happened since that first trip to France (e.g. the beginning of the end of my marriage, the end of my marriage, the loss of loved ones, etc…). I felt privileged to experience this alternative to 4th of July fireworks that was just as impressive to me (though a day late).
I found myself crying at the base of the Eiffel Tower, surrounded by people, yet unable to stop the flow of tears. I let them flow.
The next day I left Paris for Rennes and the conference I was attending. I sat next to a nice Canadian lady on the train, and we chatted for the 2.5 hour ride.
Soon after I arrived, me and my lab mates walked to the restaurant to meet some of the other conference-goers. We were greeted by a rainbow!
The next days were filled with conference shenanigans: socials, talks, poster sessions… Fortunately, in France those take on a different flavor. These flavors were made up of a combination of tasty pastries, wine, pâté, and cheese. I gained 2 lbs on this trip, and I think most of it came from Rennes. So business was combined with tastiness at this meeting.
As far as business goes, my lab mates did a great job during their talks. Mine went well too. Success in France!
The last day I was in Rennes, we had a half day of talks followed by a tour to Saint-Malo and Mont Saint-Michel.
I was amazed by the color of the water at Saint-Malo. It looks like the Caribbean. It reminded me of my recent trip to Puerto Rico: a mix of history and natural beauty.
We visited a nearby salt marsh and the local Spartina species (Spartina was the focus of the conference) before going all the way to Mont Saint-Michel. I found some cool shells, and I dropped my adviser’s 2.5-year-old daughter in the mud… Oops!
Mont Saint-Michel was beautiful. We only had 30-minutes to check it out, but it was still very nice.
The next day I spent the morning packing up to leave Rennes. I took the train back to Paris for one last night. I walked down the Champs-Élysées, and I found a place nearby for dinner. I had one last galette (a thick, buckwheat crêpe – crispier than the one I had in Rennes), and a cup of chocolat chaud for dessert. The next morning I began my travels back to the States.
I didn’t cry when I got back on that plane… I thought I might.
So now I’m home. I’m chilling with my pup and my cat. I gave my final exam to both sections of my class this morning. I’m still jet lagged. I have a scholarship application I should be working on, but I wanted to write about this first.
I want to go back.
À bientôt, France.