Je suis allée à Londre!

Translation: I went to London!

YES London. Although I love visiting places in France, it was so nice to go somewhere that I didn’t have to work to communicate with people! It was my first time ever travelling without an adult (I know, I am an adult! But I mean with someone who is responsible for all of the complicated travel-things) and I was so thankful that I was able to do this in an English-speaking country. I love speaking French, don’t get me wrong, but there is just something comforting in knowing that if there is a problem, you will be understood by the people around you!

So…last week Thursday, my friends and I left Grenoble at 7 am to catch our 10 am flight in Lyon. We took “Easy Jet,” which is a British airline that travels to major cities all around Europe. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for cheap flights, but be forwarned, the planes are pretty small and rough on take-off and landing!

We had to get on the plane outside!

We got to London around 10:30 (there is a 1 hour difference between Grenoble and London) and took an “Easy Bus” into the heart of the city! After eating lunch, we checked into our hostel. It was the first time I had stayed in a hostel with other people in our room, so I was pretty nervous! Thankfully, there were no issues with this…we had four other people in our room, three of which were also American students studying abroad!
We finished all of this around 4, a bit later than we had hoped, so we nixed our plans to visit the British Museum that evening. We instead went straight to the British Library and Kings Cross. For anyone who doesn’t know why Kings Cross is important to me, it is the location of Platform 9 ¾, the famous Hogwarts Express platform from the Harry Potter series. I know, I know…I am such a nerd…but that is just who I am :)
When we got to Kings Cross, we had no idea where the Platform was. We knew that they had moved it outside of the actual station because there had been too much commotion near platforms nine and ten, but there were no signs or anything saying where to go. We were debating on whether or not we could pluck up the courage to ask someone where it was, when we found it! Thankfully we didn’t have to be the people who were searching for Platform 9 ¾…

The St. Pancras was on our way to Kings Cross and was too pretty not to show you!


So...this is Kings Cross! Not the same building they use in the Harry Potter films, so it was slightly disappointing.

I was sooooo excited!!!!


Inside the British Library! It was so cool...there were so many old books!

After the British Library, we promptly took the “tube” or the metro to the theatre where we were going to see…duh duh duh daaaaaa…. WICKED! I know, how did we afford that? Well, we sat in the veeerrrrry top of the theatre, that’s how! We ate dinner at a pub before the play. I got the classic british meal of “Fish n’ Chips.” Although the picture doesn’t look very appetizing, it was really good!

Yum. Peas...


YAY! Wicked!


I almost bought these...but I figured that I didn't need to see facial expressions :)


The stage was so cool...that dragon was even able to move!

The performance was incredible. There are really no better words to describe it! If you ever get the chance to see Wicked…don’t pass it up!
After taking the tube back to our hostel, we prepared for our day of walking by going to bed on time! Unfortunately our roommates didn’t return until 2 in the morning and were not very good at being quite while they got ready for bed! I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, let’s just say…
On friday, we spent the day near St. Pauls Cathedral, exploring all of the sights. Instead of describing all of it in a story, I am going to list what we did, and then give you a “picture tour” of all of it! I am pretty sure it would take you a day to read if I included all of the little details, so think of this as if you are walking the same route we did…
Tower of London (not inside, it was too expensive!)
Tower Bridge
Monument to the Great Fire of London
The London Bridge
Shakespeare’s Globe (once again, not inside…)
The Tate Modern Museum (Modern Art…)
Millenium Bridge
Old Bailey’s Courthouse
St. Pauls Cathedral

The Tower Bridge!


The view of Tower Bridge from London Bridge!


London Bridge...waaaaayyy less impressive than I expected seeing as there is a song about it!


Shakespeare's Globe!


Anyone recognize this bridge? was destroyed at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince!

We had lunch at the best place ever. Eat. I got tomato soup and salt and vinegar "crisps." This place has to come to the U.S.


The view of St. Pauls from Millenium Bridge!


I loved this random yellow door...

The front of St. Pauls. It was so much bigger than I had expected!

The ceiling of St. Pauls. Sorry for the awful quality...

Just a note…we walked past the cathedral during the afternoon, but we didn’t go in until later in the evening for the “Evensong” service because it was too expensive to go in when there wasn’t a service…not that I didn’t want to go to the service! On the contrary, it was one of my favorite parts of the day! The Men and Boys choir of St. Pauls lead the service, and they were simply amazing. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the cathedral…I snuck one from the inside of my purse…which is why the quality is so terrible!

Everyone needs a typical telephone booth picture, even me!


Old Bailey's Courthouse...the judges and jury still wear white wigs during the trials!


My first British Policemen on horses...I was really embarrassing and had to take a picture :)

 After we left St. Pauls, we had to find somewhere to eat dinner. The whole weekend, we ate foods that we were not able to find in France. Friday night, it was a burger! There is no way to find a good burger in France, so we went to The Gourmet Burger. It was really good! I got one with horseradish and Portobello mushrooms.

My first burger in three months!

  After we ate dinner, we took the tube back to our hostel area and decided to get dessert at the pub close by. We encountered some really great singing…done by russian? german? men…not really sure what language they were speaking :)
The next morning, we headed out for another day of exploring! We took the tube to the Hyde Park station and started our morning there…
Here is the list of our destinations for saturday:
The Marble Arch
Hyde Park
Speakers Corner
Serpentine Lake
Apsly House
The Wellington Arch
Buckingham Palace (and the Changing of the Guard)
Victoria Memorial
Trafalgar Square
The National Gallery
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
The London Eye
Westminster Abby
The British Museum
Whew….what a long list!! Well, here are the pictures from the day! Enjoy the tour :)

We started out at Hyde Park! Speakers Corner, where there are usually people on soap boxes sharing their opinions :)


Unfortunately, on a Saturday morning it is not very busy...


We walked around the beautiful park for a used to be King Henry VIII's hunting grounds!


Serpentine Lake separates Hyde Park into two was really pretty :)


We were taking pictures by the lake, when suddenly we were surrounded by runners!! There was a race in the park that we didn't know about :)


This is the road known as "The Mall," which leads to Buckingham Palace! The color of the trees were so beautiful.


Arriving at Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard :)


The Guards arriving to the Palace Gates...


The Parade of the Band arrives next!


As we walked into Trafalgar Square, we could see Big Ben in the distance!


My Lunch #2, from another restaurant that NEEDS to come to the U.S...this time I got roasted red pepper soup with my crisps :)


The National Gallery...home to a great collection of impressionist art!!


Trafalgar Square!


The countdown to the summer Olympics in London has begun!


There was a guy in the Square drawing all of the Flags in the world, and people were donating money to their we gave some American Dollars!


We ate scones with clotted cream and jam in front of Big Ben :)


Big Ben!!!! And my new poppy pin, which is what people in England wear to remember Armistice Day.


Westminster Abby! Unfortunately, I wasnt able to take any pictures sad!!


The view of the London Eye and Big Ben from Westminster Abby

Well, that was a marathon of pictures! I know they were all pretty grey, but that is how London is! Thankfully it didn’t rain all weekend! In order to get into Westminster Abby, we attended the Evensong Service there too. It was even better than the one at St. Pauls! They had a men and boys choir just as St. Pauls did, but there was more scripture reading. I absolutely loved it.
After we had finished seeing the sights for the day, we ate dinner ate a pub. I got steak pie because it is a British classic :) It was pretty good….but the picture is not very appetizing, so I will spare you. We walked around for a while after dinner because it was Guy Fawkes night, and there was supposed to be fireworks, but we decided to turn in early. We had to get up at 2:45 be ready to check out at 3:30…our plane left from the airport at 7, so we had to leave really early! Unfortunately, my alarm went off an hour before it was supposed to because I hadn’t changed my clock back…my friends were not too happy with me when we figured it out…we went back to bed for an hour (not that I fell asleep again) but we agreed that if I hadn’t woken us up for those extra ten minutes, we probably wouldn’t have made it out in time! We took a double-decker bus (eeeekkkk!!!!) to our “easy bus” that would take us to the airport. It was surprisingly busy around town at 3:30 in the morning…there were a few times where our bus was completely full! So crazy….

My first double-decker bus!!

 Our bus ride got us to the airport just in time to make it to the gate before it closed. I was a bit stressed, to say the least, but obviously I am safely back in France, writing this blog! Overall, the best “first trip without adults” ever. Although I do wish that I could have shared my experience with my family…
Hope you enjoyed the incredibly long post!

Bien à vous,



La Bouillabaisse et Les Bateaux…

Translation: Bouillabaise and Boats

I know what you are thinking…”Marie…you didn’t translate the first word! What in the world is Bouillabaise?” Well, I did translate it. Bouillabaise is a French soup that is a specialty of the city that I visited this weekend: Marseille.

On Thursday night, we took the train to the sunny, southern city where we would be staying for the weekend. The first thing I noticed when we arrived: it smelled like fish. Marseille is right on the coast of the Mediterranean, so the main ingredient in Marseillais cuisine is fish!

We stayed in a Hostel that was close to the bay, Hostel Vertigo. I would highly recommend it for anyone planning to go to Marseille. The rooms were by far the best ones we have stayed in so far! The best part, however, was the character of the buildings. The decorating in the common rooms were so cool…

Our awesome common room…
We went on a walk around the bay, which was filled with sailboats, and ended up at a…um…psychadelic cafe (?) for crepes. I don’t really know how to describe this place. The pictures I took are a little blurry, but I will post one just so you get the idea. The cafe was decorated with vines and mythical creatures, as were the menus! I am pretty sure that the creatures were trolls….and fairies…but I don’t really know. The crepes were amazing though, so it was worth it!
What a terrible picture….wow…but you had to see the vines. Doesn’t it remind you of the Rainforest Cafe?
When we got back to our hostel, our room was pretty warm, so we wanted to open our window for the whole night. Only, our room was on the ground level and the window was pretty accessible to anyone who wanted to climb in. We decided that we were going to open our window, but set out an “alarm system” if you will, so that any intruders would wake us up. We were pretty sure that it wouldn’t be needed…but here is the result:

It doesn't look like much, but we tried it out! They items were placed veerrrrry strategically.

Thankfully, we didn’t need our alarm at all.
On Friday, we took a boat to Isle d’If, which holds the castle/fort where the legendary Monte Cristo was imprisoned. It was really cool to see all of the cells that were once used for french prisoners! It also had a really great view of the French coast! My pictures didn’t quite capture the beauty because it was a bit early and some fog was still lingering along the shore.

16th Century architecture... The blue waters of the Mediterranean...


Not a bad view from a prison cell...right?

We then had the day to ourselves. Some of us went up to the Basilica of Marseille, which was absolutely beautiful. It was completely different from any other cathedral we have seen so far! The sanctuary was decorated with hundreds of miniature sailboats hanging from the ceiling. It was really quite beautiful, especially with the colorful frescos on the ceiling of the bell tower!
So pretty!
After we had explored the Basilica, we went to lunch and spent the afternoon in the part of town around the bay. It was such a beautiful day!

Not a cloud in the sky!

After we had visited some shops and a manger scene museum (a trade that Marseille is well-known for is manger scene or “crèche” making), we decided to go to the beach! It wasn’t very warm out, and the water was freezing (even when compared to lake Michigan) so we just waded in so that we could say that we have been in the Mediterranean :)

Even in October, there was a lot of people bumming on the beach!


Yay! I have officially been in the Mediterranean!

We went out to dinner after we had finished at the beach. We ended up eating at an expensive for us/cheap for Marseille restaurant, where I got the tuna steak! I figured that I should eat fish while I am in a town that specializes in fish! It was perfect. I also got a melon and prosciutto salad with feta cheese, which is now my favorite salad in the world.

I could eat this every day!


Yum. It was so good.

On saturday, the whole group took the train to Avignon, where we visited the Palais du Pape, which is the Castle of the Pope. It is a museum now, but the Pope once lived there! We also saw the Pont d’Avignon, which is a famously unfinished bridge. The rest of the day was spent wandering the charming city. It isn’t very big, but I would highly suggest going there if you ever go to France! It is truly the essence of a french “ville.” The streets are narrow, the buildings are old, and the people are so nice!

Inside the Palais du Pape...


Me on the Pont d'Avignon!


The pretty carousel that was at a random never know where you will find one in France!

After we had spent the day in Avignon, we returned to Marseille to get dinner. I ended up giving in and getting a “cheap” Bouillabaisse. We were told that it wasn’t worth getting a cheap version because they wont be very good…the “real” bouillabaisse costs 50 euros minimum per person. Yeah…I spent 17…sooo I would say that mine wasn’t top quality. It tasted pretty good to me, but I am sure that it could be improved :)

Yum. I really liked it...

On sunday, we packed up our stuff and left for Aix-en-Provence, another smaller southern France town. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, so most of the town was closed down! We wandered around the older part of the town for most of the morning, until we found an outdoor market! It was so cool, there was fresh produce, meats, breads, cheeses, olives and spreads, and wine all packed into a little square. My friends and I decided that we would buy stuff to picnic for lunch. It was perfect! We had an avocado, strawberries, goat cheese, bread, and cherry tomatoes! Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a park, so we had to eat it on a bench by the road.

Using our legs as plates!

After lunch, we only had a short while before we had to leave for the train station, so we decided to get some ice cream and relax. I got chocolate and pistachio. It was my first pistachio ice cream…and it is now my favorite flavor!


After our ice cream, it was time to leave. We headed back to the train station, where we left for Grenoble.
It was our last group trip! So sad…

Bien à vous, 



Un Week-end À Paris…

Translation: A weekend in Paris…

Before beginning this post,  I would like to apologize to my friends and family for being lazy and not posting something for the past week and a half. I don’t have any excuse except that I was procrastinating…I could say that I have been bogged down with homework (we learned the french translation of bogged down in my translation class today: s’enliser) or that I was busy exploring France, but I didn’t go anywhere last weekend, and was very capable of blogging. I just didn’t feel like it :)

On the way to Paris!

Alright, now…Paris! Yes, this past weekend was spent in “La Ville-lumière” or “the City of Lights.” We took the TGV from Grenoble to Paris on Thursday morning, and arrived three hours later in Paris. We took our stuff to the hostel we would be staying at, and then went on a walk through “Vieux Paris” or “Old Paris.”

We began by visiting a street that was very close to our hearts:

Yay Calvin :)

We walked to le Jardin du Luxembourg after seeing Rue Jean Calvin and got to see all of the Parisians lounging in their park of choice. There is a small pond at one of the entrances, and sitting by the edge were two old ladies in hats. I took a picture of them because the whole scene looked like a Renoir painting. Perfect impressionistic picture.  When we left the Garden, our Professor bought us ice cream from one of the best places in Paris (or so they claim)…I got dark chocolate and raspberry :)

Palais du Luxembourg


The Gardens!

After our ice cream, we headed over to Notre Dame! It was so busy and hot, but the cathedral was too beautiful to care! After facing the crowds inside the cathedral, we headed back to our hostel for dinner. With our rooms, we also were able to eat breakfast and dinner in the cafeteria (the hostel was much more like a hotel with a restaurant…)

Notre Dame!!


Inside the Cathedral



I love this part of the Cathedral…my picture doesn’t do it justice
After our group had finished dinner, we all took the tram over to the Eiffel Tower. It was dark when we got to the tram stop, and as we turned the corner, there it was! The tower was alight and absolutely beautiful against the dark night sky. I am pretty sure it took us a half hour to reach the actual tower because we kept taking pictures :)
When we got there, we had to wait in a long line to get to the elevator.  Thankfully we are paying enough tuition that we had tickets to the very top…and thankfully, our professor had bought our tickets in advance. There was an even larger line for tickets, and I think that we would have been there until  1 am if we hadn’t had our tickets in advance!

This is what the Eiffel Tower looks like at night! Isn't it beautiful?

The ride to the top was a little bit scary, but definitely worth it. The view of Paris was breathtaking…I am not going to post any pictures of it though, because none of them turned out. So sad. The view of the Champs Elysees was beautiful, and the Arc de Triomphe was lit up in the distance. Sorry I can’t do any better than a description, but I am telling you…the pictures would just ruin this blog post :)
On Friday morning, we ate breakfast at the Hostel and then went to the Arc de Triomphe as a group. We had museum passes for the weekend, which got us into over 50 museums and monuments in Paris. (Definitely worth the price if you ever go to Paris, I checked!) The pass allowed us to skip the long line that was already forming…I hate to be that person, but at the same time, it was really nice to not wait in line for an hour!

This is me at the top of the Arc...can you spot the Eiffel?


l'Arc de Triomphe!

After we had finished admiring the Arc, some friends and I went to find a place for lunch! We took the tram near the Louvre, because we were headed there after lunch, and we found a nice restaurant with decent prices! Little did we know, that restaurant was Lebanese! It turned out to be one of the best meals I had in Paris. I am not even sure what was in any of it…but it was good.
It was so good…even though I have no idea what I ate :)

 After we had finished our delicious lunch, we headed over to the Louvre! Wow was it busy…thankfully, our handy-dandy Museum Passes allowed us to skip ALL of the lines. Again. Yay. We started out in the French art section and then moved onto Italy and Greece, which are all generally in the same “wing.” We saw The Crowning of Napoleon, La Jacond (aka the Mona Lisa), and Venus de Milo. I feel sort of bad, but we were only in the Louvre for an hour and a half, maybe two. It was just too busy to be able to really enjoy the art, so we left to go to the Musee de l’Orangerie, which is an impressionist museum.

The Louvre! So cool...

The Crowning of Napoleon

On our way over, we stopped in the Tuileries Gardens for some ice cream…which was definitely needed because it was so hot. It was so fun to sit and watch both Parisians and Tourists walk by, and you could definitely tell which was which! When we had finished our ice cream, we went to the Musee de l’Orangerie. It was probably my favorite Museum we went to. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Louvre, it was just nicer to be able to sit and look at a picture without having people shove you aside with their elbows :)

My favorite part was the Monet exhibit. They were featuring Monet’s Water Lilies…I could have stared at these paintings for hours:

Monet's Water Lilies...that lady totally walked into my picture as I was taking it...thanks a lot lady...

After our afternoon of art, we decided to take a break and hang out in the park by the Eiffel Tower so that we could get some good pictures of it in the daylight. We discovered that it is actually quite popular for young people to go hang out here! 

Eiffel Tower!


I was rockin' the french style sweater that day...what class :)


Up close it is even more beautiful!

We returned to the hostel for dinner, and that evening,  we took a boat tour of the Seine River. We got to see the Académie française, who act as “an official authority over the french language” according my professor, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame. (Along with many other things…) It was really fun to see all of the buildings alight; it’s so different from what you would see during the day.
On Saturday, my friends and I had the intention of going to Versailles in the morning, and then returning to central Paris to explore the Quartier Latin. We borrowed our professors “Rick Steves” book on Paris so that we knew how to get there. As we read the section on Versailles, Rick Steves advised that we plan on being at Versailles for eight hours to fully appreciate the whole of the estate. Well, we scoffed at the idea…until we realized as we left that we had, in fact, spent eight hours at Versailles. (9:30-5:30ish)

Welcome to Versailles!


So pretty!

We ended up visiting the Gardens first. They were absolutely beautiful…and in addition, it was “music in the gardens” day, so we got to enjoy classical music while we strolled along the pathways. We made our way to the back of the gardens, where there are the Grand and Petit Trianon Chateaux…which is where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette would go for a little “vacation.” The Grand Trianon is made completely of pink marble, and is absolutely gorgeous. Before we went in the Chateau, we had a little snack by the canal. We had intended on bringing a picnic along with us, but we could only find a boulengerie (or bread store) near the train station, so we just ate some bread.

The gardens were like a maze :)


Enjoying our picnic by the canal...


The Gardens of the Grand Trianon...


The terrace of the Grand Trianon

We also visited the “village” that Marie Antointette had built  so that she could go there and pretend she was a commoner. There was a little farm, complete with animals and crops, so that she could go and escape from the life of a queen.

Marie Antoinette's Farm...


The gardens at Marie Antoinette's Farm

After trekking through the gardens for about four hours, we treated ourselves to lunch at one of the many cafes that are found outside the castle. I stuck with a true french classic: Croque Madame. first Croque Madame :)

This is the view of Versailles from the Gardens...


Posing in front of the fountain... my travel buddies!

Finally, after our long morning in the Gardens, we made it into the actual palace. Wow. That is pretty much all I can say. This palace is so extremely extravagant and beautiful that there are no other words to describe it. I can’t imagine living in such a beautiful place. One of my favorite parts was the view of the gardens from the windows. I know that  I was supposed to be focusing on the interior beauty, but it was hard not to notice both!

The Chapel...


The Hall of Mirrors...


Marie Antoinette's I know...


The view of the Gardens from the Hall of Mirrors...

Wow. This post is so long…
One train ride later, we were back at our hostel eating dinner. We had planned on going to a ballet at the opera that night, but it ended up not working out, so we just went to a cafe to people watch. It was actually “La Nuit Blanche” which is when all of the museums in France are open all night and in Paris, there were a bunch of art exhibits and stuff going on. Unfortunately, my friends and I were so exhausted from being out in the heat and walking around that we were falling asleep by the time it was 11:30. We took the tram back to the hostel and went to sleep, while the rest of the city was just getting started :)
On Sunday, a group of us went to Mass at Notre Dame. We ended up getting there a bit early due to the fact that Sainte Chapelle was not open until 10 (we were planning on stopping there first…), but we were surprised to find that there was a half and hour of singing before Mass started. The two women who lead the congregation were phenomenal. It was probably the best Mass I have been to.
After Notre Dame, we took the tram to Montmartre…we still had our professor’s Rick Steves guidebook, so we decided to take the “Rick Steves walk” of Montmartre. We figured that he hadn’t failed us yet, so we even ate at his recommended restaurant. That was the best decision we made that day. We all got salads…but these were not your average salads. They came with “frites” on top…which is like the French version of French Fries…

My smoked salmon salad with garlic frites :)

When we had finished our lunch, we climbed the stairs to the Basilica: Sacre Coeur. This cathedral is unlike any I have seen so far in France. It was stunning against the blue sky!

Sacre Coeur...

 As we were walking through the neighborhood, we found this adorable poster…A french child, who had lost their stuffed animal, had posted fliers all over the street with a picture of the toy and an email address…In french “Doudou” is the name for your toys…usually for a stuffed animal or even a blanket that you sleep with…

Poor Kiki...

I think that Montmartre was one of my favorite areas of Paris. It is really beautiful, with small cafes and art studios and the prettiest apartment buildings in the city…until you get to the bottom of the hill, that is :) Once you reach the main streets at the foot of Montmartre, you find the red-light district…and Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge...I love that movie :)

That night, we went to a movie with our professor and his daughter, Anna. We saw “La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons,” which is about a rivalry between two groups of young boys during World War II. It was so good…and I actually understood what was going on!! Yay! After the movie, we decided to go to a Jazz cafe that was in one of the famous “cellar cafes” in Paris. There was live music and even swing dancing! (I just watched…) It was a great way to spend our last night in Paris!
Monday morning, my friend, Jess, and I went to Notre Dame to try to go up the towers…unfortunately, the towers were closed until 11, and we didn’t have the time to wait two hours in line. Instead, we went souvenir shopping before we met our other friends for a picnic in the Luxembourg Garden. We had a classic French lunch of bread, cheese, and fruit while we watched a PE class from the local high school do their running through the Gardens. Very entertaining :)
After a bit more shopping…or maybe you could just call it “looking at things we can’t afford,” we went back to the hostel to get our stuff. We took the TGV home on Monday afternoon, weary and worn from our awesome weekend in Paris.
Seeing as I am sure I have shattered the record for longest post ever, I am going to stop now.

Bien à vous, 



L’architecture française

Translation: French Architecture (Is that needed?)

So, I was talking with my dad (an architect) and he really wanted to see more pictures of the buildings I am seeing. Of course, being an architects daughter, I have taken plenty of pictures of buildings so I figured that would be pretty cool! I don’t think I am going to explain every single building, but ask questions if you are curious about a certain one :)

This is the inside of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Grenoble


I don't really know why I love this picture, but I do :)


This is the ceiling inside the Basilica of Lyon


This winding staircase was in on of the courtyards of Lyon...I would love to live in one of those apartments!


Cool siding...right? Wrong. Those are solar cool.

This building isn't finished, but I loved it so much, I couldn't help taking a picture...

Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I do! 

Bien à vous,