Thursday, July 05, 2007

Premier jour de cours

First day of class and I’m already dizzy with the French. Actually, it is in many ways very similar to Spanish so that helps a lot.
To begin, they sat us in this very dramatic and uncomfortable amphitheater from some old century.
Apparently, either they haven’t heard of Powerpoint and the Proxima, or they are not fond of them. So they let us know which class we’d been assigned to it through acetate slides. Remember those, from like the 19th Century? Well, that’s how it went. It took way longer than it should. But finally, I was assigned a class with Madame Jacqueline. Level: elementaire. There is a more basic level, debutante, for those who really don’t speak at all, which makes me feel much better. Madame Jacqueline is very nice and has a good sense of humor. She taught us the masculine/feminine suffixes today, among other things. She assumes we already know how to utter a sentence. Some do, most don’t. Still, the two hour class went by pretty fast. Classes are in a nondescript building behind the Pantheon. The area is very cool, though. The Luxembourg gardens are nearby as is the Place de la Contrascarpe. It’s the student quarter. The Quartier Latin, so called because classes were in Latin, not because there are people dancing merengue at all hours.
In the afternoon, I went to the Grande Epicerie at Bon Marché which is a giant gourmet store. My jaw basically dropped just looking at the desserts and then I continued drooling through the teas, the spices, the cheeses, the meats, the wines, the chocolates, the jams. It’s a seriously alluring store.

Then in the evening we went to the ballet at the Opera Garnier, the theatre to end all theatres. It’s like a wedding cake gone berserk. It’s like somebody had a fit of overdecoration. And it is stunning. I felt like those people in the movies who deploy fans and do not pay attention to the performance because they are too busy looking at Mme de Sevigne or Fanny Ardant. We dressed up because the building demands it. But as Bea noted, there is no elegance anymore. People show up in their crocs (almost). The French dress a bit more formally, but there were lots of tourists.

We wanted to catch La Traviata last night but it was sold out, so we made do with La Fille Mal Garde, a very charming comedic ballet by Frederick Ashton. Ballet is an acquired taste. Bea was bored out of her wits and thought it charming but corny. I enjoyed it thoroughly. The company was really good and we had great seats. I had not been at the ballet in about 15 years. It was delightful, but a little goes a long way. They sell champagne at intermission, which undoubtedly must help with the proceedings, but champagne does not agree with moi so I went at it completely sober.

Then we walked, me and my little heels, all the way back from the Opera to Notre Dame because that’s what you do in Paris.

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