Upon our arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, we didn’t waste any time at all. We went directly into the city, dropped off our luggage at the hotel, and went into town on the Métro. http://www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/ I had already given my students a lesson on how the Paris Métro works, so even if they were jet-lagged, they managed to do ok as long as we stayed in a group.
We went directly to the 2ème arrondissement where we met up with a good friend of mine who would be our tour guide for the next 16 days. Together, we led the group over to the Rue Montorgueil http://www.thekitchn.com/a-foodlovers-walk-down-the-rue-128435. I love for this street to be one of our first stops in Paris. It’s the kind of Parisian street that tourists can visualize even before arriving. It’s a street lined with fromageries, poissonneries, fleuristes, restaurants, cafés, boulangeries, pâtisseries. It’s a place where Parisians do their daily shopping, all the while taking the time to socialize. As soon as we got there, I told my wide-eyed students (all boys) that the time had come to put these years of studying French to good use: C’était l’heure du déjeuner! (lunch time!!). I set them out on their own, they were to stay in groups of 4-5. I remember some of them looking at me as if to say, “Quoi???” But I believe that the best way to experience something new is sometimes just to jump right in.
We adults chose to have a seat on the terrace of a little restaurant (I can’t remember the name of it!) to enjoy a glass of wine and our first French meal of the summer. Honestly, we were so tired, I cannot remember what I ate. I know it was fish, and I know it was good. What I remember most about this particular trip to the Rue Montorgueil is meeting up with the guys after lunch. While walking down the street, we ran into about seven of them who were also seated on the terrace of a cute restaurant. They were all enjoying lunch, and they’d ordered quite a variety of dishes! I noticed that one of them was eating steak tartare, and I congratulated him on that. Then he told me that he should have continued French after sophomore year. He just saw the word steak and figured he’d be safe. He was in for a surprise! But get this… When he received his tartare http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steak_tartare, a dish made from raw ground beef, garnished with onions, capers, seasonings, and a raw egg yolk, three or four waiters came to judge his reaction. The boys told me that even the chef came outside. My student dove right in, and said in a rather weak voice and an even weaker smile, “C’est très bon!”, and there was applause all around. I’m not sure what the staff expected, but I know I was proud! While I was there talking to them and hearing the story second-hand, some of the waiters came back outside to tell me, obviously le professeur how perfectly delightful this young group of Americans had been. I’ve never been more proud, good job guys!
If you’ve enjoyed this post, I’m sure you’ll like this post about when we went to our tour guide’s home in The Marais: Paris, Je t’aime (Part 2: A French Home, le Marais). Join us in visiting a real Parisian home, and a trip around Le Marais.