Spring has Sprung!

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I have always been more of a summer person but I think I have had a change of heart. I’m not sure if it was just a tease or if Paris is finally warming up, but Thursday was sunny and 65! We took full advantage of the weather and laid under the Eiffel Tower and read. I made some progress on Les Miserables so you could say it was a successful day. We stopped by the amazing Galleries Lafayette and did a little bit of shoe shopping on the way home.  If the rest of my time here is this weather, I truly will never want to leave!

Spring also means I actually have to start paying attention to basketball, because it is March Madness! We have a bracket challenge going on within my program, so you can always find a room full of people watching whatever game is on. I personally know absolutely nothing about basketball, but I still think it is fun to make a bracket and get competitive with friends and family! Plus, I’m the reigning champion in my family league, so I have a lot to live up to this season. Thankfully, I chose Arizona to win in my Clemson league, so not all hope is lost…yet.

The weather is perfect and March Madness is fun, but hands down the best part of Spring is Spring Break. I’m not even talking about myself going somewhere (I do that enough), I’m talking about my best friend/freshman roommate Lily coming and staying in Paris for Clemson’s spring break! Lily flew in super early Saturday morning (I’m talking 5 am early), so Ally and I went and picked her up at the airport at the crack of dawn! We were already out early so we headed to our favorite brunch place in Montmartre, The Hardware Societe, and drank as much coffee as humanly possible. We then took Lily to tour Sacre Coeur, visited the Wall of Love, and wandered around our favorite Montmartre streets. After, we strolled down the Champs-Elysses, stopping in our favorite stores (Laduree for macarons and Louis Vitton for absolutely nothing) and ended up at the Arc de Triumphe! We climbed to the top again, and I’ve decided that is my favorite view of Paris. You can see everything! There was also a HUGE French flag flying in the Arc which was really cool to see! For dinner, we ate at La Gazette, which was absolutely delicious! It is really close to the Arc but not touristy at all, I would highly recommend. After our stomachs were full we met some friends at a bar in the Latin Quarter, where we all huddled around Kasey’s phone and watched Villanova blow everyone’s brackets. The night ended with a Nutella crepe so you could say it was a great day.

We got a late start on Sunday, but still did lots! We got coffee at the Shakespeare and Co cafe and sat in the park right across the street. It is next to Notre Dame, so the people watching was phenomenal! We stopped by the Love Lock Bridge before heading to the one and only Eiffel Tower. We ended up spending over 4 hours there, just walking around, sitting on benches and catching up. It was fun seeing Paris with Lily, but the best part of the weekend was just hanging out with my best friend.

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Also note: If you couldn’t tell from the pictures, it was not sunny and 65 all week but the weather has still been super nice, so I’m going to count it as the beginning of spring, even if I’m just a bit early.

 

 

Étretat

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Ever since I went to Versailles, I have been wanting to go on more day trips to places in France. Between class, having friends visit, and traveling to crazy cool places, I really haven’t had much time to get away for the day. But last Thursday Ally, Emily and I finally took another day trip! We traveled a few hours outside of Paris by train and ended up in Étretat, a tiny farming town in the Normandie region known for their amazing cliffs. We ended up having one of the best days so far!

Unfortunately, our trip didn’t exactly start as planned. We started our morning very early and took a two-hour train to a station, where we were supposed to get on a bus. We got the bus times mixed up, and as we were walking up to the bus station we watched our 10:30 bus roll out at exactly 10:19. Our 11-minute mistake was going to cost us three hours because the next bus to Étretat did not leave until 1:30. Our time was already pretty limited so we decided to bite the bullet and take a not-so-cheap cab. In the end, it was 100% worth it.

40 minutes later we arrived, triple checked the time for our bus home, and headed out to the cliffs. We walked out to the ocean and onto a beach covered in rocks and pebbles. It was incredibly windy and a bit chilly, but we had a blast running up and down the beach. We were acting like little children that had never seen the ocean, it was so much fun. The beach is surrounded by cliffs on either side, so after our fair share of running from the waves we picked a side and started climbing!

Even though it was a little foggy, the view from the top was amazing. We ended up climbing up both sides of the cliffs, going a little too close to the edge, and taking way too many pictures. It was so beautiful, I forgot how much I love the ocean. We even found a sketchy staircase down the face of one of the cliffs and decided to do a little extra exploring. It took us down to a tiny, secluded rock beach and we spent way too much time just hanging out and looking at all the rocks. Right when we were about to climb the stairs back up the cliff to return to where we came from, we found a cave/tunnel that led us through the cliff to the other side, back to the original beach we started on! All three of us ran through the cave screaming because it was so creepy and dark, but we were willing to do anything to not have to climb up more steep stairs.

Three coffees and one bus ride later (we got to the bus stop very early this time), we were headed back to Paris. I had never even heard of Étretat two weeks ago, and now it is one of my favorite places! It was such a unique experience. Plus, the cliffs got me even more excited for my Cliffs of Moher tour I’m taking in Ireland next month. I’ll leave you with more low-quality iPhone pictures; I didn’t want to take my camera because there was a high chance of rain.

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Am I a Local Yet?

I have officially been living in Paris for over two months, how crazy is that? Time has been flying by, but the best part is I have 3 months to go! The greatest thing about studying abroad in Paris is that you will never run out of things to do in your own city. I feel like I have seen so much, yet I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the things Paris has to offer!

This weekend I got to show off my love for my new home to three of my best friends! Sydney, Sammi and Casey (the same Casey that I visited in Italy last month) all lived in my dorm freshman year and are still some of my closest friends, so this weekend was seriously one of the best yet. The only thing better than exploring Paris is getting to explore Paris with my best friends!

It was so much fun being a tourist in my own city for the weekend. On Friday, Sydney Sammi and Casey explored the champs-élysées and Arc de Triomphe while Ally and I were in class (until 5:50… ugh), but then we met up with them for dinner. It was Casey’s birthday, which called for lots of celebrating, so after dinner we met up with friends from my program at a bar in the Latin Quarter. It was so much fun being able to be with Casey on her birthday and spend time celebrating her in Europe! I never thought that would happen.

The rest of the weekend was a bit rainy, but that didn’t stop us from having fun! We ate at countless cafes, saw Notre Dame, went to the love lock bridge, climbed up to Sacre Coeur, bought books at Shakespeare and Co (I bought Les Miserables, wish me luck) and spent too many hours drinking coffee trying to stay warm (and dry). Saturday night the weather cleared up just in time for us to go to up the Eiffel Tower. It was my first time actually going to the top of the tower, and I am so glad I did it at night! The view was beautiful; there is truly nothing like the twinkling lights of Parisian streets. Sunday morning we went to the most amazing brunch spot in Montmartre called The Hardware Society. It was so cute and I had the most amazing fried brioche of my life. Nothing else will ever compare.

Overall, it was a great weekend and I had so much fun showing my best friends all around Paris! Exploring the city was great, but the best part was just being able to spend time with them after being apart for months. Some of my favorite memories from freshman year are just laying on the floor of Casey and Sydney’s room laughing until I cry, and it was so cool being able to make new memories with them in Paris!

Now that the weekend is over, I have to snap back into reality. Apparently, you do actually have to study during study abroad (who knew?) because I have a finance test on Tuesday and right now I’m not feeling too prepared. So for the next few days, it will just be me, my financial calculator, and Ed Sheeran’s new album. Wish me luck.

Disclaimer: it was too rainy for me to bring my camera out with me this weekend, so I only have a few low-quality phone shots 😦

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We didn’t let the rain ruin our day!

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Go friends go paris go tigers

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Birthday girl!

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Eiffel Tower views

Parisian Adventures

 

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The front gates of Versailles

 

I am almost at the three-week mark of my time here in Paris, and I am finally starting to get the hang of things! The school/class system here is very different, so that took some getting used to, but I everything is going great. Plus, with three weeks under my belt, I have also had some time to explore more of Paris! I may be traveling to many different countries in the next few months, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to explore my new home of Paris! The past few weeks have been full of amazing sights and even better food.

One morning we decided to have a girls day and all the girls in my program got up and went to the Champs-Elysées together for brunch and shopping! We got off the metro directly in front of the Arc De Triomphe and my mind was instantly blown. I definitely need to go back and go to the top! We ate at a cute little cafe and I ate my first croque-monsieur. We also stopping in the famous Ladurée to buy macarons! They were to die for. No girls’ day is complete without a little bit (or a lot) of shopping, so we spent the next few hours going in as many shops as we could handle. The first few weeks of the year mean big sales all across Paris, so we scored some great deals!

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At the Arc de Triomphe!

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My first Croque Monsieur did not disappoint!

I don’t have class on Thursdays so last week Ally and I decided to adventure out into the city and visit the Louvre for the first time! As students, we get in free so we knew this would be the first of many times there. I was not expecting it to be as big as it was! We walked in, got a little overwhelmed, and just decided to wander for a few hours and see what we stumbled upon. We ended up walking into the French sculpture exhibit; I was blown away by the huge marble statues. They were gorgeous. My favorite thing we saw was the recreations of Marie Antoinette’s and other royal rooms. The furniture and decor were beautiful. And of course, we couldn’t go to the Louvre without seeing the Mona Lisa, so on our way out we made a pit stop. Thankfully, it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded so we got to stand in the front row! Overall it was a successful first trip and I cannot wait to go back and see more.

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My favorite room in the Louvre!

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It’s much smaller in person

A few nights ago almost the entire group got together and we took the metro into the heart of Paris and had a family dinner together! Table for 18, please. We ate at a bistro called Bistrot Victoires, and it was amazing! They are known for their steak with burnt thyme, and it seriously comes out with the thyme glowing from being on fire! I ordered a crème brûlée for dessert and we all left extremely happy.

This weekend, we took a quick 45-minute train to Versailles! Wow, Louis XIV sure did know hoe to do things big. We explored the palace and gardens and stopped for a little coffee break in one of the cafes in the garden. I loved all the gold! Honestly, I was most impressed with the gardens. I can’t wait to go back in the spring time and spend all day exploring them.

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In the hall of mirrors

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It was a beautiful day, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t cold

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All of the water in the fountains and ponds was frozen!

Today, I had a lazy Sunday, which was great after such an exciting week. A few of us had a late brunch at Arsène. It was a quirky place, but really good! Their set brunch menu included an omelet, pancake, potato cake, French toast, orange juice and coffee, so needless to say we all left stuffed! I can’t wait to try out more cute cafes and restaurants.

This week we planned two more trips (a weekend trip to Brussels, Belgium next weekend and a week long trip through Italy in February) but I have been having so much fun just exploring Paris as well! I feel so lucky to be living here this semester. I know I will never run out of things to do!

TIGERS ON TOP

Have you ever heard the phrase “nothing good happens after 2 AM”? Well, I am here to tell you that is wrong because at 6:22 AM Tuesday morning (Paris time) CLEMSON OFFICIALLY WON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! It was a night/morning that I will never forget.

We found some random South African bar in the middle of Paris that was staying open for the entire game, so at midnight all 23 of us got on the metro before it closed and made our way there. A few of our friends that we made last week from other schools met us there and watched the entire game with us, props to them. The game started at 2 AM, and by halftime everyone looked like a zombie. We were all exhausted but there was no way we were going to leave before the game was over (partly because the metro didn’t open back up until 5:30 AM… but mostly because of school spirit). But by the fourth quarter, I felt like I could run a marathon. My blood was pumping and I was bouncing off the walls.

When the final pass was caught and we scored with 0:01 left on the clock, it was chaos. Everyone was crying, screaming, jumping up and down and hugging each other. I have never felt so happy in my entire life. We all screamed the cadence count one last time at the top of our lungs, sang the Alma Mater together, and I sat on the floor of the bar and cried while watching Dabo and Deshaun’s post game interviews. People say that their wedding day is the best day of their lives, but I really don’t know how anything could top this.

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We all look like complete messes, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.

After we had all partially composed ourselves, we started the trek back home. We rode the metro back with all of the people riding in early to work… that was an experience. I did not get into my bed until 8 AM, and my sleep schedule is all messed up again, but in the end, it was all worth it.

The tigers are back on top, we are officially National Champions, and I got to experience it all in the most unique and unforgettable way possible. Now excuse me while I sleep for two days straight. GO TIGERS AND ROLL TEARS ROLL!

 

From the Streets of Montmartre

My first weekend in Paris was a success! After an exhausting week full of class, orientation, and exploring my new home, I spent a lot of my weekend catching up on sleep and relaxing for the first time since I’ve been here, but we also got the opportunity to do some really cool things!

After my law class got out on Friday, we all rushed back to our apartment complex and immediately got ready to go out! Our French friends in the International Club took us out and showed us the night life of Paris! My roommate/best friend Ally and I shared a really good ham and cheese crêpe that almost brought me to tears. So good.

On Saturday, Clemson arranged for everyone to go on a guided walking tour of Montmartre, a historic district of Paris. It was so cute! It looked exactly like what you imagine the quaint little streets and shops of  Paris to look like, complete with cobblestone streets and vines growing on all the buildings (that was my favorite part). We saw the Moulin Rouge and climbed up a billion stairs to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, the most beautiful Roman Catholic church. As if the church itself wasn’t pretty enough, it sits on top of this huge hill and gives you the most amazing view of Paris. I felt like I was living a dream.

After our tour, we stopped at a restaurant called Le Crémaillère 1900 for lunch. Clemson paid (yeah, I go to the best school ever) so we had a set menu that our tour guide picked out for us. We first warmed up with french onion soup, then had duck and finished with some type of chocolate and pear dessert. I had never eaten duck before, but I loved it and the whole meal was amazing!

Click on any of the pictures to make them bigger!

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Avec amour,
Abby

P.S. You know what I will be doing this Tuesday from 2AM to 5AM. Yes, you read that right. Time changes suck. GO TIGERS!

Bonjour de Paris!

I made it to Paris! After 2 and a half hours of delays, 9 and a half hours of flying, and a 7 hour time difference I am officially living in Paris! I left Austin at around 2:30 PM on January 1st and arrived at the Charles de Gaulle airport at around 11:30 AM the next day. The flight was actually quite nice because my parents spoil me and upgraded me to business class at the last minute  (thanks mom and dad). When I landed it was snowing, which was beautiful and ironic because I’m pretty sure it was 75 degrees when I left Austin.

We are living in the business district of Paris, La Défense, and are attending IÉSEG School of Management, which is actually inside/under the Grande Arche (I’ll include a picture). I am here with 22 other Clemson students, all studying Business!

It is a cold 15-minute walk to school every day, so I think I might be able to walk off all the bread, cheese, and wine calories. Speaking of food, it has only been a few days and I have already stuffed myself with baguettes from little markets, macarons, and crêpes.

I am already super busy this week with a business law class for three hours a day and orientation for the school. The class is keeping me pretty busy but I have found some time to already start exploring the city! IÉSEG has a great International Club with French students that have planned fun activities for us all week! On Tuesday, they took everyone out to a bar and we got to meet and talk with a bunch of the other international students! It has been really cool meeting so many people from all around the world, from Australia to Russia. Tonight (Thursday) the school rented out a room in a restaurant and around 90 international students all went and ate Flammekueche, a thin crust pizza-type thing. We all talked and laughed and even got to yell the Clemson Cadence Count a few times. The International Club has done such a great job including us in activities and helping us meet so many other students!

It is day four and I have already done the most touristy thing possible: seen the Eiffel Tower. Everyone from Clemson went as a group and I thought it was even cooler and prettier in person. The lights would twinkle every hour and it was one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen. We stood and watched in awe as we ate crêpes from a little stand. There is no better way to end a day!

Hopefully, I will find time to update everyone weekly about all the amazing things I am getting to do in Paris! I have had a great first few days and cannot wait to see what the next five months have in store for me. I have wifi at school and in my apartment, so feel free to text (iMessage) me and I’ll reply whenever I have wifi! I’m already having a great time but please continue to keep me in your prayers!

Avec amour,
Abby