Les grands écoliers

Last Monday we attended our first French class at the Alliance Française Paris. Much like the first day of each school year in America, we were excited, but had a bit of trepidation for the unknown. But also much like other memorable school experiences, it turned out to be better than we imagined. We found that our teacher was encouraging with a light-hearted teaching style, and the other students were similar to ourselves in their eagerness to learn and their ability to laugh at their mistakes. Although we are all there to study a common language, where we come from and the reason for our studies couldn’t be more different. To our surprise and delight, we are the only Americans in a class of 15 students. The countries of origin range from Russia, Iran, Italy, Germany, Venezuala, Norway, England, Brazil and Turkey to name a few. And the reason to study French for some was for work, others for school, and others because they have family members who are French that they’d like to be able to talk to.

Alliance Française Paris

The sun shines on the gate of our school. Each day we cross through from being English speakers to French students in hopes of one day being able to call ourselves bilingual.

In addition to the 4 hours we spend each day in class, we typically get 1–2 hours of homework each night. Marc and I try speaking French to each other sometimes too, but it usually ends up in broken franglish. Even after one week of classes, we can hear and feel our progression. The possibility of actually being able to learn French seems possible. It may be part of the romantic nature of Paris, but when you’re eating a nutella crêpe in the sunshine, all things seem possible.

Our classmates

You can see that the group is very animated. Everyone was eager to accept a couple of new American students as friends. With a mixture of English (yes, everyone knows English as their second language with hopes of making French their third) and French, we talk about our lives back home, what brings us to Paris and what we experience outside of class.

It is amazing how quickly the school day passes. The amount of information to retain is sometimes daunting, but it is a challenge that we welcome with each new lesson. With 10 more weeks of classes to go, we feel a little closer each day to our quest…

School stairs

As class lets out, we happily descend down the stairs and into the streets of Paris.

After school, Marc and I like to grab a bite to eat, explore the city for a couple of hours, and then return home to study and sometimes a run. We know that many of you have been curious about our second apartment, so we’ve taken a few pictures that we hope will paint the picture.

Rue Arago

From a small winding market street to a spaciously coiffed boulevard, the contrast of the two streets that we've resided on is amazing. The new apartment offers a nice uphill run to get to the Luxembourg Gardens where we've been doing most of our running.

Outside our apartment

Qu'est que c'est?! When we first approached the building, we hoped that we had the address wrong. Could all of this scaffolding be for our building? We were happy to find that although this is our entrance, you pass through a small courtyard to get to our building, which is not under construction and we are never disrupted by the work being done.

Our front door

We had to show this entry way because of it's contrast to the previous apartment, as well as it's unique metal door. So French and so functional, all in one!


Spacious and full of light, we couldn't have been happier to arrive at our second apartment after one last head butt to the ceiling in the previous one. It seems even bigger than our place in Chicago! Good thing we lived in a studio for 2 years.

Bedroom view

Another look at the great light that shines in through the south facing windows.

Our kitchen

It's also a good thing that Marc is an accomplished chef. Even in this tiny galley kitchen equipped with only the basics, he is able to whip up some truly amazing cuisine.

Sammy in the shower!

The tour of our apartment wouldn't be complete without a quick look at the bathroom. Sammy hides her fear of water to show off the shower. Even though it has a French style removable shower head, the landlord was nice enough to install it more like a shower to accommodate overseas guests, like ourselves.

Between the move and school, we were also able to make a visit to the Pantheon, a first for both of us, as well as get in a few runs around town. However, these will have to wait for the next post, so we hope you will check in on us again soon to see and hear more about what else we’ve been up to. For now, we must study some French verb conjugations and figure out why everything in French is either feminine or masculine… even a chair! (That’s “la chaise” by the way)

Mel blogging

Mel seems up to something… perhaps the next blog entry…


~ by marcandmel on March 2, 2010.

5 Responses to “Les grands écoliers”

  1. As an old English teacher, I love your title! And how did you get Sammy to sit in the shower? Your school sounds awesome. It must be so much fun to talk with the other students from all over the world. It looks like the experience is everything you wished for and more. Love, MOM

  2. Aah! I’m packing my bags and coming to stay with you. It looks so awesome I can’t stand it! And it seems like you have PLENTY of room in your apartment for me to squeeze in ;o) Je suis jaloux.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences wish us! I look forward to reading your blog. Your apartment is adorable and I love how Sammy modeled for you! Is she learning French as well? Love, Aunt Julie

  4. I love it! You guys are amazing! Keep up the great job!

  5. Love it! I am so excited that we get to share your journey with you:). Thank you for taking the time to update your blog and show us your adventures. Mingo and Boo are very jealous that Sammy is a world traveller:).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: