There are a lot of photos crammed into this post.
You’ve been warned.
I discovered that Sunday was Mother’s Day in France. I was sitting at lunch when I received a text from the program lead wishing me a Happy Mother’s day (in France). It was so sweet of him.
Sunday was also our one and only free day for the duration of the trip. My plans for the day changed multiple times because in all truth, I am just so tired from the jetlag and the heat and the sheer volume of activity we’ve done so far. I didn’t want to sit around the room alone all day, though. I wanted to do something with someone else. Not only am I feeling very sociable but Shane is not comfortable with me wandering through Paris alone, which I respect.
In the end, I decided to go see Notre Dame. It’s the one thing I really wanted to make sure I did while here and the program director wasn’t sure we’d go see it. The group member I had dinner with the night before wanted to go to mass at Notre Dame so we decided to travel together again.
We hopped the Metro, which we’ve all gotten pretty good at by now. We arrived a bit early to the area so we stopped for a cafe and then headed into the cathedral for high mass.
Let’s process that for a moment. I sat through (my first ever) high mass at none other than the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
It was so beautiful. The service was in Latin and French, so I understood like one word out of 100 and I’ve never been to a mass before so I had little clue what any of the ritual meant.
But it was beautiful.
The tradition was interesting to watch and my Catholic-raised, semi-French speaking travel partner clued me in on some of it.
Once the service was over, we wandered around inside and out taking pictures and discussing the dichotomy of the extravagance of thing such as the Notre-dame and the Château de Versailles during a time when most people were barely surviving. I doubt I contributed much intellectual weight to this conversation, however, because at this point I’m losing brain cells to sleep deprivation. It was a strange mixture of emotions, though, because the history is heartbreaking but the cathedral is so, so beautiful, it’s hard not to marvel at the majesty of it.
My companion and I also kept marveling at the the fact that we were walking on floors and touching walls that were laid in the 12th century. So humbling and awe inspiring.
We then discovered a museum next to the cathedral that discussed some of the history and was built around some of the original fortifications walls and such. We paid our 8 euro a piece and wandered around taking pictures and reading the history of the area in which the cathedral was built. A good portion of the literature was translated into English but not all. I enjoyed trying to piece together what French we could understand, although his ability to read French far exceeded mine. For me, it was my background in Spanish and the fact that the English language has borrowed massively from French that got me through.
Once we finished our touring we stopped for lunch and coffee and then set off to try and see the catacombs. I had some type of egg and herb appetizer with lunch that was good. On our way to the catacombs, ve stumbled across the Deaf residential school we will be visiting on Tuesday by mistake, which was pretty cool. We found some other interesting buildings along the way, as well.
We arrived at the catacombs to discover the line wrapped around the building and continuing out of site. Neither one of us wanted to see it bad enough to wait so we hopped the metro back to the hotel where my planned two-hour nap lasted a whopping 28 minutes.
It’s just so stinking hot.
I made plans to meet another group member at 6:30 to go see the Moulin Rouge and find dinner. Her and I set off and tackled the metro by ourselves for the first time (previously, my other sight-seeing companion did most of the figuring out how to get places.) We found it without issue. It’s interesting how quickly things became normal and routine.
We decided to eat dinner in the area and ended up finding a fantastic restaurant, called Paradis du Fruit, that served healthy, organic food.
I just love that the one healthy restaurant I find in Paris is near the Moulin Rouge, just around the block from the Sex Toys store.
I kid you not.
Throughout the evening, we used ASL with a smattering of LSF mixed in (because we only know a smattering of LSF) and the poor waiter was so frazzled by our not talking, I felt a little bad for him. It’s not been our first experience with getting a tiny taste of what it’s like to navigate the world like the Deaf community, but I plan to spend an entire blog discussing that. I will say, we aren’t pretending to be Deaf; we would never disrespect the Deaf community by doing something so reprehensible but we are here for a language immersion experience so we are doing our best to keep our mouths shut and only use sign.
Well, I am at least. I can’t say the same about the majority of our group which has been both disappointing and aggravating.
It’s been an eye opening experience.
After we finished dinner we made a pit stop at the Arc de Triomphe on the way back to the hotel. Again, the line was long, I’m thinking due to the fact that most everything else is closed on Sunday’s. Much like the catacombs, I may go back a different night and stand in line for the full experience.
We managed to get back to the hotel by ten.
After a quick shower (I have to take one every morning and every night, I kid you not), I FaceTimed Shane and chatted with everyone for a bit before heading to bed. It was a good day off, both relaxing and stimulating.
Just because I’m thinking about it, I’m going to say that so far sitting through Mass at the Notre-Dame is equal to seeing the Eiffel Tower as far as my favorite things I’ve done so far this trip. The service and the cathedral were beautiful and I really enjoyed the many conversations I had with my travel partner. We discussed a lot about history, language, linguistics, and ASL. I enjoy getting to know people that I share common interests with but who also have differing perspectives than I do on things.
But ever more enjoyable than all of these things has been the sign language immersion experience and learning LSF. It’s been incredible. I can’t imagine how much my language proficiency is going to have improved by the time I get home.
It’s been such an incredible experience.