Bonjour! My name is Preshita Gadkari, and I am taking the course “Microbiology and Culture of Cheese and Wine” in Cluny, France. I flew in a week early to explore Paris, Aix-en-Provence, and Avignon before the course officially started. Currently, I am on the TGV train heading from Paris to Aix-en-Provence. These speedy trains zipping voraciously through the country-side, and it is very much like being on a plane [except on ground of course]. I’m trying to take pictures from the train, but the task seems impossible because the train travels too fast to capture anything without blurring the image. On the other hand, this train has finally given me the chance to upload pictures and type up entries because my 3.5 days in Paris were extremely long so that I could maximize my experience.
Paris is magnificent and fabulous city right out of a storybook. With the architecture conserved to the Napoleonic era, the buildings and streets are painted with bronze, copper, and at several times gold. The French people were somehow miraculously able to understand me in my broken French and hand charades. I roughed it out by traveling through the metro from the airport [which required carrying my luggage up and down the subway stairs]. My hotel was several blocks away from the Eiffel Tower and next to L’Ecole Militare [Military School]. I arrived at noon to Paris and decided to go out for the entire day to fight my jet-lag.
First stop of the day was the one that was closest to the Hotel—L’Tour Eiffel! Little did I know that the Eiffel Tower not only attracts tourists, but also gypsies and “shamans” from North Africa that prey on naïve tourists. The gypsy [and she also was just a child] asked for euro donations for the deaf and mute by hand gestures, and right when I was about to takeout a euro, a Frenchman stopped me and yelled at her. The French claim that there are many such people all over the city scamming money out of tourists. Anyhow, the Eiffel Tower was gigantic and swarmed with tourists. There are two restaurants on some of the floors, but they were way too expensive for my price range, so I ate at a nearby café with a lovely view of the tower and its grounds. I had a croque madam without ham—a sandwich which has fried eggs mixed with gooey mix of cheese on toasted bread. Il a bon gout (it tastes very good)!