Sunday, September 30, 2012

Arrival in Paris

Saint Germaine-en Laye, France
My flight to Paris was uneventful, though less comfortable than usual. I'm accustomed to a having a wide variety of movies to enjoy on transatlantic flights. Even though I was flying on Delta, the plane and crew were with Air France.  The plane was older and less comfortable, with only overhead screens and no choice of movies to watch. Three movies were shown during the seven hour flight, but only one of them interested me, so I spent most of my time reading.

I sat next to a young man who was headed to India to work on a movie, a political thriller that takes place in New York and India. He was chatty at times, but seemed most interested in teaching other passengers how to do a Rubic's cube.

When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at 6 a.m., it was cold and rainy. The airport was empty at that hour, so we moved quickly through passport control and the retrieval of luggage. I followed the signs to find the RER train that would take me across town to Saint Germaine-en-Laye, the suburbs where my friends live. I had to change to another line once we were in Paris, and it was during rush hour, so I stood with my bags for most of the thirty minute ride from central Paris to St. Germaine, where my friend Monica picked me up.

I've explained before that I'm staying with Italian friends who moved to Paris two years ago from Rieti, Italy. Monica took me to their house to stash my luggage, then we went to pick up her 7 year-old son from school for his lunch break. We went to the center of St. Germaine for lunch, to a creperie, where I ate my first galette, which is a type of crepe made with dark flour and a variety of toppings, from sweet to savory. Mine came with lettuce, walnuts, golden raisins and chevre cheese. It was quite delicious!

La galette
I also had a popular beverage from Normandy called Il Cidro, which is a kind of apple beer. It tasted like a mild apple cider, very tasty. After lunch we walked Tommaso back to school and I went along with Monica to the Lycee International, which her two teenage daughters attend. Only children from countries outside of France can attend this school, and those from Europe have no tuition. But there are also students from the U.S., Britain, and other countries, who do pay tuition. Students have language and history courses in their native language, but all other classes are taught in French. It's a wonderful opportunity for the girls to increase their language skills, which include Italian, English, French. They are also starting to learn Spanish. There are some 300 Italian families with nearly 400 of their children at the school, and the Ruggeri family has found a great community of friends among them.

That evening, Monica made a wonderful meal of French onion soup, another staple of the French diet. As usual, the family made me feel quite welcome, and by that time I was ready to crash. All too soon, I'd be back on the metro for my first day in Paris.

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