Grace’s Final Blog

Hey everyone!

It has only been a few weeks since my last blog post but somehow this will be another long one including descriptions about things I am excited about and realizations/new ideas I have formulated throughout my time here.

In the past few weeks, I have eaten a giant Babybell cheese, made pottery (specifically a vase) and seen a robot elephant walk around on the waterfront… One of my favorite things I have done recently is taking a day trip to Nantes, which is a 2-hour drive away from Chateau Gontier, with Camille. When we got there we went to a castle, and then a museum within the castle. It was super cool because there were many small rooms and hallways that were filled with artifacts (like swords and crowns) from the people who used to live there, and it was fun to explore all of the different parts of the museum. After, we took a walk to “L’ile des machines” which is an island where people create robot animals (such as elephants, cranes, and spiders) for people to ride. When we went, there was an elephant walking around with about 20 people on its back, spraying water (with its trunk) at onlookers.

A photo of part of the castle that we visited in Nantes

I also was able to visit Terra Botanica, which is like a zoo for plants. There were gardens, a butterfly house, and an “Extreme Climates” building, which included tropical, snowy, desert and rainy rooms that had different plants depending on the places that they were from. In the “snow” room, there was an ice wall, where hundreds of people had created handprints. It was extremely cold but when I held my hand on the ice for about 1 minute there ended up being a small indent next to so many others, which I thought was super cool.

An orange tree next to the “Extreme Climates” building in Terra Botanica

All in all, it has been a really fun couple of weeks and I cannot wait for more fun things to come in the next week!

My adventures here have been amazing but I think the main things that I will take out of this trip are the realizations and new knowledge that I have found. I have learned a lot, the differences between France and the US (may it be school, home life, the food, etc.), and how hard it is to learn new things in French… I have also learned about living in a small town and so much more about the different expectations and daily routines that people have in France and how they relate to those in America. It is really crazy to think that for my whole life I have only thought, known and been comfortable with my own surroundings when there are so many more places to explore in the world.

Also, because this will be last blog post, I want to say a huge thank you to a few people. The first being Camille, for having so many fun times together over the course of these past 6 months and always remaining super positive and energetic the entire time. And to Camille’s family for welcoming me into their home and making me feel comfortable and included. And of course a big thanks to my family for letting me have this experience and to Esther and Kristin for helping with everything throughout this Passepartout program. I am so very thankful to everyone who helped create and support this adventure and am so happy that I got to have this amazing experience.

Grace’s Second Blog

Hey everyone! It’s my second blog post and I have no idea where to start with all of the things that have happened since my last one… but since we just got back from a nice relaxing break I will start there.

The first week of break Camille’s family and I went to Paris and it was so amazing. Some of my favorite things were going to an old cemetery, seeing all of the art in the museums there and visiting all of the pretty churches.

The Pere Lachaise cemetery was the first place we stopped at when we got off of the train. The gravestones were super old and had many detailed designs all over them. There was one that was huge and shaped like a giant silver fish with puffed up cheeks. They were all scattered with things like flowers and jewelry but some had buttons and seashells on them as well.

On the first night there I met some of Camille’s family friends and they gave us a tour of some of the popular places around Paris such as The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, The Basilique du Sacre- Cœur and Notre Dame.

The second day we went to Notre Dame and Saint-Chapelle. The stained glass windows in both of these churches are insanely beautiful. In Saint-Chapelle there are thousands of tiny images that make up entire walls of the church. The images are detailed and the colors that make them up to make you feel as if you are in a rainbow.

On the third day, we went to the Louvre, one of my favorite art museums in the world, and I got to see one of my favorite pieces of artwork in the world, The Winged Victory of Samothrace. The room where the Mona Lisa is was overly crowded but I managed to get to the front and take a somewhat clear picture which I was proud of. After we finished looking at the art in the Louvre, we then visited the Royal Jardin (where there were striped sculptures everywhere) and had a picnic in the park.

The fourth day was when got to see the National Assembly. Inside, my favorite room was the library because it is decorated with detailed wood shelving and old books (unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures in that specific room but I have found one online!). After the tour ended we went to L’orangerie and I got to see my other favorite artwork in the whole world; Monets Water Lillies!

Image result for library of france national assembly
this image is from google images it is of the national assembly library!

I got to see L’Arc de Triumph on the fifth day as well as the house of Victor Hugo and the modern art museum. Victor Hugo’s house was full of photographs and artifacts. The carpets, walls, and ceilings had detailed patterns in colors like gold and deep green or red that made the house look like the interior of a castle.

On the last day, we went to more gardens and another museum and ended the trip eating dinner at an Indian Restuarant near the train station.

The weather has been super nice these last couple weeks so when we came back from Paris, Camille, he best friend and I went on many bike rides during the remaining week of break and I got a chance to see a nature reserve that is a couple towns over from Chateau-Gontier. There were cats and dogs roaming around everywhere and an island in the middle of the lake with about 200 baboons on it which was crazy!

All in all, it was an amazing break. Since it has ended, I have gotten back into the routine of going to school and this weekend I am going to Nantes which I am super excited about.


Grace’s First Blog

Well, my first blog accidentally was saved as a draft and did not post (oops!). Fortunately, I found it again so here it is!

The first couple of weeks in France have taught me so much about French culture, language and the everyday lives of those living in Chateau-Gontier. I am loving the scenery here as well as the people and experiences that I am having. The very first night, Camille’s parents welcomed me with a lovely dinner and the first full day Camille’s best friend came over and we went for a walk along the river. Right off the bat, the amount of inclusion and warmth I felt from everyone around me was so amazing, and it just goes to show the welcoming environment that I am lucky enough to be in.

Some of my favorite experiences so far have been biking along the river, visiting the farm (where Dylan is staying), exploring a few towns close to Chateau-Gontier and finding new shops and landmarks around the town. Two days ago, I found out that there is a Thursday street market in the upper section of town which was also an interesting part of my trip so far. The market has many different types of booths including one in which you can hold a rabbit and another that sells jewelry made from not just metals and gemstones but also donkey hair (very strange but also very cool!).

There are a few things that are different from Seattle that I have noticed. Dinner here is very different from the dinners I usually eat. We eat it later (at around 8:30 or 9:00) and it usually consists of either pasta or different types of salad and soup. After dinner, Camille’s Mom usually brings out a cheese plate and then after yogurts and chocolate pudding. Another thing that is really different is the school. School goes to 5:30pm all days except Wednesday in which we have a half day. There is also very little homework (about 20 minutes a week) which is super cool because it means that I am able to explore, eat pastries and hang out with Camille and her friends after school most days.

Getting to know the town and people more while beginning to improve my French skills has been amazing and I am loving everything this opportunity is bringing me so far. The beautiful buildings and river are insanely pretty and I am just so excited to see what else this experience brings me!