Not so long from now (a mere matter of hours, in fact) I'll be on a plane heading for France with some students and teachers from my school. It is a wonderful opportunity and I'm more grateful than I can say to be able to go along - it's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing for someone who doesn't teach languages.
Before I leave, I thought it might be nice to share some photos (above) and thoughts (below) about when I first visited Paris. If you're bored by that kind of thing, feel free to skip this one. I'm away from late September to early-ish October (and returning straightaway to Term 4), so while I'll no doubt have a stack of photos and posts to share from the trip (I'm too embarrassed to tell you exactly how many memory cards I'm planning on taking with me), it will probably take some time to get them organised when I return.
I've got to tell you, preparing for this trip has made me incredibly nostalgic - it's been hard not to think of my previous visits to Paris in particular (that sounds really pretentious but I promise I don't mean it to!)
When I was in my late 20's I left Australia to live and work in London. It was the biggest thing I had ever done in my entire life to that date.
So. At 29, I sold (almost) everything I owned and moved to the other side of the world. A few weeks later, I turned 30. In Paris. It was quite surreal. I couldn't really believe I was there. Luckily I had a camera, so now I can look back on it and know it was real. I was actually there. It did happen. My birthday is on the 22nd of March and it was pouring with rain upon arrival on the evening of the 21st. It was that kind of spring rain that is sudden and intense, bursting from the sky and gathering in huge puddles in the streets. A bistro close to the hotel was found nearby for dinner. I'm sure I have the receipt somewhere (I've kept lots of ticket and bits and bobs from those trips) but can't remember for the life of me the name of that restaurant. The waiter called me le kangourou when he heard my accent and a neighbouring diner let me drape my raincoat on his spare dining chair so it could dry off while we ate. I think I had French onion soup (well, really, can you blame me?) for starter, possibly confit duck (?? I am getting old but I'm sure there was duck!) for the main and creme caramel for dessert. All the while, completely distracted from the football on the TV in the corner (which everyone else was glued to) by the downpour outside and the sheer fact that I was actually in Paris, for reals.
It was a weekend packed with the usual tourist outings - I didn't care, I was a tourist after all! I got to use some of my terrible uni French and was just generally chuffed to be where I was.
I managed to visit Paris one other time - another weekend, this time in summer. It felt a lot more relaxed - I saw a few more bits and pieces and vowed I'd come back by hook or by crook. I never thought, not for a minute, that the next time I would be in Paris would be: (a) quite as soon as it now is - I was sure I'd be celebrating my 40th there - and maybe I still will and (b) with a bunch of school kids in tow.
It's a big trip. We are in France for three weeks. There's roughly a week in Paris and some time in Normandy before we spend a week at our sister school (we have home stays there for which I am equal parts terrified and exhilarated.) We finish up in Provence, flying home from Nice. Our time there will be at the end of their summer/beginning of autumn and I'm really looking forward to (among many other things) seeing France at that time of year and witnessing the students experience it all for the first time.
So ... bon voyage! I'm looking forward to sharing our adventures here when I return (and get over the jet-lag!)
PHOTOGRAPHER . TASMANIA . AUSTRALIA
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