Well, it’s official: I’ve spent two weeks in Paris! Just to give a quick summary of how that went: homesickness struck hard. The first three days were super hard; I cried multiple times on the phone with my mom. But afterward, things got so much better! I’ve been super busy exploring Paris and finding out what the city truly has to offer (baguettes, cheese, gardens, and museums). And this past weekend I went with IES Abroad on an excursion to Reims, which was super fun. Also, side note: the French pronounce this like “rinse,” with the “i” vowel really far in the back of your throat. When I told my host family I was going to “Reems,” they were very confused.
We left at 8am on Friday to drive to Reims (1h30 bus ride). We stopped once at a rest stop, where I picked up a croissant because I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. Gas station croissant was a 10/10! Lots of breakfast foods and lunch foods here are super cheap, which is awesome! When we arrived in Reims, we went straight to a cookie factory: Fossier, “la maison du biscuit rose.” We got to taste lots of different cookies (5 cookies at 11am) and then took a tour of their factory. I picked up some of the rose cookies for my parents so I could bring them a souvenir from my excursion.
After the cookie factory, we stopped in the center of Reims to get lunch. My friends and I went to a boulangerie (yes, they are truly everywhere) where I got a ham, brie, and mustard sandwich. Most important takeaway here is that when in France, try every different type of baguette sandwich you can find! It was delicious. I think that when I get back to the states I’m going to make all of my future sandwiches on baguette. Why don’t we do that??
During our lunch break, my friends and I also explored the Notre Dame of Reims. If you didn’t know, lots of French cities have their own Notre Dame (and yes it does resemble the one in Paris, which is unfortunately not open until 2024). It was beautiful! The stained glass windows are so detailed and the sculptures were incredible. It was like seeing Notre Dame without the crowds.
After lunch, we took a tour of Lanson Champagne. We learned about how champagne is created (and that it is solely limited to a certain area of France). The tour guide gave us a full tour—including the company’s history, grape plants, and the process of creating champagne. We even went into a super spooky cellar that looked like the perfect setting for a horror movie. I learned that it has to be dark down there because the champagne is very sensitive to light. Didn’t make it less creepy though! We ended the tour with a glass of champagne, which was quite nice. It was cool to see how the process we learned about impacted the end product (and how they made it so bubbly).
I was exhausted after we got back! Sometimes you have to give in—pick up dinner at a Monoprix (I recommend the pesto chicken pasta) and go to bed early.
As far as other excursions go, I’ll also be going to Giverny near the end of June with IES Abroad! Stay tuned.
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Hi! My name's Elowen Conley and I'm a History Major at Ohio State! I'm pre-law, but I'm also working on a French minor. I love to spend time outdoors reading, going to the gym with my friends, and taking care of my plants!