Metz: La Neige!!!

SNOW!!! So I saw snow for the first time this winter with a trip to Metz!  Metz is located in eastern France near the German Boarder.  This town has actually switched hands between France and Germany many times so the culture and architecture and cuisine is a hybrid of the two.

I came prepared for the cold, snowy day with three sweaters, but some of the other members of the group unfortunately were not.  We started with a tour of the city. Unfortunately some things were closed because it was a monday.  We continued to see a cathedal.  I’ve seen SO MANY cathedrals in the past few months, but each one has its idiosyncrasies.  This cathedral was fully decorated for Christmas!  It also only had 1 rosette which is rare.  Furthermore, many of the stained-glass artwork was done by a Jewish man (and nonetheless almost all of them were portraits of Jesus). There was live music coming from the organ during our visit.

We went for a nice lunch.  They served us both bread and pretzels with our meal (remember what I said about French and German culture).  I had a dish that was a mixture of potatoes and onions and cumin (which I thought was a Mexican spice…?) baked with Munster cheese.  Munster cheese comes from the French town Munster ( not to be confused with the non-cheese-making German town Munster ). So I had Munster cheese in the same region as Munster :)  The dessert was a tarte made of Mirabelle which is a yellow-colored plum/prune.

Throughout the day we saw and went to a few Christmas Markets!! They are adorably decorated with bright colors and holiday cheer!  I was surprised by the various things being sold: everything from jewelery to oysters to nougat to iphone cases.

We finished our day with a visit to the Centre Pompidou of Metz (a sister museum to the Centre Pompidou of Paris… In Paris it’s actually connected to a library which I wrote about in a previous blog post). This museum is full of temporary exhibits of modern art.  We started on the top floor.  We walk into a hallway and men hand us flash lights… then we walk into the exhibit and it’s a large pitch black room.  We quickly realize it is a photography exhibit on the walls and we are to look at it using our small flash lights.  This exhibit had a truly unique effect.  It was very isolating, since you could barely see and needed to use your own flashlight to personally see each piece of photography.  The artwork was very intriguing and I spent the most time in this exhibit.  It was almost all black and white photography which went well with the black room.  The next floor was very very bright and white.  It was art work of Sol Lewitt, an American who studied at Syracuse University! He was fascinated with lines and his work was re-created from his plans by art students.  There were many rooms with different interpretations of lines in black and white.  The last exhibit was of a theatre by picasso, unfortunately it was hard to follow because I don’t have a background in his life history.


Atelier de parfum

So today I went to a perfume museum and got to make my own perfume!!  We started with an introduction to five different types of perfume and what scents are at their base:

  • Eau Fraîche – citrus and neroli
  • Chypre – Patchouli and Mousse oak Moss
  • Fougeres -lavender and vanilla and cachemire wood
  • Orientale – vanilla and patchouli and sandalwood and ambre ciste
  • Floraux – tons of different flowers

I paid attention to each of the demos and smell tasters and quickly decided chypre and fougeres were my favorites.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the neroli smell in Eau Fraîche, the Orientale was just too too toxicly strong, and the Floraux smelled a bit like a grandma.

They lined up about 50 different bottles with concentrated scents in each one.  From here they gave us sample recipes to use or tweak with the concentrated scents to make little 5 ml sample perfumes.  I smelled through the majority of the 50 different bottles and came up with my favorite: Jasmine!  SO whatever I was going to make was definitely going to have jasmine.  I tried making a Fougeres by roughly following a recipe but omitting the smells I didn’t like and adding in jasmine and I loved it!!! Then for my next demo I followed a recipe exact for a chypre that contained jasmine and I liked it, but prefered the fougeres (I’m not a huge fan of patchouli).

Then we transfered our favorite sample into a large 50mL bottle.  So here is my (not so) secret recipe for my very own perfume for the 5 mL :

  • 2 drops citrus
  • 3 drops lavender
  • 3 drops vanilla
  • 6 drops cachemire wood (to give it the fougeres scent)
  • 5 drops jasmin
  • fill container with ethanol to the top (so it will evaporate and leave scent on you)

This ratio was of course multiplied by a lot for the 50 mL bottle.  We also got a visit through the perfume museum.  We learned that scents usually have a head, body, and base so there are scents that last about an hour, about four hours, and a few days… so the perfume will smell different after different amounts of time after being applied.  We also learned where certain scents come from around the world.  And we learned some perfume traditions: a woman would put a dot of perfume on the right cheek to say she was taken but on the left cheek to say she was available.  She would put a dot of perfume on her lips to say she wanted to be embraced and a dot of perfume on her chin to say she couldn’t be embraced today, but maybe tomorrow.

Then of course they took us to their show room and tried to sell us their products… They were super expensive!!!  I’m super grateful for this EDUCO opportunity. I only paid 10 euro and I will have wonderful perfume for a very long time (with my big bottle and the sample trials)!!

sentiment d’appartenance

Sense of Belonging — Today I truly felt this!!

I went to my favorite crêperie today for lunch.  My first night with my host family, my host sister took me here to get a dessert crêpe because she said it was the best and the cheapest crêperie on rue Mouffetard.  Ever since, it’s been practically the only one I go to!! They have a super great “lunch deal” (i put it in quotes because it actually lasts until 8pm so I have it for dinner sometimes too :P ) for 5 euro 50 you get a savory crêpe, a sweet crêpe, and a drink (including alcoholic drinks).  I probably go to this crêperie 4-5 times a month and I’ve brought along my family two times and my friends numerous times…so they’ve started to recognize me.  Today I went to this crêperie for lunch with some friends and the man recognized me and he apologized that there weren’t any seats so he gave us some drinks for free while we waited for a place to sit.  He served us our food and made little jokes with us the whole time.  At the end of the meal, he offered us each a free glass of cider too!  For me, the little ways he reached out to us really touched me… that in my short three months here in Paris someone has recognized me and wanted to make a connection.

To anyone visiting Paris…I highly suggest you check out Rue Mouffetard! It’s full of adorable little shops (and reasonably priced too) as well as great food!!! If you want to check out this crêperie I’ve linked a review with the title/address!

My second experience today which gave me a sense of belonging was my dance social.  There was a Christmas Party at my dance studio this evening.  The studio was all decorated in Christmas decorations with little munchies and they had a quick lesson and then played music all night long so we could practice everything we’ve learned in the classes.

The class they taught was “country” dancing… The first part was a version of the electric slide and then the second part was one of those circle dances where you do shuffles and heel-toe taps and then switch partners…. At one point one of my friends turned to me (knowing i’m from America) and asked if this is what we do in America… I chuckled and said that no one really does this type of dancing in America…

When the social time came around I started to get nervous like that awkward girl at a junior high dance…. would anyone ask ME to dance??  After all I’m that awkward American who butchers their language and laughs at weird times….. Nonetheless I was dancing all night… Somehow after only two months taking classes 1 time a week with these people, they felt I was part of their circle of dancing friends and I was socializing and being asked to dance all night long!! I had a blast and I truly felt like I belonged !! This especially made me happy because I am by far the youngest one at my studio.  There are some post-docs and PhD students in my class but the rest are all older and/or retired… and tonight was a mixture of all levels of dancing so there was a large elderly crowd.

I also would like to add a little note that I was surprised how terribly some of these leaders improvised…. This studio in particular is one that teaches choreography… and not so much social dancing… so when a social event comes the leaders are stuck doing choreography or basics… there isn’t anything in between for many of them.  There was one time I was dancing jive and all is well the choreography is just basics, american spins, stop and goes and then he throws me out and starts a synchronized kick routine. I stare dumb-founded at him wondering how he expected me to know what kicks/flicks to do there in what order, etc.

I’m sad to be leaving Paris… it’s already December which is my last month!!! Simultaneously I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to find a sense of belonging in Paris outside of my american friends here, my classmates, and my host family… a sense of belonging that is all my own!!