Salut tout le monde! Hello everyone!
So this blog post is particularly special, because as the title states, I went to Paris! I was there for only one week, and even though my time there was short, I did enjoy myself. Our program provided us with a trip to Paris so we could learn about the migration patterns of people from Africa to Europe, and visit with Cameroonians who migrated to France. So we left Yaounde on Wednesday, October 24 in the evening and we connected through Belgium, arriving in Paris on Thursday, October 25.
When we first arrived, all but one of us arrived without our luggage. However, most of us made the most of the mishap by shopping around the city. I spent that first day shopping and sightseeing with some people in my group, without a coat. However, I made up for it by using a friend’s blanket as a wrap, which is featured in some of the photos below. Also, we ate at this cafe where the food came in small portions, as most Parisian food does, but it was delicious. Some of my friends also ordered a drink called “vin chaud”, known as hot wine in English, and it became my favorite beverage throughout the week. If you get a chance try it, it tastes just like a hot cider, and is perfect for a cold day.
The next day I spent most of my time with my cousin Caroline, who is currently studying abroad in Rennes. We ate donner kebab sandwiches, a Turkish food which we enjoyed together when I visited her in Nuremberg in 2016. We spent most of our time talking, trying to find the right metro to take, and catching up with each other’s lives since our last encounter with each other at the March for our Lives event in D.C. in March. We also spent time in the evening with our uncle Patrick, who was very hospitable, and we spoke with our other family members as well. It was also pretty cool that for the first time in our lives Caroline and I could both carry out conversations in French, without her having to translate for me!
That Saturday, my group was required to visit an African market in the neighborhood of Paris known as Chateau Rouge, which has a market similar to the infamous market known as Mokolo in Yaoundé. I enjoyed my time there, and I was also able to meet a very nice lady who sold hair wraps, jewelry, and makeup. We had a nice conversation about the market, and the dynamics within it. While there, I purchased clothing and jewelry, and I even managed to purchase three pomegranates for less than 2 euros!
The next day, we spent our time with Cameroonian families, which was a very pleasant experience. My host family was very friendly, and the host father kept me and the others in my group laughing the entire evening. It was great being able to share stories and discover the similar interests that I had with my host siblings as well. I also enjoyed seeing their family dynamics as they watched a soccer game together that evening.
During the last three days, I went sightseeing by myself, with my friends, and with my oldest host brother, Michel-Henri. I saw the beautiful Arc de Triomphe, Champs D’Lysee, tried many amazing foods, and saw the Louvre Museum and Eiffel Tower sparkling in the night. With the group, I visited an immigration museum known as “Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration”, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I learned so much about the various groups who have migrated to France.
However, my favorite experience happened when I went exploring by myself. I visited the bookstore Shakespeare and Company, a place where famous authors such as Ernest Hemingway used to visit frequently in its earlier years. I found my way to the upstairs reading nook area, and I read the incredible poetry books The Sun and Her Flowers and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. It was definitely one of my favorite highlights from the trip.
Also, I was able to visit the boutique of a fellow Cameroonian named Nelly Wandji, who I met through the Cameroonian Association of South Florida this past summer. I enjoyed my time there, admiring her boutique and learning about her work as a Brand Consultant for various companies throughout the African continent. If you would like to learn more about her, her website link and photos of her shop are featured below.
Lastly, I had a really incredible encounter. My last night in Paris, I to met a woman at the Eiffel Tower who happened to know one of my friends from Hampton! Overall, I enjoyed my experiences in the city of light and love, and I look forward to visiting it again.
P.s. I want to shout out my wonderful father for coming all the way to Paris to bring me some items to last me for the rest of my trip. We weren’t able to connect because of communication issues, but as the cliche goes, it was the thought that counted the most. Je t’aime Papa!