I blink my eyes groggily, as my eyes focus on the white ceiling above me. Next to me, I can hear my brother softly breathing as my mom and dad tiptoe around the room, pulling together our necessities for the day’s tour. Yawning, I stretch, before finally sitting upright in my bed. Blinking to rid of the sleepiness in my eyes, I regretfully crawled out of the bed, before beginning the morning routine to leave for a day of eye opening sights.
When my family finally manages to stumble out of the apartment building, we leave our rented room for the hustle and bustle of early morning Paris. The pounding of hammers in a nearby construction site mixes with the city sounds of cars and people as they commute and start the work day. My family, in search of a “French” breakfast, wander a few stores down from the apartment. Being in this French speaking world seemed both familiar and alien. The simplicity of this city, the early morning feelings, all seemed familiar. Yet this new setting, this world we had heard so much about was a new book, opening its pages for my family for the first time.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
The boulangerie we finally decide to visit is a petit, but comfortable setting. A simple display featuring the most picturesque pastries. Croissants, beautifully golden, were lined up next to simple bread rolls, that looked absolutely perfect. To the far left, were delicate desserts, custards with a fruit carefully placed to create a delicacy fit for the emperor. Upon finally entering the small shop, my father cast me a stern look. “Go. Use the French you learned in school.” Despite spending two years studying the elegant French language, my stomach still flip flopped at the thought of having to actually use those phrases I learned. I nervously approached the counter, where a friendly, grandmotherly woman was standing behind the cash register.
“Thank goodness there is no one else here” I thought, “Less people to humiliate myself in front of.” Stumbling along in my heavily American accented French, I managed to ask for a few pastries. The woman smiled, slightly bemused at my futile attempts to speak coherent French, but sympathetic enough to work with me to collect the freshly baked goods. Biting into the warm breads evoke memories of the many stories we hear of Paris, and of its bakeries. Being here, able to experience this beautiful reality, makes me feel immensely gratefully for being able to travel across the Atlantic Ocean, to explore this different world. Being able to use the French I learned, made it transform from its distant form back in the United States to a leaping, vibrant language in Paris. This chance to experience the language first hand brought a sense of vibrancy to a previously dry language.
As we are about to leave, my brother cannot help but to beg to buy one of the baguettes. He has always loved sourdough bread, so the chance to eat one of these rod-like, freshly baked baguettes had to be seized. My dad, after seeing how well priced the baguettes were, gave me some money to use my French one last time. Wrapping the baguette in wax paper, the store owner handed it to us with a smile, sending us off with a kind “Au revoir!”
While grasping the warm baguette in a hand, we headed underground to the Metro, where the crowds of people formed a current, bring us to the next train, and to our next destination.
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