Immersion homestay at Elisabeth’s near Versailles, by Jo Ann
Our student Jo Ann, has spent a week in immersion at Elisabeth’s near Versailles. She wanted to share her experience and adventures with you!
A few episodes from my immersion homestay:
I recently completed a week-long immersion experience in France. I stayed at Elisabeth and Roland’s house in Noisy-le-Roi, a small village very close to the city of Versailles. Here is a description of some of the episodes I experienced that week.
After arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport, I took the train to Versailles without delay. I was a little nervous to do this alone because I had to change trains in Paris while being in a very tired state due to the jetlag. But, everything was fine. As planned, Elisabeth and Roland picked me up on Sunday morning at the hotel in Versailles. Every Sunday, the couple goes to the open-air market at Place Notre-Dame.
There they buy fresh and regional products. I learned that this market has existed in the same place since the seventeenth century. When we arrived, the market was very busy. One of the vendors gave me a fresh date. The date was sweet and chewy. In fact, after eating it, I had to lick my fingers to clean them. After buying vegetables, fruits and meat, we went to the café next to the market where we ate pastries and drank coffee and hot chocolate. It was quite cold and the hot chocolate warmed me up. I had the impression that Elisabeth and Roland really enjoyed meeting and helping new students. Although I was a little nervous about living for a week with a couple I had never met before and with whom I would only be speaking in French, Elisabeth and Roland were welcoming, patient and warm. I was immediately at home with them.
I went to Claude Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny with Elisabeth and Roland. The famous water lilies were not yet in bloom. But the beauty of the tulips, daffodils, narcissus, azaleas, pansies, fritillaries, wallflowers and daisies took my breath away. The gardens were full of brightly colored flowers. There were also tulips of different varieties. As I walked along the edge of the basin, I could see the beautiful reflection of the flowers, trees and sky in the water.
Therefore, I could imagine Mr. Monet strolling through the garden and being inspired by almost the same view. I think this visit helps me understand Mr. Monet’s feelings that led him to paint several variations of the basin, the bridge, the trees and the water lilies. After walking around the basin, an unfortunate incident occurred when Elisabeth and I were standing on the Japanese bridge so Roland could take our picture. I accidentally dropped my eyeglasses into Monet’s basin. I assumed the glasses were lost and was, of course, a little disappointed…but no! The kind gardeners who were working by the pond rowed over to the bridge. One of them, in the boat, leaned over the water, put his arm in the water and fished out my glasses! What a surprise! The unfortunate incident turned into a pleasant and unforgettable memory and a funny story. I believe that simple good memories like this can sustain us in our daily lives, now and in the future.
I was fortunate to attend a concert at the Royal Chapel of the Palace of Versailles. A choir from the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles (CMBV) sang sacred music from the reign of Louis XIII. The members of the choir are students of the CMBV choir school. I found the acoustics of the Chapel to be incredible, especially considering the age of the Chapel. The voices of young singers soared through the Chapel and gave me goosebumps. I noticed a group of students in the audience who were about ten years old. It seemed to me that the students had come from a modest neighborhood. I wondered what they thought of the richness and grandeur of the Chapel, its elaborate paintings, its soaring ceiling. I saw that the teacher had placed each child in a seat he had chosen himself. I suppose he did this to prevent chatter. Still, the teacher didn’t need to worry. When the concert began, like me, the children were captivated, perhaps even amazed. They listened attentively, without moving. They applauded enthusiastically at the end of the concert. I think it is heartwarming and fascinating to see these 21st century children, who live in a world inundated and dominated by screen technology (the cell phone, the computer, the television), captivated and moved by the music of seven hundred years ago.