Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Oh my Gaudí! (Barcelona, Day 1)

¡Hola! Soy Sabine y durante mis vacaciones, fui a Barcelona, la capital catalána. No puedo hablar o escribir en catalán, pero es fácil leer. Como consequencia, voy a practicar mi español. No importa porque todo el mundo en Barcelona habla español...

, I'm practicing my written Spanish. During my break, as you might have already guessed, I practiced my spoken Spanish. My brother, his girlfriend, and I went to Barcelona for a weekend. We had an amazing time and saw plenty of impressive sights. Tonight, I'm posting about el Parque Güell...or Parc Güell in Catalan (and French).

So, the park might look familiar to you if you've seen the second Cheetah Girls movie on Disney Channel. Instead of "strutting", I'm going to give a little bit of history as found on the pamphlet I received. Now, part of the park is open to the general public. For the monumental part, you have to pay a small entrance fee. It's totally worth it, though. Ok, let's begin!

This colorful, mosaic tile artwork is EVERYWHERE in Barcelona. Why?

Let's just thank el señor Antoni Gaudí, the famed Spanish-Catalan modernism artist. Barcelona is very much HIS city; his work can be seen almost everywhere. The Parc Güell is only one impressive sight of his. Entrepreneur Eusebi Güell hired Gaudí to create the park, which was built from 1900-1914. It opened to the public in 1924. 

Here are some photos of the mosaics seen on the main terrace... 


Here is the view from the terrace. One of the buildings is a museum for the history of Barcelona. The smaller building (on the right) is a gift shop.

Here is a beautiful mosaic dragon. It was vandalized in 2007 but has been restored. It's terrible that people would do something like that.

Here's the view near the main entrance. If you've seen The Cheetah Girls 2, you probably recognize this.


Here's the gift shop! It was just too pretty.

That was my first adventure in Barcelona. I also stayed in a hostel for the first time. It actually wasn't that bad. We met some super cool people, especially these two girls who were traveling Europe alone. I'd love to travel the world alone someday. That's really how you meet people and have adventures. I do love the company of my friends or family, but I also like the idea of having adventures and meeting people from all over the world. So, I leave you with this:

What is your favorite type of art? Were you familiar with Gaudí before this post?

Besos,
Sabine

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Faire du shopping: Euralille style

Bonsoir, tout le monde ! C'est Sabine, et on sait peut-être que j'aime beaucoup faire du shopping.

That is, I like to shop. You can never have too many clothes, right? Right. So, you're probably wondering where my friends and I like to shop. There are unique boutiques lining the streets of Vieux-Lille, but those tend to be pricier. If affordable fast fashion is what you're looking for, the Euralille centre commerical--or mall--is the place to go! It's currently being renovated on the inside, but I still took some pictures to give my readers an idea of where I go to do some serious damage (to my wallet).

Here's one of the entrances that includes the metro. It's a very modern building in a more modern quartier, but if you walk down the street, you'll be among the old, Flemish architecture again. 

There is a massive Burger King near this entrance. It's right next to Quick, which is another fast food restaurant. My parents didn't really feed us this stuff, so I personally think it's gross. I'm from Lille; if I want fries, I'm going to a friterie...not a fast food place!

Here's one of Sandrine's favorite stores. These apparently exist in the United States, too. Sephora is expensive in France; my American friends say that it isn't as expensive in the US. I'm not one to buy expensive makeup since I'm not into it like Sandrine is, but I did go on a mission to find Miley Cyrus's Viva Glam makeup line. However, you can only find it at MAC cosmetic stores. I will buy expensive makeup to support my favorite pop star and actress.

Naf Naf is Aurélie's favorite store. It sells fast fashion but at a higher price. It's also extremely girly and not really my thing.

We also have a Lego store! I WANT THE FROZEN LEGOS. I know that once I build the castle, it would just sit there and look pretty. I'm kind-of past the playing with toys stage, but I can't help but want everything Frozen. Legos are more expensive in France, sadly. I might have to snag a set when I visit the US this summer.

Ah, here's one of my favorite stores. Pimkie is similar to Forever21, but again, a little pricier. The prices aren't outrageous or as high as the prices at Naf Naf. They have cute clothes that suit my style perfectly.

We also have other American stores like Claire's and Hollister. Hollister totally isn't my style, and I love the Frozen merchandise at Claire's. I bought a kit that teaches me how to braid my hair like Anna's...

I didn't buy much this shopping trip. I found some awesome jewelry for a friend, and I had to get it. I love finding perfect surprise gifts for those close to me. 

I hope you enjoyed this peek inside the Euralille. I have more interesting posts about Lille coming up, so stay tuned!

Do you like to shop? What's your favorite store?

A tout!
~Sabine

Monday, March 30, 2015

Paris Day 3: Le château de Versailles, le Palais Garnier, Galeries Lafayette

Bonsoir ! C'est moi, Aurélie, et je vais vous partager des photos de mon dernier jour à Paris.

As you might remember, my parents and I spent a couple of days in Paris in February (Paris: Day 1 and Paris: Day 2). A little more than a month later, I'm getting around to posting about my third and final day in Paris. 

My parents and I woke up early to beat the crowds at le château de Versailles. This was my first time visiting the famed château in years. I had to have been at least 8 the last time I went. Sabine and I prefer le château de Fontainebleau, which is less-crowded and has more furnishings. I really don't enjoy big, pushy crowds, and is what makes Versailles uncomfortable for me. Regardless, it's still a beautiful example of France's history and symbolic of the Ancien Régime.

This château, built in the classical style beginning in 1632 under the reign of Louis XIII, was constructed in the Parisian suburb of Versailles, which was formerly a countryside village. Louis XIII thought the location would make the château the perfect spot for all of the royal hunts. However, when Louis XIV, the roi-soleil, became king, he expanded the château into a palace. Although the most famous inhabitants are Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Louis XIV's influence remains. 


His most famous contribution would have to be the Galerie des Glaces- or the Hall of Mirrors.




Here's the King's bedchamber:

The Queen's bedchamber:

The gardens (which we really didn't get to explore due to the weather):


 Back of the palace, as seen from the gardens:

After Versailles, I was fortunate enough to visit my favorite place in all of Paris...maybe even in all of France! Any guesses as to what that is?

That would be the Palais Garnier (or Opéra Garnier), home of the Opéra National de Paris, the ballet, the orchestra, and formerly the ballet school (which relocated to its own building in Nanterre in 1983). 

The Opéra was one of Napoléon III's contributions to France. Architect Charles Garnier designed it, and it was completed in 1875.

Dancing for the ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris is my dream and has been since I was a little girl. It's a dream that, with hard work, I hope that I can someday fulfill. Auditioning for the company if you didn't attend their ballet school isn't easy, and being chosen is a 1 in a million thing. I hope I can be that one in a million. Ophélie Ducatel, an acquaintance of Sandrine's in a weird way that I don't quite understand, attended the Paris Opera Ballet School. She began dancing for the company last year when, thanks to the concours annuel (the school's internal competition to dance for the company), she was chosen to become apart of the quadrilles. It is the Paris Opera Ballet's lowest ranking and corps du ballet. However, with the talent that Ophélie has, she will surely be promoted and climb the ranks in no time. She's 17 years old and already dances professionally. It's something I dream of. ILudmila Pagliero can become one of the company's étoiles without having attended the Paris Opera Ballet School, so can I. I believe in myself and all of my hard work. 

Here are some of the gorgeous displays in the gift shop window:


I decided to pose under one of the beautiful arches. 

Of course, I got an obligatory photo by the grand staircase!



The grand foyer is equally as beautiful:



Just look at the paintings on the ceiling of one of the wings:

Here's the library:

We were allowed to enter one of these doors, and guess what?

Although the balcony was covered with a velvet tent, I was able to take a peek of the stage thanks to a plastic window. The dancers were rehearsing, and I stayed and watched for a good half hour...before my parents dragged me out, that is. I have seen plenty of ballets here, but I just can't get enough...even if it is just a rehearsal. I snuck a quick cell phone pic of the theater for you guys. Sabine is definitely rubbing off on me because this is nothing I'd normally do. I'm not really a rule-breaker. 

After that, we decided to walk across the street and do some much-needed shopping. My parents took some quick photos of me in Galeries Lafayette, one of Paris's famed grand department stores. Isn't the dome lovely?


On our way to the Musée d'Orsay, I had my parents take a photo of me by the Louvre's pyramids. Sadly, I don't have any photos from the d'Orsay because our phones died and the memory card in the camera was full. However, it is great museum worth checking out. It is an old train station that now houses impressionist paintings.  

Alors, that concludes my trip to Paris. I hope you enjoyed the photos, and thanks for letting me share them with you. Have you ever been to Paris? If not, do you plan on going? What is your favorite Parisian landmark?

Bisous,
Aurélie

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bienvenue chez les ch'tis!

Salut, tout le monde! C'est Sabine et j'ai une nouvelle série « posts » (anglicisme, pas de traduction) à vous parteger. Oui, je sais que cette série est en retard... 

First off, I've been blogging for HOW LONG?! I have a new series of posts for you, dear readers, that is way overdue. I'm going to introduce you to our hometown, Lille. I don't really know where to begin, but I'm going to begin somewhere. I think that starting with centre ville seems okay.

Here is the Gare de Lille Flandres, one of the "entrances" to my beautiful city. Until the Gare de Lille Europe (which is very modern and doesn't quite fit in with the Vieux-Lille quartier) opened in 1993, this was Lille's only train station. It was completed in 1892, and the station front was the original front of Paris's Gare du Nord. The two stations are literally across the street from each other...I know, I don't get it, either.

If you exit from the front and head straight for the Grand'Place (formally known as la Place du Général-de-Gaulle, which was named such after World War II in honor of one great Lillois), here is what you'll see: unique, Flemish architecture (which Lille is full of). Lille is a "transition city" in the sense that it is French, yet, it prepares you for the architecture you'd see in Belgium or the Netherlands. 

So, what will you find in the Grand'Place?





In the photo above, I'm actually standing on the staircase of the Théâtre du Nord, built in the 1780's. This is where you go to have all of your theatrical and dramatic needs met. I've seen several plays here- ranging from Molière's comedies to comedies that make no sense whatsoever (I'm talking about Ionesco's La cantatrice chauve...)!

The most famous building would have to be the Vieille Bourse, or the Old Stock Exchange. This building was built in the 1650s, when Lille was part of Flandres (Lille wasn't apart of France until Louis XIV, the roi-soleil, laid siege to it in 1668). 

Today, the inside courtyard boasts an awesome flea market...

Any guesses as to which posters I bought?

Here is some of the original detailing:


We also have the central office building for La Voix du Nord, the regional newspaper:


Do you notice anything in the background of these photos?



That would be the beffroi- or belfry- linked to the Town Hall. Although it was built in 1932, making it quite modern compared to the rest of Lille, it is a symbol of the city as well as apart of my region.
The architecture fits in with the Flemish style, so it blends in quite nicely. Actually, until I researched it myself, I thought it was centuries older than it actually is! The old town hall was destroyed in World War I. 

So, what's that pretty building next to the Town Hall? That would be the neoclassical Opéra de Lille! The original opera burned down in 1903, so the construction of this one began in 1907. However, World War I caused some delays in construction, and it wasn't completed until 1923. Doesn't it resemble the Palais Garnier (which Aurélie is going to write a post on) in Paris?

If I stand on the steps of the Opera, I get a beautiful view of the square.


I'm going to end this post by talking about the magnificent streets of Vieux-Lille, where I like to do some serious shopping. Vieux-Lille is where I live, and it is the more Flemish part of Lille.

I don't shop here, but Sandrine and Aurélie wanted me to post photos of the Repetto store where they shop for their leotards and other ballet stuff. The tutu that is on display totally reminds me of Aurélie; what do you think? 


Rue de la Clef is definitely one of my favorite streets to walk down. I mean, what's not to love about this street?! 

Just look at this fleuriste! My family loves to get their flowers from here. 

In good fashion, you'll see a sign in both French and Flemish.

So, dear readers, that was the first glimpse into our lovely hometown. I'm sorry that it's way overdue. I hope you've enjoyed the photos, and I will say, there are plenty more to come! I am proud of who I am and where I came from. I might whine about the weather sometimes, but there is no place I'd rather be from. I'm a "ch'ti" and proud of it. 

Are you proud of where you came from?

A tout!
~Sabine

(PS: If you have any questions about Lille for me, please feel free to ask in the comments section! I'll answer them in my next post.)