Paris Memories

Eiffel tower copy

For several summers when I was growing up, we had a French exchange student stay with us.  She was beautiful, fashionable and unbelievably sophisticated for sixteen.  Over the years, we hosted her sisters and got to know her parents.  We attended her wedding and continue to keep up a correspondence.

When she first visited us, her English was very good, certainly better than the French she was met with, but she wasn’t quite fluent.  Several weeks in the US though, changed that quickly!  I remember her breaking down with exhaustion a week or so into our visits as her brain tried to process all of the language.  I was fascinated when she tried to verbalize the two languages colliding in her mind and how taxing it was to hover between that state of translating what you want to say and simply being able to respond without thinking.

My sister and I went to Paris to see the sights after my college graduation and visit our friend in the country.  My sister was the one that had taken high school French, though she didn’t feel terribly proficient, and I had almost nothing to work with.  We had a marvelous time, but it was isolating and frequently confusing being in a country where you don’t speak the language.  (I broke down in tears one day after ordering what I was sure was a different meal, only to have it be another ham sandwich.)

These examples must be very tiny glimpses into the frustration that many of our language impaired clients feel as they try to communicate.

Like everyone, I’ve been deeply saddened for the city of Paris and touched by their willingness to pick up the pieces and continue with their daily lives in an effort to fight back the fear of terrorism.

Please take a moment to let us know your favorite Parisian sight or memory whether you’ve had the chance to visit in person or not.  Mine is the crepe vendors that expertly swirl the thin batter on the flat, hot stone, flip, sprinkle with sugar and hand to me mid-afternoon.


This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Heidi Britz

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Parisians this week. My favorite memory of Paris was walking through the Muse’e Rodin. All the amazing art and sculpture were almost too much beauty for my brain!! Lovely.

  2. Ann F

    So many memories of the beautiful City of Light. After traveling throughout Europe, I was thrilled to have an omelet! My favorite memory is hurrying through the Louvre, trying to find the Mona Lisa and of course the Seine with Notre Dame looming over it. Prayers for Paris.

  3. Frances

    My thoughts and prayers are with the French People and the Beautiful city of Paris! My all time favorite memory is of getting a Nutella Crepe every night at 11pm on my way back to my hotel. I spent 10 wonderful days during the Christmas holiday and can’t wait to go back!

  4. Carrie

    #1 on my bucket list but have not yet traveled there. I want to rent a flat and live like a local for two weeks. Talk to the cheese mongers, enjoy small cafes, and walk everywhere.

  5. Annie Doyle

    Great post! I have fond memories of my visit to Paris. In particular I recall a very amorous French waiter flirting with me relentlessly (I didn’t mind). I also recall hearing some of the residents living near the flat we were staying in referring to us as “les Américains fous,” (the crazy Americans)! I love Notre Dame, the Louvre, and les Jardin deTulleries. My prayers are with France and for peace in the world.

  6. Cassandra S.

    Ahh – your post brings a flood of memories. I was an exchange student (in The Netherlands). I know well that exhaustion and emotional overload. I knew no Dutch – man, those first couple of months! But I could pass for a native speaker by the end of the year. A fellow American exchange student and I took an organized bus tour for a week in Paris that spring. What stands out most in my memory is when we first arrived in Paris – it was after dark and seeing all the buildings lit. Buying a baguette from a vendor on the street outside of Notre-Dame (so awesome for this bread lover). So many memories! I took my pictures out over the weekend and found one of my lighting a candle in Notre-Dame. Lighting another in spirit with prayers for peace.

  7. Annette Macher

    Definitely the Louvre. Approaching the Winged Venus was awe inspiring – a huge stone looked like it could take flight!
    God Bless the people of Paris, Brussels and Beirut as well as those who live in daily fear under ISIS

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.