culture corner

Thomas Jefferson once said that every man has two countries: his own, and France.  It is difficult to estimate the influence of French art, philosophy, science, and cuisine on the world.  That is to say it is immeasurable.

Paris is a great city with its unique history and French traditions still very alive today.  Known for housing buildings recognized around the world, pieces of art, and food Paris is a city you will never forget.  The history of Christianity in France has reflected that of Europe. Throughout the centuries, politics, wars, and rebellions have shaped religion as a whole.  Today the political system and religion are very separate; it is taboo to mention them in the same sentence.  Paris is the perfect place to learn about the history of Christianity throughout the renaissance and the reformation and its impact on the country today.  Exploring the culture in Paris, connecting to Christian community and serving others will open your eyes to universal human needs and deepen your faith.

 

What's Paris Like?

Paris is known for its romanticism, fashion, food, art and culture. As one of the largest cities in Europe and the French capital, it is also a political and economic hub, therefore a natural host for international residents, students and visitors alike. Despite its diversity, Paris very much retains and exudes its Parisian attitudes, way of life, and nuances. It is a modern fast-paced city within a culture that still enjoys its leisure activities and values its history and identity.

 

Gastronomy

The French are very proud when it comes to their cuisine. France is well-known throughout the world for its culinary arts. Amateurs and professionals flock to France, and particularly Paris, to study and experience food at its finest—gastronomie en France. La gastronomie can be traced throughout all other aspects of the French way of life and culture, too. Meals and meal-time, grocery shopping, tourism and more are all affected by this tradition—rich in more ways than one.

 

Region and Population

With a population over 2,000,000, the city of Paris is located in the North central region of France. The Seine river bisects the city's 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods). 

Paris "Arrondissements"

Divided into 20 arrondissements, or districts, Paris is a city with lots of character and diversity. Each arrondissement is numbered, with the 1st starting at Ile de la Cité, where "point zero" of Paris (as well as Notre Dame) is found. From here, the arrondissements continue in a snail-like fashion up to number 20. It is easy to know in which arrondissement, or "quartier" you are, as all street signs note the arrondissement number. As a general guide, read below short descriptions of some different arrondissements that make up the diverse personality of Paris.

  • 1st - As noted above, this is "point zero" of Paris, where the city was founded, and that is home to the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Tuileries gardens, the Prefecture, and much more.
  • 3rd - The famed "Centre Pompidou" is found here, just north of Hotel de Ville, found in the 4th district.
  • 5th - Once the "academic soul" of Paris, this is where the Sorbonne was founded, and where the main university center is located. This is one of the most famous parts of Paris, which is widely known as the Latin Quarter.
  • 6th - Just as the 5th is more widely known as the Latin Quarter, the 6th arrondissement is referred to as "St Germain des-Pres." One of the oldest churches is found in this quarter, and is home to several upscale boutiques. This area was once the hot-spot for writers, including Ernest Hemmingway.
  • 7th - Aside from its quiet, wealthy residential areas, this quarter is home to the Eiffel Tower.
  • 8th - From Place de la Concorde to just in front of the Arc de Troimph runs the Champs Elysée, along which high-end shops are found as well as the Grand Palais.
  • 9th - Home to the Paris Opera, or Palais Garnier, the southern part of this district is very chic. Just north of this area within the same district, you will also find Place Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge.
  • 14th - Montparnasse, the tallest skyscraper in Paris is located in this district, along with several cafes, boutiques and a main train station.
  • 18th - Otherwise known as Montmartre, this is a hot-spot for artist and tourists alike, as well as being a very old and expensive residential neighborhood of Paris. It is also the location of the Sacre Coeur.

Climate

Paris has a fairly mild climate with cool to chilly winters and warm summers. Summer students should note that while most buildings and offices are air conditioned, most housing arrangements are not. Average monthly highs and lows (degrees Fahrenheit) and rainfall (inches) in Paris below:

Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May June Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Highs 43 45 52 57 64 70 75 75 70 59 48 45
Lows 34 34 37 43 48 54 57 57 52 46 39 36
Avg. Rainfall 7.2 4.7 6.2 8.1 8.1 11.8 9.3 7.6 2.6 2.5 3.3 6.1
 

Cultural Activities

Paris has endless activities for international visitors to enjoy. Listed below are some different cultural activities to do while in Paris. You can do many of these activities on your own, with friends, or they may be sponsored by Veritas. Upon arrival to Paris, different sponsored cultural activities will be announced throughout your program abroad.

Picnics

Pack a bag with French cheese, a baguette, jambon de Paris, a blanket and head to one of the many parks that Paris has to offer! Many Parisians take advantage of great weather by doing so. Gather friends, practice your French and enjoy the sites and sounds of the "outdoor" Paris. If you don't have time for a park, grab a quick "jambon sandwich" and park yourself along the Seine for a quick lunch.

Cooking Classes

Take cooking classes in a city renowned for its restaurants and a country famous for its amazing food! Classes are available throughout the city and during different times of the week for all different levels (and languages!).

"Football" Matches

The European sport of sports is also prevalent in Paris. The "City of Light's" team is called Paris St.-Germain FC, or PSG for short. The PSG home stadium, the Parc des Princes, is one of the largest football stadiums in France and is located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

"Les Puces" (Flea-markets)

A common weekend activity for Parisians is to visit large flea-markets, where an array of items for sales are found. Peruse the offerings, barter for bargains and throw yourselves into the hustle and bustle the atmosphere has to offer!

Boat tour of the Seine River

Students will take a ride on the Seine River at night via Bateaux-Mouche to marvel at the views Paris has to offer at night.

Shopping

With endless neighborhoods and possibilities, it is hard not to shop in Paris! Paris offers anything from up-scale boutiques to chains to small thrift stores. You'll find that, along with restaurants, cafés and museums, the streets are lined with all sorts of different stores.

Language Exchanges

Students will be given the opportunity to meet local and international students wishing to share their knowledge of French and learn English in exchange. This activity, based on student interest, is a great way to get to know other students of Paris, and share your culture and language with others while learning more about your surroundings and French student counterparts!

 

Helpful Links