Seeing the Real Mona Lisa

By Beacon Staff

“It’s completely the opposite from the Flathead,” said 17-year-old Hannah Hayes about Les Champs Elysées. As she and five other students browsed through Paris’ elite fashion district, they were wowed by wares the likes of Gucci, Armani, and Dior. “It was amazing,” laughed Hayes. “But we didn’t touch anything because it was all thousands of dollars.”

Accompanied by program coordinator and chaperone Sue Robison, Hayes recently spent two weeks touring France along with fellow Whitefish High School French students Abbey Bryson, 17, Leah Quarzenski, 17, Zach Tkachyk, 16, Greta Todhunter, 15, and Emily Wilson, 17. Their trip mixed provincial Loire Valley farms with historic sites and modern big city Paris.

As their itinerary packed in sights such as Notre Dame, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe, the students were impressed as well as surprised. In the Louvre, for instance, Hayes found herself awed at the detail carved in marble sculptures, but a little disappointed when facing the Mona Lisa. “She’s about two feet tall and hangs on a big white wall that makes her look smaller,” said Hayes.

For the second-year French student, wrestling with the language was difficult. “They talk really fast,” said Hayes. The group also discovered that Americans stuck out, especially on the silent subways. “Americans were so loud compared to the reserved, quiet French,” she noted.

After the students returned to Whitefish, they presented Powerpoint slide shows to the French classes–inspiration for next year’s trip. Culling out the photos to share must have been tough, as Hayes confessed that a quarter of her shots were of cute French boys. Nevertheless, her thoughts echoed the other students, “I’d love to go back and learn more French.”

You can see photos of the 2007 France trip at www.aventurefrancaise.org.

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