After two weeks in Tours, we finally left for Paris. I was initially disappointed to learn that my host family lives a little outside Paris, in a place called Neuilly. It turns out that Neuilly is like the Brooklyn Heights of Manhattan (and I happen to be from Brooklyn Heights, in case you didn’t know). It is essentially an extension of Paris, only five minutes from the Champs-Élysées by metro, but it’s slightly calmer and more residential.
I have the most ideal setup possible. I live in what is called a “chambre de bon”. I’m on the first floor of the apartment building, and have my own separate key to a room that is not connected to the families’ apartment on the second floor. My room has a kitchenette, table, couch, bathroom, and a loft with a bed. I was amused to find that my host parents chose to make up my bed with an American flag comforter. Even though I have my own separate “chambre de bon”, I don’t feel isolated from my host family because I have the key to their place, eat dinner with them every night, and they told me I am welcome to come upstairs whenever to watch TV or hang out with the dog, a five year-old beagle named Vodka (no joke).
My host mom thinks that Vodka needs to lose weight, so she asked me to take her for a run in the Bois de Boulogne (the Central Park of Neuilly). Vodka wears a special harness that attaches to a belt that I tie around my waist. We must’ve looked like a pretty funny sight, because we earned quite a few smiles. Progress was slow. Vodka insisted on sniffing every tree and saying hi to every dog. She also managed to escape from her harness at one point, forcing me to offer her the “gateau” that she was only supposed to receive on returning to the apartment. We probably travelled about two miles in an hour, but I did master the art of communicating with a dog in French!