Today, dear blogosphere, I went out and found you some blog fodder. I hope you’re happy. Right. Noooooooooow.
I got the idea for this post yesterday, actually. I had about ten pages left of Regeneration by Pat Barker (highly recommended, but harrowing, fictionalized account of Craiglockhart, a military psychiatric hospital during World War I), and the sun was shining over the Cité Universitaire, and I decided to take myself and a fresh bottle of water outside to sit on a bench. I think Paris is kind of confused about what season it is anyway.
Or d. none of the above. Anyway, as I was sitting on my bench in the sun on the ground of the Cité U, I realized that I’ve lived here for five months and I’ve never blogged about the Cité itself. In fact, I’ve never even done the full tour of the Cité myself, to figure out what all of the houses are.
Bref, the Cité Universitaire is a residential community in the 14ème arrondissement. I…don’t know very much about the history, but French students and international students alike can live here, and each house is funded by either another country’s government or by some foundation. It’s kind of like Epcot.
But not really, because if it were, the Norwegian House would have Vikings and ogres and a terrifying boat ride in it.
Not so much.
Anyway. This is the Fondation des États-Unis, where I live, viewed from inside the Cité. (NB: I happen to live in the dorm that corresponds to my country, but this is neither required nor guaranteed.)
My room is on the top floor, in the middle. To paraphrase Sarah Palin, I can see Mexico from my house! I’ve already posted pictures of the front of the Maison du Mexique, but it’s also got this very nifty relief sculpture on the outside.
Next door to the Maison du Mexique we have the Collège Franco-Britannique, which fosters good relations between France and its neighbor across the channel.
I really wanted the British house to look more like Oxbridge, but actually, the one that looks the most like a traditional college campus is the Fondation Deutsch de la Meurth–which is not the German house. This is the German house, Maison Heinrich Heine, and it is utterly industrial, as you might expect.
Anyway. Deutsch de la Meurth seems to be named after Émile Deutsch de la Meurth, who came up with the idea for the Cité in the first place. It’s the oldest house in the Cité and is accordingly picturesque.
My personal favorite of all of the houses is the one that went all-out with the country’s décor. I’ll let you guess.
“You give me a word, any word, and I will tell you how the RRRRROOT of that word is Greek!”
Some of the houses have identifying statuary. Like Cambodia.
Spain, however, has statuary that makes you go, “Wha’ happened?”
(I don’t even have a picture of the Spanish House, that’s how perplexed I was by these sculptures.)
Some houses look like pagodas.
Some houses look like nothing at all.
(Denmark. I’m pretty sure I bought a desk in high school from a Danish furniture company. Aren’t they famous for design? “Wha’ happened?”)
And the Maison Internationale looks like Pemberley from the back.
The Southeast Asia house is clearly brand-new. It’s beautiful. I hope it’s that gorgeous on the inside.
And the Netherlands…well…I’m sorry, Netherlands.
This is Lebanon.
Until today, I thought it was Brazil. That’ll teach me to read the signs.
There were others, but frankly, this post has been half a day in the writing and I’ve run out of funny things to say about the houses. All photos are posted on my Flickr photo stream, which you can access at any time by clicking on the photos in this entry.
And now that it’s 8:35 PM and I just got home from a thrilling voice lesson (there’s something hilarious about the moment when your 80-year-old Menotti-loving voice teacher lovingly hands you her personal copy of Berg’s Sieben Frühe Lieder with all of the translations written in in Italian. It took me several tries to figure out what she was talking about before she gave me the music, because it didn’t even occur to me that she would give me Berg!), delicious dinner (mmm, sushi) and a long walk afterwards that wound around right back to St. Michel and the train, I am going to go make popcorn and watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
P.S. I resisted the temptation to quote the obvious song in my title. You’re welcome.