JSF was an amazing experience for all of us, and we are deeply indebted to those who helped shape our stay in Paris. Here you will find reflections from the five students who participated in JSF 2007 and our thank yous.


Name: Alice
Nickname: sadly, no nickname... at least that was said to my face.
Most Often Heard Saying: To Jerry: Who are you?
Favorite French Food: crêpes
Favorite Museum: Centre Pompidou. I think everybody should spend a whole day there! It is too fantastic.
Favorite Show: I really liked Le Malade Imaginaire, but I think I might have preferred L’émission de télévision if I had been feeling a little better.

Favorite Restaurant: Favorite restaurant that we ate at in Paris: La Coupole, more because of the energy of the place than the food. I also went with a friend to a restaurant called La Grenouille where the ambience was a little kooky, but the food succulent. Favorite restaurant of all time: Bella Ciao in Ann Arbor, MI (If you are ever in Ann Arbor – you have to go)
Favorite Arrondissement: V and VI because there is a lot to do and see, but also lots of places to go to escape tourists and the hustle and bustle of Paris.
Favorite Celebrity Spotted: It is a tie between Orlando Bloom and Gérard Depardieu
Thoughts: This trip was a really great way for me to see Paris again in a different light. I recently lived in Paris for three months, doing a research internship, but I definitely saw a different side of the city of lights on this trip. Not only had I been completely ignorant of the history of the city before this trip, I also missed a lot because I wasn’t sharing my experiences with other students. Talking with the other JSFers about our trip has really given me some perspective on my relationship with Paris and French culture in general.

Name: Anna
Nickname: Anya
Most Often Heard Saying: "Ça marche."
Favorite French Food: les Quenelles
Favorite Museum: Louvre (not very original, I know)
Favorite Show: L'Importance d'Etre Constant by Oscar Wilde
Favorite Restaurant: Chez Marcel
Favorite Arrondissement: any that has palaces or references to a novel by Dumas

Favorite Celebrity Spotted: Orlando Bloom Gérard Depardieu
Thoughts: This was my first time in Paris. This was my first time in France. It was phenomenal. I have studied French since I was 12. I have read French literature since I was 10. For me, this trip was an opportunity not only to discover the places I have read about for years, but also to discover new, modern Paris of La Defense. With the guided visits from Sophie, Emilie, Vincent and numerous conferenciers, I learned so much history, art history, and jokes about the relics of antiquity. Thank you to the fantastic group, thank you to our newly found friends, thank you for the fantastic voyage.

Name: Jerry
Nickname: Gérard
Most Often Heard Saying: "But I'm a good person—I swear!"
Favorite French Food: coq au vin
Favorite Museum: Centre Pompidou
Favorite Show: Le Malade Imaginaire
Favorite Restaurant: Chez Marcel
Favorite Arrondissement: La Defense
Favorite Celebrity Spotted: Louis Garrel (not a favorite celebrity)

Thoughts: I was sixteen the first time I came to Paris. I was on vacation with my friends, but I didn't know the language, and that made communication a bit more difficult. I took five semesters of French at MIT, but to be honest, I was a little scared that the French people we met on this trip would be too critical of me. That was certainly not the case. Everyone we met was incredibly friendly, and they made me feel right at home. Right away I fell in love with Paris all over again. All in all, this trip was an amazing experience because I got to see a totally different side of Paris that I never would have gotten to see by myself.

Name: Natalie
Most Often Heard Saying: "Did I blink?"
Favorite French Food: crêpes
Favorite Museum: Musée d’Orsay
Favorite Show: Le Malade Imaginaire
Favorite Restaurant: Chez Marcel
Favorite Arrondissement: 6th (our home =) )
Favorite Celebrity Spotted: Gérard Depardieu

Thoughts: The last time I had visited Paris was almost 10 years ago, and my perception of the city was different this time around. First of all, I had a much greater knowledge of French and it gave me a great deal of self confidence to be able to get around the city on my own and be able to converse with the residents in French. I found the cultural and language immersion of this trip very valuable. Once in a while, I find myself saying something in French instead of in English when talking to my friends or people on the streets of Boston. In addition, with our knowledgeable guides (Gilberte, Sophie, Emilie, Vincent, etc.), we visited hidden sections (quartiers, courtyards, churches) of Paris I never would have gone to on my own or noticed interesting details I would have skipped otherwise. Finally, this trip gave me the opportunity to meet many people living in Paris and experience “la vie quotidienne.” The best way to truly understand a place is to get to know the people that live there and I feel that this trip helped me accomplish this. Thank you very much to everyone that helped make this experience so rich and full of memories.

Name: Ting Ting
Favorite French Food: croissants
Favorite Museum: Musée d'Orsay
Favorite Show: Elsa et les Cygnes Sauvage
Favorite Restaurant: La Coupole
Favorite Arrondissement: 6/7ème
Favorite Celebrity Spotted: Orlando Bloom

Thoughts: I started studying French at the age of nine, and I had never been to Europe prior to this trip, so needless to say, I was very excited to have the opportunity to visit Paris through JSF. The experience was unique and unbelievably amazing—we got to be tourists for two whole weeks, except this was so much better than anything a typical tourist could ever imagine because we got a taste of Parisian life as well. It truly was a cultural immersion, one that will be difficult to trump.

nos guides

Gilberte Furstenberg, our enthusiastic professor and guide, planned an amazing trip for us. She shared interesting anecdotes and stories with us and introduced us to new and relevant vocabulary. Because of her efforts, we met many people living in Paris and gained a better understanding of daily life. Thanks to her, we will always remember to be daring and adventurous travelers and try to push big doors to see if they open into a beautiful courtyard.
With a cheerful personality and unrelenting zest for art and art history, Sophie took us on a wild and educational tour of the most interesting parts of Paris. From the Mouzaïa to La Défense, Sophie showed us her favorite artwork, amazing architecture, and the best views of the “city of lights” from high in the sky. Whether she was describing art pieces in the middle of the street, or telling us about the original name for RER, Sophie gave us a wonderful experience that none of us will ever forget. Congratulations on your marriage, Sophie!
One of our two cultural guides for the trip, Emilie took us on wonderful tours around St. Germain des Prés and within the Louvre. She was particularly adept at eliciting analyses of artwork from us. We had a great time chatting with her, and she generously welcomed us into her parents' classical apartment.
Our intrepid guide and history buff for five visits, Vincent took us all over Paris and all through the city's history. He was really great about answering all our questions and making all the history interesting. If you are planning a trip to Paris, you should check out his website beforehand. (

un immense merci à...

We would like to thank the following people for being a part of our trip:

  • the staff of the Grand Hôtel des Balcons
  • the family Garny de la Rivière
  • Kathryn English and the élèves of Ecole Polytechnique
  • the family and friends of Madame Furstenberg

We would also like to thank those who were responsible for making our trip possible:

  • MIT Foreign Languages and Literature
  • Shannon McCord
  • our anonymous donors (whom we would love to thank in person one day!)