Paris was my Classroom: I didn’t need the schoolroom.

I learned about history & culture outside the classroom: This is the moment when learning can step outside the box.

I was lucky. My parents were travelers. They felt the classroom, was the world. I spent the second half of a school year in Paris, after completing what I needed to pass 8th grade. Well, of course missing your friends is something; but the Palace of Versailles, or the Chateaux of the Loire, or the parks and streets of Paris were pretty nice. I was lucky because my dad was a teacher so he handled the language classes and European history. My mom was an artist. She took care of the cultural world that we discovered each week in the museums and galleries. My parents are gone now, but not their photos, memories and of course, the things I learned remain with me.

Any city that has a history, is a schoolroom in itself. I don’t believe a classroom is the only place to learn.

We did not have VIP services, private jet planes or fancy Hotel Suites. We had an experience that showed me the people, culture, food and the friendliness of the people all over France. We studied French language each day. We had day trips to museums, churches, concerts, and parks. In the afternoons, we went shopping with mom to get the dinner for that evening. This is where I really learned conversational French. The big trips were also part of our monthly educational experiences such as the Loire Valley chateaux, little French villages with war memorials for both World Wars and the grand parks of Paris. Many French people found us to be amusing: an American family with a fluent French speaking father and mom (who kept it up as best she could) and two teenage daughters. My sister and I remember things but often we remind each other of things one of us may have forgotten. The photos we inherited are bringing this all back to us now.

Many times we would pull into a little village for lunch and just missing the cut-off time of 2:00 pm (lunch was strict in those days). So, my dad would talk a restaurant owner into opening up the kitchen and serving us omelets and a glass of wine. A great conversation and visit would come about. This was my father at his best. We knew we were in for a great experience. He had the conversations with our new friends about politics, government, culture and loved to hear stories about the people we met. We never came off as tourists, but rather, visitors. Our hosts were always happy to oblige.

Copyright ALLEN TRUST. Photo by Judith E. Allen

This is a photo taken by my mother in a park most likely in Versailles. Her camera eye always found something simple that struck her as unusual. In this image, the dogs were probably what the photo was about; they are animated as they sit surrounding the Goddess ‘DIANNE’ in the center of the fountain that was not running due to the winter weather.

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