Today we went to Les Eyzie to visit the Musée de Préhistoire. I loved this visit. My project is on gender roles in prehistory and how our modern ideas of gender affect the assumptions archeologists make. The museum was filled with glass cases holding an uncountable number of stone tools. On the side of the glass cases were videos of demonstrating the techniques used to create them. What initially looked like a rock was unveiled to be a carefully crafted specialised tool. I was unaware of the preconceived notions that I had about different aspects of prehistory. The media often feeds us a very specific image of “the uncivilised caveman”, but seeing the intricate flint tools, and learning about some of the possible burial practices cast them, especially Neanderthals, in a new light.
Also our tour guide was amazing. Cécile gave us and in depth introduction to Prehistory while being weary of the possible inaccuracies of the assumptions made on such old remains. After our tour I got to ask her a few questions pertaining to my project topic. We discussed if there was any possibility that women made some of the cave art and tools. She told me about the relatively new studies being conducted about this very topic. With some research underway, I am excited to got to Le Mas d’Azil and possibly talk to some archeologists about my topic.
These past few days in Paris have been a whirlwind of food, walking, and beautiful sights. The struggle to fight off jet lag has become increasingly easier as the days progress but occasionally the trip feels more like a competitive seat finding mission. These first few days have been a race to fit as much sight seeing into the little time we have.
I am the only student on this trip not taking French. Granted I took it for a few years in middle school, but I am more than a little rusty. Even when I took French, I had challenges with speaking. That being said, I have not faced any extreme difficulties so far. I have found that a majority of the people we have encountered in this beautiful country speak enough English to make transactions pretty painless and easy. As one of our guides said, Paris is a city for tourists. Many times I heard English used as the common language of two non native speakers. Due to this luxury us native English speakers have, many of us do not learn new languages. I have been very impressed by the proficiency the Piette fam has shown in French. Even I have been surprised by the amount of French that has returned from being here for a few short days.
Paris has a classic fast paced city feel. What distinguishes it from other cities is the history that is woven into the modern city scape. One quick turn from the bustling shops is Notre Dame. Through an archway you’ll find ornate palaces turned museums. This atmosphere can only be found in Paris and is just as new and excited every time I visit, but for now it is off to explore some roads less travelled.