I had always wanted to visit France and experience a different environment at one of the most developed countries in the world. Thanks to Solidarité Enfance Asie (SEA) I have been very lucky to have all the facilities like going to a good nursing school, having a lovely place to live in and a good family to be with, and then getting a chance to stay in France. I think this is the best life I could have. I would like to thank all the people involved at SEA for my bringing up, for making me what I am today.
In 2008, I graduated from a good nursing school in Nepal. And from end-2008 to August 2012 I worked as a staff nurse in Global hospital at In-Vitro Fertilization Centre, located at Gwarko, Lalitpur, Nepal. In early 2012, I got a great opportunity: a chance to work as a Jeune Fille au Pair for a French family !
I am grateful to Helen Mom (Mrs. Marie-Helene Duprat) and her brother, Vincent, for providing me this life-time opportunity to come to France, study French in France and travel beautiful places around Paris and its outskirts. I got my visa to come to France last August and on August 27, 2012, I set my foot in France…..
I was really excited to come here. Everything went well on the plane. I reached the Charles-de-Gaulle Airport near Paris, I was a bit nervous but it wasn’t bad because I met a French girl who helped me a lot. It was her first time visiting Nepal and she was happy that she was going back to her country after a tour of one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Nepal. She was very helpful and kind. And that was the impression that the French people, in France, made on me. But the airport made me wait for my luggage for a pretty long time. Finally my luggage arrived; I got out of Terminal B at the front of which I saw Helene Mom waiting to pick me up. I was really happy to see her. We took a taxi and went straight to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France in north-central France. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris 19.1 km (11.9 mi) from the centre and is home to historic museums, and chateaux.
Now I was officially inside France and ready to work as an au pair, experience new things, new people, and new places. I was also ready to travel around during my leisure time!
I was welcomed by Fabienne, Vincent and their 2 kids. I settled into their home, and Mondays through Fridays I looked after their two adorable daughters aged 9 and 5. I really enjoyed my four-month stay with this wonderful family, and it was amazing to see how much my French improved. I took French Language training classes at Alliance Française, located at Paris, Île-de-France. I learnt a lot of things during these few months and there were a lot of strong and emotional moments. In particular, I’ll always remember last Christmas.
On Christmas Eve we all had dinner at home (Vincent’s place), with Helen Mum and her mother. And again on Christmas, we had lunch and spend our afternoon altogether. It was the best Christmas of my life.
During the weekends I explored Paris. Paris turned out to be as beautiful and clean as I had imagined before coming here. Everything was different here; the houses, the shops, the restaurants, the parks and so on. Here everyone seemed much disciplined and even the pets were well trained; something I would barely see in Nepal. There are a lot of things to do and visit in Paris which keep people busy and utilize their time well after work. There are a lot of parks and gardens which we can visit without paying and entry to some of the museums is free of cost. People use these parks to exercise, breathe fresh air, take dogs for walks, and to make their children enjoy playing around. One common thing about all the places I visited was that they had the flags of the European Union and France.
Let me tell you a few words on the places I visited when I was off duty during the week-ends. First of all, I went to visit the Eiffel Tower with Christiane Michels, one of the members of the SEA Board. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, the majestic Eiffel Tower has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. While I was going around the Eiffel, I came across some bear statues painted in different colors and some had flag paints on them. Later on, I came to know that these were Friendship mascots United Buddy Bears painted in the colors of different countries, to mark the 25th anniversary of the twinning cities of Paris and Berlin; I recall myself hearing that Nepal was not included here – a sad moment.
The exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral seemed attractive to me and it was a beautiful piece of architecture.
The best street I have ever visited in my life was Champs-Élysées (formally known as The Avenue des Champs-Élysées) that consisted of cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops, clipped horse-chestnut trees; and French monuments of which I can recall two names: Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. One must visit this street if they are in France.
And then there was Saint-Michel, famous for its fountain, the central statue of which was supposed to depict Napoleon Bonaparte, but the original conception came under criticism from opponents of Napoleon III; it was finally decided that the statue would be an image of Saint Michael, the Archangel (Saint-Michel in French), with two dragons that spout water into the fountain and figures of the four classical cardinal virtues.
The best park I have ever seen in my life, Jardin du Luxembourg, is the garden of the French Senate, which is itself housed in the Luxembourg Palace. I visited this park more than a couple of times.
Then Montparnasse is a beautiful place on the left bank of the river Seine. Tour Montparnasse was the centre of attraction of this place. I include this here because I loved this place.
Another attraction is Musée du Louvre, one of the world’s largest museums, and a historic monument on the right bank of Seine. It was a mystifying experience inside the museum, the building of which was a classic.
Last but not least I spent a weekend at Marseille; it was a great one! The train with a speed of 300 kmph got me from Paris to Marseille within 3 hours; in Marseille, Sylvie and her friend, Hugues (former SEA’s sponsors), were waiting to drive me to Sylvie’s home. We went and rested for a moment and then went up a hill to Notre Dame de la Garde, a church, from where I could see an exciting view of the whole city of Marseille and discover that it was surrounded by hills and mountains. On the following day, we went on a boat ride to an island, and, although I had travelled on a boat before, it was a wonderful experience with the island, where we had a short walk and a small picnic. The island was an exciting place. On the last day of my stay at Sylvie’s, she took me to Aix-en-Provence, where people are richer than those at Paris and it is an expensive province of France. All in all, it was an exquisite experience for me at Marseille. I would like to thank Sylvie and Hugues for the wonderful and exciting weekend at Marseille.
I am going back to Nepal with a lot of great memories of a country rich in culture and as beautiful as a garden that angels come to visit every now and then. I am going back with a collective set of memories to last for a lifetime. I would love to visit the country again in the future if the situation permits me to do that.
I would like to put forward deep gratefulness to Fabienne and Vincent, Helene Mom, and their mother; Christiane, Jocelyne, and each of the SEA sponsors I paid a visit to. The four-month stay in France was a challenging and exhilarating experience for me and I will take home a lot of great memories from France.
This is Sarita signing off from France.