Aero: Emma (Reno) Bondi – France 2015 – History and Culture


Aero: Emma (Reno) Bondi – France 2015 – History and Culture
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Aero: Emma (Reno) Bondi – France 2015 – History and Culture


Reno Bondi

France has modernized with the times. There are new buildings, roads, and Wi-Fi nearly everywhere. But unlike American, France is old. We’re talking really old. Even with the modern conveniences, France is downright stuck in the past, but in a good way! Paris still sports buildings from centuries ago that are in use now. Gothic churches hold masses on Sunday as they have been for hundreds of years. Even with Renaults whizzing by and electronic crossing signs, the city of Paris doesn’t feel the same as downtown Rochester. What would be grim and filth here is rugged individualism. I think it all comes down to the streets. Besides main roads, many of the streets are still cobblestoned. How many American towns and cities can say they still have that? Certainly not my hometown, which is entirely asphalt. What brings the glamor of old world is pavement choices, hands down.

France is one of those cool places that apparently garners enough authority to demand it have a whole ton of really important artwork. Art history majors, daddy’s home.

Beyond the famous art pieces, Paris offered another venue of creativity; graffiti. I was highly impressed and our group frequently stopped to snap pictures of anonymous artwork. It gave the impression of both thoughtfulness in the work and display of artistic skill.

While I do find graffiti interesting, my real appreciation going to classical art. Anything post 19th century I don’t much care for. A wonderful piece I’d like to share is Salle des Fêtes in the Musée d’Orsay. It’s not so much of a piece as it is a room. Literally, it’s a giant room. Everyone who ambled in was amazed, saying “wow” in hushed tones, or even, not making a sound. When I walked in, I was a bit overcome. I became very aware of the squeak of my shoes; the volume of the room more than suggesting, but not demanding, revered silence.

Surprisingly enough, I heard little “French” music while in France. Granted, being in Paris, business owners and restaurateurs know they’re in a tourist trap and cater accordingly. I heard more music from French artists while with my group than in everyday life. How strange. I spent most of the time hearing English songs and getting excited at something I hadn’t heard in a while. For example, Via Con Me by Paolo Conte. While it is Italian, it was used in the film French Kiss, so I found it all too ironic to hear it while being in France (it was cool, okay?).


ML@FLCC France 2015 Flickr Photo Gallery

Is it just me, or is French tv about ten times more suave than American tv? Just me… alright. This may be entirely because French is a pleasing language to ingest audibly, but I’m not going to let that stop it from being superior. I’m just gonna let it happen. To be frank, I paid little attention to the television. I usually spend time in the living room of my host family’s house reading. If the TV was in fact on, it made for nice background noise. One of the nights, I actually sat down and watched The Voice with my host family. In truth, I’ve never even watched American Voice, but they’re relatively the same thing.

What does it mean to be French; a rather heavily loaded question. Can anyone singularly answer something like that? I don’t know if I can do that question justice, being American and all, and I really don’t know if my speculations are enough. And what is there to expand on besides general nationalism? Everyone feels that on some level for their mother country. The French are hardworking, dedicated individuals. To be French is to be passionate in whatever you do. I think that is the best way to sum it up. French culture is individualistic, yet fiercely loyal to its own. Their motto is liberté (liberty), égalité (equality), fraternité (brotherhood). These people spent most of their history being revolutionaries, fighting for a better tomorrow for their comrades in arms and all French citizens.

Emma (Reno) Bondi
LEAF Contributor