About two or three weeks ago, I finally went to Paris. It was a great weekend. I’m feeling really lazy today, so I’m going to post a few pictures at the bottom of the post, and the other photos will be on Photobucket (I’ll put a link on here once I upload them). P.S. I hope everyone’s digging this new font…I totally am.


The first day:

I got there around 11:30 am, got a map, and made my way to the hotel. I was kinda lost so I just walked until I found La Seine (the huge river running through Paris), then followed it – luckily my hotel was almost right along the river. I checked in, got the room…huge bed! It was unfortunately not that comfortable though.

Afterwards, I ate at this tiny restaurant next to the hotel; I had duck leg with a massive heap of mashed potatoes with garlic and oil – it was sooo good. For dessert, I had a chocolate mousse. That was either the best or second best chocolate mousse I’ve ever had (aside from my mom’s of course).

By around 2:00 pm, I actually started my day. It was really nice out so I just walked everywhere – I probably did a good eight miles throughout the day. I went to the massive Notre Dame cathedral; it is massive, and incredibly cool. The interior is really big, and there were about two hundred people inside. There’s a small treasury inside that I went into (sadly, you have to pay a few Euros). There were old pope headdresses, old crowns, church relics, etc. – very cool!

After that, I was supposed to meet up with Brittany and Alison for dinner at Hard Rock Café, which was quite far away from me. So I gave in and took the metro for a few stops. I arrived…somewhere, and I had about two hours to kill. Luckily for me, I saw “Choco Story,” this really cool…(you guessed it!) chocolate museum! So I went in there, watched a demonstration of professional delicious chocolate making, and then spent about 15 euros on chocolate and a hot chocolate made the way the Aztecs did in BC times – very different, still delicious.

Finally, Hard Rock Café. It was hilarious to see one in French – most of the menu had English names with some French descriptions. As always in Paris, more than half the staff spoke fluent English. I got a pulled pork sandwich, which is quite far from the French diet I’m now used to, so I was quite nauseated that night…oh well. So I got back to the hotel, hung out, watched TV (my first time ever in France), read, then went to sleep.

The second day:

The clocks changed, so I was really confused as to what time it was. That’s not important though. I went to a café and had a delicious bruschetta with fresh mozzarella and basil along with two coffees. I also “second-handed…ly” inhaled about 14 cigarettes, during my hour stay, from the twenty smokers around me – gotta love Paris (and France in general).

Then I went to the Eiffel Tower! Woohoo! I didn’t climb up because I didn’t have cash on me, I didn’t feel like finding an ATM, and I didn’t want to. I met this American couple that somehow thought I was French, even though I have a massive beard, and I was rocking an American t-shirt with a brown plaid-flannel. Those characteristics exist in like 3% of French people my age. Anyway, I took lots of pictures from the exact same spot and then went on my way. I also bought Paris shot glasses and some Eiffel Tower keychains…souvenir obligations for other people. Oh and by the way, there are literally over two hundred vendors roaming around and under the tower trying to sell you keychains and what not – you can encounter one about every fifteen feet. It’s a little ridiculous.

As for my last place to visit, I went to Le Musée d’Orsay. It was incredibly cool inside. You’re unfortunately not allowed to take any pictures inside, though many people did. On my way back to the train station, I walked past Le Louvre to check it out – I had a bit of time to kill. It’s pretty much exactly how I picture it. I’d like to go check it out next time I’m in Paris.

About 7:30pm or something, I got back on the train to Besançon. So the trip was awesome, and I definitely prefer Paris over NYC. I really don’t like NYC. The only downside to Paris, aside from the fact that nobody will let me speak French with them if they realize I’m American, is that Parisians are fairly arrogant. Not a big deal though.

Oh and by the way, on the metro back to the train station, there was a group of “middle aged” people dancing in the train with a huge stereo. It was really weird, and extremely entertaining. They danced to whatever song is “I’ve got a feeling, that tonight’s gonna be a good night…” and a few others. There’s a photo at the bottom. When one of the guys saw me with his camera, he posed a little. Epic train dancing.

To better explain why I did not look French

Awesome metro dance party

– Matt Lipinski



Saturday, March 19, I went to Strasbourg with the CLA. We left from Besançon around 6h30. I was not whatsoever happy with the hour, especially since I had gotten 5 hours of post-St. Patrick’s Day sleep between Thursday and Friday. Luckily though, the bus stopped during the trip (about a 2.5 hr trip) so that everyone could get some coffee and breakfast.

I have no recollection of what time we arrived. It was ridiculously cold! After arriving and walking through town a bit, we took a boat ride to take a tour of the city – it was awesome! There were headphones at every seat with 16 frequencies to listen to the tour information in several languages – French, French for kids, English, English for kids, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, etc. I feel like I saw almost all of the town. The old buildings there are so cool, as are some of the newer ones.

Later on, we were “freed” for three hours to explore. I ate with Kirk in an Alsacien restaurant – I had an Alsacian dish with chicken, veal and mushrooms, all with a light cream sauce, on top of a bit of some cool bread. Deliciousness! Of course it was really expensive though…

Next, we visited the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg; I learned that it was the biggest building in the world between 1647 and 1874…that’s pretty badass if you ask me. The entrance is surrounded with tons of statue figures – there were a few that made me laugh a lot even though I don’t think that is exactly their intended purpose.

Very funny

The fourth guy is hilarious


Inside, it’s incredibly large and the architecture is beautiful. I uploaded a lot more photos of the interior on my Photobucket album (link at the end of the most) to better explain/show what it looked like. Unfortunately, I didn’t know while I was there that you can climb to the top of one of the big towers of the cathedral.

After that, we walked through the city for awhile; before we had to go back to Besançon, we went to another church, after having found the Hotel of the Dragon on the Street of the Dragon…too funny. The church was creepy inside! There were statues of demons, skeletons, etc. Furthermore, there is a huge statue in the back with a lion, a skeleton or demon and a bloody battle. Weird.

Finally, we returned to Besançon. Strasbourg was incredibly cool, even though I was freezing the entire time.

The rest of the photos of Strasbourg

– Matt Lipinski


St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day in France was actually pretty awesome. I had class all day, which was not fun obviously. I easily broke the “anguish” of work by having a large Guinness upon returning back to my dorm. Afterwards, we went out to dinner at this placed called “100 Patates” (100 potatoes): all he cooks for dinner is potato variations. Oh my god was it delicious. We got a student price, which also included salad and a dessert…it was incredibly filling. The first dish is what Carrie and Tessa each got – three cheese! The second and third photo are of my potato – curry, chicken, raisins and grilled onions with a very light curry-cream sauce. It is one of the most delicious things in Besançon.

After an incredibly filling dinner, we went out to Madigan’s Irish Pub, in spirit of the evening, and had Guiness. After some time there, we switched to another Irish Pub, Kilarney’s, to finish off the night with Guiness and Kilkenny’s – both very delicious beers. We unfortunately missed the “free” gigantic Irish hat giveaway, but I did end up with several cool Kilarney’s cups in spirit of the evening. I essentially didn’t take any pictures since I was much too busy enjoying the evening!

The hats we unfortunately missed

– Matt Lipinski


Oops…completely forgot to add a post about Lyon…so here it is!

Friday, March 4, I went to Lyon for the day. It was only about 2.5 hrs by train…not bad. In Lyon, there are not too many awesome things : actually, it is a big village and that’s pretty much it. It wasn’t boring or ordinary, but it wasn’t incredibly impressive either.

Anyway, I had a good time. I arrived around 11 a.m., and I ate a café, near the train station, that had a ton of choices of green tea (obviously that was awesome for me). I got a sandwich that ended up being just salame…literally just bread and meat. It didn’t suck, but I was disappointed; still, it was delicious. There were two British tourists at the café who didn’t speak French, so I had to help them out a little with ordering food and drinks.

Across from the train station, there’s a huge shopping mall, so I went there. I tried on some clothes, I searched for stuff…blah, blah, blah.

After 3 p.m., I found this huge park, the “Parc de la Tête d’Or.” Damn it was awesome. At the entrance, there are two houses on each side of you, each with crazy exotic plants. On the left, there are plants from Madagascar, South America, the Amazon, etc. To the right, there is this simulated desert place with plants from Mexico, South America, etc. (like cacti, aloe vera plants, agave plants, etc.)

Further into the park, there is a huge lake where people can rent boats and tandem kayak-things to ride on the lake. Also, I saw a ton of animals…there’s a small zoo in the park! There were elephants, monkeys, giraffes, and other animals. Oh yeah, and there was a rosary there too; I won’t lie, it smelled awesome in there.

After the park, I went back to the shopping mall and saw a film (in French of course), and then, I returned to Besançon by train.


Photos of Lyon




I friggin’ love this place.

Saturday, March 12, I went here with Alison, Brittany and Pierre-Jean. We did this mountain climbing thing called Via Ferrata (way of iron), which also exists in the U.S. It was sick! It may have been the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, and I loved it.

Essentially, you wear a harness with two metal carabiners for attaching to these metal cables that run all along the mountain. You basically climb across and up mountains only with metal rings and tiny steps to use. There are cables everywhere though, so if you slip off a step, you still stay attached to the cable (even though you’ll be dangling 100+ feet off the ground…). We climbed an enormous amount, and my legs killed the day after. I put some photos below to better explain it a bit.

One of the views from one of the top points

Sunday, March 13, I returned (ironic, I know) for a trip with my class, “Société actuelle française” (Modern French Society). We explored the village, and visited the “taillanderie” (where they make metal tools for agriculture and such). It was awesome! We saw the factory inside, anvils, hydraulic-powered machines (water wheels), forges, furnaces, tools, etc.

After the taillanderie, we met some families from the village (the village only has 145 inhabitants, which is incredibly tiny). Then, we went back to the houses of our assigned families, and we ate for about 2.5 hours. The food was soooo good. The lunch started with some pork with carrots, celery cooked a way I’ve never tasted before (because it was actually good), and some other vegetables. Afterwards, we had beef bourguignon with fries, carrots, green beans, cannelini beans, and something else that I forgot. Then we ate a ton of cheese – Chamembert, Morbier (I’ve already tried it in the U.S.), and Comté, of course. Finally, we ate some dessert: it was some thing with raspberries from the family’s own garden.

The second part of the meal (beef bourguignon)

Later, after the meal, the wife brought us to Salins-les-Bains to visit this big salt museum. This town is famous for its salt production in the past. The tour guide showed us all the processes of extracting salt from the water, and such. It was crazy, and there is absolutely no way whatsoever that I’d like to do the work they had to do.

That’s a lot of salt!

Finally, around 6 p.m., we returned to the village, then returned to Besançon (by bus).

Photos of Nans-Sous-Sainte-Anne

– Matt Lipinski



As for my photos: I created an album on Photo Bucket because it’s a lot easier for me to display the photos (there is a link some below).

At the beginning of the week, I went to Zürich, Switzerland with Tracy and Kristen. The city and the trip were both amazing. We arrived on Feb. 28 (Monday), and we stayed until March 2.

As for the trip, it was about 4 hours on train from Besançon to Zürich (two stops – Mulhouse Ville and Basel/Bâle). We left at 9 a.m. Monday morning and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

Monday: After arriving, we went to the hotel (a bit of a distance from the train station and the city). It was really cold! For snacks, we went to a nearby supermarket and got some awesome cheese and bread. For dinner, we had some Swiss pizza. After exploring the town, that was it for the night; it was way too cold.

Tuesday: We explored the city – churches, stores, etc. Starting at 2:30 p.m., we took a tour of Zürich: first, the bus drove us throughout Zürich to different sites and the nearby cities. Afterwards, we climbed a mountain in a cable car for other views of the city, the lac and the mountains all around. Next, we drove the bus onto a ferry, parked, and crossed the river (in the bus, on a ferry)…awesome (and weird). Finally, we drove next to the lake for a view of the “Gold Coast.”

Photos of Zürich

Wednesday: This day was awesome. We went to Zürich Zoo. I will post numerous pictures of the zoo, so I’m not gonna talk to much about it. After the zoo, we took the train back to Besançon.

– Matt Lipinski

The Fort Bregille and Chalezeule

Saturday, Feb 19, Tracy and I did some intense hiking. We arrived at the start of the trails around noon. On the outskirts of Besançon, there are tons of trails, forests, etc. All the trails are beautiful.


At the start is this obnoxiously long staircase, of course. At the end, there is an intersection of a few roads. To the right is Fort Beauregard, with an amazing view of Besançon. Afterwards, to the left, is a road that turns into a trail which runs through the forest. At the end of the forest…we finally arrived at the Fort de Bregille. It’s a huge old fort, with tons of trails all around it. 
Fort Beauregard
Fort de Bregille
Then, behind the fort (after lots of scenery that looks like Helm’s Deep from LOTR Two Towers), we crossed the “Grand Desert” (that’s the French name, even though it’s the same in English). Really, it did feel like a desert.
The Grand Desert !
Right after the “desert,” there are a lot more trails through the forests behind it. Some of the trails go towards Centre-Ville (of Besançon), et some others go towards tiny towns (like Chalezeule and Boissy D’Anglas).
Now for something actually hilarious and interesting: in these forests, there are work-out stations. No, I’m not kidding. After the second one, we understood the purpose of them, and had a surprisingly really good time with these ridiculous things. I put some of those photos below for example. We walked 3.5 km (2.5 miles or so?) through the forest; at the end, there is a big lookout point with a wonderful views of the Doubs river and an old destroyed castle. Next to this lookout point is Chalezeule, an old and small town. I took a photo of this cool lookin’ church there.
To Chalezeule !
The views of the Doubs River

Information (assuming you can read French…)
That old destroyed castle
The church in Chalezeule 
So, that’s about it. We returned to our dorms sometime after 17:00. The weather and the views were ridiculously cool. I went back yesterday (Monday) and took some of the other trails. I was there for about 7 hours yesterday! For now, that’s it. Enjoy the photos.

– Matt Lipinski


The Percée du Vin Jaune

La Percée du Vin Jaune
The 5th and 6th of February, there is a big festival in Arbois, a small village in the Jura region, where Vin Jaune (yellow wine) is produced. I went to this festival on the 6th. The festival was amazing and extraordinary. After arriving, you receive ten tickets for tasting (5 for vin jaune, 1 for macvin, 4 for red, white or crémant (similar to champagne)). I arrived at 9:30am. Starting from noon, you could taste some wines with the tickets. So, until noon, we walked around and we listened to some marching bands. Afterwards, we ate at a pizzeria (as always). Actually, we had not gone to the other pizzeria since the end of January.

Finally, it was time!
The vin jaune has a very distinct taste, but I thought it was delicious. Also, I really liked crémant, and the red and white wines that I tasted. Macvin essentially sucked, it was wayyyy too sweet.

To find the tasting stations, you could walk around the street, enter basements, or enter some stores. We saw a lot of drunk older people, and it was hilarious to watch them. Often, you’d see them walking around giving their extra tickets to younger people. I unfortunately was not so lucky as to be a recipient of such.
At the bottom of this post, there are some photos.

We left around 5pm by train. We had an awesome time!

One of the marching bands

The bathroom (NYC!)

Wine bottle lights

Ô la vache (holy cow).

…still bizarre

– Matt Lipinski



I can’t believe how much time has passed! I only got here January 13!

First off, the first week was fun, simple, and not exciting. I met the others from the group that I did not know, as well as our “den mother,” Annick. She is incredibly nice, and every other time we see her she has money for us (our monthly “allowance” included in the Study Abroad tuition), so that’s always a good quality of someone. I discovered the “centre-ville” (center city) of Besançon quickly – it’s an old and beautiful city, with beautiful churches, incredibly delicious food and very cool stores. The second week, we all ate together (all the SUNY New Paltz kids, one SUNY Albany, and three SUNY Buffalo) as a group with Annick at the “Tour de la Pelote” (a really old restaurant). It was amazing! I tasted (ate) a rabbit pâté – delicious, even though it was very bizarre.

My classes started January 24 at the CLA (Center for Applied Linguistics). The CLA building was refurnished fairly recently. The first week was complicated: in France, you go to every course that interests you and you choose after having tried your courses. Anyway, I did the same thing, and my courses are interesting.
Monday – No classes!
Tuesday – General Linguistics
Wednesday – Oral Expression & Comprehension; French Modern Society; French Orality
Thursday – French Writing; Francophone Litterature
Friday – French Writing; Oral Expression & Comprehension; Contemporary French History

As for trips, I went to Zürich, Switzerland, which was amazing (I’ll post about it later). I also went to the “Percée du Vin Jaune” (in Arbois, Jura) in February, which was amazing; I’ll explain it in a later post too.

I love the culture and the food in France. Everything I eat is more fresh than in the U.S., and I have never had a bad meal. We used to eat often some “kébab” (it is not at all the same thing as “kebab” in English). Kébab in Besançon is referring to lamb meat in a little wheat wrap or bread roll. My god it is so good. Also, we eat at a pizzeria almost every week. The pizza here is definitely better than in the U.S. (sorry everyone!).
Ahhh, and then the bread. I eat at least a loaf of bread a day (usually 1-2). The bread here is so good. At the beginning of my stay here, I had at least one sandwich per day. Oh yeah, and by the way, I ate cow tongue one night…it was so good!

Finally, the culture and the people are fun and interesting. I still have a lot of difficult with conversation; the French language is still difficult. Nevertheless, I love France, and I’m sure that I’ll eventually be fine with the language.

Here are some photos of Besançon!

The café at the CLA

A café (at the CLA) !
The bridge of Canot (CLA to the right)
A waffle with Nutella
The statue of Victor Hugo (vandalized – poor guy)
Le phénomene hipster !
A bridge at Rue Veil Picard
The river
The other side of this bridge

– Matt Lipinski


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