January Scholars 2015

During IAP 2015, eight MIT students were invited to explore Paris, under the guidance of Professor Sabine Levet.  

For two weeks, we would explore “le dessous des cartes.” What could historical and contemporary maps of the city tell us about Paris? How has the city changed over the centuries? What can maps tell us about how the people of Paris live? At Musée historique de la ville de Paris, in le Marais, we saw maps oriented East/West, with the Right bank on the left, and the Left Bank on the right, and at Hôtel des Invalides we saw three-dimensional models of fortified cities created for Louis XIV. We explored the city by foot, métro and bus, learning to identify traces of the past in the façades of buildings, and looking for what has become of the many walls that protected Paris at different times. Underneath Le Louvre, we saw the enceinte of Philippe Auguste. At Port de Gennevilliers we heard about the Grand Paris project and the new underground metro line that will one day connect suburbs outside of the périphérique. We went down into the Catacombes. We also looked at Paris from the top of tour Montparnasse and tours de Notre Dame.

During our two weeks in Paris, we kept a Daily Blog. You will find more about the quartiers we explored, the museums we visited, the plays we saw, the restaurants, brasseries and cafés where we ate, the people we met, and those who guided our visits and welcomed us in Paris.

The group arrived in Paris on January 7, 2015, which for many people will be remembered as the day of the attack on Charlie Hebdo. In the following days, as more events unfolded and plan Vigipirate, France’s national security alert system, was raised to its highest level, we took hold of the environment where we would be spending the next two weeks.  We decided to keep up with the program of visits, tours, and lectures, adjusting our plans when needed, as Je suis Charlie signs bloomed all over paris on walls, shop windows, and in the subway. 

The group stayed at FIAP-Jean Monnet in the 14th arrondissement, near Place Denfert-Rochereau, on the Left Bank. FIAP is both a youth hostel and conference center with the mission of promoting “all initiatives contributing to the creation of a global citizenship.”

Un immense merci! Thank you!

We would like to thank first and foremost our generous anonymous donors, who made this amazing experience possible.

Many thanks to Sophie de Loubens, who helped put the program together and welcomed us in Paris. Sophie, Vincent Delaveau and Emilie Lacombe, our guides, shared with us their passion for history, architecture and the arts, encouraged us to explore different quartiers on our own, and joined us for wonderful dinners and good conversation.

We thank Mr. Duffrechou, at Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris; Ms. Chassin, director of the Plan Local d’Urbanisme de la ville de Paris; Mr. Piquard, director, and Mr. Lalmas, Ms. Duval and Ms. Becker, at Port de Gennevilliers

Thanks to Global Studies and Languages, Elouise Evee Jones, Jeff Pearlin and Lisa Hickler for their support and dedication. We owe a lot in particular to Lisa Hickler for arranging the many details of our trip.

Finally, many thanks to Sabine Levet, our Professor, and to Professor Catherine Clark, who joined us for a visit at Musée des Plans reliefs and dinner at Ambassade d’Auvergne.