France: A City of Wine and Cheese Comparing United States and French Agriculture


Posted: February 16, 2018

By Elke Hess (Immunology and Infectious Disease) "Paris lived up to every expectation, except for the wine and cheese. They were even better than I could have imagined."
The images above are outside the Louvre.

The images above are outside the Louvre.

Paris lived up to every expectation, except for the wine and cheese. They were even better than I could have imagined. The two-week class focused in Paris, following the Spring semester course was eye opening to the similarities and differences between the United States and France when it comes to agriculture.

There was not much room in my schedule, as is the case with many science majors, to travel abroad for an entire semester. When I found out there was a chance to take a class abroad for a short time, I jumped at the opportunity. Through this class I was able to see, in both France and the U.S., the different levels of agriculture and agricultural policy.

While in Paris, one morning was spent at the Rungis Market. This enormous market was the source of cheese, flowers, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables in enormous quantities.

Along with visits to the U.S. Embassy, Versailles, the Champagne region of France and the Louvre, we had copious amounts of free time to explore on our own. Learning to navigate a city where you didn’t speak the main language was a frustrating learning experience, but ultimately forced my classmates and I to learn to be resourceful. This experience also taught me the value of self-management and prioritizing. With all the sites to see and many museums open every day, it was difficult to stay in and prepare for the final presentation. The class also taught me the strength of public perception when it comes to policy.

The trip, for the most part, was fast paced and exciting. The Louvre visit was one of my favorite days. The focus was on food in art, which was interesting by itself. Also having access to the rest of the museum and all the priceless art there was a dream come true.

This entire trip was a surreal experience. Every day seemed like a scene from a movie. Almost every day we had free time to go to lunch at one of the numerous cafés that line the streets of Paris. Every meal included rich coffee and delicious cheeses. The two weeks were an endless stream of new foods and experiences, and I can’t wait to go back.