Paris, Lille, London...
I took an expensive TGV ride from Geneva to Paris, where I met up with Marie at Starbucks. I know it's sad we went to Starbucks in Paris, but it was a bit of a China tradition (Marie taught French in Baoding). It was nice to catch up, pass along hellos and bonjours, and remember the so-so old times in Baoding.
The next day I headed out of Paris to visit Marie closer to her home town. We had an amazing lunch on a terrace, wandered around the Monet gardens at Giverny, and visited some of her friends in the evening. We decided that I should pretend not to understand/speak any French when she introduced me, just to see how they would react. It was quite funny for me, understanding everything, and them trying to make small talk with their high school English. By the end of the evening I couldn't help just bursting into French, which shocked them all. Lots of compliments on my French though, and one girl even said "he speaks more properly than me!"
The next day I just wandered around Paris visiting all the familiar sights, and I finally got to see the outside of the Centre Pompidou. I don't know how many times I've been to Paris -I honestly don't- but I've never actually seen the Pompidou.
Then it was off to Lille, where I used to live and teach English in 2003/2004 (you can read through the archives if you want). I only spent 23.5 hours there, which was just enough to see the city and remember some of the good, bad, and funny things. I had my favourite snack (croustillons, like fresh TimBits), ate at my favourite restaurant (Aux Moules), had coffee in my favourite cafe (Notting Hill), and went though my favourite stores (i.e. Le Furet du nord). I'm glad that I got to re-visit the city. It was almost the way I remembered it (cold, windy, rainy), but there was less dog poo because they had street cleaners with huge vacuums cleaning it up!
The next day I took the Chunnel to London, where I saw my parents for the first time in 11 months (and 1 day, according to my mom). It was great to see them for a few days before I had to head back home, and they headed on to Barcelona.