Halley Knigge (Griffin)

Write. Share. Communicate.


This weekend I continued with the theme of creating Seattle-in-Paris. My main tools for this operation were two of my best girls and former roommates, Christina (who is studying fall quarter studying in Nantes and Amelia, who is doing the UW Comparative Literature program for two months in Paris. (Her school is actually only about 3 blocks from Sciences Po).

As I had to nanny off and on throughout the weekend, things were a little more complicated then they could have been, but Christina (who stayed with me) and I ended up just leaving my apartment key hidden for eachother outside my door. Don’t worry, since my door opens off of the abandoned former maids’ hallway, no one comes up the stairs. It’s me, three doors that lead to old chambres de bonnes (rooms where maids would have lived) and a communal bathroom at the end of the hall. Luckily, as I am in a renovated chambre de bonne, I do have my own bathroom inside my apartment.

After retrieving Christina from gare Montparnasse, I left her with Amelia and I ran to my art history class. It’s actually a Sciences Po class, but the séances are held in the l’ENA building. I hadn’t realized that’s where they were until I arrived for class, and after hearing about the l’ENA controversy basically since I’ve been in France, it gave me a nerdy thrill to step inside.

If Sciences Po was founded to train the future elite leaders of France, L’ENA, or L’École Nationale d’Administration is the entity that has the power to turn the elite of the elite into actual leaders of France. For anyone who wishes to enter French politics, (the French equivalent of) undergraduate studies at Sciences Po, followed by (the French equivalent of) graduate studies at l’ENA. After graduating, énarques are ushered into leadership positions reserved especially for them. Dominique Villepin is an énarque, as is Ségolène Royal. So is Jean-Baptiste, my nanny family’s dad – he’s actually not only an énarque, but an X (Polytechnique grad), and he went on to found his own investment bank.

Despite the intimidating immeuble, my art class is definitely going to be my most chill. It’s taught by a professor who spends half her time at NYU and half at Sciences Po (it’s my only class in English), and I can already tell that it’s going to be really really good. I’ve never taken any kind of art history before, only physical art classes, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I think it’ll be really interesting. And what better place to learn art history then in Paris? On Friday we’re meeting at 8h (instead of our usual 14h45) at Palais Royal (behind the Louvre) to take a walking tour of artistically important areas of Paris.

Saturday afternoon I had to babysit as usual, so after hanging out with Christina and Amelia for a while, I let myself into the big apartment at my scheduled 14h arrival time. When I walked in the door, Cassie took off with Paul, told the girls to do their homework, and Jean-Baptiste took off into the kitchen to bake a tarte aux prunes (plums). This left Alexi and I in the living room to “get to know eachother” for an entire hour and a half, until the family finally left at 15h30. It was a pretty obvious set-up, but Alexi turned out to be really nice and we managed to pass the time together with minimal awkwardness. I’m still not completely over the oddness of the whole situation though. Especially after nannying tonight and hearing, “Didn’t you think Alex was cuuute?” all night long.

I feel like X’s and Pôtistes are kind of supposed to be rivals, but we’re all in the same elite squadron…or something…we’ll see what happens the next time they try to set up the two Americans in Paris.

Author: Halley (Griffin) Knigge

Storyteller and adventurer with a focus on new and social media. Ten years of award-winning writing and editing experience, eight years working professionally to share compelling stories through brand journalism, three years as an airline spokesperson, two years as a Tacoma Arts Commissioner and 30+ years of learning something new every day.

3 thoughts on “

  1. Ummm. We were going to sell the red piano. Maybe we ought to rethink this?

  2. I want to know more about Alexi. Well, is he cute? nice? what?

  3. I didn’t mean to post the red piano comment twice. I thought it didn’t post, but apparently I’d just put it on the wrong day … but yes, we’d all like to know more about Alexi.

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