Next up on the My Yale Years project was a pair of courses taught by John Merriman: France Since 1871 and European Civilization, 1648-1945. I completed both courses quickly, two months apiece, way under par.

France Since 1871 has an excellent reading list and illuminating film selections (Paths of Glory, Au Revoir, Les Enfants, and La Haine), and Professor Merriman speaks with refreshing clarity on French politics from the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair, two World Wars, wars in Vietnam and Algeria, the May 1968 student protests, and the contemporary present (as of 2007).

Prof. John Merriman (PITT Artist Pens, 2016)

French wasn’t my first attempt at a foreign language, and France wasn’t my first European travel destination. But French is a sentimental favorite, a language that I’d love to know well, and France somewhere I’d gladly live.

My fondest travel memories include traveling with my sister around France by train, visiting Paris with my brother, and (this space reserved to mention a future trip with my wife to France at the next convenient opportunity, perhaps the gastronomic capital of Lyon or the Atlantic coast or les Alpes or how about all of them in an extended tour capped by a residency in Paris, and who can tell how and when these things happen, but let’s just say that this imagined voyage will be one of my fondest travel memories).

It’s been over 20 years since my last visit, but I’m sure it hasn’t changed much.