Télécom ParisTech

How foreign students see Paris

Paris seen by foreign students

Photography contest organized in 2015 by 'FLE' (French as a foreign language)

illustrate the following words through photos taken in Paris: funny, free, Parisian, surprising, shocking.

Adine Sagalyn, an American photographer who specialises in urban and industrial landscapes, was one of the judges. The themes underlying her own creative work on Paris, which you can see on her website at adinesagalyn.com , are in the same spirit as those of the competition.



Winner : #historic selfie! Geovani (Brazil) et Hiep (Vietnam)

Winner : #historic selfie! Geovani (Brazil) and Hiep (Vietnam)

For those people who think the selfie is reserved for trendy young people: a statue was seen taking a selfie in the Jardin des Tuileries. How many “likes” does it deserve? : D
1,000,000,000 “likes”...
So, time passes and I am still beautiful !
#instagood #sculpture #selfie #selfiehistorique #paris

The illusion of Notre-Dame - Biyun et Yingpo (China)

The illusion of Notre-Dame - Biyun and Yingpo (China)

"Look, a man’s coming towards us! His old clothes are discoloured, but his scarf is all golden. And furthermore, he’s wearing pilot’s goggles: How strange! He looks like a freak in this outfit!

Look, he’s standing behind a menu-holder. What’s he going to do? He raises his hands and stares ahead. Oh, he is beginning to play the role of an orchestra conductor. He’s really funny, because there is no one in front of him. It’s only his illusion… But he seems serious, passionate and has already been playing for 10 minutes. But where is the orchestra? We don’t see it. We feel lost… Is it really his illusion or ours?"

Supernatural power - Hung (Vietnam) and Wenjia (China)

Supernatural power - Hung (Vietnam) and Wenjia (China)

The boy in the centre has a supernatural power. He eliminates his opponents without too much force.

Lift - Artur (Brazil) and Maksymilian (Poland)

Lift - Artur (Brazil) and Maksymilian (Poland)

The lifts in France operate like all other lifts in the world. Except at Télécom, to go to the 4th floor, you not only have to think about where you want to go, but also what building you are in.

“Do you want to stop several floors before your practical work? Sorry you do not have the choice..”  

For a student arriving from abroad, this seems to be completely crazy, but this is not true, this memory/stress game is just training for the telecoms engineer!


Winner : Freedom is like a bird - Huy (Vietnam) and Wei (China)

Winner : Freedom is like a bird - Huy (Vietnam) and Wei (China)

        The buildings look on with jealous eyes at the Seine flowing by, because they are still.

        The Seine looks on with jealous eyes at the birds flying freely in the vast sky, carefree and with pleasure, because it can only move in one direction: that which leads to the sea.

        The birds look on with laughing eyes, gazing at the reflections of the buildings in the waters of the Seine, which they are resting on.

Jardin du Luxembourg - Pamela (Ecuador) and Jin (China)

Sailing boat - Pamela (Ecuador) and Jin (China)

The photo was taken in the Jardin du Luxembourg, in April 2015, where a child put a sailing boat in the pool in front of the palace and pushed it gently so that it could move forward.

Other boats are floating on the water drifting like our own freedoms.

A free-spirited man - Jia (China) and Thai-Chau (Vietnam)

A free-spirited man - Jia (China) and Thai-Chau (Vietnam)

It’s an European man mountain biking, a very western sport.

At the same time, he is meditating while holding his rosary, which represents an eastern religion.

This freedom mixes the western and eastern lifestyles.


Winner : « La vie en rose » - Xiaoxiao and Xiaofei (China)

Winner : « La vie en rose » - Xiaoxiao and Xiaofei (China)

The afternoon in Paris gives you a feeling of total laziness, if you are lucky enough to stroll beside the Seine, you will be amazed to see the love people have for the quiet life. You can read in their faces that they temporarily forgot unreservedly about all the problems in life in the embrace of the sun and breeze. Several historic buildings stand on the opposite side, which with their own feelings of unique greatness, look calmly at modern Paris, as if they were about to tell their secrets hidden at the bottom of the Seine. Parisians are most able to enjoy the passing time and are only concerned with the unique character that the city gives them. Even if tomorrow is the end of the world, these citizens will still enjoy the heat of the sun and the fresh air enveloping them. Indeed, sometimes life is not really complicated, a few cans of beer, a guitar with a few friends, a quietly lit cigarette: this is how we interpret "la vie en rose".

The Jardin du Luxembourg, an oasis of freedom - Daniel (Germany) and Leoni (Brazil)

The Jardin du Luxembourg, an oasis of freedom - Daniel (Germany) and Leoni (Brazil)

The Jardin du Luxembourg is a place which allows you to relax after a day in Paris. When you go in there, you can feel free because you see nature intermingling with the living beings there and this makes us forget our worries and troubles. Around the garden, the city of Paris stretches out restlessly and the crowd follows its daily life. This place is an island in the centre of Paris to escape. You can enjoy the silence of the lawns or move to the fountain which is at the end of the path to socialise with friends.

Beautiful musical performance - Yixin (China) and Mike (Brazil)

Beautiful musical performance - Yixin (China) and Mike (Brazil)

In this photo, we can enjoy a beautiful musical performance.
This small orchestra is made up of people sharing their talents.
They appear in Paris stations, providing a great distraction to the bustling life of most of the people passing by there.

A dog’s view - Ligia and Filipe (Brazil)

A dog’s view - Ligia and Filipe (Brazil)

The statue also has its gardens everywhere in the city and the Paris parks are a place for meeting and enjoyment.

The locals return to the parks at the end of winter and they bring their little dogs with them and their blankets for a picnic in the sunshine.

Most major cities in the world are real concrete jungles, while in Paris these green spaces provide a feeling of tranquility. This mixture between nature and traditional buildings makes the City of Lights a special place.

It’s Paris ! Giulia (Italy) and Jie (China)

It’s Paris ! Giulia (Italy) and Jie (China)

Paris, in a corner of the Marais an orchestra is playing jazz music; an elderly lady arrives and starts dancing alone.
She doesn’t care about the opinion of people passing by: she’s having fun and wants to enjoy the music.
She has understood the artistic spirit of life and its beauty.
She is still living her youth.


Winner : A marvel of amazing integration - Ivan (Russia) and Yuqi (China)

Winner : A marvel of amazing integration - Ivan (Russia) and Yuqi (China)

In the middle of the great city;
Merging stability and chance,
Uniting the static and moving,
Combining nature and technology.

Don’t stop the dance - Qi and Kaiwen (China)

Don’t stop the dance - Qi and Kaiwen (China)

One day, I went past the Council of State, suddenly a group of young people got out of a car. All of a sudden, music started to play and they started dancing energetically. At that moment, some Chinese tourists arrived. They were about to get on the coach, but attracted by the music and the dancing, they started to dance with them. I was very surprised to see all of that.

Firstly, it’s surprising that people are dancing before the Council of State, because it is a very serious place which plays a role in advising the Government. Besides, it is surprising to see Chinese tourists dancing in Paris. Even though they had not learnt this dance, they were able to dance perfectly with the young people. Finally, it’s also surprising to find the speed with which cultures mix. The young and the elderly, the Chinese and the French, the serious and the fun, all these elements came together in this photo. It’s really impressive.

At the top of Notre Dame - Pablo (Spain) et Jake (Great Britain)

At the top of Notre Dame - Pablo (Spain) et Jake (UK)

This photo was taken at the top of Notre Dame on a grey winter’s day.

The gargoyle is staring out over Paris, seeming surprised by the beauty before it! Without colour, the gargoyle is more striking; with the black Tour Montparnasse in the horizon, the gothic scene recalls the mystery of Paris.


Winner : The sleepless night - Chenxi and Xiao (China)

The sleepless night

Beside the deserted train track

Through the glass door

The legs hanging down
  catch the eyes

At the lift exit

The child is crying

What ghost

Behind her hair

Her hidden face

What sorrows

Make the woman so desperate.

Paris after the terrorist attack - Huynh Duy Hung (Vietnam) and Wenjia (China)

Paris after the terrorist attack - Huynh Duy Hung (Vietnam) and Wenjia (China)

The beautiful place de la République becomes a place of remembrance for the people killed in the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo.

The lion bears our respect for them.

The Old City - Yuhan and Yushan (China)

The Old City - Yuhan and Yushan (China)

This photo was taken in the towers of Notre Dame de Paris. You can see the left bank of the capital which has the old buildings and also some modern ones.

The Pantheon, where many great men including Victor Hugo wanted to be laid to rest, is located directly in the centre of the photo. This author told us about the wretched and poor of Paris in the 19th century, for example in the book "Notre Dame de Paris" ("The hunchback of Notre Dame") which introduces us to the tragedies of Quasimodo and Esmeralda. When I was in the towers, I thought I had gone back 200 years in time. All in all, it is a shocking experience because the buildings and the streets do not change, the condition of the poor in Paris does not change either. However, a crane next to the Pantheon shows a possible change towards the modernity of a future life.