I'm now about a quarter of the way through my stay in France, carrying out preliminary research for my dissertation and regaining as much as I can of my somewhat atrophied spoken French (reading a language is such a different matter from speaking it!). It's not been entirely without its hiccups, each day adds a little more to my store of knowledge, and Paris has to be one of the best cities in the world in which to be a slightly lost doctorante—no matter in which direction you wander, there's bound to be something beautiful and intriguing just around the next corner. So far, I've primarily been working at the Archives nationales.
The staff there have all been very helpful so far, and very gracious as I fumble with remember my vocabulary. They've also helped to put me on the track of some things which I hope will be useful to me when I shift to using the departmental archives on my next trip here. Next week, however, I'll be moving to work at the Bibliothèque nationale, where hopefully there will be more documents which are more directly relevant to what I'm working on—though of course a brand new system for me to get used to!