Memory of a Three-week visiting in France

On November 1, 2023, PhD student Xiaoxue Ran (the author) and Postdoctoral Fellow Jiarui Zhao from Department of Physics, HKU embarked on a three-week work and study experience in Europe. Our main itinerary included a two-day conference in Paris and two weeks of academic exchange in Toulouse.

On November 2 and 3, we attended the "Quantum Information: Theory and Applications" conference held at CY Cergy Paris University in Cergy, a city located northwest of Paris. The conference organizer, Professor Andreas Honecker, warmly welcomed us. Professor Andreas Honecker is a member of the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics and Modeling (Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modélisation, LPTM). This laboratory (UMR CNRS 8089) is a collaborative organization between the CY Cergy Paris University and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, CNRS) in France. The two days of presentations covered cutting-edge theories and applications in quantum computing, quantum simulation, and algorithms. At the conference, we had the opportunity to learn research findings and experiences from scholars from around the world.

CY Cergy Paris University
CY Cergy Paris University

Although we only had one day of free time to explore the city, Paris, as one of the world's most popular tourist cities, still managed to enchant us with its unique charm. Beautiful reliefs can be seen everywhere on the streets, and ancient buildings with traces of time remaining evoke a sense of history. Museums with a large collection of cultural treasures make one feel the weight of civilization and its rich past. The most impressive experience was the Louvre Palace at night, devoid of the bustling crowds found during the day. The palace echoes with classical music, and the museums appear even more mysterious under the night sky. Visitors can sit and rest by the glass pyramid or walk straight across to the Seine Riverbank while admiring the scenery painted by the Impressionist masters, as well as the faintly glowing Eiffel Tower in the distance.

Seine River
Louvre Palace at night

Subsequently, we traveled to Toulouse in the south of France to participate in a two-week academic exchange. Invited by our collaborators Professor Fabien Alet and Professor Sylvain Capponi, we engaged in various discussions and exchanges with the members of the Condensed Matter Theory group at the Laboratoire de Physique Théorique (LPT) of the University of Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier. LPT in Toulouse (UMR 5152) is a joint organization between the CNRS and the University of Toulouse III in France. As part of the Journal Club activities of the Fermions Fortement Corrélés (FFC) group, Dr. Jiarui Zhao presented on entanglement entropy in quantum spin systems, while Ms. Xiaoxue Ran shared insights on phase diagrams of quantum constrained lattice models.

LPT, University of Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier
Photo of Jiarui Zhao (far left), Xiaoxue Ran (third from right) with members of the Condensed Matter Theory group, Sylvain Capponi (second from left), Didier Poilblanc (far right), and Fabien Alet (second from right).

During our six-hour train journey from Paris to Toulouse, we experienced the French“freestyle”, and couldn't help but marvel at the developed high-speed rail transportation in China. In contrast to the bustling metropolis of Paris, Toulouse, a small town in southern France, exudes tranquility and a leisurely atmosphere. As the fourth largest city in France, the architecture here is predominantly red and has a distinct style. Although the city center is not large, it is complete with all the necessary amenities, showcasing the seamless integration of human society and the natural environment. On a clear day, taking a stroll along the wide streets, free from the noise of vehicles and crowds, one can only hear occasional bird songs from the trees, which brings a sense of joy and relaxation. The Garonne River runs through the city, offering the opportunity to admire the sunset and evening glow. Without the obstruction of tall buildings, the golden sunlight filters through the tall trees along the river, casting its rays onto the buildings, intensifying the atmosphere of autumn.

Toulouse city
Banks of the Garonne River

During our stay, we had the chance to appreciate the beautiful architecture and natural landscapes of France, while experiencing the cultural differences in people's ways of life. On November 18, carrying with them new knowledge and inspiration gained from our study and discussions, we returned to Hong Kong. Although the three-week journey came to an end, our quest for knowledge continues.

Faculty of Science news: Exploring Frontiers on Quantum Physics via Academic Exchanges beyond Borders
Graduate School newsletter: Memory of a Three-week visiting in France
Chinese version: 法国三周交流小记