Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Everything ends this way in France...everything is a pretext for a good dinner"

Well, mes amis, Jean Anouilh's quote that is the title is again about food, but I swear I'll try to keep my gushing about the meals to a minimum.

I left off with Vannes, I believe, so I'll dedicate this post to that trip and the following week and leave Bordeaux for next time.

Vannes was simply lovely, comme normale, and it was wonderful to see Margot and the Phelippeau family again. For those of you that don't know, I was visiting my host family from four years ago. Margot came and stayed with my family for three weeks during the school year, and then I went to stay with her family in Vannes, Brittany just after my junior year of high school. It's a super beautiful place:



When I got there we had lunch, but I'll spare you the details and suffice it to say it was great. Then we went into town to a market/fair that was going on, where I found some nail polish (gifts for friends!) and a blue skirt :)

Dinner was a traditional Bretagne dinner: a crêpe with ham and cheese and egg plus cider. And for dessert I of course had nutella on my crêpe. It was lovely, and then Margot and I watched Water for Elephans, an excellent movie.

The next day was pretty low key, we had breakfast and hung out playing mario cart (which I am no better at in France than the US) and chatting. Then we made these delicious "cupcakes bretagne." I'll have to get the recipe from Margot...although I may be better off looking up an American version to save myself the trouble of conversions.
 In the in between baking and frosting phases, though, we went to play volleyball with Margot's uncle, her cousin, and some friends. That was quite the experience given that many of us were very bad. I was just glad I wasn't the only one. Then we played a game called "bal aux prisonniers" which is sort of like dodgeball but it seems a little more violent to me even though Margot thought dodgeball was more violent. It probably just is a question of what concerns you more, quantity or hardness of the balls.

Anyway, that tired us out ad we were very content to return home for dinner. Then we of course had to have our cupcakes for dessert! We did so while watching the Olympics, and then we played a card game while watching the Olympics, which was nice and relaxing. In the morning we had breakfast and Margot and I just chatted about life and the future (I should mention that it was a 100% French speaking weekend for me, which actually went very well). It was really nice, and she even packed me a lunch for the train! We took a quick photo before leaving:
They are one of the most generous, kind, hospitable families I've ever met :)
When I got back to Paris, I met up with my friends who had been to Normandy that day. On Monday, we didn't have class, so we made a trip to Giverny to see Monet's gardens. I don't think I could ever get enough of them and the number of pictures I took (over 300) reflects that. I'll spare you the flowers, but here's me on the bridge in his gardens :)

We also made it to the Impressionist Museum and to Monet's grave, so it was a very productive trip. We even caught the early train back, so we had time to go see Nicolas Flamel's house! Yes, like Harry Potter, except he was a real person and a real alchemist who's house is the oldest in Paris.


This brings me to the significance of the quote. Obviously all of my meals have been delicious, and certainly in Vannes, just having family and friends around is a great reason for an amazing meal. After Nicolas Flamel's house, my friends and I were wandering the Île St. Louis on what we thought was a brief detour from our mission to find the monuments I wanted to see for my thesis. Instead, we found a place I went with my aunt and uncle when I was thirteen and decided to have dinner and dessert there. 




 Stumbling across an old memory was certainly reason enough for a good meal. And we stayed and ate and laughed until suddenly three hours had passed and we realized we had to get home.



The next morning we got up and had breakfast before heading to the holocaust museum and the exhibit at the Hôtel de Ville called C'étaient des Enfants about children in the holocaust. I wanted to go for my thesis research, and a few of my friends are into history. They were fascinating but now I have nothing but more thoughts and questions re: my thesis topic.

Wednesday we headed to Chartres as a class to see the Cathedral, which is one of the oldest and most beautiful, as well as one of the most historically significant (Henri IV was crowned there!). We examined the architecture and the gorgeous stained glass as we had to write a journal entry on it. I'll just share the one piece of stained glass that I thought was breath-taking:
It's La Vierge (Mary) and Christ. The windows are (I think) the oldest originals around because they were taken out and protected during the Revolution.


We stayed in the city for lunch and looked around the Church again before heading home. Chartres is a lovely little town with some of the best ice cream I've had yet :)

The next day was a late class and a trip to the Opera Garnier, and I was giving the presentation for the Opera. I spent most of the morning practicing my presentation, and was a little nervous. Partly because I hadn't done a class presentation in French in like a year and partly because I only ever get one correction from my teacher, and I hear it every time: "un peu plus fort," which means "a little louder." Sometimes I want to tell her it just doesn't get any louder. I really do try to speak up, and I'm sure I'm louder now than when I first took her class two years ago, but nonetheless, literally two words in she said, "un peu plus fort!"But this time, since everyone wasn't seated in a classroom, she made them move in towards me! I really liked this solution and felt the presentation went pretty well. If you're ever curious about the history of the building, let me know.


Alas, I think it is time for bed, and I'm sure you're tired of reading my Parisian tales. If you aren't, too bad, and check back later. I just stayed up too late watching the first half of the closing ceremonies (although I still hadn't seen the Spice Girls yet). We have to be ready at 6:50 tomorrow to visit the Louvre. I'm excited but holy crap that is early! Too early for me too continue blogging tonight. Bordeaux stories later!

xoxo
K

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