Tuesday, August 2, 2011

France day 1: A Room with a View

It's not even 7am yet but with one last taste of Canada in the form of a Tim Horton's iced latte, I head towards airport security. And there I begin my month long adventure in France! I've been to France twice before, on vacation in Paris with my family. But this time's different. First of all, I'm going by myself. I'm also heading outside of the tourist-favourite city of Paris and spending the month in Tours living with a homestay family and learning French. Tours is a small-ish town a 2-hour train ride from Paris and Wiki tells me that it is where they speak the purest form of French, and obviously what Wiki says is true, non?

On my flight, I am seated beside a guy looks my age with deep blue eyes, I ask "Coming or going?" and he just looks confused. Clearly, his English is much worse than my French but we get by. He just spent the last three months in Canada studying commerce and is returning home to Dijon, which for the record, is not where the mustard comes from. After, I barely make onto my train as I forgot that things like customs, baggage claim and the fact that I really have no clue where I'm going would mean that I should have budgeted for more than an hour after my flight lands. Regardless, after almost a full day of travel, I made it on the train and eventually to Le jardin de France(The garden of France).

At the train station, my homestay-mom Mme. Narbonne and her son pick me up. Everything is smaller in Europe, and my bag barely fits in the trunk. On the way home we stop at a boulangerie to pick up a fresh baguette. There's officially no doubt that I'm in France. Mme. Narbonne shows me my bedroom for the month. The first thing I notice is the breathtaking amount of light that comes through the window. The entire room is lit brightly and I walk towards the open window, there isn't even a need for a screen to keep insects out, this place is amazing. As my room is on the third storey, I get quite the view of the surrounding neighbourhood. That's the thing about Europe, the homes are not built in a cookie-cutter way it is in North America, every single one looks different, I love that.

I ask Mme. Narbonne whether there's other students that are staying with her. She shows me the next room, where another student will stay when she arrives Wednesday. Mme. gives me a chance to unpack and tells me that dejeuner (lunch) is at noon. Sweet! That leaves time for a short nap I so badly need.

I'm excited to try what the French eat at home, surely they don't subsist only on crepes and croissants. We start with thinly sliced cucumber with a bit of oil, vinegar and salt, a welcomed appetizer on this warm day. Next is paté de campagne, I'm still not sure if this the same paté that's made with goose liver but even if it is, it was pretty tasty. Paté is followed with some good old meat and potatoes, but then comes dessert. Not surprisingly, we start with a cheese course and I enthusiastically spread Camembert and others on my just-bought baguette. Really, why is it that French women don't get fat again? Lunch itself has five courses. Last but definitely not least is something sweet. Mme. Narbonnne brings out a plate of what I can only describe as the hypothetical mating between a long john and a twinkie, except filled with the most delicious chilled chocolate cream and much better pastry. Actually, there really isn't anything Long John and Twinkie-like about it other than the shape and chocolate topping. They are amazing.

Later Mme. asks if I'd like to see where I'm going to school, I say Oui, s'il vous plait and we sit down for tea with one Mme's friends and head out once we finish. We drive slowly so I can remember the way since I'll be walking to school in the mornings. Part of my walk is through this incredibly lush garden, where there's a tree that was planted by Napoleon himself, I can't wait for tomorrow morning. Afterwards we take a detour to show me some of gorgeous buildings in city like the courthouse and L'hotel de ville. When we return there's still a bit of time until le souper so we play a couple rounds of Tri-ominos, like dominos but much harder. The game is noticeably French as I score three camemberts and hence, win the game with189 points.

Le souper is equally amazing as le dejeuner and makes me wonder how those strangely genetically modified orbs we call tomatoes back home can share the same name as these intricate deep red slices before me. I think I might just like this place.

A bientot.

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