I haven't gotten a big enough chunk of time to write all this down yet, but Sunday is do nothing day in France so here I go!
Last Saturday I had my first excursion with the university. We went to 3 of the 6 main castles of the Loire Valley: Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, and Chambord. It was a very long day full of traveling, but it was amazing to accomplish visiting 3 castles all in one day. Here are some pictures:
Chambord was actually what the castle in the Beauty and the Beast was modeled after. It was definitely the most interesting of the castles with 365 and multiple sets of stairs that DaVinci designed and built.
This past week, I've really been getting into the schoolwork. It really hit me this week that this is not happy vacation time and I'm not coming home. I spent a significant amount of time studying and diong homework, but it feels weird doing so because I've always seen Europe as my "getaway" from the rest of the world, but now I'm just doing daily life and accomplishing the same things I would have to be doing at Texas A&M, so I just had a little reality check. But I'm over and back to having a great time!
Tuesday was Mardi Gras and I went out with a bunch of friends! First we went to an Irish bar (called Matt Murphy's) but it was really expensive so we just had one drink and then left for another the Soft Bar. It was MUCH cheaper and there were actual French people there, so we ended up talking to them! I was probably speaking french for a good 3-4 hours straight. It was a great opportunity and a lot of fun, but all my clothes and my hair reaked of smoke so badly afterward... I hate that everyone here smokes!!
On Thursday I went over to Anne-Sophie's aunt and uncles house for dinner since she was on vacation for the week. Their names are Christine and Maurice. They are in their sixties and hosted study abroad students for many many years. They were some of the nicest, most generous people I have ever met in my life. We didn't speak a word of english the whole night. One cool thing is Maurice has a wine cellar with HUNDREDS of different bottles of wine from all over the world dating back to 1917. He asked me what year I was born, so he took me to the 1991 section and there were probably about 30 bottles just from that year! It was amazing to see and he kept asking me if I was "suprised" haha. He also gave me a light-hearted "lecture" during dinner about how Americans always have one hand in their lap while they ear and that is extremely rude. The French always keep their hands or elbows on the table at all times to show that they are enjoying the company of the people they are eating with, as well as enjoying the meal. So he brought my attention to it for the rest of the evening. He also drove me home although their house was only a 15 minute walk from my apartment because he said he wasn't comfortable with me walking home at 10 pm. So cute!! I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.
On Friday night I made dinner with Ashley, Maria, and Amelia! We went shopping at the Monoprix and while we were there inspiration struck: quiche!!! We bought a lot of vegatables such as zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and broccoli along with cheese and wine and made the most amazing quiche I've ever had in my life!
I was pretty impressed with how well we were able to pull it off! We also of course bought some ice cream for desert as well. :)
Well yesterday was our excursion to Saint-Malo and Mont Saint Michel! Saint-Malo is the capitol of Bretagne in Northern France. It has ramparts completely surrounding the city, which we got to walk the entire length of! In WWII, 3/4 of the city was destroyed by bombings and fires, so a lot of it has been rebuilt. It is also famous for it's rich history and a popular hang-out for pirates.
This is me on the coast. It was beautiful here, but it was extremely foggy, as was our next stop on the excursion, Mont Saint-Michel (which was built by Saint Micheal).
At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I will say that Mont Saint-Michel was not what I was expecting... I kept hearing from all the French people that it is the most beautiful place they've ever been to and how amazing it is, and I was impressed, I just felt like I had been prettier places. By no means I am complaining, I just felt like, for example, the castle Neuschwanstein in Germany (the real-life Cinderella castle) was much more beautiful. But hey, I guess everyone has their own opinon! It was still an amazing beautiful place that I feel very lucky to have gotten the opportunity to visit. It is so cool just in all of France in general to always be surrounded by thousands of years worth of history. We just don't have that in America.
Well, Sunday is the best day of the week here in France because you literally get to do nothing so I've had a great day. But I have my first test tomorrow so wish me luck, a beintot!