Day 4: Nantes
After my bacchanal the previous evening I woke surprisingly un-hung over, although I
can’t say I slept well after all the alcohol and rich food. (Not to mention the first red meat I’ve had in about six months, I was drunk and I needed the calories.) In the morning Genevieve greeted me with my first French double-cheek kiss, which was touching. After a light breakfast Yves showed us around Nantes, and I’m damn grateful because the city is impossible to navigate by car. I’ve never thought much of Nantes, since I’ve mostly heard that it’s a medium-sized industrial city, but it’s actually quite beautiful and charming. There’s a grand cathedral downtown, as well as a beautifully decorated 19th century café with lots of tile, glass and mirrors.
While we were waiting for mass to end in the cathedral we wandered the streets of downtown Nantes, where the women are considerably better-dressed and there are lots of interesting shops (including “New-Sex” which from my brief car glance I took to be a porn shop.) All you folk who are studying abroad there are quite lucky, it’s beautiful, and according to Yves, more open to foreigners than many other French cities. I’m more than a little jealous, although I’ve been invited back.
After dragging ourselves out of Yves and Genevieve’s home (I received double-cheek kisses from all family members, including Christophe surprisingly) we almost got lost around Tours on our way to Bleré. Since France is full of roundabouts and ambiguous road signs it’s a miracle that this was our first time, but we made it. Bleré is a small town in the midst of the Loire Valley, known for its beautiful landscape, Vouvray wine, and historic chateaux. We have not partaken in any of these yet, but we will have plenty of opportunity since we’re staying here two nights. Our accommodations are an old converted mill, complete with large pond and willow trees. After our recent string of heavy dinners we decided to take a light picnic next to the pond before our inevitable early crash following the flurry of activity that has been the past four days.
I apologize to all who have email and facebooked: internet access has not been as frequent or reliable as I previously expected, my wireless card does not seem to work yet in Europe, and when I do get access it’s about enough time to read my email without replying. Thank you all for keeping in touch and I’ll do the best that I can to report back when I have the opportunity.
French skills: hardly spoke any today, a bit too tired and suffering from the after-effects of alcohol (which didn’t really hit me until the afternoon.)
Bizarre Musical Juxtaposition: “Let My People Go” with French lyrics on the radio in downtown Nantes. Surprisingly, the blues don’t sound bad in French, although perhaps less depressing since the language is so beautiful.
Drink Count: 0, I needed a break.