Seeing as classes haven’t even started yet, I’m attempting to reign in my tendency towards procrastination and am writing this as we are departing the Loire Valley for Paris. Though the program only began on Tuesday, it feels like we’ve all been together for weeks already. I’m thinking this is a direct result of the three-course meals we’ve been treated to for lunch and dinner everyday (not to mention our frequent goûters, or “snacks,” which in France really means a forty five minute coffee break). See my food pictures for proof—I’m fairly sure that I’ve consumed at least a baguette per day, not to mention dessert with EVERY meal. I’ll definitely be taking a little sightseeing-jog along le Seine tomorrow to remind myself that France has more to offer than pain chocolats and pomme frites.
Our tour guide, Vincent, has enthusiastically led our jet-lagged, massive group from château to château in the Val du Loire for the past three days, encouraging us to practice our French with him and to ask beacoup des questions about the history of this beautiful country. This trip has been the absolute perfect way to begin our stay in France—it’s helped me to feel a bit more comfortable with the language, and relieved much of my stress about finding time to make friends before we all depart for our homestays. Since I’m only a sophomore, the majority of people on this program are new to me, but coming from Skidmore we all seem to have a lot in common and I’m excited to see what adventures this semester will bring for us! Two of my best friends from the London program are here as well, but so far we’ve found a good balance of branching out while still finding time to enjoy each other’s company.
In the hands of our trusty chauffeur Frederick, we’ve navigated our way through various regions of the Loire Valley to enjoy mouth-watering (and literally tear-inducing) patisseries in Amboise, wine tastings (un dégustation du vin) in Tours, and guided tours of everything from Leonardo de Vinci’s château to the Balzac museum. We had a slight taste of the nightlife in Tours last night, and have managed to cram in roughly a semester’s worth of French history in just three days.
An added bonus—though the weather has been fairly rainy, it’s still been somewhat mild (40 degrees Fahrenheit) and the trade off of being here in the off season is most definitely worth it. We’ve truly been able to appreciate each place we’ve explored, since the summer’s notorious crowds are nowhere to be seen.
*Note: A clear indication of my tendency to procrastinate, I am posting this a full week after writing it. Classes have begun and I’m starting to really get a feel for my neighborhood—I’ll have another post up soon with more details about settling in!