I see France
Trip Start May 19, 2008
50Trip End Ongoing
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In the morning, we were taken to our apartment! Five sets of winding, wooden stairs later...we were in our new place. Our landlord along with two people from the University of Rouen showed us around and answered questions. We are living on the top floor of an old building, above a little restaurant. Luckily, our apartment is furnished. In the living room we have a green velvet sectional which houses a pull-out bed, and we have a coffee table and a random assortment of end tables. In the kitchen we have a sink, good cupboard space, a mini fridge, a 2 burner stove, a toaster oven, a bar and two stools. I need some recipes which require a toaster oven...did you notice I didn't mention an oven? That's because we don't have one. Jealous? No? In our bathroom we have all the essentials, including ridiculously HOT water. Owwwie. And just when you thought you couldn't climb any more stairs, we have a lofted bedroom. Upstairs we have our bed, a writing desk, and built in shelving. It's perfect for me, but Kyle is too tall to stand up. I would laugh, but I still bump into the wall anyway. We are very happy with our new home, it might sound like a dive to anyone back in the US, but we're in love with each other, our lives could not be more exciting-and this is where we live...France! And the asking price for our apartment....about $800 USD per month. We are 4 blocks from the Seine River and ultimately "downtown," and walking distance to shopping, groceries, post, and metro. On the corner is a bakery which emits wafts of buttery bliss. Perpendicular to our street is a pedestrian road lined with boulangeries and patisseries. Fresh fruit and vegetable stands catch your eyes with vibrant colors and complete perfection in size and shape. I love it all. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the parking lot across from our place transforms into a Farmer's market. I looked out my window today, saw glimpses of cabbage, bunches of petit radishes and barrels of potatoes. As soon as Kyle gets ready, we are going to down.
Our windows are always open. We have no air conditioning. We hear pigeons and seagulls chirp endlessly throughout the day and night. They perch on the roof, inches above us...someday soon, I think one might casually step onto the ledge and into our place. I couldn't sleep the first night....with that same fear...and also because I didn't have a pillow, so I tried desperately to use my arm as one. Doesn't work. Now I have a pillow and a sound mind. But yesterday, after being out for a while, we came home and single white feather lay on the couch. It remains a mystery.
There are so many beautiful things that we have seen, I can't even begin to tell you. If only I could upload my brain and the secret camera I keep in my eyes. You would see it all. It would be an out of body experience, you would smile, feel the hair raise on your head, and you would probably dance a little.
Let me tell you about the food. We've been lucky enough to be taken out to eat twice by UNL professors that are here for a while. Both times we ate at places that started with "Le petit_____." The first thing you should know, dinner doesn't start until 8:00pm. You sit down, (starving) and choose a wine from a list on a chalk board that is propped up on your table. You drink and chat, the waiter leaves you, and you wonder if he'll ever be back. You start to feel the wine. It's loud and personable all at once, the doors and windows are open to the street. The waiter switches the chalkboard and you order your first course from a list of about 5 items. Someone translates for you because you have no idea. 30 minutes later you get an artfully arranged plate that you cherish. Once everyone at your table has finished the first plate, they are taken away and you order your main plate. Once that is complete, you order more wine to accompany your cheese course. Yes, just after you have completely stuffed yourself and are considering unbuttoning your pants-you partake in a plate of the cheese of the day. And after that? Dessert! You choose from a list of the day's specialties ranging from fruit crumbles, ice cream, and chocolate cakes. YOU WANT THEM ALL. But you pick one. If it wasn't so delicious, you would have to excuse yourself to lie down in the street because you are that full. Once you are finished, you are offered coffee even though it is approaching midnight. Yes, both of our dinners have lasted 3-4 hours.
What I ate at Le petit beuffe:
1. Red wine and green olives
2. Toasted baguette topped with eggplant puree, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh parmesan
3. Roasted vegetable lasagna
4. More wine
5. Brie and bread
6. Strawberries with cream
What I ate at Le petit...something:
1. Okay, I just had water this time
2. Salad with melon, cherry tomatoes, apple, cucumber, lettuce and chives
3. Big salad with lettuce, corn, pears, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes and vinaigrette
4. More water
5. Chevre cheese, not my favorite
6. Chocolate cake sitting in a pool of creamy...cream.
In addition to the little shops and stands along our street, we are also walking distance to a mega store....similar to a super target, but barely. It is big-has mostly food, lots of fresh produce from France...and hoards of French cheeses. It also has household items, some things that we needed to buy: Food, bath mat, hangars, trash bags, and pillows. Everything else is handy in our apartment. The hardest thing to find at the store was Peanut butter. Hmm, what do you do when it's not next to the jelly and nutella? Kyle asked someone and found a very pricy jar in the import aisle from Africa. We also didn't realize that the milk we purchased wasn't skim...or even 2%, it was 50/50. And this is no mistake to the French, Kyle asked around at work and found out that even with cereal, the French take their "milk" with 50% cream. It's also funny to note that products are listed with the percentage of fat, not the percentage without. For instance, a cheese label might say 30% fat, not 70% fat free. One thing I still need, a house plant.
Strangest thing I've seen: A cat take down a pigeon on the street
Number of baguettes eaten: 3
Hardest thing to pronounce: People's names
Color and scent of our toilet paper: Peach
Best smell: croissants for sale on our street
Worst smell: Snails, crabs, and other sea creatures for sale at the farmer's market