Monday, October 31, 2011

Going to the Chapel

Next up, the church post. We visited several different cathedrals in each of the cities, including four in Dijon, one of which now functions as a theater.

Here is the church that was near the hotel in Dijon.

The theater church...

Another Dijon church

A lucky owl outside of the first church we went to...

Another Dijon church that was being renovated.

The outside of Sacré Coeur since we weren't permitted to take pictures inside.

Saint Séverin in Paris

A shrine to St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The one church we visited in Rennes was also nice and I loved the ivy on the outside.

There was also a small shrine to a saint from Rennes named Marcel Callo who died in a concentration camp.

Next up, the first museum post.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Food Post

Instead of writing one lengthy post about what I did in Dijon, Paris, and Rennes last week, I'm breaking everything down into categories. First, the food. 

(Disclaimer: I currently have no way of cropping or editing photos, so I apologize if pictures are a bit dark or blurry.)

I didn't take pictures of every meal, but this will give you a general idea of French food anyway.

As soon as we got to Dijon (myself and another assistant in my area and her husband, heretofore known as K and E), we dropped our bags off at our hotel and ate a very late lunch at a restaurant called A Tout Va Bien. We decided to opt for the 12.50 euro menu and each chose une entrée (appetizer), un plat principal (entree), and un dessert (I think you can figure that one out on your own). 

Our choices were displayed via magnetic letters (someone played a joke and wrote pote de porc instead of rôti de porc). I ordered a slice of quiche, fish, and the greatest chocolate-banana pie ever. 

I still don't quite know what the food next to the rice was.


All of the restaurant's decor was brightly colored all the way down to the pink bottles of water, and I loved their creative can/whisk clock.

That night we took a bit longer to find a place to eat but ended up going to a busy-looking place with decent prices and food. I ordered a margheurita pizza and a Hoegaarden. The pizza was greasy, but good.

The next morning we went to a very cute place called La Chouette (the owl) for a small breakfast of spice bread, orange juice, and the largest coffee I've been served in France yet.

We had the place to ourselves and the man working there was nice. 

Later we went to another restaurant called Casa di Lola. The duck was delicious as well as the slice of potato goodness.

The ice cream wasn't bad either.

We also stopped by a mustard store, but I was too chicken to take a picture inside without buying something, so I snapped one of the window display on our way out. Fyi, the ice cubes were fake.

That night we went to another restaurant in the area for escargots and boeuf bourgignon, but they didn't seem too keen on having tourists in their restaurant so I tried to be inconspicuous and not take pictures. The food tasted good, but the presentation wasn't really picture-worthy anyway.

One thing that never ceases to make me chuckle is the French attempt at using English words in names of restaurants and businesses. The Grill & Cow is just one of the many such restaurants. Each time we passed by, I felt a stronger urge to take a picture and when I spotted the cowhide outside, I knew the moment was right.

In Paris we usually just bought sandwiches and kebabs, so food pictures just didn't happen. However, we did stop for a glass of champagne outside of the Moulin Rouge.

Our one restaurant experience in Paris was a complete disaster. We should have known better than to eat somewhere near tourist attractions. Allow me to bullet point the problems:
  • Confusing English menu since we've grown accustomed to the terms and organization of French menus
  • Terrible seating with an unnecessary heat lamp that nearly gave us all sunburns
  • E's frog's legs appetizer -- a nasty, fried mess that tasted like nothing
  • The browning lettuce in my salad
  • The hour wait between the appetizer and main dish
  • The lack of a bowl for K to put her mussel shells in
  • My plate of cold coq au vin 
  • The "typo" on the English menu that didn't mention that frog's legs were an extra 2.50 euro
  • The lack of apology and dismissal of their accountability for the frog's legs menu mistake
Moral of the story: Never ever go to a restaurant where they appear to "cater" to tourists, because you'll just end up with lousy food and lousy service.

At least my crème brûlée was decent.

In Rennes, we ate crêpes for lunch, tried another restaurant for dinner (I had a mountain of moules-frites) and then returned to the crêperie for dessert. The food was so delicious that I forgot to take out my camera. Oops!

More on Dijon, Paris, and Rennes coming soon.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Artist -- The Best Part of my Vacation Thus Far

I'm back from Dijon, Paris, and Rennes and have a ton of pictures to share, but for the moment I just want to post a trailer for the new silent film The Artist. I feel a bit silly saying that going to the movies was my favorite part of my vacation since I obviously could see the film from any movie theater just about anywhere in the world, but something about watching a silent film with French subtitles while surrounded by francophones just felt magical.

Obviously you can read reviews of the film on your own, but I found it to be a cross between Singin' in the Rain and Sunset Boulevard, as if Don Lockwood fell into obscurity and Kathy Selden went on to become a big star. There was a rain scene and even a Lina Lamont-esque character annoyed with the male lead for taking away "[her] public too!" 

All I can say is, you should go see this movie, and while you're at it, go watch Singin' in the Rain and Sunset Boulevard for me since I am miles from my DVD collection.

Pictures from my vacation coming soon!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Le stage d'accueil - Grenoble and Autrans

This Monday and Tuesday I went to Grenoble and Autrans for a welcome orientation. Normally assistants go to orientation in the first few days of their arrival to take care of paperwork for immigration, social security, and pay, but since 95% of us had already mailed our documents, the overview of paperwork and the French school system wasn't very helpful or necessary. The most worthwhile part of orientation was meeting other assistants and coming away with some practical activities for teaching in the months ahead.

Unfortunately I continued my streak of being a terrible picture-taker. Not only are there hardly any pictures, but the pictures I do have are a bit random and slightly out-of-focus. 

For example, this picture was taken in the twenty seconds that I stood waiting for a stoplight on my way to the first meeting in Grenoble. Open purse, take out camera case, camera out, camera on, take picture, camera off, camera in case, camera case in bag, bag zipped, done. And that's why the lighting is awful and why I chose the worst view of the mountains from the city. Yay me.

I would have liked to take more pictures of Grenoble, but unfortunately I spent the majority of my time in meetings until taking a bus to a town called Autrans. We spent the night and the next day at a ski lodge/summer camp type place and I managed to snap a picture of the mountains on the way up.

Here are the grounds of the place we stayed at.

After throwing my bags into my room for the night (along with two English girls, one German, one Italian, and one American), I foolishly left behind my jacket and scarf before going on a walk down to the town center.

I don't think the town is used to tourists at this time of year, so the one cashier at the supermarket definitely seemed overwhelmed when we formulated a line of about forty people to buy snacks and drinks.

I like this sign because it reminds me of old Disneyland ride posters.

Sorry for the extreme lack of detail in this post. Tomorrow I'm leaving for les vacances Toussaint and I'm not sure how long I'll be gone for. I promise to come back with more pictures and better stories!