As a little girl, France meant 1 thing: Paris. Outside of glowing images of the Eiffel Tower, bustling bistros, and baguette, I’ll admit I knew very little. My horizons were broadened once I began studying French in school and even more so when I spent a semester at the Sorbonne. But only since packing my bags and moving back here after graduation have I truly been able to look beyond the city of lights to the other regions of metropolitan France, each of which boasts a unique character — a “claim to fame,” so to speak.
They say the Provence region of France is blessed by the gods. I’m inclined to agree.
With sun-soaked hillside villages overlooking sweeping lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards, “charming” is certainly an understatement. In fact, I think “enchanting” is more appropriate.
When it comes to coastal cities in France, La Rochelle is a must-see. Commonly referred to as “La Ville Blanche” due to its characteristic limestone facades, this port city sits in the Poitou Charentes region of southwest France, a short 2-hour drive from Bordeaux.
When I think of Paris, I imagine cast-iron balustrades bordering the Métropolitan signs of the subways stations, wrought iron balconies, elegant cream-colored stonework, and wide boulevards lined with independent bookshops, cafés, and boulangeries.
Picture this: someone blows up a pig intestine like a balloon until it takes the shape of a sausage casing. Then he/she stuffs said casing with more chopped up (and very well rinsed) intestines before tying up both ends with string, cooking it, slathering on some mustard sauce, and calling it andouillette.
Now picture this: Jacqueline (me) doesn’t know what andouillette is but thinks — what the hec I’m gonna be adventurous YOLO, am I right? — and decides to order it. And eat it. And subsequently google it because, you know, it didn’t taste exactly like normal sausage. In fact, it was oddly pink and chewy.
SURPRISE! Never thought you would have intestines in your intestines, did you? Well, there’s a first time for everything.
I’ll get to the oh-so-delicious food I ate in Annecy in a sec (and if you’re here just for that, feel free to scroll down). But first, allow me a moment of non-food commentary. Because I just traveled solo for the first time, and it’s worth a paragraph or two, don’t you think?
Although it wasn’t exactly a white Christmas this year, it sure was a bubbly one.
Reims, a city located around 80 miles outside of Paris in the heart of the champagne region, was the perfect holiday getaway. Combining the history and culture of a large metropolitan city with the charm of a smaller village, Reims was a welcome surprise amongst the more well-known tourist destinations in France.
For the first school vacation, I decided to visit Toulouse in the hopes of exploring the regional culinary specialities of the midi-Pyrénées region of southwest France.
I’m not entirely sure where to begin because I am a bit overwhelmed from the past few days, but I suppose that’s to be expected when moving abroad. Continue reading “la vie à vendôme: first impressions”