My time in beautiful Angers has come to an end, but now it’s time to discover more hidden corners of France. The parents and sister of one of my french profs met me at the train station in Cholet. They had lunch all ready for me; bread, white beans and homemade wine. Magnifique! We promenaded around another picturesque petit town, Clisson, where we walked over cobble stone streets and saw, placed in between many small shops, bakeries and wineries, an old castle.
That evening I made it to Mathilde’s, my friend from school, in Getigné. Five-hour-long mornings living in pyjamas and sipping strong black coffee has spoiled me. Not to mention the amazing five-star hotel quality food Mathilde’s mom serves us every day. You see, here in France, lunch time is not just a meal. It’s a gathering. A ritual, if you will. We have a healthy breakfast of bread, coffee and jam and at noon, everyone gathers, even sister Anaïs, who has a 1 ½ – 2 hour lunch break from work. Lunch is the main meal of the day, which is an entrée followed by a main meal, cheese, dessert (all homemade), and of course coffee and chocolate to top it all off. This happens every day! A “gouter” AKA snack time is around 4, which usually consists of tea and a piece of fruit or chocolate. Supper is around 8, which is just a salad, piece of quiche or something just as small to hold us over until breakfast….where it starts all over again.
Being at Mathilde’s takes me back about 7 years. She has two brothers and one sister who remind me so much of what it was like when I was a kid and when my siblings and I still lived at home. It’s fun to be around younger siblings again, watching movies and playing Xbox.
Beautiful river-side walks to Clisson, or strolling around Nantes (the closest city, about a thirty-minute drive away) has taken up our afternoons. We also met up with Marion and the two Anthonys, the other three french students I met at school. We ate crêpes, galettes (like a crêpe, only not a dessert) and macaroons and browsed through every store in the city. Marion, Mathilde and I spent a full day walking along side a beach in Pornic, picnicking on a grassy hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean sparkling in the sun. It’s hard to believe it’s winter.
Friday morning Mathilde and I went to the local market, where I found a watch, flowers and a Harry Potter book in french, all for about 10 Euros. I love markets! Its fun to watch the people queue for fresh fish, meat and local fruits and veggies, while others wander through arrays of coloured flower bouquets. Men yell out prices of fresh hand made bread. The tempting silver jewelry glitters in the sunshine, making it that much harder to keep my money hidden away. It’s like a game to find the perfect piece for the best price.
I met another group of fun loving students at Mathilde’s friend’s place, where we partied until 5am. By the end of the night they were all speaking English but surprisingly, I understood them better in French! I still appreciated their efforts!
We ended the week off by a three and a half hour-long “family meal” to celebrate the birthdays of Mathilde’s sister and brother, followed by a two-hour long walk around Gétigné and Clisson before heading to La Roche Sur Yon, where Mathilde goes to school. Family, friends, sunshine and great food; a perfect week!