I see France

Trip Start May 19, 2008
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16
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of France  , Normandy,
Monday, July 7, 2008

Did we arrive in France? Oui! Kyle and I got into Paris in the evening of July 1, we then took a shuttle to Rouen. We were tired, and our bodies were confused by the darkness around us...we had left the 24 hour Swedish sunlight.  As we sped off away from the airport, we caught slight glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, and then an IKEA mega store, and a Toys'R'us. Really? Yeah. It was about a 2 hour drive to Rouen, we passed through Parisian suburbs, hillside farms, and then watched as the sky lit up with distant bolts of lightening. Stepping onto the cobblestone streets outside our hotel the air was sweet and cool with rain. In the narrow hotel lobby, a friendly receptionist welcomed us to France with smiles, flamboyant gestures...and English! He asked us where we were from and said he would Google it later. I described Lincoln as being half way between Denver and Chicago, he looked somewhat impressed.
 
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
 
 
Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

maggiest
maggiest on

toasters and seagulls
We are so glad you have made it! How exciting. Your apartment stairs look like desktops that have been nailed into place...how bizarre! Don't try to go up those stairs after drinking your evening wine...it might be a difficult climb. :) I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the white feather found resting on your (beautiful) green velvet sectional came from a bird. I know, I know -- maybe I am crazy. :) As far as toaster recipes, might I suggest a nice sandwich melt with lots of delicious french cheese? And some tomatoes, too? And I also think you should put veggies + cheese inside a pita and toast that. And you could do some crazy desserts in there, too...like toasted apples or something. Yummmmmy. That makes me hungry!

Well, The Music Man opens up on Thursday...hard to believe it is already here! I found out last night that I CAN get a DVD of the show, so I'm going to send it to you. It can be a date night for you and Kyle -- a toasted pita pocket + pinewood bowl DVD. And wine. You'll probably want to drink a lot of wine while you watch it. Maybe you should just sleep on the velvet sectional that night...hehehehe.

Love and miss you both. Nebraska is lonely without you! xoxo -m

PS: Bachelorette finale tonight! Ohhhhh boy, I'm nervous. She better not pick the long-haired snow boarder....I might boycott the show...(seems like I've threatened that before, but never followed through...) :)

jabartist
jabartist on

a single white feather
Wow, it sounds magical and the photos are breathtaking! I have a hard time imagining what it's like experiencing it all first hand; I would guess it must be wonderfully overwhelming.

Your new place looks cozy and the views through the windows and skylights (very jealous!) look amazing. I would be nervous about the birds (and bugs) fling in too, but if all they leave is a feather that's a very well mannered bird. :)

Love you tons!

hparker1
hparker1 on

Vive la France !
I enjoyed the sights and aromas of Rouen through your writing and photos! I wish I could have seen your faces as your french restuarant meal progressed!
Simon would like a skylight with birds right outside...He has been fascinated by the Robins eating cherries on the deck! Sylvia says she visited Rouen in 1958 when she was a student and there was still much evidence of destruction from WWII. From your photos it looks like it's been nicely restored.
Au revoir, Dad

kyle-and-lisa
kyle-and-lisa on

extra photos
Hi everybody, I've added a few more pictures!

madcurds
madcurds on

Nesting bird
We really enjoy your blogs and the pictures are fabulous. The nesting bird on top of the chimney brought back memories of when I lived in Morocco when I was young. The storks were everywhere and nested on just about anything. It was amazing.

Love you and take care! Love Mom S

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