May 2, 2012

An American In France: Days 4 et 5

The Tableau Your Mind family left Paris on Day 4 and headed to Blois (sort of pronounced 'Blah') in the Loire Valley (sort of pronounce 'Lower Valley'). We saw Castles and shopped all around the adorable village of Blois, and then went to the Château de Chenonceau, a castle on the River Cher, who once pondered the complexities of life after love. It's a quaint castle with some great gardens and a really efficient walking tour. In the last few days, we have purchased souvenir keychains, drunk copious amounts of wine, and enjoyed the quiet town in which we were staying.
Juliette Binoche - Changing lives through sensual sweets.
I should point out at this point that we have been thoroughly enjoying the desserts that France has to offer, and that is never clearer than in the way we have flocked to the
many Patisseries and Chocolateries that populate the towns and cities in which we are staying. This obviously makes me think of Chocolat, the adorable film in which Juliette Binoche opens up a chocolate shop in a tiny town and stirs up trouble. She also basically saves everyone's lives and marriages through her gypsy-friendly attitude and her cocoa nibs. While I haven't spied any Johnny Depp-esque travelers moving about, I've certainly sampled my share of chocolate during our brief stay in France. It's amazing - I can honestly understand rethinking your religious principles and the way you raise your children after tasting some of the sweets that France has to offer. I'm also surprised we haven't mentioned a Juliette Binoche film before on this blog - she's so French that it hurts (apparently she's also Polish....hmm)

Belle in Blois
The quiet town of Blois also reminds me of the town in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, as all provincial towns in France do. I was instantly humming that 'Bonjour' song I sang so often as a child (and as an adult). It was and remains my favorite Disney movie, so I was instantly looking at bakeries and bookshops with wonder. Amidst the modern stores, it was easy to find tiny old buildings and quaint shopowners - delightful. It was also harder to find people who spoke English, which I thought would be infuriating but was actually kind of fun. I stretched every word my one semester of college French into the best French I could muster - I think people were just happy I could point and grunt in the general direction of the thing I wanted. Sure, I may have accidentally bought a brick of orange-flavored cream when I wanted orange-flavored chocolate, but such is life.

Belle in Chenonceau
The other thing that reminded me of Beauty and the Beast was the Château de Chenonceau. Though it is much smaller than the castle where the cursed Beast and his many household-appliance friends live, it did still have a sense of danger and mystery. Plus, there were a ton of tiny cherubs, which were so freaky-looking.  It is a really beautiful castle (think the castle in B and B post-transformation). Also, there are really well-structured and beautiful gardens, If that's your thing. It was pretty grand and seemed important, and I'm pretty sure that If Gaston fell off one of the top towers he would still die.

Tomorrow we're on to Versailles and then back to Paris, and hopefully I can explore my love of French adventure films by darting in and out of train cars and stealing a precious jewel or two. A blogger only lives once.

Bon Soir.
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