So today wasn't as glamorous as yesterday. Whatevs. We're in France, it has to be more glamorous than Greenville, right?
We spent the morning retrieving and unpacking our trunks from B's company. This was not as easy as it sounds. Those things weigh a ton empty, much less full. And there's really nowhere close to our apartment to park, and the chances of us being able to lift the full trunks and carry them up four flights of narrow, spiral wooden stairs are about zero...maybe even in negative numbers. So we had to park a block or two away and unload the trunks into manageable suitcases/duffels/tote bags and carry THOSE up to our apartment and unpack. I'm sure the nice French people having lunch outside at the pasta restaurant on the corner had a nice laugh at us Americans. Oh, well.
After that, we were starving (YOU try taking 85 trips up and down those stairs with bags and see how hungry you are), so we grabbed sandwiches and tarts and had a little picnic by the Loire. This is a popular thing to do. Students from the nearby college/university all picnic there, so we had plenty of company. The weather was lovely, particularly in the sun. And my lemon tart...oh my. Apple tarts are nice and all, but lemon is where it's at. See some pictures of lunch and the Loire below.
As for the myth-busting, well, today, we passed a shop called Coffea, which sells coffee and tea. I wanted to buy some since I brought both my kettle and my French press coffeemaker. When we went into the shop, I asked (okay, tried to ask) which was the shopkeeper's favorite. It turned into an incredible experience. She asked if I liked coffee strong or not, and I said I did. Hello?! I am an honorary Gilmore Girl; of course I like my coffee strong. She showed me many varieties of strong coffee, including Italian, Sicilian, Ethiopian, and possibly something else.
What struck me was how kind and patient she was. The French get SUCH a bad rap for being snobby and/or hateful to Americans, but this woman could not have been more gracious. You would've thought someone delivered her straight from the American South. My French is bad. I can order a glass of wine and ask how much those shoes cost, but for any more complicated exchanges? Forget it. She threw in the few English words she knew, and I used the few French words I knew, and between us she steered me toward the Sicilian coffee, which has a flavor of nuts ("noix"). She also taught us the word for ground coffee (cafe moulue) and she ground my coffee for my French press. She was just SO patient with me/us. To the lady at Coffea, thank you for making me feel welcome in your country and your store. I remember your kindness and I WILL be back when I run out of coffee.
It's really humbling to be in a country and not speak the language. Even after a few days here, I do feel some sympathy for the many Hispanics in America. However -- on that note, I will say that a), B and I are here with legal visas, not illegally, and b), we are not a drain on their welfare system. That's as political as I'm going to get, but it has to be said. We're incredibly awkward with the language, but at least we're not draining taxpayers' money.
I bought macarons this afternoon at my favorite chocolaterie/patisserie off Rue Nationale, and again, the girl was incredibly sweet to us. I used my bumbling French to order my 5 macarons (pistachio - duh, salted caramel for B, key lime, raspberry and violet rose), and she was incredibly helpful. She urged us to taste some of the chocolates on display at the counter for free. But you're incredibly vulnerable when you don't know if she said, "Here are your macarons," "You chose stupid flavors of macarons," or if she said, "Shove the macarons up your..." well, you know.
All the waiters and shopkeepers we've had thus far have been SO nice. The myth that the French are rude has been busted, and I'm the one to do it.
But for now, what I'm going to do is make a salad. We bought some produce at Monoprix today. As best I can describe it, Monoprix is like a SuperTarget. It has women's and children's clothes, personal care products (shampoo, makeup, etc), and then a full grocery store in the back. It's not as good as Les Halles (the market), but that is only open until 12:30 each day, and we missed it today because of the Saga of the Trunks. So we bought our produce at Monoprix, and it looks pretty good to us! It was also really affordable: 1 euro for a bunch of radishes, 1 euro for a head of butter lettuce, 3 euros for one of our bottles of wine, and so on...#winning. Our salad makings are below.
Stay tuned, because tomorrow's blog post will be dedicated to a very special person to me!
E & B
P.S. - We got to FaceTime with our sweet chien noir and my mama-in-law tonight. We miss our Luna something fierce. I am gonna steal a cute French pup, 'cause I'm suffering from furry withdrawal.