I’m slowly rounding off my experience in the different regions of France. When I was 11, I went to Normandy with my school. We saw the Bayeux Tapestry and Mont St Michel, and ate cheese in Camembert. We jetted into Brittany to see Saint Malo. We stopped at Chambord in the Loire Valley and then continued on to Paris. Since then, I’ve managed to make a pretty decent tour of France. I was posted in Lorraine as an assistant, so beyond knowing the bustling metropolis of Bar le Duc pretty well, I also went to Verdun to see the cemeteries and destroyed villages (among other things), Metz for ice cream and the cathedral (train delays meant I didn’t have time for much else), and Nancy many, many times for many, many different things. I went to see a friend in Lille (where I’ll return for the CAPES orals this summer). I managed to make it to Strasbourg for the Christmas markets, so that checks Alsace off the list (though I wouldn’t object to returning for a less crowded visit). I went to Troyes with friends to spend a weekend. I went down to Provence with my assistant friends to see Nice, Cannes, Monaco (technically not France), and Juan-les-Pins.
The following year, I moved to Reims and drank lots of champagne. Laurel visited and we went to Epernay. We spent a night in Lyon, which I’ve since returned to for the Fête des Lumières. We then biked and trained through the Loire Valley (Tours, Chenonceau, Blois, Chambord, Amboise) to lesser and greater success. I went back to Saint Malo with my parents and I started to understand why Bretons are so attached to Bretagne.
Last year, I made it down to Avignon three times to see Zandra, though we never made it out of town. I went to La Rochelle/Ile de Ré and Saint Emilion with my parents, and the Ile d’Oléron with friends. This year, besides exploring la Vienne (Chauvigny, Montmorillon), I also finally went to Nantes.
At the time of my trip to Provence my assistant year, Zandra invited me to continue on to the Southwest with her, but I wasn’t interested. Bordeaux and Toulouse didn’t yet call my name. She mocked me repeatedly for saying that the southwest of France “just didn’t interest me.”
There are still some holes in my trips around France (Savoie, Marseille, the Pyrenees) but I finally made it down to the Haute-Garonne this week with Anna. She took her two weeks’ time off between teaching semesters and spent the first week with me in Poitiers, Bordeaux, and a tiny village between Toulouse and Auch (a bled as the French might say) with friends of her parents’.
Here’s the proof:
The side of the very dirty Cathédrale Saint André in Bordeaux, which was in the process of being cleaned, fortunately. Some of Anna’s French ancestors were baptised here, so we took pictures of the baptismal font for her family.