Totally Frenched Out
From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne
Monday, November 29, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
On the very lucky days, I finish up with work before it's dark out. And rather than go back to the hotel, I usually try to do some exploring. Those of you who have been reading this blog since the Bretagne days know that I love me some megaliths.
So when I saw a sign pointing to a site I'd never visited, I couldn't resist taking a small detour to check it out. It ended up being much farther than I thought though, taking me down many a lonely country road.
One particular road was lined for kilometers by this large stone wall:
Now you see these kinds of walls fairly often in the countryside, but this one was very high at many points and just keep going and going. I couldn't help but wonder - Who built it? And what were they trying to protect?I turned a corner and thought that would be the end of it - but that wall just kept right on going. And I still couldn't see through the forest. Finally a kilometer or so down the road, I got a glimpse of what was behind it all:
There was no sign stating the name of this place, nor who the domain belonged to. But isn't that France for you? You can come upon random chateaux when you least expect.
But I didn't have time to ponder it too much - I wasn't here for the Châteaux - I was on a rock hunt. I followed a few (miniscule) signs and ended up driving down a road (road?) like this:
There wasn't a soul in sight, and the road just kept getting smaller and muddier by the minute. With no where to turn around. My GPS was confused and there was no signage anywhere. It was starting to get dark as well - things were not looking good. How would I explain where I was if I got lost? Or stuck? Would I even be able to call? My cell signal was going in and out.
Then, all of the sudden, there was another, slightly larger, road to the right. I decided to take it, hoping I could at least make a square and come back to where I'd started. Lucky me - at the end of that road, there was a sign pointing to the dolmen! (But honestly, what do the French have against signs anyways?)
And there they were - a whole field of them, sitting right by the edge of the road:I don't know what it is about these things, but I find them so fascinating. I guess if I believed in reincarnation, I'd think I was somehow linked to them in a past life. Back when I was living in Bretagne, Fab & I often spent our weekends driving around to look for new ones - so there aren't too many that I haven't seen by now. Though it was closed for the winter, this site was really well done up, and seemed to have a lot of different information and activities set up. But that can probably be explained by the fact that it was only (re)discovered 30 years ago, and that the site itself has only been open since 1997:They were built 5000 years ago - and destroyed in 1000 AD! That's just mind boggling to me. And there they sat, hidden, for thousands of years. Though I guess some of the local population were probably aware of them - and doing their best to keep it a secret. After all, it's a farming community, and what farmer would want to give up their precious land to the government? According to the signage, there are several other groupings spread out over a 7 hectare area. I'd love to go back some day and explore the rest by bike - only this time, with a map!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
I'm not sure why - maybe it's the alternating hot and col temps - but we've been seeing some extraordinary fall colors this year. The fall foliage is something I really miss from Minnesota - there are such vibrant reds, yellows and oranges every year.
But this year, we've been blessed - and while I've been frustrated with having to travel so much for work lately (I've been gone basically every week), the beautiful scenery has been helping somewhat:
Friday, November 19, 2010
Early morning solitude
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is one week away! Which also means many of us American are scrambling to find a turkey.
If you haven't had time to pre-order one from the local butcher, life might have just gotten a little bit easier thanks to two fellow expats - I heard from both Leah & Lisa yesterday that Picard (the busy woman's best friend) is selling whole turkeys for the holiday season. And en plus, they are stuffed with a mixture of prunes, chestnuts and Armagnac. Talk about Miam. Picard's website says they serve 8-10 people, and the price - at 7.95€ a kilo - is right too.
Happy eating y'all!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Turns out I wasn't imagining things - Nantes really IS the city with the worst traffic jams in France! According to a recent study by TomTom France, 42.3% of Nantes' streets are jammed every day - more so than even Paris, which comes in at 31.2%. (photo taken from Tuesday's Ouest France):
TomTom has been collecting data from its 5.5 million users, who drove over 2.87 million kilometers during the two year collection time period. They consider a road to be backed-up if the cars on it are circulating at less than 70% of the speed limit.
Not that this is likely to lessen the traffic issues there at all....but at least my putain's and various other swearwords will be justified!
Labels: Driving in France
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I just thought I'd share a website I came across a while back - it's called VistaPrint and they personalize basically anything personalize-able. Now they already have a ton of free items on their site that I'd been considering for a while, so when I got an email saying they were celebrating their 15th anniversary and had even more free items available, I decided to give it a go.
I'd been wanting to make a personalized calendar (one of the free items) for a while, so that was number one on my list. But then I got a bit carried away and ended up getting a whole slew of other things - personalized post-its for C, fancy address labels for myself, a surprise gift for a friend and a little something for our housewarming party: All for free - I just had to pay the shipping & handling (15€ to France).
I placed the order on a Wednesday and it arrived the following Tuesday - how's that for speedy? I'd been kind of hesitant about the quality of the items given that they were "free", but everything ended up being really nice, especially the calendar.
And since a lot of people asked about them during our housewarming party, I thought I'd share it here in case anyone else was interested. A lot of what they have to offer could make some really nice (and inexpensive) Christmas gifts, especially if their 15th anniversary special is still going on. They also have a lot of free business items (business cards, logos, bumper stickers, pens, etc), which could come in handy for someone starting up a new business.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
La Foire d'Automne
Yesterday a friend and I decided to head on over to La Foire d'Automne. We'd been considering going to the Salon du Chocolat but 1) I'm not a huge chocolate fan 2) 15€ is a lot for an entry ticket and 3) I had free tickets to the Foire.
We'd signed up to do a "Cocktails - Recettes Inédites" session, but were on the waiting list so I wasn't sure we'd get in. Turns out that didn't really matter, because only 2 of the 15 people who'd signed up were actually there, so we were able to participate.
The atelier was run by the guy who founded HomeCocktail - a sort of "rent-a-barman" service that also offers to teach you how to make your own cocktails.
Here's what our work station looked like:
We ended up making two different cocktails: the "Final de Rêve":Découpez en deux le citron vert puis en dés
Mettre quatre dés de citrons dans le verre puis pilez les en ajoutant du sucre blanc en poudre
Ajoutez de la glace pilée
Direct au verre :
Cachaça - Cointreau - Jus de citron - Sucre de canne
Crée en 1998 par Gibout Benoit en l’honneur de la finale de coupe du Monde France - Brésil
And the "Cupidon:
Au blender : Manzana - Crème de Pêche - Jus d’orange - Jus d’airelle
Direct au verre : Champagne
Cocktail à déguster à tout moment
Crée en 2002 par Gibout Patrick à l’occasion de la Saint-Valentin
After that, the plan was to try a few more things and then head home. We stopped by the Corsica cheese & sausage booth. I've always found these cheeses so pretty (if a cheese can be pretty):And then we needed some wine to go with our fromage & saussison, so we stopped at the next booth which just happened to be a Bordeaux stand. We ended up staying there until the place shut down. And I mean literally shut down- they actually turned the lights off. But the guy was just so chatty and he kept filling up our glasses. Between that, the cocktails and the free champagne we'd been offered earlier by another "friendly" guy, it ended up being quite the soirée. On the way out, one of the security guards asked us if we'd had a good time and what we'd seen, and I couldn't help but laugh - we actually only visited maybe 10% of the salon.
In case anyone else is interested in going, it's running through November 7 at the Porte de Versailles Expo Hall. The foire wasn't what I was expecting, but I'd recommend going if you've a few spare hours. There weren't very many people there at all, which meant that a lot of the vendors looked bored and were eager to talk and share with the passerbys, which I always prefer to the salons that are so packed that you can barely move.
The front of the hall is basically the equivalent of a "Home & Garden" show in the US - there were lots of different stands selling kitchens, furniture, and home decorations. The food & drinks were located in the back. Some of the other available ateliers include: home styling, wine classes, make-overs, flower arranging, personal coaching and Japanese cuisine.
FYI: You can get a free ticket to the foire on their website by signing up for any of the Ateliers - and don't be afraid to try to squeeze into one of them even if you're on the waiting list!