Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chateau d'Angers

I have a lot of customers in the Loire Valley, so I often take the train to Angers for work and then rent a car from there. Which means that I drive by this about once a month:
But it's usually early on a Monday morning, and I have places to go, so I never get a chance to stop. This time though, I arrived on a Sunday afternoon and had a co-worker with me, so we decided to stop by and take a look.

I discovered the castle is surrounded by a beautifully-decorated moat:And that it's actually quite the imposing building:Unfortunately the ticket office had already closed, so we couldn't visit it, but after taking a look in the courtyard, it is now definitely on my list of things to do!As a side note, one of the things I've always liked about the Château d'Angers is that it's so different from most of the other castles in the Loire Valley. As you can see from the pictures, instead of being an opulent palace like say Chenonceau or Chambord, it's more of a fortress.

According to the signage outside, the current structure was built in 1232 on a site that previously housed a smaller fortress built by the Romans many-a-year ago. The other interesting thing about this castle is that it houses the Apocalypse Tapestry, which was commissioned in 1373 by Louis I. I always confuse this one with the famous Tapestry in Bayeux.

I do have to say though that the area between Angers and Saumur is one of my favorites in all of France. There's a castle around every corner, lots of great wine (and other liquors like Cointreau), plus things to do for all ages and goûts. You can rent a bike and bike through the vineyards, canoe down the river, do a wine tasting, visit as many castles as your little heart desires, etc. Whether you're going en famille or en amoreux, I'd definitely recommend it for any of the long-weekends the French love so well (but you will need a car).


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hands on

Because I'm gone a lot for work, C & I try to have date nights on a regular basis. Nights where we get gussied up, actually leave the house and go out just the two of us. Some nights we'll go to a movie, but more often than not, we'll try out a new restaurant in another neighborhood. Either ones that I've heard about from friends or Twitter or others thanks to Groupon deals.

Which is how we found ourselves last Friday night heading out to a café in the 5th that was offering a 2-for-1 fish & chips deal. The 5th was my home for three years and I have very fond memories of living there, so I never hesitate to go back.

We had a nice dinner - the fish was good and the chips were okay, but there was no vinegar nor mushy peas (or even tartar sauce). But no matter, we still had a nice time. And since it wasn't raining for once, we decided to stroll around the neighborhood for old times' sake.

When we got to the Place de la Contrascarpe, we came across a group of people milling around in the middle of it. At first, it looked like a sort of manifestation, but once we got closer, we saw signs offering free 10 minute massages from the "Décontraction à la française" association.
The signs all encouraged tips, but said there was no minimum price. And there were probably 10-15 different people sitting on chairs, getting massages. I wondered how much they were paying for them? And if anyone would dare leave without paying anything? Because of his job, C gets a little paranoid about pickpockets whenever there are groups of people milling around, so we didn't hang around any longer to find out.

But I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing...I'm not sure I would've wanted a random stranger touching me Minnesota personal space bubble hasn't quite completely popped yet!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

I have to say, I live in a pretty nice neighborhood, which is what makes this sight even more bizarre:
Several times a week, I see people dressed in nice clothing - this lady had on a blazer and the guy a suit - digging through the garbages on my street. It's true that the majority of the residents are fairly well-to-do, so you see some pretty nice stuff sitting out there at times - TV, washing machines, etc. But it never stays for long - I can go to the gym and come back 45min later and things are already gone!

And then you have the people like in the photo above, who are hunting for food. I'm not sure if you can see from the picture, but they have 2 very full shopping carts, and are working on filling the third. We watched them pull out of there:
-several heads of lettuce
-5 leeks
-a bunch of bananas
-a few pears
-3 liters of milk
-2 yogurts
-a sack of potatoes
-and so on

I'm assuming these were the poubelles from the grocery store down the street, but still! I can't figure out for the life of me why two well-dressed people would go through them on a regular basis. At one point, the lady took off her blazer, tipped the garbage to the side and actually crawled into it to get at the bottom. She pulled out a bunch of grapes that were covered in some kind of white liquid, brushed them off a bit, and then stuck them in the cart.

But what for?? Are they dumpster diving? Working for a food shelter? It's a mystery!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Well how about that? My little old blog made EasyJet's 2011 Ultimate Paris Travel Blogger List! I wouldn't have even known had someone not emailed me about it. Thanks Easyjet!

It reminds me of the time my previous blog was selected as one of the Best France Blogs...and I was described in the byline as a sassy gay (male) blogger. I found it pretty hilarious at the time - though I guess it was an easy assumption to make if you just skimmed my blog. I posted as Sam, was pacsed (back before the PACS was as popular as it is now) and I have to admit I was also fairly cantankerous.

Since moving to Paris though, I haven't really done much to publicize my writing. In many ways, this blog is still semi-private and for a long time I asked people not to link to it on their blogs. In part because in the beginning I didn't want Fab to find it, but also because what I was going through was so personal. So it's kind of an odd feeling to think that now random people are coming across what I write. But I guess I don't really have anything to "hide" anymore and maybe this is just the push I needed to take things more public and start building up my readership again. How about you guys? Do you actively promote your blog? Or does it just serve to chronicle your life for family and friends?

It's funny, I have never in my life been able to maintain a diary or a journal, but here I am going on six years of continuous blogging. Internets, you are a wonderful thing indeed!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Lucky or sucky?

What do you guys think? Would you put up with being away from home two weeks per month and sometimes having to wake up at 3am in exchange for being able to travel all over France and see things like this?

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