Thursday, July 7, 2011

France, part one

I recently had the good fortune to travel to France, where I spent ten days with Anna, met her AFS host family at the end of her stay and traveled with her.

Since I've got quite a few photos to share, I'll do so in parts, arranged somewhat thematically. Part one features Menetou-Salon, the village where Anna spent her AFS experience, from January to July, 2011, and a few photos of Bourges, the city where her school was located. And so, on to the pictures! (click on the images to see a larger version.)

There are not many street signs pointing to Menetou-Salon since it is quite small.  I'm glad I found this one!

Rue de Paradis indeed: this is along Menetou-Salon's main street, and has surely been paradise for Anna (not to mention the patissier!)

My first evening there we took a walk through town and the adjoining countryside.  Within minutes from home we were in wheat fields and vineyards.  This is the view across a field of the church steeple.

Later in my stay, Anna's family arranged for us to climb up to the top of the bell tower.  Here we are amidst the bronze, very tight quarters.  I don't believe many make the climb other than the annual setting out of the Christmas lights.  Access to the upper balcony level was by way of a tall hand-hewn ladder.

At the balcony, Anna and her sister Claire.

Bell tower balcony, Denis and Anna enjoying the view.

The view south along the Route du Bourges, where Anna lived.

The view east, with the chateau on the hill.

Anna's host father arranged for us to visit one of the many local vintners, Jean-Jacques Tellier of Domaine Jean Tellier, only two streets over.  His production facility is right next to his family's home.

The tanks were modern and gleaming.  He explained the whole process to us- fascinating!

In the cave, some crated vintages.

We also had some delicious samples!  His family is rightfully proud of their product.  (Anna and her friend Laura.)

Back at home, we had a light lunch in the garden.  Time spent at the table with good food, good wine, and good conversation was a staple!

Another staple was cheese!  Denis and Marie-Helene always had a generous plate for the end of the meal with salad and fruit.  My favorites were the local chevre, at the bottom and bottom right of this picture.  Delicious!

Marie-Helene's green thumb was everywhere in evidence.

Anna relaxing in the garden.

Anna proudly showed me around the big city of Bourges as well.  We walked the downtown shopping area on a busy Saturday, and explored the impressive and beautiful cathedral with its high, vaulted ceilings and colorful stained glass windows.

I loved the astrological clock with its many complications.  Recently renovated, it is a mechanical marvel.

We climbed this bell tower as well- 400 steps.  Here is the view of the public gardens below and the countryside in the distance.

One evening we went to a friend's house "in the country" for dinner.  It turned out to be a rather large picnic hosted by a local gamekeeper.  It couldn't have been more stereotypically French- long plain tables with bench seating, pot-luck food supplied by the host and guests, much fun and conversation.  Here are Denis and Anna.

It wouldn't be a meal without bread!

1 comment:

Virginia Dressler said...

Amazing pics. I am officially jealous of your trip! (And the cheeses!!)