Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chateau? More like Fortress!

On saturdays in Angers there is a HUGE, open air market where it seems that the entire town goes and buys their produce for the week. Yesterday, my host parents took me to said market and showed me all that there was to see. When we first arrived, we went immediately to the flower section of the market. There were so many vendors with so many different types of flowers all in a row! It was magnificent! After looking at the flowers, we then went to the meat section of the market, where the different vendors had every kind of meat one could think of. There were so many things there that I had never seen before (like a cow tongue), including things I could not identify. My host mother purchased pork and some boudin sausages (the same type of sausage that I mentioned before as 'blood sausage' (it is indeed made with blood and other flavorful ingredients)).

After meat, it was on to the cheeses where I saw more types of cheese than I have ever seen! I wanted to try them all (even though I would probably get a horrible stomach ache) just to see what they taste like. After the cheeses, my host dad and I continued on through the market to the vegetables and fruits where there was a grand selection of any type of fruit or vegetable one could possibly need!

On saturday evening, my host parents had a group of friends over for a dinner party. That dinner party was one of the most interesting cultural experiences I have ever had. Their friends all welcomed me into their group and were frequently pausing their conversations in order to make sure that I understood what was going on. It was fun for me to just listen to what they were saying, getting immersed in the utter french-ness that was going on around me. It was difficult to follow, however, when they got into a heated discussion and all of them started talking at once, attempting to talk over one another. The party didn't end until almost 1 am, so I was completely exhausted.

The next day, my host mom took me to see the cathedral in Angers, where she explained to me the history behind the sculptures and windows. Mass had just finished so the cathedral was open for visitors still. The cathedral was so beautiful! It was full of ornate wood carvings and HUGE stained glass windows. After the cathedral, we walked down to the chateau where she showed me this view point that  looks out over all of Angers. It was truly beautiful.

We then went back to our apartment for lunch, when we had the boudin sausages, that I mentioned before, with a purée that my host dad had made. This time, they were delicious! They were still rich, but they had so much flavor that I wanted to keep eating them. I guess that goes to show that quality is everything.

That afternoon, I met up with Mary and we went to the Chateau, which had free admission because it was the first sunday of the month.  The inside was BEAUTIFUL! The chateau was full of gardens and old buildings, I couldn't help but take lots of pictures of everything. Within the museum at the chateau, there was this HUGE tapestry that depicts the stages of the apocalypse. I kid you not this thing was at least 250ft long and 20ft wide! The impressive thing is that it only took 7 years to complete.

We were also able to hike up to the upper level of the chateau which gave us an incredible view of the city and all of the old buildings. It helped that it was a beautiful, clear, sunny day so one could see everything from up on top of the chateau. I was reminded once again of the rich history of Angers, and France in general, reminding me once again that there is still so much for me to learn.

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