Monday, June 13, 2016

Bonjour France, I Have Returned!

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Saturday, May 7 2016

As usual, I could hardly contain my excitement to be back once again in France! The flight from Chicago was smooth and uneventful, though we were about 45 minutes late leaving the terminal. I knew that Darcy would be tracking my progress and hoped she and Mathieu wouldn't be inconvenienced. I made it through immigration/border control within ten minutes and was soon plucking my bag from the luggage carousel, with a little help from a fellow passenger. As soon as I spotted the smiling faces of Darcy and Mathieu, I felt a rush of happiness. With nearly a month of vacation ahead of me, I was in a state of bliss! It didn't take long for us to work our way down to the basement parking garage and soon we were on the highway through the smoothly flowing traffic, out of Paris and on toward Orléans.

A busy day was ahead of me, and I'm glad that I had managed to sleep a bit on the plane. When we reached Orléans, we made a quick stop to pick up lunch - at a pizza vending machine! That's right, we bought pizza from a vending machine and it was really very tasty. There are two of these machines in Orléans, both owned by a local restaurant called Cantine. After our selection was made from a large screen, the pizza was quickly baked at high temperature. In just a few minutes, it was automatically transferred to a sturdy box and then it slid out of the machine and we were on our way. We drove the short distance home and enjoyed our quick lunch.

Pizza from a vending machine. Why not?
We called Craig and had a nice visit before setting out again, this time for the grocery market. Darcy and Mathieu apologized for taking me along on their weekly errand, but I didn't mind a bit. I enjoy grocery shopping in France. There are always new and interesting things to see. I even picked up a few items for myself.

Checking out the funny cereal names.

I hear it's addictive!
After the groceries were put away, the three of us walked across the bridge over the Loire and on toward Campo Santo to attend the last night of the Medieval festival. I didn't feel tired at all, and was happy to be a part of the lively atmosphere as soon as we entered the ancient archway into the walled compound. Colorful pennants fluttered in the breeze as we made our way through the crowd and managed to find a table beneath a large tree. Darcy and Mathieu stood in line at one of the food booths while I held our places. The food was plentiful and quite good. We ate lentils which had been cooked with a few vegetables in duck fat, and topped with grilled duck sausage. On the side was a serving of crisp fries. I sipped on a kir which was flavored with a chestnut cream liqueur. What a wonderful welcome to France!

Campo Santo, where the festival took place.

We enjoyed a hearty meal of lentils and duck sausage.

We were soon joined by a couple of friends, Arno and Jeremy, and we all began to wander around the compound, looking at the many unique items for sale. Darcy bought a bottle of Mead and a beautiful tooled leather bag. I purchased some pates des fruits at one booth and a dry sausage at another. It was one that I knew Craig would enjoy - made with Beaufort cheese. Arno presented me with a flower and ribbon crown. I felt very welcome and very much a part of the festivities. 

Lots of sweets from which to chose!
We sampled the Mead at this booth.
We could hear bagpipes playing and soon noticed a band of Scotsmen who were there to honor a 700-year-old alliance with France. Many people at the festival were wearing period costume, including the children, who were adorable as they dashed about on a grassy slope while brandishing their wooden swords. It was a perfect evening, with a light breeze blowing. However, by 9:30 I was beginning to feel the effects of my lengthy travel day. We returned home, pausing to view part of a long parade that had been winding its way through town. We finished our evening with ice cream before I crawled into bed, still smiling from the events of the day.  

Mathieu and Arno at the festival.

1 comment:

Virginia Juster said...

What a joy to read about your first day back in France. Pizza from a vending machine? Who would have thought? So many goodies to choose from at the medieval festival too. Heaven!