Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Parc Floral and the University of Orléans

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Darcy had already left for work when Craig and I awoke. It was lovely, clear morning with a hint of coolness in the gentle breeze. We had coffee with Mathieu and then walked down the street to one of our favorite bakeries. I selected a beautiful fraisier, which was a delicate combination of strawberries in a light, firm mousse atop a thin, crisp crust. It was as delicious as it was pretty. After breakfast we went out for a while to do a bit of shopping. When the groceries were taken home and put away, it was nearly time for us to meet Darcy at the university where we would be joining her conversation class.

A delectable French pastry.
Mathieu kindly dropped us at the University before driving on to work. We walked across the campus, admiring the landscaping, and easily located the building in which we were to meet Darcy. There was good attendance at class that day, and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the students who were from many different countries. These bright, inquisitive engineering students were a pleasure to listen to and converse with. When class was over, Darcy had some free time before the next lesson. As we were leaving the room, she invited anyone who also had some free time to join us for coffee. There were only two who were able to do so. Luca, who was from Italy, and Mohamed, from Algeria, accompanied us along the tree-shaded path which led to a nearby cafe. 

The lake at the University of Orléans.
A lively hour of conversation followed, as we sipped coffee or hot chocolate. We learned as much from Luca and Mohamed as they did from us. It was such a wonderful thing to discover another culture from the people who live it. All too soon, our time was up and Craig and I parted company with the others as they returned to the university. 

I walked along with Craig to Parc Floral, where we would meet with Darcy and Mathieu after they had finished work. We were ready for lunch by then, and had planned to eat in the restaurant located at the botanical gardens. It was closed when we arrived, so I suggested the little snack bar at the miniature golf concession, which was a short stroll away through the lovely gardens. We placed our orders and found a shaded table, which was promptly set with china and cutlery. Craig enjoyed a pizza, which he said was delicious even though he knew it had come from the freezer and was not freshly made. I don't recall the name of my dish, but it was a delightful, flaky serving of puff pastry topped with a very fresh-tasting melange of vegetables and herbs in tomato sauce, and topped with meltingly soft slices of fresh mozzarella. And this was concession stand food! At home in America at a park, we would have been eating poor quality hot dogs or hamburgers off of paper plates. What a contrast!

Lunch at a French concession stand!
When Darcy and Mathieu arrived, we first walked over to the iris gardens. They were in full bloom and were simply stunning! There was a huge variety of them in beautifully landscaped gardens.

Just a few of the gorgeous iris at Parc Floral, Orléans.

Lovely iris at Parc Floral.

Parc Floral, Orléans France is a must-see!
We then strolled back to the miniature gold course. It was a fun course, with a few nearly impossible holes to shoot for. We laughed a lot as we progressed through the game. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

That evening, Arno joined us for supper, bringing along a bottle of wine. Darcy made her fabulous roast duck, while I worked on the mashed potatoes and carrots with caramelized onion, coconut milk, butter, nutmeg. Mathieu had created the appetizers of tortilla rollups and toasted baguette with duck mousse. He also made lovely dessert of vanilla cake which was split and filled with pastry cream and fresh strawberries. It was a memorable meal. We finished the evening with a game of Phase Ten, which everyone enjoyed.

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