Everywhere But Home

News and musings from wherever my crazy life takes me. My body may be back in Illinois, but at least for now, my mind is still in Mongolia.

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le 3 juin: An Absolutely Marvelous Day

Robbie and I recently discovered that we both fairly active (and cheapskates to boot), and thus would rather walk most places than take the bus, so we walked into town together this morning. Though, of course, we had to get breakfast first. We did so in the French manner: stopping at the local boulangerie for a pastry. This time I tried a beignet pomme, which was rather like a donut with applesauce in the middle. Not bad, but not my favorite. That honor (so far) goes to what is alternately called an oreillette or a croissant abricot – it’s something like croissant dough with lemon curd in the middle and half an apricot at either end. Delicious. Croissant amand are not to be scoffed at either, though the best ones I’ve had are sadly at the other town. These are croissants containing chocolate and slivered almonds and dusted with powdered sugar. Now that, my friends, is a good breakfast! Cheap, too: prices typically range from 80 centimes for a basic croissant to 1E40 for a fancier pastry.

Class met at Notre-Dame de Dijon and then continued on to La Musée des Beaux Arts, so we got to spend class standing in front of the works we were discussing, rather than looking at bad photocopies of black-and-white pictures. It was really nice. I’m finally starting to learn the French terms for different aspects of Gothic architecture, which makes it MUCH easier to talk about what I’m seeing. And it’s nice not to have to say, “uh… um.. un…” while I look for a way to circumlocute.

Best of all, it was over at noon, and then we were free for the day! So we met up with the people who weren’t in the art and architecture class and all went out to lunch. We found a very nice Italian place near Les Halles, though I don’t remember what it was called. In any case, the service was great (and very friendly), the pesto pasta was marvelous, and the prices were fairly reasonable, if on the higher side of mid-priced.

We split up again after lunch, and Robbie and I headed over to the planetarium and botanic gardens. Well, the gardens were something of an afterthought, but they took precedence once we got there. It was a beautiful sunny day, not too hot so we wandered the gardens for a while. There was a quiet pond and stream down the middle, which played host to a number of ducks. The shade provided by a number of bushes and a couple of truly enormous sycamores (the trunks are probably a good five feet across!) made it lovely and green and cool.

Most of all, I think, we enjoyed the rose garden. It seemed to be past the season for roses, as most of them were past their prime, but I think I still got some good pictures. I’ll post one here; the rest should be on facebook shortly.

The planetarium was cool, but nothing particularly spectacularly. About half of it was devoted to a special temporary exhibit entitled “Lune et l’Autre,[1]” and the other half featured a good deal of geology. The fluorescent rocks were pretty cool, I have to say.

We sat down by the duck pond for a few minutes before heading back, because it’s at least a 40-minute walk back to the dorms, and we were both in the mood for a nap. Robbie discovered that the raspberries he had purchased from a stand after lunch had gotten a bit smushed, so he ate them while we sat (and I helped, a bit). “C’est la bonne vie,” I said. “Manger les framboises and regarder les canards.[2]

We stopped for ice cream on the way back; there’s a place across the street from the ever-popular Fnac (think French Barnes and Noble) with some truly wondrous sorbets. I’ve never had apricot sorbet before, but it was marvelous: sweet and tart and not a bit artificial. The place has 24 flavors, and I strongly suspect I will end up trying them all before we leave. I’m already plotting out combinations that sound good together: strawberry and rhubarb, green apple and caramel, mango and banana… and probably red and black current together, so I can compare the two. Reasonably priced too: one scoop for 2E, 2 scoops for 3E. Not cheap, but not bad. And well worth it for the quality.

[1] For you non-francophones, it’s a pun; “l’un et l’autre” means “one and the other”

[2] “This is the good life… to eat raspberries and watch the ducks.” It sounded more intelligent at the time.