Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bonjour Angers!

I may have said goodbye to England but the adventures are just beginning for me here in France!

It was fascinating to hear the language changes as I crossed into France. Suddenly, British accents faded away and I was saying Bonjour and Merci. Today I even found myself thinking in halted French. It seems unavoidable when I need to speak, find directions, ask questions and listen in French.  It's true that living in the other country, immersing yourself is the best way to learn a language. Even after just 24 hours I am feeling more comfortable. Of course, I am far from fluent or even coherent in most complex sentences past the basics like"Ou est..." (where is...). I definitely an American through and through, but my host is patient with me and the woman at the tourist office told me I spoke very well!

Luckily the train rides from Brighton to Angers went smoothly, and experienced travel through chunnel under the English Channel. The train cars went dark and pressurized for about 20 minutes and then the sun reappeared and I was officially in France. My host was ready to greet me at the train station and take me back to her lovely home. I shook her hand and she kissed my cheeks, giving me la bise and proving the stereotype 100% accurate. My room is clean, comfortable and all inclusive with a bathroom and mini kitchen so I have everything I need for the next 9 days. There is even a cat, Isabelle Minette. Although no little kitty can compare to my dearest Cleo, Isabelle Minette is adorable, friendly and has made herself at home on my lap at breakfast and on my bed in the afternoon. Any kitty love to tide me over is much appreciated.

Isabelle Minette making herself comfortable in that unabashed way cats have.  By the way, this little bed is so much more comfortable than the bed in my room at Sussex. No springs sticking out here...

The house is quaint, complete with green shuttered windows, a lush garden and a gate from the sidewalk. One of my hosts' friends dropped by this morning, while I was eating my baguette, homemade prune jam and tea, and gave her a pot of gorgeous pink azaleas. 

 After breakfast I walked past beautiful parks and the river Maine into the city center. It is about a 20 minute walk from the house to the central hub of town where the castle, cathedral and train station are.
 A pleasant sunny day overlooking La Maine.
 Printed along the walkway. Too cute.
 Looking over the bridge crossing into town.

I couldn't resist. 
Le Chateau D'Angers dates back to the Middle Ages, commissioned by the Count of Anjou in the 9th Century, with it's current structure existing since the 13th Century. The castle's enclosure is almost half a kilometer long and has 17 towers made of the dark slate and limestone.

 The buckets hanging out are a portion of a modern art installation juxtaposing the old with the new and industrialized.
 The entrance drawbridge.
 Inside the castle grounds.

 The fortified gateway, from the 15th Century.
 The royal residence built by King Rene between 1435 and 1440.

 The residence and the fortified gateway in the seigniorial courtyard built by the Counts and Dukes of Anjou between the 9th and 15th century.

 The chapel built around 1410 by Louis II

 The Chapel
 The view over the La Maine from the Chateau
 The Mill Tower, which used to have a windmill, is the only tower that still has its original height of 40 meters.

 The Cathedral from the cheateau
 Vive la France!
 A watch tower
 The chapel through the grape vines in the garden.

Now that I am alone, bring on the shameless selfies. I apologize in advance for all that are to come during my journeys through France. :)
After the castle, I continued along in the town. Most places are closed on Sundays in France so the town was quiet and peaceful.

 Les Musee des Beaux Arts
 Little French street.

 The art to the entrance of the Cathedral Saint-Maurice.

 There was a fountain and park at the end of the lane from the Cathedral.
 I ate lunch on a little bench under this garden archway.

 Organ inside the Cathedral

I tried to turn off the main road to narrow, cobbled streets as often as I could.
 A tribute to American history all the way over here.

 Statue to Roi Rene in the center by the castle.

On the way back I meandered back over the river and into the Parc de Balzac, a beautiful public park with tree lined paths, benches and lily pad coated ponds.
 La Maine

Back to my home in France!

Angers was a perfect way to start exploring France. I could practice the language and plan my bus and train routes for (drum roll) Paris tomorrow! I'm nervous for the chaos in the busy city, but I have as many maps and planned routes on the bus as I can. Je suis prêt á aller!

1 comment:

  1. Salut Young Traveler...Your first entry from France...How exciting. I kept trying to pinpoint what was different in the geography and stuctures of France vs. England...and had a BLINDING FLASH OF THE OBVIOUS....IT IS A DIFFERENT COUNTRY!!! From the dark slate and limestone of the castle to the cobbled little streets... this is FRANCE! One thing appears to be the same especially when visiting Cathedrals...LOOK UP OFTEN you don't want to miss a thing! That stained glass ceiling was just beautiful. Have a wonderful day in PARIS tomorrow!!! Can't wait to hear all about it. au revoir for now...:)