Sunday, July 21, 2013

Discovering the Rest of France!

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted my last blog. I haven’t had Internet for almost a week because I’ve been on vacation with my host family. So I’ll try to catch you all up.

So last week was another hard week of work, but it was nice and short because my host family didn’t come home from their weekend trip to Champagne until Monday night. So I only had to work Tuesday-Friday, which was very nice.

Oh and I forgot to make a shout out to Farmer Trent in my last post. I worked on Farmer Trent’s farm (Green Gardens Community Farm) a few years ago and he basically taught me everything I know about farming. So I don’t know if you’re reading my blog, Trent, but if you are thank you for teaching me how to be a good farmer. Since I don’t really know the French language I think my work would’ve been a lot harder if you hadn’t taught me everything I know. But since I know about farming vegetables I can figure out what my host dad and his co-workers want me to do so thank you!

So this past Tuesday we raised vines all day. It was almost 100° and I thought my arms were going to fall off by the end of the day, but it was a good workout. After work, Pauline (my host sister) showed me her book of plants and animals and taught me how to say everything in French. I’m going to be pro at French vocab by the end of this trip; too bad I can’t form sentences. I also tried Camembert cheese for the first time today. It smelt pretty horrible, but I loved the taste!

Wednesday was another hard day. We went to work at 6am so this way it wouldn’t be so hot while we lifted the vines. We thought it was a good idea, but then it started to rain. So that plan kind of backfired; we were still soaking wet but with water this time instead of sweat, but we had a good laugh. So we lifted vines until 2 in the afternoon. Then when we got home I helped Pauline and Dominique (my host mom) make brownies. They were yummy! Then Dominique asked if I would make an American dinner for everybody and of course I said yes. So we ran to the supermarket and picked up a few things. I decided to do an American summer cookout kind of thing. So I grilled some hamburgers and hot dogs and I made a potato salad and three-bean salad. Dominique and Steve loved everything; Dominique even asked for the recipes. The kids loved the hot dogs and hamburgers, but they didn’t seem to like the salads too much, but at least they tried them.

After our American dinner we took some pictures!

Thursday was a big day at work. It was their open house; so many farmers and vineyard owners from the region came to see the company’s work and research. I helped set up for the open house in the morning, then in the afternoon I got to attend the open house. Unfortunately all of the presentations were in French so I didn’t understand most of it, but it was still interesting to see. After work Quentin (my host brother) and I played tennis again in the pool and practiced counting in French and English. We’re going to be pros at that by the end of the month. I also got to try chocolate croquants for the first time today. They’re a French dessert that are only found in this region; they were good!

On Friday I finally got to try some Abbaye Saint Michel wine. This is the wine that’s produced from the grapes they grow at my internship. My host dad was holding a sensory evaluation of a few of the Abbaye Saint Michel wines. So I helped set up for the evaluation and then I got to taste them as well! Then that afternoon we lifted more vines and we went home and packed for vacation!

Abbaye Saint Michel

The sensory room

Julien (my host dad’s co-worker), me, and my host dad

Workin hard!

On Saturday morning we left for my host family’s summer vacation. We are spending the week in Champagne visiting their relatives and going to Nigloland (an amusement park). The car ride took all day so by the time we showed up at the Nigloland hotel it was time for dinner. So we ate at the hotel’s restaurant, which was a buffet, and of course I wanted to try almost everything. I picked a few things from the appetizer table to try and I grabbed something called boudin noir. I had no idea what anything was so I just sat down and started eating. Then my host dad looked over and asked if I just ate the boudin noir. I said, “yes, why?” He turned to my host mom and said can you explain to Melissa in English what she just ate. And my host mom told me it was blood and onions blended together. I was like oh great, but I guess I liked it because I ate the whole thing. Then it was time for the main course. For the main course they had everything laying out uncooked and you had to tell the chef what you wanted. My host mom said to try Andouillettes because they’re a specialty of the region. I didn’t think anything of it and I ordered it from the chef. He looked at me and said are you sure because it’s definitely something special, and my host dad said, yeah it’s fine she can have it, she eats everything. So after I tried it my host dad told me that I had just eaten intestines. So I had a very interesting meal that night, but at least I liked everything!

The lobby of our hotel

Us hanging out at the hotel after a tough game of foosball

My Andouillettes (they’re the round things in the front)

Sunday was our day at Nigloland. Nigloland is just a small amusement park in Champagne that my host family likes to go to every summer. So we spent the day there and went on rides all day. Quentin (my host brother) and I went on an indoor rollercoaster 10 times! We had fun!


On Monday we drove to Dominique’s sister’s house and I got to experience a different type of cuisine. It was interesting to see how different the cooking is in the north of France from the south. Even though they’re sister’s they use local produce so their cooking styles are very different. My host parents also took me shopping today. They took me to their outlets. So I got to shop around there for a bit and see some French stores as well as American. They had a Nike store so I ran in real quick just to see what the prices were, and it was definitely more expensive than in the US especially with the exchange rate. Oh and we spent the night in a chateau!! It was really pretty!

The chateau!

My room!

Us at the back door of the chateau

Quentin, Pauline, and I showing our boilermaker spirit!

Then on Tuesday we drove to my host dad’s parents’ house. They live in Champagne as well but they live in a different area so we had to drive for about an hour and a half until we got there. We stayed at their house for 3 days. Steve’s mom was really nice and made escargot for lunch one day because I have never had it before. I absolutely loved it! It was so good! I also got to try a whole bunch of Steve’s dad’s homemade wine! He showed me his wine cellar and explained how he makes it. It was really interesting!

Me and Steve's mom with the escargot! Yum!

Me and Steve's dad with some of his home made wine!

On Friday we visited Dominique’s church in the town where she grew up. It was a small church, but it was very pretty. Then they took me to the city of Troyes. It was a quaint city! It had lots of little shops and restaurants and it had very pretty architecture. So they took me to one of the cathedrals and then we went out to dinner for our last vacation dinner. I also said good bye to Quentin and Pauline today :( They're staying with their relatives for a few weeks this summer so they didn't come home with us. I was sad to say good bye. I'm going to miss having them to hang with. They were fun kids!
Dominique's church in Longsols

The cathedral we visited in Troyes

Troyes! It's so pretty!

On Saturday we drove home. It took about 9 hours with about 7 hours of driving. We stopped at a cute little town on the way home and saw the cathedral and a celtic band playing. 

The cathedral

The celtic band

And today was a lazy day. We mostly hung around the house except for this morning Dominique and I went to the local market to pick up some food. I was very jealous of their market. They have a stand just for bread, just for cheese, just for meats, and just for fish. It was very cool! So I think that's it for now. I'll be leaving to go back to Toulouse this Thursday and then I will be off to Germany! Hopefully I will have internet at some point or another during the next week so I can keep you all updated. If not, I will update you all when I arrive back in the US. Can't believe my program is almost over. It went by way too fast and I think I'm really going to miss it here (especially all of the bread and cheese haha), but it's been a great experience!


  1. Thanks Melissa for telling us about your experience. I've enjoyed following along on you trip to France. I have to say, you have one of the more interesting Study abroad experiences.

    1. Oh no problem! Glad you enjoyed it! I'm not the best writer so hopefully the pictures made up for it haha! Hope things are going well for you in BC!