Sunday, September 21, 2014

Feelin' fancy in Nancy!

Bonjour mes amours! Welcome to France!

Joel had some sun in his eyes :)
We have been here for nearly a month (wow!) and are absolutely loving it. Our town is Nancy which is in the Lorraine region, home of the Quiche Lorraine and Université de Lorraine which has ~53,000 students, including Joelie. It doesn't feel like a college town to me because it's so classic French, but the people are youthful and it gets rowdy on the weekends. I love that the college demographic provides live music and festivals, and the intense cultural appreciation gives us loads of museums, cathedrals, etc. 

For this first entry, I will take you through a day out and about. 
When I wake up in the morning, I immediately look outside to check the weather and admire the beautiful canal. The trail adjacent to the canal goes for miles into town, allowing for a peaceful walk where I likely run into ducks, a kitty (in the 3rd picture, I call her "Très Mignonne" which means "very cute" for females), and sometimes A SWAN. Yeah. One day I saw the swan eating a pain au chocolat. TOO CUTE.

Clear, foggy, or thunderstorm, it's beautiful.

On the walk, I see loads of beautiful buildings and doors.

Brasseries are everywhere, they have coffee, pastries and every other form of gluten, as well as slightly more heavy food (sandwiches or the classic 'croque monsieur,' a sort of savory French toast with meat and cheese)
Fresh, local, organic, and REASONABLE produce might be my favorite thing about France. Processed food is pricier than natural food. Wonderful.
Cafés and little shops have lots of character. Here two men play chess while one smokes a cigar. The stereotype about French people loving their cigarettes is unfortunately very true, even though they cost a fortune!
Once in town, there is a FABULOUS park, Parc de la Pépinière, which includes extensive gardens, A FREE ZOO (monkeys!!!), an area for events and dancing, a bar/café and more. I am going to, uh, borrow some photos from the internets to show you.

This park always has action going on. Last weekend we walked through and noticed American flags around (whaaa?). It turned out to be an old school dance to U.S. music from the WWII era to celebrate the military relationship between US & France at that time. There were French tanks and classic Americana collectibles.

One side of the park opens up to the gem of Nancy, Place Stanislas. It is popular in France to have town squares which have elaborate buildings, gates, arcs and the like.
The opera building

Hotel Deville. In France hotel can mean different things, like this one is an administrative building. Throughout the summer they have a light show on this building...

An old man spends his days (and nights?) in front of this building, with his dog and mattress, reading books.
After exploring Place Stanislas, we get lost around town and take model pictures on old cobbled streets.
Built in 1336 ! this throughway has grates on top of it so that when armies invaded Nancy and went through here, French soldiers could pour hot oil or other scorching liquids on them.
There are a few cathedrals in Nancy, and most of them are so massive I can't even show the height of them with my iPod camera. I went in here one day for some peace and prayer, and the man in charge of keeping it up was vacuuming loudly and moving the chairs around. It was a pretty comical sight, him talking to his fellow janitor and noisily cleaning next to Jesus on a cross. I guess a job's a job huh?
A different cathedral, at night.
Woo! What a day. Time to head home.
I can't work in France (per my visa) so my days consist of writing 4-8+ hours, editing, looking for freelance work/building my portfolio, keeping in touch with folks, getting daily groceries (typical for French people, folks don't bulk buy), cooking and cleaning. Since I'm in France and champagne costs 2 bucks (1,29 euros), sometimes it accompanies my housewifery :)
A major job of mine is keeping Joel full of cheese, which makes him happier than pretty much anything else. Cheese is also crazy cheap which is crazy awesome.
Above our bed. I cut out strips of paper to make a hanging photo area. Send me photos and I'll put them up! :) The rose is for my birthday, and since we don't want to buy dishes we use old jars for cups and booze bottles for vases! We had to try genuine article Absinthe, which supposedly contains "the green fairy," which makes you feel floaty/hallucinate. I couldn't get past the taste to really try it and tell but Joel likes it. (BTW the books are The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, INCREDIBLE book about overcoming resistance to getting things done, and Sourcebook on Atomic Energy, Joel's downtime reading material.)
But what about dinner? Normally we eat at home besides occasionally going out for kebabs, AMAZING lamb/pita/lettuce/mystery sauce magic. I saw this gem on a walk around town:
Nailed it ?
But since it's my birthday weekend !! we went to a proper French restaurant where they serve 4 courses- entreé, plat, fromage (cheese plate, because after 2 other plates of food why the hell not?), and dessert.

The full enchilada includes drinks- aperitif before the meal, wine during, and a digestif (cognac, among others) after.

Joel's Korea throwback in the fancy French restaurant
Awesome ambience complete with perfectly stoic French waiter!
The story of our French meal isn't complete without this little tidbit: In France, "doggie bags" or taking leftovers to go is not a thing. This causes an issue for people like me who a) can't eat 4 freaking courses in one sitting, and b) hates wasting food. So we devised a plan that I would run back to our apartment and put a zip-loc bag in my purse, and when the waiter was away, scoop the food into the bag. So as I'm about to do this, the waiter comes back in to ask us if we're ready for the next course! So I'm stumbling around in my purse, and as I am not built for a life of crime, start blabbing in English trying to cover my tracks. It was hysterical. I almost lost my nerve but ended up successfully transporting the food home, leaving some so it didn't seem too far-fetched. Last time I was in France, I smuggled out pizza in a napkin in my pants which was only slightly more successful.
 Just for fun, here's a picture of us back in December 2010, the day Joel met me at the Paris airport. He was studying in Poitiers and I came to visit (paying for the trip by slinging pizzas and sleeping on Julie's couch for 4 months...thanks Jules!). We spent a month hanging out in his sleepy town and backpacking Europe. This was my first trip overseas, and my mind was BLOWN. I adopted the motto, "Save, travel, repeat" which continues to this day.
Look at those baby faces

I hope you enjoyed this day in Nancy. I will update again when I can. Love to you and yours!! xoxoxox