I've been in Paris--"studying abroad," if you will--for the past four weeks. Last weekend I decided it was time to leave the city and see what else France has to offer. I took a train with some friends to the South, where I was exposed to tourist spots that aren't the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower. We started our journey in Tours, where we went on a tour. A tour of Tours. That is American humor. Do you like it?
We saw the places Balzac hung out as a teen, a wall built by Romans, and then went to a 13th century cathedral. There was a funeral going on during our visit to the church, but this didn't detour our Tours tour guide. She ignored the sounds of sobbing grandmas, and instead told us the correct way to read a stained-glass window (apparently the panels are like a comic book).
Interestingly, there is a pizza place in Tours called Brooklyn Pizza. In front of Brooklyn Pizza, for whatever reason, is a mural of Manhattan. I didn't eat there, but I'm sure its très authentic.
Next we visited one of the Loire Valley's chateaus. These chateaus are very famous, and they are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I know this because our guide told so eight times on the bus ride there. Instead of letting me sleep, she spent the entirety of the two hour trip telling me the lineage of every French monarch ever. A brief summary: they're all related.
The Chateau de Chenonceau is ridiculous. It has 400 rooms and a moat. Seeing it made me completely understand the French Revolution. If I knew that people were living in castles like that while me and everyone I know were busy living in filth and getting the black plague every twenty years, I'd want to burn buildings and guillotine some nobility too.
The rooms were filled with mannequins reenacting scenes from Eyes Wide Shut.
The weirdest part of the Chateau was our lunch. We ate a four-course meal at the Chateau's restaurant, where we were served some kind of seafood paté and a main dish of some sort of mystery meat. Some people thought it was beef; others thought it was rabbit. I'm going with the dark horse candidate, which, coincidentally, is horse. It was pretty terrible. The thing about French food is that for three Euros you can have a great sandwich, but for ten you'll just get a bland salad, and thirty will buy you half an ounce of a small rodent. I think you have to spend upwards of 70 Euros to get something delicious.
The scaffolding dates to the 14th century.
I was glad that after lunch we headed back to Paris, because I already missed being in the city. I think what I really miss is New York, but Paris is a close enough substitute. After all, Paris is basically the same thing as New York, except the people pretend not to know English and all their restaurant workers come from North Africa instead of Mexico.