Unless you go to a park, it is hard to find "nature" in Paris. Apartments have replaced trees, and sidewalks act as Paris' grass. Although the city is kept relatively clean, and although the man-made structures are beautiful, it is easy to find yourself longing for forests, hills, and countryside.
Since we had no school Thursday and Friday due to All Saints' Day, my host family was generous enough to take me to their second home in the campagne (countryside). While I was headed there on the train, I was able to see stone, glass and metal become trees, grass and earth.
When I arrived at their country home, I soon fell in love with the forests, streams and grassy pathways that surrounded their home. The first morning I was there, we all (my host family and some of their extended family) went searching for champignons (mushrooms). At first I could not believe that my host family intended to cook and eat wild mushrooms, but I calmed down when I realized that my host parents were "experts" at picking mushrooms and that they had books telling them which mushrooms were edible and fresh.
Here is our basket full of mushrooms (this type of mushroom is called "pied mouton" or "sheep's foot'):
And here are my mud covered boots after sloshing through marshy forests:
My whole four day weekend is a blur of relaxation, nature walks and eating my host family's delicious cooked mushrooms; except one event that really ;eft an impression.
On Saturday, I went with my host family to a town called Loches for its lively fresh food market. It was a very old town, with buildings remaining from the middle ages (everything is so old here!). I also learned that Joan of Arc passed through this town to meet the king after a great victory at Orleans.
Here is a plaque dedicated to her visit:
I am so enthralled by France's rich history!
Anyway, after a calming four days in the countryside, I felt refreshed and happy to return to the city.