France, Part I

So, I just got back from a family trip to south-western France and it was certainly an adventure. There were a lot of different aspects to my thought processes while I was there, so I will share each part in separate posts over the next few days. Or I’ll end up sharing all parts of my thoughts, but just chronologically throughout the trip, we’ll see where this goes…

I flew into Paris from Philadelphia on Wednesday, followed signs through the airport to connect with my flight to Bourdeaux, where my family (which had been in Bourdeaux for a few days, checking out the wine country) picked me up. On the way I started reading Plato. I figured he is a fairly prominent literary figure, whose works I should read to gain a greater appreciation of life. Once picked up, we drove south to spend my first night in Cap Ferret, a beach town on the Arcachon Basin. Apparently it is one of the 10 most expensive places to live, but it didn’t really look it. Plus, it is off season right now (July and August are the high season), so it was pretty empty and quiet for a beach town. Anyway, on the way, we stopped at l’Herbe, a fishery town on the basin, for lunch. The whole basin is huge on oyster (huitre) farming and harvesting, so they’re very fresh, and that is what we got. 2 dozen raw oysters, a dozen steamed shrimp, a jar of pate, a basket of bread (at every meal), and a bottle of wine for 30 euro, a great deal. Plus, the place we went was a super chill fishery patio, which made it all the better. Oh, and I forgot to mention that it was all great. While oysters aren’t really my thing, they were crazy fresh and tasted like the sea. After lunch we continued on to Cap Ferret, walked around, rented some bikes to go see the light house and a different beach. Then we had dinner at our hotel, my first dinner in France, and it was fantastic. As were all of the meals. As it turns out, we’re pretty sure that it is illegal to serve bad food in France, everything was at least decent, and it was only just decent in places you would expect it to be awful. I had fish soup (a delicious broth to the main course fish soup), entrecote steak, and tart tatin aux pommes (which tasted like childhood and had apple slices that had been cooked for so long they were basically applesauce).

There were two big switches to get used to traveling in France, both having to do with food – when and how much we ate. I’m sure it was just because we were traveling, and the people we were with, but going out for two meals a day, usually, leads to SO much food in France. Most restaurants have some prix fixe menus (a few courses with some specific choices) which, while a pretty good deal, result in you having a lot of food. Also, pretty much everything is made with butter and fat, and served with lots of bread. Delicious and figure-worrying. The time part was interesting, too. Small breakfast, later than I’m used, lunch usually around 1 or 2, and then dinner at 8:30 (at the earliest), leaving one stuffed and ready to fall asleep (yet slightly uncomfortable) come mid-night to one in the morning. (For those that don’t me, I’m used to getting up early for Crew and going to bed at 10.)

Woah, I’m writing more than I expected. Anyway, in the morning, we left Cap Ferret, drove around the Arcachon Basin and visited Europe’s Largest Sand Dune. Its about 2.5km long, .5km wide, and a few hundred meters tall, it was pretty fantastic. Afterwards, we drove to Hendaye, right on the French/Spanish boarder, on the coast, where we would spend the next several days for a family friend’s wedding (the reason we were in France). It was a longer drive, and I quickly remembered how quickly people get testy when traveling (in a car, trying to find where we’re supposed to go, cramped, spending too much time together, etc…) In Hendaye we met the family of the groom (we know the bride well) and went over to Spain for dinner where we had more amazing food. I go this lamb shank which must have been cooked for a week it was so tender. I would just like to reiterate: SO MUCH GOOD FOOD.

More to come later, I’m writing more than I expected.

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