22 October 2009

The End of Joan of Arc

From Paris, we headed north to Rouen -- the capital of Upper Normandy to visit Caroline, an old amie of Erika. It is a medium-sized city with a big university so there are many young people and international students. It is also home of Flaubert and the site where Joan of Arc was burned alive........you go gurl!

Luckily for us, Rouen is also home to the annual Gastronomy Festival of Normandy. It just so happened to be on the very weekend we came to town. We were treated to a wide array of sights, smells and tastes including: delicious caramel, truffles, Camembert, crepes, pastries of all sorts, and local pressed-cider.

We also went to our first French party. At first, we thought it would be very similar to American parties -- they were playing all the same music. But then, we discovered some significant differences...there was a definite shortage of dancing, alcohol, and crepes -- seeing as though it was advertised as a crepe party. We think they could definitely stand to learn a few things from us Amuuurcans.

Here is the tower where Joan of Arc was kept for months before and during her trial. Of course, she was eventually found guilty and burned just down the road. This cross stands in the site of the public burning in the center of town.

This is the main street through Rouen -- lots of shops and restaurants.

A taste of the Gastronomy Festival. These are "pommes d'amour" -- a French take on caramel apples that are common at festivals and carnivals. We saw a whole family of five walking down the street, each one of them eating one of these tasty looking apples of love.

Truffle making (and tasting!). We definitely hit up this spot several times during the day. Note the traditional garb.

This dude is busy cooking up some andouillettes -- stewed in cider with apples, pears, and onions. Perfect warm comfort food for a chilly fall day.

CHRISTOPHER you would have looooooved this.

More traditional garb...and cankles.

Note the traditional wood-accented buildings -- a fixture in cities and villages throughout Normandy.

Cathedral of Rouen, made famous by Monet's series of paintings of it at different times of day. We had pity of this poor petite fille who was dressed like an old woman, whose mom never let her out of arm's reach.

At the Gastronomy Festival, we were also treated to a butter making demo by a local producer. The kids got to participate in the process, each one got to make a little jar of butter. Fun Fact! Because it rained a lot in Normandy last week, this weeks batch of butter is yellow-er than usual. This is because more rain = more herbs = better-fed cows.


And finally...our endless wait in the salle d'attente of Gare de Lyon in Paris (not to be mistaken with Gare du Nord...ummm...which we might have). Five and a half hours later, we boarded the train to Narbonne in search of a Scottish guy driving a silver mercedes who would be our host for the next two weeks in the south!