So many adventures have happened in the last two weeks I’m genuinely overwhelmed by the thought of how to recap them all on this blog. Sometimes I just get swamped by my own overzealous-ness with my camera and wanderings and desire to record EVERY SINGLE DETAIL, you know? My laptop is ACTUALLY pretty much out of memory right now after uploading (almost-200ish left!) all of my photos from my vacation in Chamonix this past week in addition to the bazillion photos I’ve already got sitting on there. And I’m leaving for England/Scotland on Wednesday, so it may very well happen that I won’t get to upload anything new until I get home to the USA, where my precious terabyte external hard drive awaits me.
Unless, of course, I put on my responsibility cap and go through tons of photos I have that I never bothered to wade through and weed out before. But that task literally involves probably 1-2,000 photos so…I’ve been putting it off. For a solid year. No lies. (Sigh.)
But anyway! I’m not going to talk about Chamonix just yet, because before Chamonix was the first week of my vacation, which included some delights in Paris that deserve their own recognition. It was a week for farewells, as many of my friends were clearing out and heading back to the U.K (or would be heading back during the time in which I would be in Chamonix.) We started off Saturday with one such farewell gathering in Bastille in a bar called …er..Q&B? (I sort of forget. Q&somethingorother, I’ll look it up later.) Anyway, I adore that bar and can’t believe we haven’t been there more-it’s got a very chic and classy feel to it while still being comfortable, and word on the streets is that the burgers are killer. I took advantage of their happy hour to try a special cocktail called the Pink Panther, which, despite being pepto-bismal pink, was actually REALLY good, and I’m pretty sure had the lowest percent alcohol in it possible because it tasted like juice.
Our next adventure for the week was actually inspired by one of my students, who in a video exchange with some students in the USA mentioned this thing called “Foire du Trône“. I had NO idea what she said at first or what she was talking about, and it took me a little guessing and internet searching to figure it out. Turns out Foire du Trône is a pretty big funfair that comes to Paris (outskirts of the Bois de Vincennes) every year from mid-April through June, and it seems just about everyone goes! So naturally we had to hit the place up before people began to leave. We picked a late sunny Wednesday afternoon (sort of as young children and parents were milling about but leaving, yet before troublesome teenagers showed up later at night) to go explore.
Basically this funfair is bigger than your average small-town carnival, but lacks the State Fair (if you live in the USA) elements like livestock or vegetable competitions and handicrafts for sale–it’s strictly rides, fair food, and those games where you just have to shoot some string with a bb gun and you can win a new Macbook Pro!
We didn’t want to spend the 35 Euros for the unlimited-rides ticket, and since general entry is free we were able to control costs by just picking individual rides to go on, two of which were roller-coasters for us. The first one was the first roller-coaster I’d been on in years, and was kind of fun for that reason–although it seemed a bit small. We soon realized that it was because the roller-coaster we had seen across the park–same color– was just a hair further down the road and was sort of the “adult” version…essentially we had just ridden the kiddy-coaster. Ahem.
Honestly, it was more fun than the adult version, “King”, which slammed my head so hard between the tough chair barriers that my ears were hurting for daaaays afterwards. Thank goodness I wasn’t wearing earrings. Guess I must be getting old?
Two fun things to compare to American carnivals/fairs were the games and the food. The games, while often similar in that they were impossible to win (shooting games, water gun games, choose the lucky duck, etc) often had small to giant stuffed animals as prizes, but here in France things like fancy headphones, laptops, and even vespas/motorbikes are up for grabs–the last one is ever so European. 😉 There were also many more booths set up that were sort of like mini-casinos to win prizes, which is quite different from things I’d seen before.
As far as food goes, you wouldn’t be finding any elephant ears, funnel cake, or fried Twinkies. However, health still gets held up at the door with a plethora of candy apples, hard candies, taffies, waffles smothered in jelly/Nutella/sugar, massive fried churros (with Nutella, of course) and my new one true love in life, the Nutella-stuffed GIGANTIC beignet.
In fact, let me just pause everything to talk about that beignet for a second. That’s ok, right? Three of us decided to split it because it was so huge, but really I only agreed to that for health reasons. I would have eaten a whole one–or two–without hesitation had I not wanted to live to see the morning. The stand workers warmed it up for us, so essentially we pulled apart huge, warm chunks of doughy pastry (doughnut, more or less) with Nutella smeared on the inside. It was seriously heavenly, probably one of my favorite foods I’ve had in France to date. (Yes, I know, that’s probably sacrilegious to say given that I’m in the home of haute-cuisine. Whatever. I love doughy pastries and breads and just about died from happiness. And barely restrained myself from buying another.)
We didn’t stick around the fair forever because no one wanted to spend exorbitant amounts of money, but honestly it was just kind of fun to be in that sort of atmosphere and walk around, definitely a good place to go with friends and family in the sunny weather.
Thursday saw more or less the beginning of the real end as we bid farewell to yet another member of our group, and said a few more goodbyes for those who had conflicting schedules for the next few weeks. How did we go about doing so?
Why, with a wine and cheese party, of course! About six of us went shuffled over to one of our apartments, each bearing a different cheese or two and wine (save myself, I just bought an expensive gourmet cheese and some snacks instead of also bringing wine). I didn’t take any pictures of the cheese spread because essentially it was there, we put our stuff down…and then a starving Becky went right in and everyone followed suit and destroyed everything. We just kept going back for more and more, it was just SO good. I’m a huge cheese fan, people, so having a wide selection of bleu/roquefort, chèvre, Boursin, cheddar, and several soft white cheeses was just…so dream-fulfilling. We also had some fruits, crackers, pretzels, etc to go along with everything, but the focus was on the dairy and it shone like a true star.
We were all set to leave at a relatively early time because of train complications, but just before I was headed out the boys remembered that they had purchased a super-fancy tiramisu cake from a patisserie earlier that day to celebrate the occasion. (Seriously? You have a chocolate coffee-flavored cake and YOU ALMOST FORGOT ABOUT IT? Clearly we are not related.) Obviously I couldn’t abandon the cake, so in order to get my fair share I stuck around, missed trains, and stayed the night, waking up the next day only slightly regretful of the overindulgences from the night before…
But not enough to ignore the leftovers. 😉
That’s all for today kiddos, stay tuned for updates about Chamonix…eventually!