And an evening stroll to take in one of my absolute favorite sites…
And an evening stroll to take in one of my absolute favorite sites…
We had a nice train ride from Angers to Paris and made our way to the hotel by metro. It is a lovely hotel (Cadran) in the seventh, just off Rue Cler. We got some lunch after checking in, and then we set out to explore. We found the huge flea market, Clignancourt, in the 20th and browsed for awhile. Then we went to Monmartre and visited Sacre Coeur. We still have lots to see but are already having fun!
We spent Friday discovering more of Angers on foot. It is a very accessible city and easy to navigate. At the same time, we always seem to stumble upon a new side street with cute shops and creperies. The River Maine and the cathedral help orient you when needed. It is very well designed and full of things to do, as you will see below (hopefully, if the pictures load this morning).
After croissants and coffee, we set out for Galerie David d’Angers, a museum full of beautiful statues in a lovely setting. It is a small gallery of various types and sizes of statues in an old cathedral that now has a ceiling of sky lights. It was terrific and well worth the admission fee. We each purchased our two museum pass for only 6€ as we planned to also visit the “new” tapestry museum in the afternoon.
Next we went back inside the cathedral to see it in the daylight. As it was cloudy and a bit rainy, it wasn’t much brighter but still well worth a stroll through the beautiful sanctuary. We imagined Christmas Eve mass full of hundreds of people and candlelight. I did some souvenir shopping at the House of Adam, which is inside a half-timbered structure, the oldest house in Angers, built around 1500. Then we went to a more standard souvenir shop recommended by Sue (there aren’t many here, which is kind of nice). Then it was the wine shop, complete with tastings (the shopkeeper participates too!).
We picked up lunch at our favorite boulangerie one last time and ate it in our room (with our newly acquired wine). (I will do a food post at some point as I have many photos of beautiful food…so good here.) We set out again after lunch, this time across the river to make our way to the tapestry museum. First we went to the Penitent House, a beautiful old building full of turrets and poets (it is a venue for gatherings, this month being a poetry conference). Next we visited , the with tapestries dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. They were a much more modern version of the tapestries of the apocalypse we had visited earlier in the week at the chateau.
Emmaus, the French equivalent of Good Will, was next on our walk. Not much had been added to their stock since Shana’s solo visit earlier in the week. Then the antique shops we had walked by several times were FINALLY open. One was a cluttered store watched over by an old man. It was hard to maneuver but Shana looked through his linens and post cards, buying some of the latter. A few doors down was the “brocantes” store we had been eagerly anticipating. It was fun to explore, and Shana found some linens and postcards to buy this time. I even got a little dish. I’m so pleased she has been able to find some items for her antiques business back home as that was part of her reason for coming.
We relaxed and repacked at the hotel prior to dinner at our favorite pizza shop next door. It was a lively night there, full of friends and families. We were still the first ones in the place, even though we didn’t arrive until just after 8:00! It’s a different way of life here…we are enjoying it for sure. This morning we take the train to Paris, so we will say goodbye to Angers…for now.
Cointreau is an orange alcohol, in case you aren’t familiar with it. Triple sec was its first name, and after lots of copy-cats, the Cointreau family decided to call it by their name. If you’ve had a cosmo, sidecar, or margarita, you’ve had triple sec. If you’ve had a really good cosmo, sidecar, or margarita, you’ve had Cointreau.
For only 8€ each, Shana and I basically had a private tour. Sue had arranged this (her assistant, Annika, escorted us), and we think Sue has quite the connections with Cointreau! It was informative, impressive, and quite enjoyable. I’ve toured a few distilleries and breweries in Europe and the US, and this tour was among the best. And definitely with the best cocktail at the end. (Sorry, Reed, I’m just not a Scotch girl!)
You can read about Cointreau and its history online, so I won’t go into too many details. It is made with only four things: water, orange rinds (2 kinds: bitter and sweet), alcohol (from sugar beets), and sugar (also from the beets). It is a clear liquid, yet when an ice cube is dropped in it, it becomes cloudy and you can see the essential oils. At one point in time, it was marketed through sort of creepy cartoons that appealed to children, and it had an equally creepy mime-based clown mascot. We saw a bottle collection of over 300 rip-offs, each of which Cointreau shut down. The company treats its 70ish employees very well, giving them 7 weeks of vacation each year and a 3-month Christmas bonus (& Countreau)! It is only made in Angers, France, so we got it at its source. I encourage you to go out and enjoy some!
I said my goodbyes to Sue Crust today, the wonderful AHA site director who has been a terrific host. She had to head in to Paris for meetings, so after my morning Intermediate French class, she had her assistant, Annika, take charge. I was able to track the professor in the French class very well, so I was quite pleased with that. Sue will mail me six or so surveys that weren’t yet finished, so she really has gone above and beyond what I expected. Below are some photos of Sue’s space, as well as one of the two of us. I hope our paths cross again!
I’m hoping to get a few more photos from yesterday in Angers to load this morning. Hardly any of what I attempted to add last night appear! The wifi (say “wee fee”) here leaves a bit to be desired, and it has to be “recharged” every 30 minutes. Anyway, hopefully more sites show below…
The morning began with a visit to Château d’Angers (see http://monuments-nationaux.fr/en/actualites/a-la-une/bdd/actu/1541 for more info), an incredible medieval castle that contains one of the largest tapestries in the world (and the oldest in France). A-MA-ZING!
Then I went to the Centre international d’étude de la langue française (CIDEF), located at the
I also visited the Anglophone library in Angers, where Sue volunteers. I was able to have a few more surveys completed for my research. I can tell that English is highly valued here, especially with a high unemployment rate – it can really help young adults secure a decent job. Next Sue and I got coffee before she left for her Italian class. It was a very enjoyable – and productive – day. (I wanted to include many more photos but was unsuccessful and gave up…my apologies!)
Today I visited two schools connected with the AHA International study abroad site in Angers, France. There are many wonderful opportunities for students here – I hope I can help to recruit some from Concordia! After a breakfast of cheese, croissants, and coffee, I went to Ecole Supérieure des Pays de Loire and spoke to two tourism classes. They are expected to be fluent in English, so thankfully I was asked to speak with them en Englais. I must say that it felt good to be back in the classroom. We discussed various topics of interest to them, such as American college life, tourist attractions in the US, sports, food, and my perceptions of France. A Trailblazers’ fan was present, and he was pleased that I have been to the Moda Center and know of Batum, who is from Le Mans, not far from here. Students completed my research surveys on meaning in life as they enjoyed Poptarts that I brought with me, a novelty here.
Next I visited Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Commerciales d’Angers, an impressive business school here. I got to enjoy lunch with two ESSCA directors, and then I had a great tour of their substantial facilities. Angers is their headquarters, and there are additional sites in Paris, Budapest, and Shanghai. Of course business classes are their primary focus, but they also have classes related to the EU, politics, and history, as well as French (bien sûr!). Many classes are taught in English, so a non-French speaking student could easily attend. Between what AHA and ESSCA offer, our Concordia students could easily fulfill the new language requirements in as few as 4-6 weeks!
I have found Angers to be a delightful city, and I’m so pleased to spend a few days here. I hope students consider coming (check out these sites for AHA: http://ahastudyabroad.org/
The journey from Portland to Paris by air went as smooth as could be. Great service, smooth skies, an early arrival, and luggage to be claimed. Then it was a TGV (i.e., Train à Grand Vitesse, or “high-speed train”) for 300km southeast to Angers, France. Sue, the AHA International host who has helped to arrange things, was at the train station as planned. A short stroll to the hotel, time to refresh, and crêpes for dinner in a bit…a decent first day overall. Tomorrow brings meetings and data collection, which is what prompted this trip, so it’s good to finally be here and ready to go…exploring the quaint city of Angers is also in order.
A quick update while we wait to depart Paris…at least for now. 😉
We had our last breakfast on Rue Cler; croissants, coffees, and a hot chocolate for Abbie. Then we walked the very short distance to L’Hôtel national des Invalides where there is an Army Museum and Napoleon’s mighty tomb. It was another spectacular campus of buildings, and the kids seemed quite interested in the war history, especially that of WWI & WWII.
We strolled back to Rue Cler for lunch at the Chinese restaurant from yesterday. Then we went next door for delicious gelato and coffee. We should have time to grab one last crepe before taking the Metro to the bus to the airport. Then we should land in Dublin around 11:15pm, only to depart about 12 hours later.
We have been talking with the kids today about all we’ve done and what they’ve enjoyed the most. Abbie’s list of favorite destinations from first to last goes France, Ireland, Scotland, and England. Jackson’s and mine goes France, Ireland, England, and Scotland. Reed’s is Ireland, France, Scotland, and England. The kids both loved the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Blarney Castle, and Alnwick Castle. I need more time to reflect on all we’ve done before I can create my list. I think we have lots to keep talking about and lessons to learn from this time away together. It has been a gift!