Long time no see! It's hard to believe that nearly a month has passed since I've been in France. It's honestly been a blur, and every time we hit the weekend I can't believe that another week has passed. Time is moving so quickly, which means I've been trying to take advantage of every single weekend.
Just a few days after we arrived in Nantes, we were all on a bus to explore the Chateaus of the Loire. I had already seen two of them a few years ago on my last study abroad, but I was still just as excited to see them again.
First, we went to the Chateau D'Azay le Rideau. I hadn't been to this castle before, so it was super interesting to see. We had a guided visit and she spoke very slowly for us, so we were able to understand most of the descriptions that were entirely in French. It was cool to hear about the stories behind the different rooms and areas of the castle, and also the other people that lived there. There were a ton of salamanders etched into different parts of the castle, which reminded me of Hidden Mickeys in Disney World. It was fun to try and find the hidden salamanders around the castle!
In between the two, we had a super fancy lunch, first comprised of two different mushroom soups. One of them has foamed milk on the top, and it made me feel like I was on some sort of cutting-edge cooking show. Usually, I am not fond of mushrooms, but I actually really enjoyed them both! (Apparently the first was a palate cleanser and the second was like an appetizer, but I'm still not completely sure. That's the fun part of eating here in France, I never know what's coming next!) For the main course, we had chicken and something like mashed potatoes, a classic for me, and finished with a brownie for dessert. I never have full-course meals like that, especially for lunch, so that was a super cool experience to have!
Next, we arrived in Blois, where we toured the Chateau Royal de Blois. This was a free visit, so we could walk around the castle for 1.5 hours and take our own time. While I really appreciate the tours, that kind of visit is definitely more my style. This was my first time at this castle, and I absolutely loved its architecture of it. You could go into the courtyard and get a panoramic view of the entire castle, which was super cool to see. I tried to keep myself walking the whole time, as they told me the castles would be cold but I was not prepared for how freezing it would be! After the castle, we had dinner (with wine!) and then had free time to explore the city. We even got free sunglasses at the bar that night and met some super interesting characters. :) Blois is a very interesting city, to say the least.
The next day we visited Chambord and Chenonceau, two castles I have already had the opportunity to visit. I wasn't prepared for how different they looked depending on the season, as the last time I went was during the summer. It feels so surreal to be in the same place 4 years later, and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to do so. It's crazy that so much has changed since the last time I was in France, at 16 years old. :')
The first trip of the semester was such a whirlwind and was just 5 days after we had all arrived! I'm so glad we got to spend the first weekend traveling though, as in hindsight it was a great opportunity to meet everyone in the program and find my newfound love for mushroom soup!
See ya soon!
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Hello! My name is Sophia Barton, and I'm a sophomore at the University of Portland, though I'm originally from Indiana. (Shout Midwest folks!) I'm currently majoring in Political Science and Global Affairs and French, with a Spanish minor. Can you tell that I love languages? I could not be more excited for the opportunity to immerse myself in the Nantes culture, and I'm so excited to take you all along with me. Rendez-vous à Nantes!! :)