Nice to Meet You…

Mme. Remion really cracks me up. I’ve made it a point to go out into the living room while she’s watching TV (supposedly, you’ll understand why in a second) when I’m about to go to bed every night to ask when I should have breakfast. The woman says she’s a night owl and goes to bed late… Both nights that I’ve been here, I’ve gone out around 11 or later, and she’s been fast asleep sitting upright in her fauteuil (chair). “…Madame?” “Ah! Cette émmision n’est pas très interéssant.” (This TV show isn’t that interesting.) “Sans blague.” (No kidding.) For both our sakes we “slept in” a little bit today and got up at nine to have breakfast. After breakfast, we Facetimed my mother. I talked to her on my own for a while as Madame fiddled with some things at her desk, then I called her over and translated between the two of them for the better part of an hour. Madame could say some things to my mom in English since she studied it for a few years when she was in school, but past “hello” and “nice to meet you” and the end of the conversation, there wasn’t much else she could say. My mother did say “your English is better than my French!” Madame laughed when I translated that for her. When Madame had me tell my mom that she had to learn French and come to visit, my mom had me translate back “I wish I could learn a language like Claire, but I have enough trouble with English.” Now Madame knows where I get my witty side from. They talked about hosting students, and how Madame likes keeping in touch with a few of the students, since not all of them like doing what I’ve done. My mom knows why I love Madame so much, and she couldn’t get enough of how the woman could tell stories. She may not have been able to understand all of what Madame was bavarder (blathering/talking incessantly, one of Madame’s favorite words) about in French, but she could see her light up when she did it, and she got all of the stories as I translated them. She told me to take some pictures of Madame’s house before I left since she got an idea that the house was very “France circa 1980” and would make a good inspiration for a movie set…

We had a late lunch today, starting with an odd mix of grated carrots, mustard, and mayonnaise that resembled a very orange tuna salad for entrée that was much tastier than I expected it to be. That was followed by pan-fried pork and a purée (it resembles what we would call mashed potatoes) of something… but it had an odd taste to it, so I asked Madame what it was. It wasn’t just potatoes, even though that’s all it looked like. There was celery in it too! We had the same three cheeses as yesterday for our cheese course (camembert, bresse et fromage noir), then we split the canellé from Helmut Newcake and had some clementines for dessert, followed by some coffee. Madame figured she’d take me to see the Cathedral one more time so I could retake my pictures from yesterday, then she’d show me the troglodyte houses nearby (they’re houses built out of the sides of a hill), as well as the remains of an old Roman aqueduct. We headed out pretty quick after lunch.

Outside of Cathédrale de Tours
Inside of the Cathedral

Vitrine (stained glass window) in the front of the Cathedral
“The Scandalous Vitrine

And here’s where Madame’s tour-guide worthy anecdotes began… A lot of the original windows in the Cathedral were taken down and saved in caves for a very long time. This one was supposedly from the fifth century (this is what Madame told me, I could be wrong). When it was put back up in the window, there was a huge scandal because the scenes depicted the story of the Garden of Eden, and there were naked people! The window was taken back down, and the scandalous scenes were taken out of it completely. Fast forward a couple hundred years (around the 1500’s, supposedly), and a bunch of Americans came by and saw the scenes from the window. “Why aren’t you using these?” “Because they’re naked people.” “How about we buy them from you?” “Fine.” Fast forward a little more… an inhabitant of Tours goes to New York and visits a museum… and what does he see? The scenes from the Cathedral’s stained glass window all mixed up! He goes back to Tours, and they decide to remake some scenes for this window, but they don’t have the same methods to make the exact colors (like the blue you see in the squares in the borders) that were already in the window. They decide to do something different. Like the Americans, they chose to mix up all the scenes, so you can’t actually recount the story that the window tells. Furthermore, you see the half-circles? In the original vitrine, the half-circles formed a real one, but they’re back-to-back here!

“The Organ that Lived”

During the French Revolution (one of the many that have occurred over time, since the French seem to have a Revolution whenever they get bored), the revolutionaries called for anything that had any religious significance to be destroyed. This organ was on that list. The organist that played it all the time was in the cathedral when it came time for it to be set on fire. He asked the commander of the revolutionaries that was there if he could play on the organ one last time before it was destroyed. The commander was a very sympathetic man, all things considered, so he let the organist play his song. That organist was a pretty smart guy… He played the hymn of the revolution, and any instrument that played the hymn couldn’t be destroyed! So the organ was saved! Do you see all the little angels that are holding the trumpets? When the organ is being played, the angels move and seem to be “playing” the trumpets along with the organ.

“Pierre de la Loire

This altar is pretty minimalist, but it’s still pretty cool. The rock in the center of the altar is a type of rock that’s native to the Loire Valley, and it’s encased in bronze.

“Vitrine des Archevêques”

This vitrine has a whole bunch of archbishops on it.

Apparently, old metal candleholders like this are really rare. They’d descend via the chains you see in the middle, then you could either light or replace (or both) three large candles on each “plate,” then you could put it back up where it was.
After I’d taken my 40-something photos (the rest of them, many being artsy can be found on my Flickr), I hopped back in Madame’s car, and we drove off to the troglodyte houses. There wasn’t much to take pictures of there, it was just something to drive by and see. The people that lived there were usually wine makers (who also grew grapes on the hill they built the houses out of), then mushroom cultivators. The remains of that old Roman aqueduct were something else, though…
We headed back to the house to have our cup of tea, and we talked a lot about what I’m going to do for work when I’m done with school. I explained that being a screenwriter meant that I’d constantly be looking for a job, find one, work until the project is finished, then be out of a job again and start over. I’d have plenty of spare time to write new films, and to take care of my family. “It’d be good to find a steady job, though.” “Yeah, I was thinking about teaching French.” “But it’s not useful in America, right?” This became the very first time I used si correctly in a conversation. For those of you that think I’ve now started learning Spanish, here’s a mini-lesson. You use si when you’re trying to tell someone that they’ve made an incorrect assumption. We don’t have a word for it in English, but we should. Example: If someone’s talking to me and says “But you’re not 20 years old.” That’s when I’d use si because I in fact, AM 20 years old, and they’ve made an incorrect assumption. Back to my conversation with Madame… “Si, there are plenty of people that already speak Spanish and English by the time they start high school, so taking French is a good idea.” It’d be a good way for me to keep my skill level in the language up as well.
Managed to get a picture of the elusive Kemia, too!
We had an interesting dinner… we started with a vegetable soup for entrée (Madame’s husband loved soup), followed by… another entrée? Madame had made a small salad with some shrimp, tomatoes, and dijon mayonnaise that was served alongside oeufs mimosa (what we would call deviled eggs). That was followed by a serving of thinly chopped and sautéed vegetables (basically every veggie she had in the house) for plat principal. Same three cheeses for our cheese course, as usual. We had the last actual pastry from Helmut Newcake (the caramel de beurre salé Religieuse) for dessert with a clementine. We talked a bit about Paris… and racism, oddly enough. Our conversations really run the gamut, don’t they?
I think I overate tonight. I went back to my room and felt almost sick to my stomach because of everything I’d had. It’s amazing how full a bunch of vegetables can make you feel. I got a chance to talk to my boyfriend for a long time while I was attempting to digest all of that food…
I head back to Paris tomorrow in the late afternoon. I’ll be going back to America in less than two weeks, and as my boyfriend put it tonight, I’ll be back in his arms two weeks from today. I’ll admit, I’m definitely excited to be headed home. I’ve missed everyone there so much! The more I sit around and think about it, however… the more I realize I’d be much more content if I could snap my fingers and magically have everyone important in my life speak French and live with me in France. Sadly, this isn’t the case… yet…
Mais qu’importe l’éternité de la damnation à qui a trouvé dans une seconde l’infini de la jouissance? -Baudelaire. “Le Mauvais Vitrier.”

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