Tuesday, March 21, 2006

So. My Day Off. On Sunday, well, if you know me well, you can probably guess: a walk and a movie. After sleeping in, I broke open the Bisquick box and made pancakes for breakfast -- mmmmmm. I thought of the Tomie de Paola children's book the entire time. We didn't have maple syrup, but to be honest, I don't like it enough to haul Mrs. Butterworth all the way here in my suitcase. So, we made do with Nutella and apricot jam. Pancakes = successful start to a Sunday. S. even ate the burnt pancake. He's so great.

We decided to then check out 2 tourist attractions in our guide to the region. The second lesson I learned on Sunday was: Tourist guide does not always equal reality. I guess when you're this close to Paris all the surrounding departments have to work a little harder at making stuff look as impressive as the Louvre. The third lesson that we both learned was: our blue map does not always show all trails through the forest. We were trying to find our way to the Skip de Saint-Esprit, which is supposed to be this wonderful, marvelous Russian Orthodox church in the wilderness of France. The picture in the guide is just awe inspiring...this quaint church surrounded by trees. Nothing else in sight. The directions were, of course, a little lacking, but we were confident that we could figure it out.

We walked and walked, enjoying the sun and warmish weather. At some point, we passed a farm and realized that we had passed the Skip without ever seeing a sign. No problem, thought we, we'll just make a circle and check out the church of Notre Dame de la Roche while we're at it. This church is supposed to have some of the oldest choir stalls in France (13th century?) and was founded when a cow miraculously uncovered a statue of the Virgin Mary. Soon enough we were walking in the forest on a little trail that really reminded me of home. There was even a teeny, tiny incline so I could sort of pretend I was back in the mountains. After a point, it became clear that the route we were on in no way corresponded to the map, but that was okay because we had nowhere to be. We ended up going through a birch forest with dead bracken all around and I felt like it would be a perfect place to shoot some kind of historical fiction piece. Eerie.

We finally came across a road, and thanks to a very nice man out sweeping his driveway we managed to find the cow/statue church which was a bit of a disappointment. Not having eaten, we were quite hungry and sat down on a bench to eat our lunch. Halfway through, a man in a pickup truck roared in, screeched to a halt, and stomped in some sort of building without even returning our "Bonjour," leaving us to finish our yogurt in clouds of diesel fumes. Turns out, that was his house, apparently, and as we were packing up our rubbish there commenced quite a ruckus involving said man, his wife and son. Quite comical, to an outsider at least. We hightailed it directly to the church in order to see the famed choir stalls. The church was locked, and there was no sign of anyone who could help us besides the arguing family so we opted to just leave. Upon departure we noted the sign that said "Private Property." Now, I don't know about you, but if I see something featured in a tourist guide, I assume that it's okay to visit. Next time I'll know to read the fine print.
On the return circuit there was more trekking through the woods and at one point we came to a fence. Turning around the way we came involved kilometers and kilometers, so we looked until we found a way through the fence and kept walking on what we thought was the official trail. Of course, it wasn't...I think we were on private property but it really wasn't a problem. Once we got past the fence, we saw some really interesting stuff:

  • innumerable spiders in the piles of leaves (yick) -- very motivating to keep walking. I was hoping as long as I was moving they wouldn't crawl on me.
  • 2 pheasants
  • 1 ripped-apart pigeon carcass
  • loads and loads of little purple and white flowers. Yay for spring!

After tramping around and avoiding spiders a bit, we came to another fence. We headed south in order to find another hole, and walked along the bordering creek until we found a place where the banks were close enough together to leap across. Well, for S. to leap across...I chickened out and a had to climb down the bank. I'm such a wuss. The good news is that afterwards we regained the road and managed to make our way to the Skit, which was not in the middle of the wilderness but in the middle of a residential neighborhood. As the trees don't have leaves yet we didn't get quite the same impression. It was locked as well (guess it was everybody's day off) so we didn't get to see the world-famous murals, but I reckon now that we can find it, we can always come back. I wanted to include a picture, because the building itself was quite pretty, but either Blogger or my computer is not cooperating.

Once we got back to the car, we headed to the movies -- it was Cinema in the Springtime or something like that, so our tickets were only 3,50 euros each. I really love France for this. We saw a Le Temps des Porte-plumes solely on the fact that I saw a poster for it in a Paris subway and thought it looked very cute. I liked it well enough because the story wasn't complicated and there wasn't a lot of dialogue, thus I had absolutely no trouble understanding, but S. really thought it was boring. He at least stayed awake for the whole thing, though. It was a great weekend and I'm just waiting for REAL spring weather so we can hit some more walks in the area.


anon said...

Hi, I read about the pancakes and maple syrup issue you had. I know you can find it realitively easily here in France now that I've been here for a while. Carrefour keeps it in two different places, near the American section, and in the section with all the confitures. Sometimes, though I have found it along with the baking section. The best part of it is that it's real maple syrup. It comes from Canada, and I think I will never go back to high glucose corn syrup again (or whatever that stuff is called). Just check the local Major chains (Auchan, Leclerc, Carrefour). By the way, if you find it, put it in the fridge after you open it. I didn't know this (and it can be kind of expensive) and I poured moldy sirop over my waffle. I had to throw both the waffle and sirop away! Oh the French word is Sirop d'Erable....
Good luck.

Pardon My French said...

Thanks for the tips! Now that you've mentioned it, I'm not sure if I've ever had anything other than Aunt Jemima/Mrs. Butterworth and whatever it is that they put in the bottles at IHOP. I'm sure once I've tried the real stuff, I'll never go back. Anyway, how are you doing? I think you probably had the same weather I did today -- sunny for the most part, warmish, even if it was a little windy. I hope you were able to sit out in your garden and enjoy your flowers. I'm still living in an apartment (not even a balcony -- sniff) and am longing for the day I get a small garden.