What a weekend it has been in Tours. After finishing up two weeks of living in Tours and one week at our internships: to say the least we are all tired! During the week, because of all of our individual internships, we didn’t get to see each other unless it was our housemates. This weekend served as some much needed time to decompress from an intense week of speaking nothing but French. Our class has quickly bonded together and become a tight knit group. What would you expect! It's a Luther J-term, right?
Today is Sunday and marks the beginning of our last week in Tours. The time spent in this beautiful city has been nothing short of amazing. In some aspects the town has become home for us. I mean, I don’t think I will ever get use to walking past a centuries old cathedral everyday. Although, the streets are more familiar to us now. We can all easily find our way through the city to meet up and hang out. We’ve become very accustomed to French cuisine. The caf is going to be sad to come back to with the kind of food we have been eating all month (sorry to anyone who works in the caf). But, we’ve tasted some of the best of French cuisine. The other day our host family made boeuf bourguignon. This traditional French dish is cooked for several hours in a pot, seasoned to perfection in a savory broth. We all practiced our best French etiquette while eating and savoring every bite. The French treat food in such a special way. It is meant to bring people together and help cultivate conversation. Compared to the fast pace of the United States, meals here at a minimum take an hour an half. Dr. Feat told us about a meal she had after she rode some horses with friends that took four hours...and she left EARLY! We’ve enjoyed every meal here in France. Did I mention, I probably eat at least one chocolate croissant a day? Gah, they are so GOOD.
So, Dr. Feat planned the perfect excursion. Our group took a small train ride (public transportation in France is the best) to our final castle we would see for our time in France: Château de Chenonceau. This castle was built in the 16th century and housed several French kings. For many centuries the French kings would tour around France to check in with local governors of the various regions. With so much traveling, kings would build castles in the different places they’d stop at. The castle contains two beautiful gardens, sitting in front of the castle to the left and right. Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of this castle is that it literally sits on a river. On the under belly of the castle over the river is a place that ships could come under and restock food directly to the kitchen. This was one of many fascinating innovations lying within the château.
The castle told so many amazing stories to everyone in the group. The castle was owned by many different people over the centuries. In the 18th century the castle was used to house intellectuals all over Europe to make an encyclopedia about how women are equal to men. During World War I, the castle was used as a makeshift hospital for the wounded. Every inch of the castle was used to help those injured in battle. And, interestingly enough, during World War II the castle was a refuge for Jews fleeing Nazi occupation. On one side of the river there was the Nazi occupied France and then across the river (which the castle sits on) was liberated France. The owners of the castle at the time would hide Jews and other groups fleeing from the cruel grasps of the Nazis. All of us in the group enjoyed being able to walk through history. We stood in great halls that have housed centuries of parties, gandered at kitchens that made some of the most exquisite meals, and gardens where generations of children played. If I’ve learned anything about France the past two in a half weeks: it's the best at preserving its history.
After exploring an entire castle with a little over five centuries of history, we all got off the train and stopped by McDonalds to get a sweet treat or something hot to drink. Now don’t judge us, we were all hungry after exploring a castle and just needed some comfort food. It was a one time deal, okay?
None of us can believe that our time in Tours is quickly coming to an end. Only five days left at our internships, then it's off to Paris. Here’s to one more week!