A burst of pain shoots down my leg as I reach the top of the steps of the SacrÃ©-Cœur. The view from the top is breathtaking. As I glance across the Paris skyline, the familiar strumming of guitar chords fills the awaking city.
“Today is gonna be the day, that they’re gonna throw it back to you…” a man wearing a black weathered cowboy hat sings with a heavy French accent. I then sit down on the top of the steps listening to the rhythmic strumming and look at the skyline once more. As the morning sunlight casts its shadow across the streets below, shop windows begin creek open, and the smells of freshly baked baguettes begin to fill the crisp morning air. The guitar player suddenly stops playing as a crowd of tourists stubble out the elevator doors. As he places his guitar inside its’ case, he takes one last look across the skyline and gives me a satisfying nod before making the long journey down the steps. If I had gotten up even 10 minutes later, I would have missed this amazing moment. As the rest of my group returns to the steps complaining about how tired they are, I am suddenly filled with energy as I think of what tomorrow morning may bring.
Mornings in France were definitely one of the highlights of my entire trip. Walking the streets eating a pain au chocolat freshly made from one of the boulangeries, life suddenly became carefree and significant. Unlike Americans, the French are not constantly engrossed in their work. They take three hour lunch breaks and are typically done with their work day around noon or one. Trying to live through this philosophy was definitely difficult at first. It took me about a week into my month long stay to realize French teenagers do not sleep in until noon like most Americans do. The first morning at my host family in Lyon, I awoke to find my host sister, Marie-Ange, waiting patiently at the table for me to eat breakfast. Embarrassed, I quickly devoured the baguette avec Nutella and started to get ready for the day.
By then, I had been traveling in France for two weeks. Starting at the Mistral Hotel in the 14th, or Montparnasse district in Paris for five lovely days, taking a day trip to Reims, and then spending three nights at the lovely L’HÃ´tel Criden in Tours. This hotel was recently renovated and obtained a chic, upbeat yet family feel with their mode Paris inspired dÃ©cor and their family bulldog who loved to wonder the hallways during breakfast. All of the hotels my group stayed at offered a morning breakfast which served the traditional breakfast cuisine: baguette, nutella, pain au chocolat, les croissants, la cafÃ©, and la chocolat chaud. I definitely could have lived off of breakfast everyday! However, I was always willing to expand my horizons and excite my vacant taste buds.
La Meilleur (the best) restaurant my group ate at would have to be La Souris Gourmande in Tours. Upon arriving, the kind owner happily welcomed us ‘Americans’ and led us to a special table in the basement just for us. The dÃ©cor was full of cute characters of mice and the walls were painted with a subtle shade of yellow—giving us the feel of one of France’s most popular food: Cheese. Although I most definitely would not call myself a cheese-head, I expanded my horizons when I tried the cheese and rabbit fondue. The burst of flavor as it flooded my tongue and mouth surprised me, as I quickly found myself digging for more, and more.
Although French restaurants were always worth the bucks, the best cuisine would have to be the meals I had while staying with my host families. From the fresh crevettes on the shore of the French Rivera, to savory tomato salad and endless fruits and vegetables fresh from the gardens of Lyon, each meal I had lifted me once more into the endless wonders of summer heaven.
Unfortunately my month long stay had to end sometime; and before I knew it I was giving my host family a goodbye bisou and walking though security at the AÃ©roport Lyon-Saint ExupÃ©ry.
Ã€ BientÃ´t la France, untill next time.
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