Troglodyte Tromp

Troglodyte Tromp

Another day today with a wide variety of activities. We visited Chateau Brissac in the morning, then went to a troglodyte (cave) restaurant for lunch, then finally toured the Loire river in a small boat.

brissac

Fun facts: One of the tallest castles in France, Chateau Brissac has (I think) five or six stories. One family and their descendants have lived in and owned Chateau Brissac for over five hundred years (!). The current family members use the upper floors (from the third on) of the castle, for their private residence.

I thought I had been to Brissac on a previous trip to France, but as it turns out I haven’t. So that was cool, because it was totally new. We went on a tour of the first two floors of the castle as well as the dungeon (ish). The first floor was just a foyer, formal living room, and formal dining room, but interesting nonetheless. As we ascended the stairs to the second floor, I almost slipped because the stairs were so weirdly sloped and slippery! I guess that’s what you get with castles built in the 15th century. The second floor housed a party room with a hidden door (!) to a bedroom, which had more hidden doors within it that apparently used to lead to servants’ quarters but are now used for storage and other stuff. Kind of an illogical place for said bedroom, but I guess if you really like to party…

Also on the second floor was another large room, with another less-hidden but still subtle door, which opened into a chapel. AN ENTIRE CHAPEL! My mind was totally blown. It was super tight, but had plenty of light and pretty altar carvings. We then exited the chapel and moved on to the third/second floor (in France, the ground floor is called the rez-de-chaussée, then the second floor is called the first floor, then second, and so on. Complicated, I know). The third floor had a private room that we couldn’t go in but looked cool, and also a game room/theater that we could enter. The game room had what looked like a pool table but wasn’t, because it didn’t have holes in the corners. Otherwise it was the exact same design as a pool table, with cues and all that. If anyone knows what the game is, tell me.

The theater was MASSIVE and had super lush red walls, carpeting, and seats. The only things I could think were a), is there a projector in here, and b) if so, does the family just sit in here and watch Netflix? Like if I lived in a castle I would sit in my outrageous theater and watch Netflix. And do their kids invite friends over? Like “Hey, Pierre, want to come over?” “Sure, Beret, where do you live again?” “Oh, this little house called Chateau Brissac.”

troglodyte

By the end of the tour, I was verging on hangry so I was so glad to get back on the bus for the short ride to the troglodyte restaurant–which turned out to by my favorite part of the day. The troglodyte/cave village was like an Ewok village from Star Wars or Hobbit houses from Lord of the Rings. It was awesome. We ate in a little cave and had delicious fresh-made bread with a variety of fillings, from meat and beans to mushrooms. We also had dessert options, of which I chose a pear flan-type thing with chocolate chips. It was sooooo good.

loire boat

Our final destination was a short boat tour on the Loire. It was a bit cold and windy, but I had plenty of layers plus a blanket the boat guides provided us so I was toasty. It was a cloudy day so there was hardly anyone on the water. The views were pretty good despite the weather, and it was a nice relaxing way to end the day.

See you in the next post,
Elle

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The Opera Pit

The Opera Pit

Today we did many things–beaucoup de chose. Instead of going to school with our host families, we explored Angers. We first went to a 45 million dollar building called Le Quai, which loosely translates to “waterfront.” It’s a modern building, despite being built in 2007. Le Quai houses concerts, art exhibitions, plays, comedy acts, dance performances, and even circuses. Right now, there’s this giant inflatable cube thing with bouncy cords in it that goes up at night. I totally want to go in it at some point.

We received a tour of Le Quai’s stages, inside and out. Pictured above is the greenroom of sorts which the public never usually gets to see (!). We also got to go underneath the biggest stage, into the belly of the beast, so to speak. We first explored the true underbelly, where there wasn’t much but supports for the stage above. After that, we moved on to the opera pit, which is also where the mechanic schematics for the stage lived. Mechanics? What do you mean? Why would a stage need crazy machines? Well, part of the audience, from about row 6 to row 1, can be moved underneath and replaced with more stage, for artists who wish to interact with the crowd. The stage can be totally transformed–the guide told us there had even been A POOL onstage at one point. A POOL!

After Le Quai, we grabbed a snack at a little boulangerie (bakery). I had a kougin-amman, a roll pastry made of croissant dough and covered in sticky caramel. It’s seriously delicious. Our stomachs satisfied, we headed to the other side of the river to visit the big cathedral in the center of town.

Unfortunately, I only got to see a bit of the cathedral because I had to go to Orange, the local phone plan provider. I needed to get a French SIM card and data plan for my phone, which should have been relatively simple. It was not. I went to Orange with one of the teachers, only to be told she needed her passport for identification. So we went all the way back to the group, where luckily one of the other teachers had her passport. Then we went alllll the way back to Orange, where we finally purchased a plan. Ugh. Then we only had ten minutes for lunch!

But it’s all sorted out now, and we went to the Chateau d’Angers after anyway. The Chateau was magnificent, and our hard work walking all around it was rewarded with granitas (think slushy) and ice cream.

We also visited the gallery where the work of sculptor David d’Angers is. It was pretty cool but the building was crazy hot.

Overall, a successful day in Angers.

See you in the next post,

Elle