18 May 2004

Choirs in France I.

On our first day in France, our flight was late landing at Charles de Gaulle, the plane sat around for a while before going to the gate, and it took us an hour to get our bags. Eventually, we all had bags and Euros. The moving walkways we took down to the ground floor to meet our tour guide and bus driver were the odd. They go up and down, not like an escalator, but gently sloping to your destination. I've never seen anything like it before. Our tour guide was Chantal, and the driver was Sylvan. Chantal told us that the reason why everything took so long at the airport was that there was a strike; apparently, striking is a national sport in France. The choir piled onto the bus, and we headed to our first stop: Rouen.

The first thing I noticed was that, like everywhere outside America, the cars were very small, and pickup trucks didn't seem to exist. The second thing I noticed was that I was very tired, so I took a nap. As we neared Rouen, Chantal started to tell us about Jeanne d'Arc and her Rouen connection, and a little about the cathedral there. We walked through the Gothic cathedral and saw the graves of some English kings (like Richard the Lionhearted).

We were let loose on Rouen for a little under an hour. Most of us went to the square where St. Joan was burned. There is a relatively new church there, the style of which is a bit unusual. I didn't spend much time inside, but I did buy a postcard.

Normandy is a bit like the state of Washington in that it's famous for it's apples and apple products. It's also famous for dairy production. The first thing I bought in France after postcards was a stick of apple-sugar candy. I didn't like it much, but it was worth a try. At dinner I also had a go at the hard apple cider, but only a few sips. The general consensus of the table was that it tasted a bit like beer only more fruity, and I don't like beer at all. I knew that if I ordered anything else alcoholic in France it would have to be wine. To be fair, the cider went pretty well with the salad crudite and chicken a la Normandie that we had for dinner. Most of us retired early that night, though my roommates and I did watch a little television first: The Man in the Moon, in French. It was a strange movie in English, and even weirder in a foreign language. We could only stand a few minutes of that before we decided to hit the sack and prepare for the next day's trip to Mont St. Michel.

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