It’s going well! Class is actually pretty amusing, and my teacher is tough but interesting and very helpful. I’m beginning to notice improvements in my speaking ability. Of course, I’m also beginning to notice how nuanced all the different sounds in French are. Oops. So Tours in French isn’t pronounced like tours in English? Okay. There’s a difference in the sound between la rue and la roue? Okay. I’ve commenced serious work on my vowel sounds.
Life at L’Institut is not all work and no play though. Thursday, we took a trip in the afternoon to see Chanonceau, at chateau in the Loire valley and we also toured a winery. Despite a voluble tour guide and the entire world visiting the castle at the same time as we did, the Crusaders had fun and learned a lot too. Anne de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici built the chateau on a bridge over the Loire, a construction idea I had never seen before. But with all this excursion excitement, I most looked forward to Mont St. Michel on Saturday. An enthusiastic art history major, I had heard so much about the magnificent church precipitously perched atop a small mountain surrounded by the foaming ocean. Now, I finally had a chance to see it.
Waking up before the sun, I boarded the bus and tried to sleep for some of the four-hour bus ride. And without question, the end result was worth my stiff neck and burning eyes. After eating the picnic my French dad packed us, my friends and I ascended the steep slopes of the little mountain, and waited for our tour to begin. The building, breath-taking from far away and up close, mixes Romanesque and Gothic architecture to great effect. Even with our same garrulous, francophone tour guide and excess heat, I loved it. To get a brief repose after a fair share of climbing, our group headed to St. Malo, a popular beachside town situated not too far from Mt. St. Michel. We dined, watched a Michael Jackson impersonator go through five costume changes during his street performance, and walked along the beach. We even found a public bathroom we didn’t have to pay for. Not bad for some St. Malo neophytes.