Lost Again

This is the building I live in. They love the trompe loeil in Valence.

This is the building I live in. They love the trompe l'oeil in Valence.

I’m progressing steadily, although today was a setback in terms of confidence. I was clearly told (although this is now denied) that I didn’t have to ask for the bus to stop in Pont de l’Isere, just La Roche de Glun. So I didn’t…and the bus didn’t stop and I ended up in another town. I asked for help at the high school in that town and someone came to pick me up, but it was really embarrassing and awful for my first day at Pont de l’Isere. This is the second time I’ve been really lost. The first was my very first morning in Valence, when I went for a walk and ended up in another town and was late for a rendez-vous with my “responsable.” She probably thinks I have some sort of mental disorder. Oh well. I don’t often make the same mistake twice. I just hate having to explain my mistake over and over again to everyone I’m working with.

Anyway, besides that, things are pretty good. The above building is La Manu, the foyer where I am living. I’ll take a picture of my room when I’m not drying my laundry everywhere. (The French dryers have low heat settings, alas. I guess I should rejoice in saving energy, though.) There are trompe l’oeils all over Valence, and this is the one on the windowless side of La Manu. Don’t worry, I have a window, and actually have the only railing like the one in front of the guitar player and snowboarder. I don’t really know what’s going on with the people dancing on the left, but they are evidentally in the walkway I photographed earlier.

I am getting along with most of the teachers, although there are a couple who are just accepting my presence and aren’t into the teaching of English. The first day of class is the hardest. Although I’m basically saying my name, age, where I come from, etc., I have to gauge how much English the class actually knows. The blank stares are usually a give away. My last round of first classes is tomorrow. And then I’m going to Geneva on Saturday!

A Penguin Pastry!

A Penguin Pastry!

Above is one of the more amazing things I’ve found. For only 1.80€, I bought this adorable and delicious pastry penguin. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but he had webbed feet, a beak, and eyes. I wanted to buy all ten of his friends, but the sugar contained in his rich chocolate filled head alone multiplied by 10 would have made me regret that. Usually, the animal pastries are disappointing, but this was an incredible exception. And it was a penguin! I think I have chosen my favorite patisserie in Valence. Plus, the woman there is always nice to me and smiles. A rarity sometimes in France. Not the niceness, the smiling. It’s not that they’re not happy, they just don’t show their teeth as much as us Americans.

Speaking of chocolate, I actually went to a chocolate factory yesterday: Valrhona. I was getting a ride from Connie, a woman from Connecticut who has lived in France for 18 years and teaches English here. On the way, she wanted to pick up some chocolate for her daughter’s wedding. The amazing thing about Valrhona is that in the chocolate store, you can sample as much as you want. And you can try everything! I ate too many truffles and then I tried some sort of liqueur filled chocolate and felt like I’d just taken a straight shot of alcohol. Which I covered up with another piece of chocolate. I felt so gluttonous, but it was free and delicious. I might be going back there. In the same town, Tain l’Hermitage, there is wine tasting. That would be a decadent day!

10 thoughts on “Lost Again

  1. Cecilia says:

    I totally gasped out loud when I read that you visited the Valrhona chocolate factory. If only I could get my hands on some of their baking chocolate, my chocolate cakes and whatnot would turn out perfect. It’s like the go-to brand of chocolate for many of the popular food bloggers. I’m super jealous of you right now. Is it pretty expensive? If I come to visit you, you’re taking me to the factory. I’m not buying any other souvenirs from France, just baking chocolate.

  2. Allie says:

    I will mail you some baking chocolate if I find it! The chocolates themselves were pretty reasonably priced, but I don’t remember about the baking chocolate. Are there other French items I should look for and try?

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Your building is amazing!!!! I am sorry to hear you’ve gotten lost–your bus story sounds a lot like the time I rode the subway by myself for the first time. We’re the people that GPS directions systems were made for I think. That penguin pastry is so cute!!! I bet he is delicious. Sometimes I have problems eating my food if it is too cute…

  4. Allie says:

    They need to make GPS watches for us that we can discreetly glance at and make our way through the world. I admit to not eating that penguin pastry immediately. Too adorable. Must be savored.

  5. Cecilia says:

    Have you had a macaron yet? It’s the “IT” pastry of the moment, I believe. Next time you go to Paris, hit up one of Pierre Herme’s bakeries and try one.

  6. Allie says:

    No macaroons yet! I do want to be fashionable, so I will buy one next time I see one. You have the best tips about France!

  7. Sophie says:

    Hey!! I’m Sophie – the old assistant from your schools! I hope you don’t mind, Mandy gave me your blog address. I miss Valence so much!! How is it?!!? wow, i’m so jealous that you’re there! You’re living in La Manu too?! ahhh, I used to live there and totally loved it (although I was a little scared at first!) From reading your blog, I take it you’ve met David?! He’s really lovely! Ok.. sorry I hope you don’t think I’m some crazy person stalking your blog. Hope everything is going well for you and the kids are being nice! X

  8. Allie says:

    Hi Sophie! Good to hear from you. I saw your “What do you like on your sandwich?” video and I envy your control of the class. I guess I’ll get there. I’m getting used to La Manu, finally adventuring around the building and meeting people. What did you do with your free time in Valence? I feel like I have so much free time that my time management skills are breaking down and I get nothing done.

  9. Sophie says:

    Hey again! Sorry, I only just noticed that you sent a reply! How is it all going? Looks like you have visited some amazing places.. and i’m totally jealous of all your snowboarding, I really missing being able to to that at the weekend! I can’t believe Ariane showed you the video of me teaching – im very embarrassed! The kids can get pretty crazy can’t they? I know what you mean about all of the free time, I got into a really bad habbit of spending most of mine in various café’s around Valence – Tasse & Glace in particular, have you been there? Say hello to Manu if you do! Anyway, I hope it’s still going well for you out there!

  10. Allie says:

    It’s still going well and there are finally hints of warmer weather (I hesitate to say warm). The kids can be a little insane for me. Someone got punched in the eye in one of my classes this week.
    I’ve been to Tasse et Glace an embarrassing number of times. However, the cold weather and lack of the CAF has left me spending a lot of time in the free mediatheque or working chez moi. I’ll probably be indulging in some T&G this weekend, though.

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