For anyone who is interested, the application for the 2009-2010 Assistantship Program in France is now up. Even if you are not keen on France, there are English assistant programs in Spain, Austria, Germany, Japan, China, South Korea, Finland, and just about any country where English is not the first language. All you have to know is how to speak English! This has been one of the best choices of my life and I would recommend it to anyone who is young and looking for an adventure. Some people have told me they’re jealous of my time here, but there’s no reason everyone can’t do the exact same thing. Sure, it’s stressful at times, but overall it’s a rare opportunity to live in a foreign country and get outside your comfort zone.
Last Saturday, I went to Montélimar with the Happy People 26, a group of French and internationals who do fun things together. Montélimar is pretty close to Valence and we took a small fleet of cars. I road with a Brazilian guy who listened to loud Samba music the whole way and almost drove off the road because he was singing and dancing.
The first stop was a nougat museum. Well, less a museum than a short tour advertising the nougat you could soon buy in the gift shop. Montélimar is pretty much associated with and best known for its nougat. Nougat is a candy that comes in white or pastel colors depending on flavor and consists of honey, egg whites, sugar, and almonds or other nuts. The highlight of the museum was an entire room that was one artist’s recreation of a bee hive. All the bees had separate outfits based on their status and profession in the hive (there were even unemployed bees, watching television). Above is the regal queen bee with her toy terrier. There was also some odd bee buzzing music. The artist must have spent hours on end creating the whole thing and I fear for his or her sanity.
After the museum we ate pizzas (mine was eggplant) and then walked around the town. Nougat was everywhere. Above, you can see a terrifying nougat mural with a giant girl and flying almonds. I think she looks like something that would come to life in a Ghostbusters movie. To get an idea of how big this is, try to find the cat sitting on the nougat bar on the bottom of the photograph. That is the same size as your average domestic kitty.
The best thing in Montélimar (in my opinion) had nothing to do with nougat. There was an automaton bear in the street blowing bubbles. I think it was an advertisement, but this did not diminish how amazing it was. There were even balloons with his image on them. I hear that he’s going to be in Valence for Noel and I am thrilled and I’m sure to be just as annoying as I was when I first saw him.
After walking past the bubble bear several times, we went up to the château des Adhémar. It was very pretty and had a great view of Montélimar. It also had a bizarre modern art installation. One was actually good and had large scale photography and a ring of chairs with footsteps playing in headphones. The other was kind of weird and the artist seemed to have an obsession with arsenic. There were a lot of chemical equations on the walls and a table full of the stereotypical chemistry tools.
I’ll end with a photo from Valence. Me and Lauren, an English assistant from Canada, went on a walk along the river and saw this tiny ship marooned by the houseboats. We also later walked across a muddy field thinking it was going to lead somewhere. It lead to a farmer’s backyard. Oh well, mud always comes out. This past weekend I went to a wine tasting festival and tasted so many delicious wines, chocolates, more nougat, cheese, and truffle oil. I will write about that soon.