I’m back from an adventurous week in Pau! The word “adventurous” may seem misplaced when writing about such a tiny city as Pau but my week was filled with so much discovery, it seems offensive to call it anything but. As I mentioned in my last post, my company sent me to live with a French family in the South of France for a full immersion in culture and language. You may find this hard to believe however I spoke nothing but French for the entire week. It was exhausting but extremely enriching and I discovered a curiosity for languages that I love to conquer. I was so lucky to be hosted by a wonderful family who were hospitable, generous and extremely comfortable to be around. My days consisted of intensive private one-on-one French classes followed by a lot of homework, it felt like being back in school! The teaching methods are very effective as they do not follow the typical text book style. Instead, the teacher will begin by creating everyday conversation and through these conversations will highlight learning gaps so rather than follow a set curriculum which may end up being repetitive, we really focused on what I needed to improve and I learned so many new expressions, words and rules.
My home for the week was a quaint house set high up in an area called Jurançon, only a 15 minute drive from downtown Pau and at an altitude of almost 300m. Pau is set in the South Western part of France and there is a remarkable difference between there and Paris. The people are incredibly nice, the air is so fresh and the sunrises and sunsets are something out of a dream. How lucky was I to wake up to a view like this every morning. On a clear day, I could even see the Pyrenees mountains majestically outlined against the winter sky. Jurançon, is apparently well known for its wines. It produces a dry white wine and a more sought after sweet white wine. We passed vineyards as we meandered our way through the area several times that week. Although the plantations are dry and bear no fruit in the winter season, the sight of the vineyards stretching mile after mile into the sunset over the Pyrenees was a sight to behold.
I indulged in a lot of good food last week. Here are a few pictures of some of the baking my host mum did. Notice the club sandwich with a heart… a total coincidence and a true expression of her kindness and generosity. The flat white cake you see (store bought) is called Le Russe It is a flat cake, usually rectangular, filled with a praline cream and covered in a layer of icing sugar. It is quite creamy on the inside and has a slightly crunchy/chewy base, somewhat like a macaron. It was delicious, especially the second day out of the fridge!! It’s too bad it can only be found in two cities in all of France!
Last week made me realize how much there is to discover in France for its diverse richness of cuisine, people, architecture and landscape. If I’m going to stick to my resolution of discovering at least 10 new places this year, i need to start moving fast!