19 January 2011

the first wednesday of 2011

count01wednesday. in france, if you are in an elementary school student, that means you’re free. if you’re a teacher or anybody connected to an elementary school, you’re free. because in france, wednesday is a no school day for les ecoles primaires.

wednesday morning is also the time for apparently the best (and largest) market in the area, le neubourg. everybody keeps telling you about how magnificent it is and how you must go.

but you’re in a lycee. a high school. so you work. you’ve never been. and you don’t think you’ll ever get a chance.

except, in lovely france, it isn’t unusual for students to be en stage (interning) or en grève (on strike) or mysteriously cancelled for some unknown reasons.

count02which is exactly what happened two weeks ago.

your classes that day are cancelled. you’re not sure if you’ll ever get another free wednesday.

you excitedly call up the boulanger and ask, “on peut aller a la marche de le neubourg!? je ne travaille pas ce mercredi! on peut y aller!? on peut!?

can we go to the market at le neubourg? i’m not working this wednesday! can we go!? can we!?

and he’s more than happy to say yes.

count03what makes this market different is the live animals. and sadly, since it’s winter, the boulanger explains that you’ll only see birds today.

to see the rest – cows, pigs, sheep – you’ll have to come again in the spring.

chouqthen, with possibly the cutest french four year old you’ve ever met, you snack on some chouquettes.

they make you as happy as american donut holes. except, other than that the childhood giddiness you feel, they’re nothing alike.

chouquettes are empty cream puffs. rolled in big specks of coarse sugar. then baked.

pillows with a crunch is the best way to describe them.

count04it’s still slightly frozen in normandy.

count05but your favorite donkey is out, as usual.

count06the quintessential normandy winter color combination is: green, brown, and white.

count07it is always the animals who give life to a landscape.

count08then, you arrive chez le boulanger. and the dog who never sits still greets you.

count09and you finish your journée à la campagne (day in the countryside)with yet another galette de rois.

of all the travelling you do, it really is nice to have some simple moments in normandy to balance everything out.

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