This post is long overdue! I had written it earlier and was not able to upload it, because my last week in Tours, I was both sick and running around everywhere trying to make the most of my last week.
My fifth week in Tours progressed as normal class-wise. My classes had picked up the pace a little bit, and my instructors really pushed us along a little more. I liked this better because it is always easier to catch on to what you don’t understand than to be stuck in the grammatical details. Hearing the grammar used in example sentences or conversation greatly helps me. However, even though my class was a little more challenging, I wish that we did more speaking exercises. Since a few weeks earlier we had an oral comprehension focused week, I know that most of my improvement comes from speaking a lot.
This week, I also immersed myself more deeply in the gastronomic things that Tours had to offer. I went to different restaurants and markets for lunch, trying new things, but also sometimes packing my own lunches of baguette, cheese (camembert), arugula, and salami. There are many popular and inexpensive sandwich shops that students frequent. One interesting place that I visited for lunch was called Mamie Bigoude, which had very dolled-up and kitschy decorations. A lot of people recommended it to me, and the crepe selection did not disappoint. There are a lot of good restaurants in Place Plumereau (which is a giant restaurant/bar area near the Institut) that serve a variety of crepes, burgers, and salads. There are also fast food places that are the equivalents of our Chipotle and Blaze Pizza.
I asked my host mother and some other adults what traditional Tours food was like. The majority of responses included goat cheese (chevre), which the region is known for, and Touraine wine. Often times, meals at home begin with a salad and perhaps other finger-food appetizers, proceed into the entree, and end with a cheese plate and dessert.
Friday of my fifth week, I also visited Chateau de Villandry with a few of my friends from the Institut! It is fairly close to Tours, and my friend’s host mother offered to drive us, which was very kind of her. Villandry is on the smaller end of the chateaus in the Loire Valley, but it has very large, beautiful gardens. We spent perhaps 45 minutes looking around the house, but nearly 2 hours strolling around the grounds.