a review of my sixth week in tours, france

“Je m’en vais chercher un grand peut-être // I go to seek a Great Perhaps” – François Rabelais

Batiment Rabelais // The Rabelais Building

I did not know what I was going to find at the Institut de Touraine, except for maybe a little French. At the end of six weeks, I can say that my time here came to an end much more quickly than I expected, and while I was busy with classes, going to the local nursing home to engage with residents, having dinner with my host family, and exploring Tours, I really only scratched the surface of the wonderful French culture. I’m glad I got to go to some areas outside of Tours, and I really would have liked to visit more, but there is so much to see and experience that it really would take a lifetime to do it all. Going back home and back to campus, I will miss the easily accessible markets, beautifully manicured gardens, and the riverside hang outs that became the basis of my daily routine. I wish I could take all of the things I loved about the last month and a half back home with me, but I don’t think my checked bag is large enough, so I’ll bring all of my experiences with me and all of the progress I made in French. There has definitely been an increase in my confidence in French conversations in and out of class after these weeks of immersion; I am much more at ease with using slang and the common phrases that the native speakers use and I’ve finally figured out exactly what kind of sandwich and pastry I like to get for lunch from the boulangerie around the corner.

From a market…
… in a garden…
… by the river.


This past week, we’ve really started covering some more interesting topics about health and society in class, which gave some variation from the more ecological or literary topics that had been the precedent. I was particularly invested in the classes this past week, given that it would be the last time for a while where I would have so much exposure to French and also because I presented on the trafficking of blood plasma between the United States and Europe for my final project. After that, my professor gave us a little more information on the French healthcare system since we are all fairly unfamiliar with it. It’s a system of socialized medicine meaning that everyone’s taxes go into a healthcare fund of sorts to pay for medical expenses. Ideally, no one has to pay for out of pocket medical costs at public hospitals and clinics, but it is subject to lots of abuses that have put the country in debt over the past few years. More privatized insurance policies are coming to the forefront like in US medical care, but at the base French residents need only the carte vitale (a card with your health information and any supplementary insurance policies) for going to the doctor or picking up a prescription. We also talked about the issue of homelessness (les SDF: sans domicile fixe) in France. Just as with most cities, there were quite a few homeless people in Tours, and while I’m not very educated on the systems that care for the homeless in the States, I think both countries are on the same page. That is to say, there are programs that exist to care for people living on the streets, but they are few and far between and don’t always effective in their attempts to address this problem. So I’ve been learning about more than just french in class, and I really enjoy now being able to use a more technical vocabulary when talking about complex topics.

My dome away from home 🙂

As I’m finally getting acclimated to life in France, it feels harder to leave, but I’m excited to get back to friends, family and my French classes at Notre Dame and share the perspectives I’ve gained and greater understanding of the French language.

I was not ready for this picture or my last day at the institute


Au revoir ! // Until we meet again!

Last Week in Tours

It is my last week in Tours. And I would not call it a good week.

On Tuesday, when my host dad was repairing the wall in the garden, the drill hit something on the other side of the wall and pierced into his left hand.  I did not see the whole scene, but when they came back to the house, my host mom was pale. They went to the hospital immediately and my host dad came back quickly with his right hand wrapped in bandages. Therefore, we did not talk much during dinner. However, what I learnt from my host dad was that the health care system in France covers all the cost. I was amazed by the system because it was so different from the ones in the States and in China. My host brother is entering his last year in med school, he told me that the examinations for med school were competitive, and they took a “grand examen” at the end of the school year. He had taken five already, and once he finished with the sixth one, he would work in a hospital depending on his scores. As a med student, he told me the other side of the health care system. When he “fait un stage” (internship in France), he was somehow irritated by those who exploited the system. “People just went in without any problems, they just wanted to ‘waste’ the money of the tax payers, and they did that,” he complained.

On Thursday, my host mom had a liver problem so she went to the hospital for a quick operation, which, of course, costed her nothing. However, she did not have the strength to talk with us, so my host dad jokingly commented that they were both handicapped.

On Friday, it was the final day. When the class ended, I said farewell to all of the classmates, and wished them a bright future. It was a bit sentimental. When I wondered about the town with my friends for the last time, and when my host parents drove me to the train station, knowing that it was probably the last time I  could see them, I couldn’t help but cry. Anyway, no matter how enjoyable my summer in Tours was, it had to end. Everything has an end. I have to come back to Notre Dame and continue mon école, but it will stay in my memory forever.

Au revoir et bonne chance mes amis!

Cultural Excursion: Notre Dame de Paris

Paris, the capital of France, is also the capital of history, arts and literature. I had already written a blog on the national day and the world cup in Paris, but I think it is necessary to write another one specifically for my cultural experience in this city. 

  1. Notre Dame de Paris in general: Bearing the same name as our university, Notre Dame de Paris enjoys its renown as the epitome of gothic cathedrals. I paid the visit of this grandiose architecture when I came to Paris for the first time. Coincidentally, my friend Elaine Chen (Yanlin Chen), who happened to be another SLA recipient, was in Paris at the same weekend. As I got to the entrance of the cathedral, a long queue has already formed. By the entrance, I could already see the flying buttress, and the stained glasses reflecting the rayons of the blinding sunlight. When we got into the cathedral, there was a French mass going on. We weren’t able to comprehend so we chose to walk around and appreciate the beauty of the interior. Besides some little chapels dedicated to various saints, an exhibition on the history of Notre Dame de Paris was held at the ambulatory. The great monument was completed (mostly) in the second half of thirteenth century, and therefore set the standard of a new architectural style—-gothic. However, during the French Revolution, when the poor rallied against emperor and the catholic church, the monument was destroyed as being the symbol of catholicism. In nineteenth century, thanked to the great French writer Vitor Hugo, who was inspired by the decrepitude, who wrote the book Notre Dame de Paris (Hunchback at Notre Dame), bringing the once splendid architecture back to the public attention. Thus, the restoration of the cathedral took place in nineteenth century.
Notre Dame Cathedral at first glance
A closer look at the statues of biblical figures

2. Flying Buttress: one of the most outstanding features of gothic cathedral is their flying buttress. Before the gothic period, the romanesque style dominated. Since the romanesque architecture mainly used the walls and the vaults to sustain the whole construction, its wall was immensely thick so as to bear the force of the vaults and ceilings. As a result, the vaults had to be perfectly a semicircle made by wedge-shaped stones, otherwise the distribution of weight would be uneven, and thus leading to the collapse of the vaults. However, the gothic architect invented the flying buttress, which sustain the whole architecture from the outside, allowing the monument reached a greater height. Moreover, the delicate carvings on the flying buttress made it not only practical, but also an important decoration of the architecture as well.

Flying buttress.

3. Stained Glasses: The stained glass is another creation of the gothic style. Due to the thick walls, the romanesque architectures were not able to apply much decoration on their windows. In fact, they usually had tiny windows. However, flying buttress freed the wall from the burden of sustaining the weight, allowing novel inventions on the windows.

La France est un pays laïque // Secularism in France

A review of my fifth week in tours, France

“L’État chez lui, l’Église chez elle // The State to one side, the Church to the other” – Victor Hugo

I arrived to France with the notion of Catholicism being the major influence on the culture. To an extent, I was right: there are more churches in Tours alone than in some dioceses in America. Lucky for me, I don’t have to walk too far Sunday morning to find a mass, which gives me a few extra minutes for my grasse matinée (essentially, sleeping in). France is a country that is extremely proud of its history, of which the Church plays a major role. Feast days are the basis for many of the national holidays and Sundays are a day of rest when just about everything is closed. However, religion itself is considered a very taboo topic. So much so that it’s illegal to wear any religious sign in a public place which gave way to a scandal a few years ago: a Muslim woman was forced by police to take off her hijab she was wearing at the beach. This is a representation of the extremes of the “secularism” which presented itself as religious intolerance in the wake of terrorist attacks.

La laïcité was a common topic of discussion in class and was explained by my teacher to be one of the greatest achievements of the French society inspired by the spirit of the Revolution and the Lumières which rejected the influence of Christianity (specifically Catholicism) because it was embedded into a monarchy that the French were not too content with. This mentality seems to rest as a protective measure against any possible chance that the same situation could resurface. For example, in public grade schools, any possible reference to religion is banned. If you want your children to be able to express a religious identity, they have to go to a private school (usually Catholic).


This engrained practice of secularism makes for a very different perspective of faith from the one that we have in the states. It seems to me to be more of a freedom from religion than a freedom of religion. This may be too much speculation of this cultural observation, but I think it’s the negative connotation that comes with religion that results in a 80% professed Catholic with only 5% among them who practice and attend mass regularly. France has some of the most elaborately decorated and architecturally complex Churches, but when Sunday comes around, a lot of them are very empty.

I know this can be a controversial topic, but it plays a huge role in France’s culture. So on a lighter note… I took advantage of this second to last week in France to bike a grand total of 24 miles to Villandry, a chateau along the Cher river which has some of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen. Being in the Loire Valley, I’m fortunate enough to have easy access to many chateaus by bike, train, or bla-bla car (which is a ride sharing program). Like the many churches, the numerous chateaus are an important part of France’s patrimoine (heritage) and frequently have vineyards, as well. History and wine, what’s not to love about French castles??


À la semaine prochaine ! // See you next week!

Tours Week 4

It was incredible how quickly the happy hours passed. I had already been in Tours for one month, with only two weeks left! According to the tradition of the institute, we would be reorganized into different classes of different levels once a month. Therefore, this week was my last week with my classmates. Also, since the majority of the students in my class were leaving by the end of the week, we cherished our last week with each other. One of my best friends in the institute was also leaving on Friday afternoon, who didn’t get a chance to visit any chateau at La Loire, so we decided to ride to one of closest chateau—- chateau d’Amboise —- as our last excursion together.

Before I touch on the sentimental side, I will first introduce the beautiful and historically famous Loire Valley. The Loire Valley includes the town in the middle area of the longest river in France, La Loire. The early history of La Loire could be traced back to two thousand BC, when the Gauls first inhabited alongside the river for trades. Also, the valley was once the center of French monarchical rules, where a lot of great chateaus stands out against the sky, showing the once extravagant and glorious life of the French kings. The royal past gave the valley its name “la vallée des rois” (the valley of the kings). Though the French revolution that rallied against monarchy had led to the destruction of several, and the transformation of many into schools and prisons, some of the most grandiose survived with solemnity, spectating the rise and fall of human history.

“Profitez du soleil,” my host parents always told us. That was exactly why we headed out at 1:00 p.m., bearing the dazzling sunlight and 95 degree weather. On our way to Chateau d’Amboise, we first followed the main road; but later, when we saw the trod winding down to the shore of the river, lured by the nature, we abandoned the main road. My friend was an adept rider: within half an hour, she had filled her bucket with wild flowers. We also saw some strawberry farms on our way, but the price of picking the fresh strawberries deterred us. As I wrote in the first line, the happy hours flew quickly—- when we figured out we were in no way near the right path, two hours had gone since we started the journey, long enough for us to reach the chateau by that time. After checking the google map, we decided to totally abandon our plan, and explore more in the little town laying ahead of our unexpected journey. Luckily, though there weren’t many residence in the town, we were able to find a catholic church (since France has a lot of catholics), where a wedding was holding. And then, the time was getting late, and we had to return. On our way back, there were a few vineyards (oh, by the way, the Loire Valley is also known for its wines!) environed by clusters of wild flowers. Unfortunately, the vineyards were closed, but we were able to at least enjoy the scenery.

la beauté est dans la rue

La Gastronomie

France is the country for foodies.  

  1. La bouchée à la reine : la bouchée à la reine is my favorite french dish. When my host parents had to leave for a soirée and couldn’t dine with us, my host mom made us la bouchée à la reine. The word “bouchée” originally refers to the kind of pastry with sweet filling. However, la bouchée à la reine is rather savory. With the modifier “à la reine”, the bouchée was indeed created by a queen——Marie Leszczynska, the queen of Louise XV——to regain the favor of her husband. La bouchée à la reine consists of pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) on the outside and a mixture of mushrooms cubes, savory chicken fillets and a kind of creme on the inside. Though it had been a while since I ate them, the taste of the combination of the crunchy outside and the soft, buttery inside still lingers in my head. 
    Four bouchée à la rein! Enough for 2 people.

    As a foodie, I asked for “une petite Dégustation” in class one day, and my prof agreed that it would be good to have everyone bring their favorite french desserts and share with the others. Since we didn’t plot on the degustation, four of us brought the tarts, though of different flavors, and three of us brought “éclair.” Therefore, I am going to briefly introduce these two most popular french desserts in my class.  

  2. Les tartes aux fruits: the fruit tarts were the definitely the stars of the degustation. Basing on a pastry base, the fruit tarts are open to variations on the top, including strawberries, lemon, and the “fruits” in general. To be honest, I thought the pastry base was so hard that I almost hurt my teeth, so I didn’t really taste every flavors.
  3. Éclairs: éclair is by far my favorite french dessert. My prof told me that the éclairs were originally only “au chocolat” or “au café”; but later on, since people wanted to expand the scope of this beloved desserts, they experimented on the other toppings, including vanilla, lemons and even strawberries. Technically speaking, éclairs are not hard to make: my host mom said they were just pâte à choux with cream inside and chocolate toppings (she was talking about éclairs au chocolat”). However, it tastes so good that it was given the name “éclair,” originally referring to “lightening,” meaning that it was eaten as fast as the lightening.
top to bottom: les pains au chocolat, les tartes aux fruits/citrons/café, la tarte aux fraises/pommes, l’éclair au café/chocolat.

4. Le petit déjeuner (breakfast): the typical french breakfast includes: tartine, baguette slices with butter and jams; viennoiserie ( croissant, pain au chocolate, pain au raisin); boisson (espresso, cafe au lait, chocolat chaude, thé, jus d’orange presse/pamplemousse presse). As for me, I had the tartine every morning. The way French people carrying baguettes around is very cool too. On every morning, I saw my host mom took out the baguette from her bag, even without a wrapping, and cut the the baguette into slices, and then put it back to her bag. Sometimes on the tram, I saw kids fighting with each other with baguette as swords, without a wrapping either.

left to right, top to bottom: jus de pamplemousse pressé, jus d’orange pressé, café au lait, chocolat chaud.
 left to right: tartine, jus d’orange pressé, café au lait

J’ai eu la chance: La fête nationale et La coupe du monde, tous dans le deuxième weekend.

“Paris est une fête.” —- Ernest Hemingway.

Though I knew nothing of soccer, I knew that the french team advanced to the semifinal. My host dad said “tu as la chance” (you have the chance) since French people weren’t very passionate (as germans) about the world cup until they saw the possibility of actually winning it. It was just my second week in Tours and I was able to see the nationalism of French people, which manifested rarely. On Tuesday, it was France playing against Belgium. In the early afternoon, people dressing up in the color of France ( blue, white and red 🇫🇷), started to march down the major road in Tours——la rue nationale. Sharp at 6:45, I headed out with another student in the house; Tours was not a large city, so when we got to the “Place Plum,” it was almost 7:00 p.m., but the placed had already been filled by people. Arriving one hour before the game started, we were able to find a good spot to sit on the road and not be trampled by the passer-bys. When the game started, all the roads were blocked by people, and when we wanted to go stand up and buy some food during the game, désolée, we had to step on people. Due to my ignorance of the soccer players and the rules, all I knew was “on est en finale” (France advanced in the final round). 

the celebration in the street
people taking over a fire engine

At lunch table, as I heard my host parents discuss over “le feu d’artifice à la Tour Eiffel,” I suddenly realized “j’ai eu la chance” : how could there be a better way to spend my weekend than celebrating la fête nationale (July 14) by watching the fireworks at the Eiffel tower on Saturday night, and cheering for the victory of French national football team on Sunday? It was a spur of moment thing, but I bought the train ticket to Paris right away.

Before “le feu d’artifice,” it was a classical concerts with a lot of renown French musicians and orchestras. Though the roads were entirely blocked by people, picnicking with my Chinese friends in front of the Eiffel tower was still refreshing. Immersed myself entirely in French (with the depart of Ana, I made friends with people who only spoke French), I all of a sudden figured out how easy it was to talk without conjugations, placing objects before verbs and making accordance of tenses. We waited for three hours until the clock finally hit 11. The party started. The theme of the year was “Amour” (Love). Starting with Carmen, the firework at the Eiffel tower was truly an incredible scene to look at. I’ll let the pictures speak of itself.


Right on the next afternoon, the world cup final started. After a short visit of la maison de Victor Hugo (the house of Victor Hugo), I went into a bar at Bastille. People had already started chanting Marseille with exuberance two hours before the final. As we all knew, the french team won the world cup, so the french people ran lunatics: people screaming in the streets, dancing on the cars, jumping in la seine etc. It was fun to watch all those clam and elegant Parisians go wild out of ecstasy.

Parisien went wild

On my way back to Tours, I reflected on all the coincidence that led up to this incredible weekend: j’ai eu la chance to receive the SLA grants, arrive in France when the French team winning the four-year-a-time world cup, the national day happens to be the day before France won the world cup.

Tours Week 1

When I arrived in France, it welcomed me with rail strikes, about which I had received several traveling alerts. Due to “La grève SNCF” (société nationale des chemins de fer français), the two-hour train from the airport to Gare de Tours was prolonged to four hours, raising the cost to 70 euros. On the train to Tours, at first the announcement was in both French and English; but soon, it was only in French, which was incomprehensible to me at that point (though I took French for one year, the crew spoke too fast and the liaison made the announcement hard to understand). Therefore, when I transferred in a little town in southern France, I was not able to confirm whether I took the right train heading to Tours or I got on the the wrong one taking me to some placesunknown to me. Luckily, I arrived in the Gare at 5:35p.m. and my host family had already waited me there for half an hour. Before I actually lived with a French family, I thought taking the intensive courses for a year would have prepared me well at least for the daily conversation. However, when I actually facing my gentle host parents, I found myself deaf and mute. With fatigues and frustrations, I didn’t get jet lag on first night in France, but I was worried for the classes starting on the next day.

On the second day of school, I met Ana, my classmate at Notre Dame, who had been in Tours for seven weeks. Since she knew everything well in the city and the institut, I profited from her familiarity—-on the second day of school, also my third day in France, I went to La Guinguette, the bar by La Loire. It was actually chill; all we did was sitting by the shore and talking in French (though I listened and pretended I understand most of the time).

Thanks to Ana, I also befriended with a Japanese girl named “Kae” from the institute (the girl who held the camera in the picture above). It was probably due to the popularity of L’institut de Touraine in north america, I arrived with some more than a hundred english speakers from Canada and US. It was not a huge institute, so the students there were predominantly english speakers, and it was so easy to just hang out with the Americans but one did not come to France to speak English. Therefore, when I befriended with Kae, who couldn’t speak English at all, I was forced to speak French all the time (not really, sometimes people in my class talked in English), which was a great exercise for me. If I chatted with an English speaker in French, I could easily use a english word hidden in French accent (since english and french share their words), and he/she would understand, but it wasn’t because I knew the correct word in french, but because he/she knew that english word. So when I talked to a non-English speaker, I had to find another way to explicate, and there was no switch between english and french.

My first week had gone fast: I just got over the jet lag, made some new friends and that’s it!

New Friends and New Cheeses

I have discovered that time works differently in France. What I mean to say is that over a week has gone by and it feels like it was just yesterday that I arrived in Tours, yet it also feels as though I’ve lived in France for months. I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time and have met so many different people, not to mention the different types of cheese I’ve tried!

My class is outrageously more advanced than I expected. As I fumble with words and continuously fret over correctly conjugating irregular verbs, my peers engage in insightful discussions about current events. Before this experience I had never even met a Swiss man or a Norwegian woman, but now I am (fiercely attempting) to discuss the independence of Catalonia with a Spanish diplomat and Brexit with a British philosophy professor. Debating with individuals who are experiencing these events first hand offers incredible insight. Not to mention that these discussions are all in French. IN FRENCH!! Although I find myself rather frustrated many times, seeing as I fervently want to participate, yet I am not always able to fully articulate my complex thoughts.

My participation this week has mainly consisted of eager head nodding and one on one discussions (which offers a much more relaxed setting than an entire class of incredible people hearing me fumble). Whenever I do raise my hand in class (which is still quite frequent despite the occasional embarrassing not-being-able-to-express-myself), I’ll start off with one or two beautifully phrased sentences which I had spent the past 5 minutes preparing and then end up blabbering off into an abyss of too many ideas and not enough time to figure out what verb in French I need to use to express them clearly.

Despite the sometimes-maddening language limitations, I have learned so much from the discussions, both linguistically and academically. Not only that, but I am amazed at how wide the world is. I have met so many interesting people with different ambitions and worldviews. I met a Japanese art teacher who was going to study law at the Sorbonne this fall, I met a Russian housewife with a brilliant French accent, I met a Taiwanese lawyer passionate about environmental issues and so many more. I would never think I had anything in common with a Taiwanese chef, yet I have been able to bond and learn we all share some passions; the one thing all my classmates and I have in common is our love of the French language.

Whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed by the incredible (and fast-paced) classes, my host mom offers me great encouragement. This Thursday she had a guest over and kept telling him how proud she was of my progress so far. Over a piece of bread and some goat cheese, I humbly thanked her and tried to follow the conversation she was having with her guest. I am proud to announce that understand nearly all of it!

                                        Me and my host mom enjoying some Brie, Emmental,                                 Goat Cheese and Mozzarella (yes, I am very happy here)

Mangez biologique, c’est chic !

A review of my fourth week in tours, france

“If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.” – Remy, Disney/PIXAR’s Ratatouille

I met a real, French chef! 3 Michelin stars!! (jk lol)

I’ve passed the halfway point of my time in France, and with only two weeks left, I’m doing my best to appreciate my local favorites (crêperies, boulangeries) and engage in as much conversation as possible. What I’ve really started to notice this past week is the importance of la nourriture biologique (organic food) and a much more pronounced concern for the environment in general. But this post, I’m going to focus on the food part. Eating biologique, or bio for short, means not using pesticides and keeping your produce purchases local, respecting the season of each food. For example, when I arrived, all of the open-air markets were selling strawberries as it was nearing the end of the strawberry season. Now, when I pass by the fruit stands, the strawberries have been replaced by nectarines and peaches. Of course, the larger grocery stores follow the same track as those in America and import fruits from around the world to keep customers happy. However, the mass-produced, oversized strawberries in the coolers in January definitely pale in comparison to the brightred little berries in wooden boxes that the French go crazy for in May and June.

You say tomato, I say la tomate
A rainbow of peppers!








This past Sunday after mass at Sainte Jeanne d’Arc, I met a woman who worked at the open-air market close to my apartment while I was on the hunt for a jar of honey to bring back home. When I started asking her about the different products she sold (which included several cooking oils, tizanes (herbal teas) and herbs and the honey I was searching for), she explained that everything fell into the category of “organic”. In fact, it was a super small organization of 9 farmers from the region of the Loire which ensured that everything they sold was from less than 40 km away. The vendor compared her smaller selection of produce to that of the other larger stands which have produce from all over. “You can’t always be sure where you’re getting your food, and doesn’t taste as good.” this surprised me because I’d assumed all of the food sold at the open-air markets automatically meant it was local. I guess when I think about it, I did see some stands with avocados and I have yet to hear of avocado farms in France. She added, “even though you have to pay more, the taste of organic, hearty food is better and you don’t have to eat as much to feel full.” She pulled out her wholegrain bread from her shopping bag to show me and said, “I got this from the cart right over there and it’s complet (wholegrain), so it lasts me about a week. I go through a regular baguette a lot faster otherwise.” The production and sale of these organic, local food items is a full time job and passion for many, especially once you get into these market settings where (most of) the produce is from local farms. I think the emphasis on good food that has a good flavor is really emphasized because of France’s traditional affiliation with gourmet cuisine.

There definitely were not any vampires at this fair

This past week I discovered an open-air market particular to Tours: the foire à l’ail (the garlic fair). It only happens one day of the year, and it was one of the hottest days so far (I think we got to 100 F, but anyway…). The streets around the place du Monstre (Monster Square, named for the contemporary monster statue placed in the middle of a row of trees) were lined with produce stands selling, as you probably guessed, garlic. There were lots of other things for sale, too, and stores in the area took the opportunity to advertise their own wares, garlicky or not. The newest, hottest products added to the fair were chili peppers (also basil, but my pun works better if it’s just chilis). My classmate, Catriona, and I were offered cheese from one of the vendors on the street as we searched for refuge from the sun of the awnings over the stands. I took this opportunity to ask this français about this garlic festival and, of course, enjoy some free cheese in the shade. He explained that garlic was the orignal and more traditional item because it’s grown in the Touraine region, basilique (basil) and piments (chili peppers) come from the south of France where climates are warmer. Since it’s their season as well, and farmers want to reach more of the population, chili and basil plants have started to make an appearance over the last few years. While this fair isn’t strictly local or bio, I thought it was another good example of France’s appreciation of the food it produces.

The chilis really spice up this picture

In the classroom, we stick more to the fundamentals of what it means to have organic food in France. That along with ecological concerns has been a major subject of discussion over the past week. The two definitely become interwoven when pesticides and overproduction are brought up. Food is everything in France and many are worried with just how much their agriculture is affecting their health and that of the rest of the environment. This is the driving factor behind the move towards organic and local foods and the creation of the AB (agriculture biologique) label in 1985 to certify that the food meets certain standards like no pesticides or GMOs.

So I have two weeks left and I’ve since moved up to level C1 in my classes meaning we are focusing more on advancing conversational skills through understanding cultural references and recent events in France. I haven’t had as much time to focus on a personal journal in French (I was a bit ambitious at the start of the program), but I’m reading more French news sources, engaging in more French conversations, and enjoying more of Tours as my time in France is more and more limited.

Tout mon amitié ! // In friendship!