Fromage in the Countryside

To supplement my wine excursion two weekends ago, I decided to take up my “boss” (Laurent) on his offer to go to the countryside on an overnight adventure to pick up the cheeses. He makes this trip south towards to Swiss border every three weeks to pick up stocks in Munster, Morbier, Raclette, Comté, and Mont d’Or.

These cheeses are all under the control of AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée), which means that they can only be produced in a certain fashion within a designated region of France (or wherever else in Europe). This is a European-based operation to protect against the globalization of food-production especially for French specialties like wine, cheese, and other gastronomic delicacies. While Laurent could simply order these cheeses from their producers directly, he chooses to do some under-the-table work to avoid taxes (something I have found to be a somewhat normal and expected thing to do in France).

You may have never heard of the cheeses I mentioned above if you live in the US. This is because they are all produced with raw milk, which is often prohibited in the United States. You might be saying, “But I have had raw cheese before!” and this may be true. There are some raw cheeses that you can find, especially in farmer’s markets, that are produced in the US. There are also some imported raw cheeses such as AOP Roquefort (only made in France with ewe milk), but I do not know how these cheeses get in to the country while others do not. This is because certain states (twenty-eight, to be exact) allow the sales of raw milk and cheeses, including imported raw cheeses. Interested in more? Check out a wiki article here.

I had notified Laurent that I was planning to come with him this time, so we planned on meeting at his silver refrigerated van at 12:15, just after lunch on Monday. We each brought an overnight bag because it was a long journey and we would need to spend the night at Laurent’s favorite countryside hotel/restaurant. We set off on time towards the South, passing through the large city of Besançon. We had to go the region south of the region where Nancy is (Meurthe et Moselle), which is called Les Vosges. Les Vosges is more or less the equivalent of a county in the US and it is only here where AOP Munster cheese can be made. Unfortunately, the kind producer had not prepared the cheese in time, so Laurent said we would pick it up the next day on the way home.

Next stop led us through the Haute-Vosges (High Vosges Mountains, which are actually not very high at all. However they were still beautiful), where we picked up some Mont d’Or. It was a quick stop, but I got to see the cows on the farm eating their hay. The standards for AOP are so strict that even the type of cow and the food they eat (during a certain time of the year) must be correct in order for the cheese to be considered, in this case, Mont d’Or. Mont d’Or cheese is not produced in the summer, and therefore the cows usually eat hay during their cheese-making season, not fresh grass growing on the ground.

We continued on to a total of 280 km from Nancy to the next region (equivalent to a state in the US), called Franche-Comté, where we went to the next producer’s fromagerie. While the first two producers were farmers (fermiers) who also produced their own cheese (extremely artisan), the next was a laitier, which means she receives milk and/or young cheeses and then she completes the aging process with a team of workers, which is called affinage. She therefore is considered less artisan, which is why we did not buy the Mont d’Or at her establishment; we saved that until our last stop. The owner gave me a quick tour of all the cheeses in affinage and I was able to follow the process and see (and smell) the differences between the many ages of the same type of cheese.

3rd Stop on the journey!

Our last stop of the day was a bit further, which proved to be the most interesting stop of all. There was an order waiting for us at Napiot Fromagerie, which is the family name. The father (Laurent’s friend) is the owner and he works there with his four children (now all in their 20’s and 30’s) and his wife, along with a team of workers. It was dark when we arrived (around 5 pm), so we waited for the owner, Mr. Napiot, to arrive since he had already gotten off work. Along the main road, the family also runs a souvenir shop filled with food from the region such as special sausages, meats, sirup to flavor water, and of course, their very own cheeses. The shop features a small film that shows the process of cheese-making at their fromagerie (which is a latier) just up the road.

When Mr. Napiot arrived, we picked up the cheeses, put it in the van, and then I got to go on another small private tour of the cheese caves (giant refrigerators), where Comté and Mont d’Or cheeses were maturing. The rooms smelled of ammonia, which is what is a byproduct of the fermentation. We even got to see the packaging process for the Mont d’Or, which involves some manpower (or in this case, womanpower) to operate (see photos). The facility as a whole was absolutely enormous! You may notice that, in the pictures, the rooms are ten to fifteen meters high with shelves of cheese that touch the ceilings. The Comté wheels, one meter or so in diameter, are turned over periodically by a €30,000 robotic machine to ensure that they are aging well.

I met Mr. Napiot’s daughter, Claire, in the office that is attached to the main warehouse. I would say she is in her early- to mid-20’s (although I really couldn’t tell). We chatted a bit while Laurent and her father worked the numbers at the desk. In total, Laurent spent €3,500 on cheese, €2000 of which was at Mr. Napiot’s fromagerie.

Later in the gift shop down the road, we all met up again after all the cheese caves had been closed up tight for the night (there had been some recent burglaries there, so the family  was being very cautious). The Napiot family in general was fascinated about where I lived in the US and to hear about the school system there. I explained the main differences and then they graciously gave me some anise liquor to try (from the region) as well as a bag of anise candy (not licorice), the latter of which I really liked (the liquor, not so much– Laurent finished it for me with a huge swig).

With everyone back together, we got in our respective cars and headed to the hotel/restaurant on the side of the road called something to the effect of “Hôtel Fermier” outside the town of Pontarlier. We left our bags in the car to pick up later and continued inside where we convened with the Napiot family for dinner. They are regulars at the restaurant, for Laurent comes every three weeks and does this exact ritual. They have thus become close friends. It is in this way that Laurent serves as an ambassador to Lorraine because he has the chance to travel regularly to villages (as well as through large cities like Besançon) and talk with the farmers and cheese producers. His job, in ways that he may not comprehend, touches the world; although he may not personally take part in exporting these world-famous cheeses, he works with them every day and understands them and their nature the best. In fact, he sees the entire process, from the cows eating the hay in the barn, to the sales receipt he hands his clients in the cheese shop, Laurent and his family live the complete experience and I am lucky to have been invited to take part despite the fact I was absolutely exhausted by this point in the day (it was around 8:00 pm).

During the meal, we talked about the differences between the American and French school systems as well as the economy. The French certainly love their long, 2-hour lunch-hours (during which they often return home to a home-cooked meal), 3-5 weeks of paid vacations in August or July, 35-hour work weeks, and mandatory closed stores on Sundays (and often also Mondays). However, many of them recognize that this relative lack of work may be a contributing factor to the country’s economic difficulty in conjunction with a great host of other problems that are shared by countries around the world. This is why François Hollande (their new president since last May, who many have grown distasteful of) has been pushing for a 40-hour work week in order to “catch up,” so to speak, with the world.

I then changed the subject towards Claire, who sat there quietly the whole time. I asked what her plans were considering her future and she explained that she would take part in maintaining the fromagerie. She then expressed her desire to go to live in LA or NYC for a few months. “To do what?” I asked, and she responded, “To work in a bar or something…”

Her mother’s face wrinkled with disgust, but Clair continued: “I have always wanted to be an actress,” she added. Mrs. Napiot could stand it no longer as she interjected, “What an awful thing to do.”

I tried to soften the situation by adding the fact that everyone has their dreams. Claire agreed, “Yes, mom, it’s just a dream.” I could tell that this was not some silly dream of hers, however. She stared at her glass of wine with unfocused eyes, daydreaming for a few minutes after admitting her childhood fantasies to her parents. For many, coming to America is still a dream, even if it’s to work in a bar and attempt to become an actress. It made such an impression on me that this young woman was expressing this at the table in front of her parents, obviously for the first time in her life, and that this should rouse discomfort for her parents as if she were actually planning on doing it. Of course, to work in a fromagerie all one’s life may not be considered the most glamorous of jobs, and it certainly does not permit for much vacation time (the Napiots explained that they hardly had any time to spend time in their Ski Chalet in Chamonix). I could see why Claire might have such daring dreams as she searched for something different, something that she thought she understood after twenty-some years of watching American films and television series. It really put things into perspective.

The food came to our table. Claire and I had both ordered the house specialty: “The Hot Box” (La Boîte Chaude). It was an entire Mont d’Or cheese in its AOP-manditaed wooden cylindrical box. Along with this heavy, warm box of melted cheese came cutlets of meat, pickled mushrooms, and a healthy green salad. I was in heaven! (See picture for a visual) Meanwhile, Laurent and Mr. Napiot finished off the bottle of Bordeaux red that accompanied our meal as they ate their respective dishes.

After we were done, we said good-bye to the whole family as they searched their pockets for their cigarettes and lighters. Claire removed the cigarette from her lips to give Laurent and I the classic double kiss (bises) that usually take part in the farewell ritual of the French. I then thanked both her parents with a handshake before Laurent and I retrieved our bags in the van to take inside.

We shared a room that night, him in a double bed and me in a twin by the window. Unfortunately, he fell asleep before me and I stayed up for four hours listening to his unbearable snoring. I recounted life, the day, and my 40-page anthropology thesis I’ll be writing next year (a horror that always keeps me up at night, even without the help of someone’s snoring). I finally fell asleep and we awoke the next morning at 6:15, ate downstairs at 6:30, and then hit the road to pick up the Munster by 7 am. It was still dark out when I stepped outside in the cold rain. On the cars, there was a layer of icy snow that had developed overnight, which made the driving especially difficult for Laurent. Meanwhile, I listened to the radio and noted the songs I enjoyed, notably “Je m’voyais déjà” by Charles Aznavour.

By 9:30 AM, we had retraced our tracks back to the Munster farm where three tubs awaited us. Munster is by far the most stinky cheese in my opinion, so it added a unique odor to the already cheese-scented air of the van, even through the insulated wall that separated the passenger and refrigerated compartments. Within good time, we made it back to Nancy, but I was tired as ever and needed a rest. Laurent dropped me off back at Place Carnot where I thanked him many times for all he had done for me and then I walked home for a nap before my afternoon classes.

What an experience, huh? I’ll remember it forever.

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Last Weekend’s Biodynamic Wine Conference in Colmar, France

Last weekend, I attended a long anticipated biodynamic wine conference in France/Switzerland, just a couple hours away from where I am in here, in Nancy. I  received a research grant from Lewis & Clark College after much toil so that I could join my professor, Deborah Heath (an anthropologist whose work concerns the study of agricultural practices in the domain of French, Canadian, and American gastronomy, including foie gras and wine products). What an experience it was! I have to admit, I was a bit “over my head” when it came to the vocabulary, especially since the entire conference was bilingual in either German or French. Regardless, I took a lot away from the conference after observing and listening to the wine producers speak and collaborate over their practices with their sacred grape vines.

Around the turn of the 20th Century, the Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner took an integral part in founding the notion of anthroposophy, which some considered to be almost a cult at the time. Now, it stands as the basis for many of the processes in biodynamic agriculture. This movement was a response to humanity’s trend that led agricultural practices, as well as human intellect, away from an ecological balance. For grape vines for instance, plant cloning had become a prominent method in reproduction. This was ruining the potential to promote biodiversity among the plants in the vineyard, which led to widespread vine diseases such as ESCA. Thankfully, with the help of many intellectuals at the time who founded the principals of anthroposophy (which includes far more than just agriculture: medicine, ethical banking, music, art, and organizational development), biodynamic principals began to be used in the field. Now, producers (if they so choose) can become biodynamic certified, however many choose not to even if they are technically biodynamic. In general, one can think about biodynamics as being MORE than organic, since organic agriculture only dictates what the farmer cannot do in relation to pesticides and preparatory processes. Biodynamics goes a step further in prescribing exactly what should be done to the crops on certain days of the year.

Biodynamic viticulture includes a series of changes that must take place when transforming one’s vineyard from a conventional one. Most of these changes include promoting biodiversity in the vineyard to create resistance to disease, pests, etc. Read more about it on this fascinating method on this website, which is the site for one producer who was at the conference and gave a great presentation on his farm’s work that reaches beyond just wine to create a wholesome polyculture. Although these practices are actually quite old, the renewal and structure of such intellectual ideas in conjunction with anthroposophy is absolutely mind-boggling! I highly recommend reading the links I provided above to better acquaint yourself with these notions. Perhaps you would even be interested in doing some of this in your own garden at home!

Also, take a look at these links:

http://heliotropewines.com/about/the-biodynamic-calendar

http://www.chow.com/food-news/77519/fruit-leaf-flower-or-root-tasting-wine-according-to-the-biodynamic-calendar/

When we weren’t working in workshops with the other vintners and wine affiliates to discuss the processes of cultivation from the time of a seed, we learned about the preparations of the vine. In biodynamic viticulture, these preparations take the place of what one might call “pesticides,” however, many would argue that these preparations do much more than simply ward off vine “predators” with chemicals. These preparations are almost like potions. Each one is brewed and often heated. One must begin stirring at a certain moment in the day (often times just after the first light of the morning sun is seen on the horizon). These preparations can include interesting ingredients like cow manure as well as the bladder of a deer (fun fact: one bladder will be enough to produce preparation for 1000 hectares!). I have included links below to show you some biodynamic vine preparations (each one is listed as a number from 500-507):

http://winemakingnomad.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/biodynamic-wine-viticulture-defined-demystified/

http://www.wineanorak.com/biodynamic2.htm

On the second day of the conference, we went to the famous Goetheanumin Dornach, Switzerland, which is the home of the antroposophical society. Here, we learned about the history of Rudolf Steiner and other historical figures who influenced the movement at the beginning of the 1920’s and beyond. I have included pictures of this beautiful hillside arrangement of unique buildings, all of which reflect the ideals of anthroposophy. I have also included a picture of me at one of the many delicious wine tastings with my professor!

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Catching Up 3/3: It’s cold here in Nancy!

Lastly, I will conclude my three-entry extravaganza with an account of my past week. Although it wasn’t incredibly eventful, I got my hair cut at a hipster coffer (“Carte Blanche Coiffeur”) and applied to the art school next semester in order to spice up my time spent in France.

I had often noticed this unusual shop en route to Place Stanislas that was situated in the old town of Nancy. Carte Blanche’s large floor-to-ceiling window displays a set of punk-hair stylists two chairs, two toilets, and no mirrors. It looked like a great place to get my hair cut! I went in and asked for a haircut the next day at 10:45 in the morning. I was so nervous when I arrived to get my haircut the next day since it was in the morning and speaking French in the morning is truly the worst for me! (I only function well at dinnertime usually, but only when I have spoken French significantly during the day). The guy who washed my hair after taking my jacket had a giant pink mohawk. He sat me down in the chair near the front, where I saw the toilets (not functioning, thank god) filled with hair brushes and scissors. After waiting a while as the other clients finished their appointments,  got to get a feel for the place as other clients came in to prepare themselves for their hair-cutting experience. The next available guy shook my hand, and asked me if it was my first time at the place. My response with my thick French accent (I remind you, it was the morning) marked me as a foreigner who probably barely understood what he was saying. He walked a 360 around my chair while messing with my hair, and then asked, “C’est parti (Shall we begin)?” as he turned on the buzzing electric clippers. Frightened that I would leave the place with another rainbow-colored mohawk, I quickly explained that I would rather he use the manual scissors to cut my hair. I wanted the sides shorter than the top and I was trying to get rid of the curls on the sides without messing with the length of the hair on the top.

“You speak French well,” he added as he began. I think he was a little sad he didn’t get to haze me or something. Nevertheless, I believe my haircut is one of the best I’ve ever received and well worth the 20-euro student pricing! Caitlyn even mentioned today this today during out weekly meeting  with the program director (not that I am always looking for Caitlyn’s approval, but she usually knows what she’s talking about). Of course, I don’t have many pictures yet to give an idea of how it looks, but stay tuned!

Since I am a little disappointed with the school system here and the lack of school stimulation, I have been working to expand my horizons in art (something I have always wanted to do and never had the chance, which I regret). Danielle, a girl in my group here, applied last spring to ENSA (École Nationale Supérieure d’Art), the art school in SW Nancy and got in as a part-time student with little experience in university art classes. I have none whatsoever. But I have been lead to believe that I can get in regardless just to receive some direction in my drawings. I sent in my portfolio of mediocre art I’ve been doing here and the woman, although she commented on my “weak” level, seemed optimistic. “I really just need some direction,” I assured, “and then I am sure I’ll improve quickly.” The semester starts in February and I’ll most likely be taking two art courses in drawing and one philosophy course. I am excited! I included a photo of a classroom in the school that is just perfect, I think.

On the first Wednesday of the month around 11 am and again at 11:30, there is a siren that goes off throughout the city that resembles the sound of the sirens during WWII. I finally figured out that this is normal throughout France (and Europe, I assume) and that all the citizens here are extremely used to it. It is as if the war never ended and there are still air raids flying over the German border into Lorraine. This is an aspect of the post-war society that still endures and now serves to warn the city in case of a large fire or dangerous event (most-likely a natural disaster, let’s hope).

Lastly, for the elections last week, I just wanted to touch on an amazing party I went to Tuesday night at the Political Sciences school with my speaking tandem partner, Antoine. He invited me to an all-night event from 9 pm – 6 am in celebration of the US elections! The whole room was filled with red, white, and blue as many girls sported American flag tights and some guys wore American flags on their shirts. The evening featured public speakers, student presentations, a band playing the American national anthem (three times at different speeds), an american buffet (complete with cookies, brownies, hamburgers, and muffins), as well as the election results on a projected TV screen!

This even was seriously impressive and quite moving. I think Americans should be more motivated to learn about the election results of other countries. In case you need to know, France’s  president is François Hollande (relatively socialist) and was elected last May against Nicolas Sarkozy (who was up for reelection, which can only happen once for a French president, just like the US). The French president is elected every five years, so next time, it will be in 2017 (for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_presidential_election,_2012 ).

I have included a couple photos! Tomorrow, I leave for a Biodynamic Viticulture Conference in Colmar, Alsace with my professor from LC in Oregon. This has long been in the works and I have received a grant to defer the costs of transportation as well as the steep costs of the conference itself. I’ll even be visiting the Swiss countryside near Basel. For more information on what I’ll be doing, visit the links below (they are trilingual, much like the conference will be!)

http://www.goetheanum.org/5043.html?L=1

http://www.goetheanum.org/fileadmin/vk/2012_11_16_Weinbautagung/Weinbautagung_Programm.pdf

http://www.goetheanum.org/fileadmin/vk/2012_11_16_Weinbautagung/Workshops.pdf

http://www.goetheanum.org/5043.html?L=1

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Catching Up 2/3: Paris and Copenhagen

For All Saints Day (La Toussaint), we had a week off from school and took advantage of the time to get away. For my program, it was planned that we would go to Paris for the first few days of the break, and then we had the choice to spend the rest of our time the way we liked. All us Nancy kids, because of my suggestion, decided to go to Copenhagen for four days!

Paris brought back a rush of memories for me since I had been there a few times when I was younger with my family. I really was able to appreciate it differently this time and, although I was doing the same activities as before (Eiffel Tour, Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay, Champs Élysée, etc.), I loved the city and got to experience it in the brisk autumn air. Since it was the week of Halloween, we wanted to visit the catacombs for some spooky exploring. Unfortunately, they were closed on the only day we could go. On our last day, the four of us left the hotel, rode the RER to Charles de Gaulle Airport to meet my French friend, Hugo, to go to Denmark on a 1.5-hour flight.

Copenhagen might be in my top five favorite cities in the world, right up there with Boulder, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Hiroshima. Every street is filled with bikes, rather than cars, and there are parking “garages” for the copious amounts of bikes that must be parked when people are working during that day. We visited some main sites including the little mermaid statue, many towers (including one with an exterior spiral staircase that is incredibly frightening for people with a phobia of heights), Christinia (a section of the city that is not really Denmark, as Marijuana is legal, the people work in art as a profession, everyone lives in communal housing, and there are only three rules: no photos, no running, and have fun), as well as tons of fancy coffee shops that are characteristic of the city!

To cut down on costs, we rented an apartment in the best downtown location we could have ever asked for! It ended up €95 per person for three nights (less than any youth hostel, complete with a fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, bathroom, and ample bedding). What a great idea! We took advantage of our kitchen to cut down on costs as well as go on an all vegetable (nearly vegan) diet to detoxify our systems from all the crap we had been eating in France. For Halloween, I made a delicious roasted squash soup, which was a perfect dish considering the freezing weather of harvest season in the “Cold, Cold North”.

The sun went down around 3:30-4 pm every night,  but it started setting at 2 pm so that on our first day, we ended up returning to apartment while under the impression it was dinner time. We finally looked at the clock to realize that we had ample time to make dinner and relax. Hugo and I went out to the grocery store and got to experience the hustle and bustle of the city in the dark hours of the afternoon. It feels like 10 pm when it’s really 5 pm so everyone is on the street shopping for clothes and groceries. One warning if you ever go there: the clothing there is torturous to look at, especially for tall blonds like my friend Caitlyn who fit in perfectly among the Danes, but the prices are atrocious except in the stores originally from America as well as H&M. I had a hard time realizing how expensive even food was there since the currency is in Kroner, not in Euros.

At the beautiful central market which was filled with lively shoppers and happy faces, 45-55 kroner was a price of a salad. This is equal to about 6-8 Euros! Although it isn’t awful, we noted the slight difference in prices and decided to make things at the apartment whenever possible. Regardless, we still found reason to bust our wallets at least a little; we each found one piece of clothing we couldn’t resist. For me, I chose a button-down shirt that was at a Scandinavian store for 500 kroner (about 70 euros, so cheap for Copenhagen). It was something I had never seen before elsewhere and I thought it was worth the expense, as a souvenir and as something I would like to wear that fit well.

For Halloween, we all dressed up, ate the wonderful harvest meal we had all prepared, and enjoyed a ghost-shaped cake that we bought from the Danish equivalent of Starbucks (see link: http://www.lagkagehuset.dk).

Enjoy the photos!

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Fairytale Keys for Host Family’s Apartment

I have meant to show you all the awesome keys to the apartment building that I use at least twice a day!

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Catching Up 1/3: Parents Visit in Mid-October

Bonjour tout le monde,

I apologize for not having kept up on my blog entires. I’ve gotten into a groove and things don’t seem as new as they did when I was more adamant on doing a weekly entry. To make up for this dry spell, I will now write three posts to give you all a peak into what has kept me busy other than school.

School here is, to be honest, disappointing. American schools give homework that keeps students motivated and learning when not in the classroom. Here, there is barely any information given in class and then there is little to no homework. I like homework no more than the next guy, but when the classes are already dumbed down for foreign students, I really wish there would be something to do to prepare for them on a daily basis. Regardless, I have been finding other things to keep me busy such as reading books and making art such as drawings and small oil paintings. I am a terrible amateur but the more I practice, the more surprised I become at my artistic abilities. I only wish I could have some direction in my art so that I could improve my conception of drawing these pieces. That is why I have decided to “apply” (more like, ask to join in on art classes) at the art university in Nancy, ENSA (École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Nancy) for next semester, in addition to courses at the normal humanities university.

In mid-October, my parents came to Nancy to see where I was living and meet my host family. They only stayed two days on their way to the Danish countryside to do some genealogy, but the time was well spent and we got to enjoy the city together while doing some touristic activities. A highlight was the Art Nouveau Museum in Nancy, which houses art done in the style of Art Nouveau, which was born here in Nancy before being dispersed all over the world. The style of art is well known by its intricately carved wood furniture that attempts to imitate images of nature in three dimensions. This impressive art form was developed by Émile Gallé during the turn of the century: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Émile_Gallé.

My parents and I also had lunch with my host family at the house. Although quick since the boys had to get back to school by 2 pm, the meal worked out fine considering it was bilingual. It was quite weird being the only one in the room that could truly understand both parties. I was absolutely exhausted afterwards, so I was a little glad the meal was so short.

Overall, my parents’ stay was well spent and we all shared a lot of time together at cafés and restaurants around Nancy. It was really great to show my parents all I’ve been doing and my room in the apartment, etc. I miss them a lot!

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I have included a few photos from our time together! There’s even a picture of Laurent and I at the fromagerie where I have been working twice a week! What an experience!

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The Circus Came to Town!

I was coming home from a successful morning from the fromagerie two days ago, enjoying one of the few sunny days we’ve had this week. When I reached the large plaza, through which I usually walk each day, I became surrounded by the complete commotion of RV’s, campers, and red semi-trucks driving into the gravel square. I was nearly run over several times as the trucks came in, blowing exhaust everywhere and beeping constantly. It was not until I crossed the street on the opposite side of the plaza that I realized what the commotion was all about: the circus was coming to town!

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Only three minutes out my front door, this was a great treat for me! I knew I had to get tickets. The other Americans, one of which had never been to a circus, bought their tickets for the opening night (tonight) and we all went together. I had been to the circus twice before, thanks to my grandmother who herself loves elephants and horses as well as the many spectacles that the circus puts on. However, never had I been to an authentic circus in France!

Let me tell you, there is no better circus in the world for fifteen euros than this one! I couldn’t imagine a better time! For a full two-and-a-half hours, we watched in awe at the seemingly endless display of human and animal potential, all in the middle of the city, just two blocks away from my house. From elephants, to tigers, to an amazing eight-man motorcycle cage, I was thoroughly amazed and will never forget this “childhood pleasure” of seeing a circus (in France)!

Enjoy the photos!

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