The boys are improving so much on their English skills. Mathieu is doing amazingly well with oral comprehension-we speak almost exclusively in English now-and Simon has memorized the present tense of to be, to have, and most regular verbs (to like, to want, to speak, etc.), as well as possessive adjectives and pronouns in only the past two weeks. I’m so proud!
This afternoon, Simon and I joined Nathalie and Maxime on a grand tour of the region, beginning with a trip to a champignonnière (a mushroom farm) in Saumur, about an hour away from Tours. The French mined stone from the nearby hills to build châteaux, and then turned the man-made caves into storage for two of France’s most loved things-wine and mushrooms. The caves we explored are now half-museum, half farm and experimental lab for new types of mushrooms. While I’m not exactly a connoisseur of mushrooms (I wouldn’t even say that I like them very much), it was neat to see the hundreds of different species that exist in France alone.
After our foray into the magical world of mushrooms, we visited a sculpture exhibition nearby. Philippe Cormand, a contemporary French artist, carved miniature versions of the Loire Valley’s most famous châteaux directly into the walls of the caves. It was impossible to get a good picture of the models in the dim light, but it was really neat, and you can find professional pictures on the official site.
On our way back to Tours, we took the scenic route and drove past the châteaux Ussé and Azay-le-Rideau. We even stopped for a few minutes near Ussé to see a view of the river from the top of the hill. There were countless little villages built into the hills, with ancient stone houses and vineyards teetering on the edge of the Loire.
It was a great day for exploration, even though it was grey and cloudy. I can’t wait to see the countryside in full bloom in just a few weeks!
For dinner, it was clean-out-the-frigo night, so we had a rather odd assortment of grilled peppers, cold sausages, and paté. The best part was definitely dessert, which was straight-up American style pancakes. Tasted just the secret Bisquick family recipe! Burgers, pizza, and pancakes all in one weekend-I might as well be home.