France: Loire Valley and How to Look American

Lately, I’ve been busy with school and just doing life in Paris. Starting next weekend, I really begin traveling and being busy on the weekends, so I’m sure my blogs will be a bit more interesting. This past weekend, I went with my study abroad group (roommates and SAI leader) to the Loire Valley. It’s an area in France known for its Renaissance castles and wine region. We stayed in Amboise, France, at a little hotel right near the Loire River. The town was so cute, and it was refreshing not being in a big city for a weekend. Saturday, we visited 3 castles, all of which were beautiful! They were pretty spread out and were lived in by the kings and queens I have been learning about in my history class! That made it super cool. We also visited Leonardo da Vinci’s house, which was pretty much a castle on a big area of land. I learned a lot about him and the time period these castles were made in. There was a wedding being set up at one castle, so I decided I’m not getting married if it can’t be at a French castle. High standards have been set in place. That evening, we took part in a wine tasting, since the Loire Valley is a French wine region. Unlike the USA where wine is label by the type of grape (merlot, pinot, etc), France labels the wine by regions. There are a list of approved regions, one of which is the Loire Valley. The tour was very interesting, and we saw wines dating back to 1940. It was also really nice having a guided tasting so I could learn to describe the types of wines I like instead of just buying wine based off the label like I had in the past! For the record, I hate dessert wines and really like sweet wines, but I like them if they’re fruity and I like dry wines. I was able to buy a bottle for only 14 euros that was from my parents anniversary year. Can’t wait to drink it with them for Thanksgiving! That Sunday we went to a pretty big market that had everything from clothes to hot food, chinese food, olives, desserts, pigs, chickens, everything! To end the day, we rode bikes for a couple hours through little villages and wine vineyards. It was so fun! We headed back on the train then I went back to doing homework and trying to enjoy the not so fun part of paris!

How I know if Someone is American:
1. They wait for the crosswalks to turn green..and even hesitate then. No cars, you should go.
2. They walk slowly and take up the whole sidewalk.
3. I can tell they’re wearing makeup other than eyeliner–I definitely notice eyeliner on the French, but when I see foundation or eyeshadow, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re American.
4. Unnatural hair– French women have good hair, but it’s not so put together. I never see them with curled or straightened hair, or even colored hair. It all seems to be natural color and natural style. Perfect curls and I know you’re american.
5. No cigarettes–Okay, I’m sure there’s lots of French women who don’t smoke, but a whole lot do. I thought it was just a stereotype but I mean A LOT of people smoke. So if you want to look French, pick up a cigarette.
6. Big smiles– this is not to say that the French look angry, but they don’t smile as they walk. I’ve learned if I don’t want to be harassed my the gypsies trying to get signatures or men selling Eiffel tower key chains, all I have to do is walk with a purpose and put on a face that says, “I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone.”

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