Saint Amand, a bike ride and other things

Today I had no classes in the morning, so I read all morning long after some bread and honey and lots of coffee. It was lovely. Though the weather was rainy and chilly, I was cozy with some tea. Then, after lunch, Thomas and I went to school, but he had two hours of English, so I spent them in Town wondering around, and taking pictures (I know that comes as exciting news to y'all, my lovely readers!). I also had my chance at last to stop in the chocolatier. It was rather large, but very well lit, and very welcoming. The woman behind the counter was very nice, even though I was a bit indicisive when faced with all those yummy choices. Those yummy choices were very similar to that of the other boulangerie actually, but to those bakery standards, such as pain au chocolat, baguettes, fruit tarts, etc. were jars of jam, cakes and a large variety of lollipops. I decided that to incorporate the chocolate I would buy a cookie dipped in bittersweet chocolate, and then I couldn't resist the strawberry tarts any longer. I'd been eyeing the ones at the other boulangerie every Friday, but now, being alone with no one to see me woof down this delightful sugary feast, was the perfect time to indulge. I then made my way over to the park and at my little tart. A soft buttery crust filled with a sugar cream, and topped with whole strawberries, which were frozen. The whole tart was chilled, which I was not expecting, but which gave it a much lighter, more refreshing quality, rather than a heavy overwhelmingly sweet twist. I ate the whole thing, though it was not huge, it was definitely filling. It was simply wonderful, though I have to admit three things kept running through my head while I ate this overtly French dish. 1) Guilt for not buying my fist mini strawberry tartlette from the other boulangerie, 2) Why had I not thought to search out napkins before eating this tart, and 3) thank god nobody I know is here to see me eat this! Other than that I was very happy this afternoon. I now realize, in regards to the first thought, that is was actually a good thing to do, as I can now compare the price and quality of the tartlettes at each shop. I think the boulangerie, where we go on Fridays is more expensive, but I also have a feeling theirs will be better, so it all evens out in the end I suppose. Saint Amand Les Eaux is really a wonderful little town, because while it is full of architectural and historical treasures, chief among those being La Tour de Saint Amande, it is also a very real town, by which I mean there are plenty of people who live and work there walking around, buying their bread, going to the super market, meeting friends at the cafe, etc. and it all feels very lively, not at all a museum. The weather warmed up considerably in the late afternoon, as it often does here, and I must confess I find it a bit bizarre. Not to mention the fact that this brief flash of sweltering summer heat engulfed by humidity makes it very hard to dress appropriately.
The other thing I wanted to write about is my bike ride (yes, I finally took my ride!). I went Sunday afternoon, by myself as everyone else was busy, into Marchiennes. The weather was perfect, as there was a light fog of sorts over everything it wasn't too hot, but the sun was behind it and it was sort of muggy, so it wasn't too cold either, which I had been a worry of mine. Everything closes on Sunday afternoons, even the little bakery that was open that morning to buy bread had closed by 2 o'clock. There are really only about four commercial streets in Marchiennes, and even those are dotted with apartments and houses. There are approximately three bakeries, three pharmacies, one restaurant, four cafe/brasseries, one cafe, a post office, and thats all! I also passed a cute little park hidden by large, perfectly trimmed hedges. There are a fair amount of houses around, and a large section of apartment buildings. Then through the middle of town runs a medium sized river with a bridge over the top just next to the town square, which we cross every morning and afternoon on the bus. On Sunday there about five or six guys fishing in the river with huge fishing lines, which I rather liked. The only problem with my 45 min bike ride was that as soon as I reached town I realized I'd left the camera at home, so no pictures of Marchiennes just yet.
a bientot


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