First of all, I have to apologize for not having written in a few weeks. I was going to say that not much has been going on, but I think my lack of writing has more to do with a general lethargy that has set in from a combination of the colder weather, not having left Le Puy in a month, and homesickness brought on by Thanksgiving (we had to make a chicken because you can’t get whole turkeys in France until Christmas). Since I last wrote I have gone to a “Salon de Chocolat,” had a lovely little Thanksgiving (thanks mom for the canned pumpkin and cranberries!), and spent an entire weekend reading Jane Eyre and watching the movie to then compare the two with a class of students who did not read the book. That didn’t work out so well. Sooo moving on… IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!
Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year, and I’m so excited to spend Christmas in France! So far, we have received several ads in the mail for toys and Christmas decorations, seen Christmas lights put up all over the town, noticed store windows transforming into winter wonderlands (even the hair dressers!), and even the school I work at has Christmas trees and decorations all over the halls! I was surprised to see this, since there is some controversy in the US about Christmas decorations or celebrations in schools, seeing as it’s a Christian holiday. But I guess even though France is officially a non-religious country, it’s still Catholic enough (or at least our town is) that no one objects to overt representations of Christmas. A tree isn’t particularly religious anyway…
The best part so far of Christmas season in Le Puy (besides my awesome snowflakes that are already hanging on the wall) is at one of our favorite places (our only favorite place?) in the town, the Salon de Thé. I have been meaning to write about it for a while, and now is the perfect time because there has been a new development in our little safe haven of goodness and warmth and deliciousness – they now have a Christmas menu!
The Salon de Thé is a place to be experienced with all the senses. Located in Place du Plot, one of the main squares in town, Agapi is an oasis of calm and beauty. The walls are a textured red and covered with amazing exhibitions from artists of diverse cultures, the lighting is soft and subdued, the glass chandelier hanging from the rustic wood ceiling give a touch of luxury to the décor of floating sheer curtains and soft velvety couches, and classical music serenades your ear. And the smells! Oh, the smells… a vast collection of smooth, rich teas served in cast iron pots and beautiful teacups, and delectable desserts (always with a side of jam and whipped cream, of course). Basically, to Igor and I, this place is a little piece of heaven in an otherwise fairly boring town. Especially the chocolat fondant, which melts in your mouth and makes me feel like I could die at that moment and be happy. We try to go there at least once a week.
I’m so excited to try all the new special Christmas Teas! Noël à Paris, Noël à Londres, Noël à Venise, Prague, Pékin, Vienne, Alsace, St. Petersbourg, Provence… Yay Christmas!