Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why are French women thin?

I’m sure I don’t know. In fact I’m a little concerned that no amount of time spent in the gym this week is going to make up for all the bread and cheese we consumed while in France last weekend. Fabulous bread and cheese are served everywhere you go and you are not allowed to say no thank you. I maybe didn’t try too hard but really you can’t say no. And we for sure didn’t want to…we were in the heart of Brie country for goodness sakes. Did you know that in France they often serve their cappuccinos with a ginormous dollop of whipped cream on top? Yikes!

We had such a wonderful weekend seeing the Champagne region. We stayed in a teeny tiny village (more like a street actually) called Saint Ouen sur Morin in a charming ‘auberge’ (inn) owned by Monsieur Laurent and his lovely (and thin- even-though- she eats- bread –and- cheese) wife. Let me just say that Laurent could rock a scarf like nobody’s business. Turns out prior to being a hotelier he was a fashion designer in Paris. All the guys on our trip discussed whether they could get away with the same look as Laurent and all the women pretty much agreed that they could if (1) they were French and (2) they were former Fashion designers so basically, no, they couldn’t get away with the look.

I’m going to break the weekend into deux posts (there’s my awesome French again) since we managed to pack a whole lotta fun into three days. Three couples of the five arrived Thursday evening and then two more couples joined us the next day. On Friday we piled into a couple of cars and drove about a half hour out into the French countryside to the medieval town of Provins. Before I tell you about Provins I must tell you that the Champagne region at the beginning of May is absolutely breathtaking. Fields of rapeseed are blooming literally everywhere you look and really a photograph cannot do it justice but I tried.

Rapeseed is used to make canola oil and also bio diesel fuels. There are also magnificent rapeseed fields in the UK but when we left Thursday the fields in England were just a little bit later in the bloom cycle than those in France. All over the Champagne region we drove thru miles and miles of countryside surrounded by nothing but fields of yellow mixed with fields of bright green farmland. Every once in a while you’d pass a tiny village with stone buildings and sometimes a cathedral but mostly it was just the lush landscape.

The town of Provins is one of the best preserved medieval cities in France. The upper town (Ville Haute) is located within high 12th century ramparts. Eons ago Provins was famous for its fairs which were the most important in Europe. The city was also one of the first financial markets in Europe but that changed at the beginning of the 14th century because of new commercial routes, wars, and plagues…you know…typical medieval ‘stuff’.

Tour Cesar (the castle) towers over the town of Provins. This is a keep complete with turrets and a pyramid shaped roof which my husband and I climbed all the way to the tippy tippy top of (no small feat!) all while sucking in our stomachs. Let’s just say it’s a good thing we hadn’t eaten more bread and cheese than we did or we would not have fit thru the staircase, if you can even call it that. Narrow does not begin to describe the passageway.

Apparently alot was happening under the city too back in the day and one of the underground spaces is now a bookstore. Of course all the books are in French but it’s really pretty incredible to see. And it also makes me grateful I didn’t live in the Middle Ages. I've concluded after living in Europe that I’m more of a 21st century kind of girl.

We had a lovely day in Provins...

...the lovely day of course included lunch at an outdoor cafe which of course included cheese and bread. Late afternoon we meandered back thru the countryside to our quaint little inn. We drove to a neighboring small village for dinner that evening and had a typical four course meal…and by typical I mean naturellement, that one course was cheese and bread. And I also mean it was fabulous.

In part deux of this post I will write about our day touring some of the champagne houses and Sunday’s visit to a nearby chateau…tres tres magnifique! Au revoir pour maintenant.


  1. I love reading about your daily adventures.
    The cheese & bread sounds wonderful and that cream on top of your cappuccino.....yum!
    The fields of rapeseed are absolutely beautiful and very interesting to read about.
    You look so cute & young Joyce. The pictures are great.
    Can't wait for part deux! :)

  2. I am convinced that there are no calories in French food. On the Riviera portion of our trip, we ate three-course meals every night for four nights. They included an appetizer, a main course (with some scrumptious sauce, of course) and a wonderful dessert--all with lots of wine. That's not to mention everything we ate in Paris.

    I just knew I would have to lose about five pounds after I got home. Got on the scales, and I didn't gain a single pound. Larry even lost four pounds (he just seems to be able to will himself not to gain weight).

    Anyway your post makes me want to go back and visit other parts of France. I'm looking forward to reading more.

  3. Absolutely am jealous! Love the brie! I would seriously love to know how French women stay thin. Maybe you can figure it out and patent the formula.

    Your posts always make me smile.

  4. Gorgeous pics and captivating descriptions, as usual. Now I have to add even more places to my bucket list. ;)

    Looking forward to Part Deux.

  5. Yes, why are French women so thin!?! Give us some clues!

    You are seeing places that many of us only get to dream about, enjoy! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful pictures.

  6. It is so much fun to live through your posts. I would love to visit the places that you live in. And the food, ohhh...cheese and bread and bread and cheese.

  7. Joyce,

    How do you find out about these places? You seem to go to just the right locations and then describe them beautifully. You make us all want to get there and experience it like yesterday.

    Shawn, the kids, and I are going to Mallorca in two weeks for a short break. I can't wait! We will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary.

    Looking forward to part deux like the rest.