Posted by: vlibrizzi | January 13, 2009

the modern and the rustic

In reviewing the events of the last two days to prepare for writing today’s blog entry, I was struck by the stark difference in activities I did both days. From the biggest store I’ve ever seen to a quaint chateau in the countryside, I think I spanned both extremes of the way one would spend his or her time and where they would spend it, all in about 24 hours…and I learned a lot about myself in the process.

First, yesterday I visited a French mega store called Carrefour that was about three times the size of any Walmart and was, in my opinion, a combination of a Shaws supermarket, a Best Buy, a Bed Bath and Beyond, and a Macy’s department store. I think that one could go in that store and find anything and everything that they would ever dream of buying. My friends and I spent over three hours roaming the aisles and we still didn’t cover the whole store! If you’re skeptical, just know that there were three full aisles of just cheese and two full aisles of just yogurt…and that was just the food section!

After leaving the store, I found the experience both stunning and shocking—stunning because I was so impressed with the efficient idea of condensing so many stores into one, but even more shocked and appalled by the same concept. The French people I see in town seem to probably much rather prefer shopping at the local market, then the boulangerie, then going to the tailor, and the butcher, and on, and on. I thought that idea sounds great if one had all the time in the world to go to so many different shops…but, then again, isn’t that what I have? Isn’t that what this year is all about….taking time to “smell the roses,” as they say?

So with my newfound desire to live life slowly and aimg_1901ppreciate the taste of bread from a local boulangerie instead of a processed croissant from the Carrefour (my unfortunate breakfast this morning), I really looked forward to visiting the home of one of my new friends who lives about 30 minutes outside of Fontainebleau in the smallest of towns (if one could even call it a town…it’s really just a string of about 10-15 houses nestled in the French countryside). The adjacent photo is of the town’s post office and town hall still decorated with Christmas bows! 




Then, here is a photo of my friend’s landlord’s house on the grounds of the chateau where my friend lives. To enter the chateau’s grounds, which are quite expansive and beautiful, you have to manually open a large gate. Then, once you open the gate, you enter into a new world… wide open land, a peaceful lake, cottages, chateaus. One could get used to the life there pretty easily.


img_1899This next photo is of the chateau. It’s not nearly as big as the one in Fontainebleau, but it’s quite beautiful in it’s own way. Apparently it was owned by an emissary to Napoleon III, but is now occupied for only a few months a year by an older woman who lives in Paris. Just like the French royalty, this is her “summer home.” 🙂



This final photo is of a few of my new friends having a wine and cheese get together at my friend’s house on the grounds of the chateau. It was a great afternoon that really did remind me of why I’m here and has redirected me toward my goal this year of becoming more “French” in every sense of the word.



  1. This is the kind of France we read about in story books.

  2. I’m that friend! Yay! What a lovely way to describe it…

  3. Here’s to Smelling the Roses 😉 I like your photos! In fact, if I can get my camera phone working, I just might steal your “photo of the day” concept!

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