A castle, some stinky cheese and where did all these smokers come from?

So, our first full day here was lovely, even if the weather wasn’t. We’d been out the previous evening to the supermarket – just past the castle – so we had breakfast sorted out. Percolated coffee, yoghurt and museli with dark chocolate chips. Why, in a country of fruit loops and strawberry Special K, do we not have chocolate museli? Someone needs to sort that shit out. Anyway, we started out visiting Le Jardin Des Plantes – botanical gardens to you – which is just up the road. It’s a lovely place with plenty of space, an excellent collection of plants and some great landscaping. CA went mad with her camera, photographing everything, chasing ducks and having a ball. It was only when the weather turned bad that we left and made for a nearby cafe.

It was then on to our first brush with French bureaucracy – finalising CA’s school enrollment. After a bit of keystone cops type backwards and forwards in the council building, we finally found the department we were looking for. Although it took a bit of time, the whole process was painless and even informative. So that was one box ticked.

From there we headed back into the centre of town for TW to find some shoes and for CA and I  to visit the castle and get some piccies. TW managed to score with the shoes so we used the remaining time in town to do a quick shop for dinner. It was during this little trip that my French interpretation skills (or lack thereof) had it’s first negative effect. France is known for producing excellent cheeses. We enjoy good cheese in Aus, but it’s not really the same is it? So, my goal was to purchase some French Brie and savor the delights of a real French made treat. Now, you’d think it would be a simple enough exercise – find the one on the shelf labeled “Brie” and buy it. OK, so far so good, it even had “Normandy” on the label – awesome! Shopping completed, we headed back to our box, I mean apartment, via a couple of other shops. Along the way, I got the occasional whiff of what smelt like rotten cabbage. Assuming it was the sewers in the city centre, or the old lady behind me, I payed it no more attention. Until that is, I smelt it upon entering our box. Now I was sure it was  some old piece of food left in some nook or cranny of my back pack, so I proceeded to tear it apart throwing groceries left and right. Where was that f@#king smell coming from? Not finding the offending item, I began to put away the groceries. As I picked up the cheese I noticed the smell again. No! It couldn’t be. Brie is lovely, it has a tart, salty aroma. It’s not supposed to smell like rotten cabbage for f@#ks sake! But, alas it did. Apparently, our Brie is special. It has extra mold, skimmed off the top for our enjoyment.

It doesn’t end there though. Not wanting to waste food, we tore up some baguette and sampled the offending fromage, just to make sure. Yep, cabbage. Now, every time the fridge door is opened, the whole box is filled with this offensive odor. It’s so bad that I’m sure the neighbors will complain and we’ll be out on the street before you know it, all because of a lump of cheese. We’re going to have to sneak it down to the bin under the cover of darkness, lest one of the neighbors sees us and reports us for dumping toxic waste. All I wanted was some f@#king cheese with my baguette!!!!

I’m pretty sure the reason I didn’t notice the smell whilst we were in town was due to the cigarette smokers, of which there are roughly a kazillion in Nantes. That really cool haze effect near the castle in the evening light, not special effects, smokers. French people have to smoke. To do so would be clearly unpatriotic. I mean, someone has to support all those tobacco farmers (aside from the over-subsidizing EU). If everyone gave up smoking it would lead to widespread industrial action. First there’d be street protests. Then, the Eiffel Tower workers would join in solidarity and blockade the nations favored icon. The teachers would hold emergency stop work meetings, farmers would burn tractors on the highways, and the blokes who put those little plastic things on your shoelaces would torch their nearest police station as a show of defiance. It’d be panda-f@#king-monium.

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