Welcome to our new blog! Andrew arrived in Orleans, France last Saturday, and I just arrived on Wednesday afternoon. Orleans is a beautiful little town with cobblestone roads, colorful buildings, and a chocolate shop or bakery on every corner. The people have been so friendly and patient with us that it makes me question where the idea came from that French people are rude and snobby. Our language abilities have served us well, as we've been able to effectively open bank accounts, sign our lease, and even tell the pharmacist what was wrong with me in order to get some cold medicine. The weather is lovely, slightly cool but bright most of the day. And to top it all off, there is currently a week-long festival taking place down by the river. We've seen cool performances by Cirque du Soleil-esque groups, heard an awesome Cajun band (check out Feloche on ITunes, MySpace, or Facebook), and sampled delicious sausages and wines.
Our apartment is located on a main pedestrian street filled with shops and cafes and every Wednesday, a farmer's market. It's also a stones-throw away from a Subway, which was my first meal in France (finances are a little tight right now). We live above a jewelry shop just down the street from the main cathedral of Orleans.
The red door is the entrance to our apartment. Our apartment consists of one living room/tiny kitchen, a long hallway, a toilet (now I understand the meaning of "water closet"), a bathroom, and a bedroom. We had to buy some things for the apartment, such as a mini-oven, a coffee maker, and some dishes. We're still trying to get everything we need but we're a little short on cash right now.
Some cool things about Orleans:
- You cannot buy over-the-counter medicine, such as aspirin, in a store. You must specifically go to a pharmacy, and once there, you have to talk to a pharmacist before they will give you drugs. It's a little weird, but kind of cool, I guess.
- Wine is cheaper than pretty much anything else here.
- Despite claims to the contrary, H & M is expensive. Who pays 40€ for pants?? We bought Andrew a nice peacoat, a lighter jacket, and one button down shirt for 173€, or about $250. Ouch! Unfortunately, everything is really expensive here. I can't wait til we start working and get some money. Right now we're living off our credit card.
- When you rent an apartment, you are required by law to purchase flood and fire insurance. Thankfully, this only cost 73€ for one year of insurance, and it includes theft of any personal belongings, but sadly doesn't cover us if a plane crashes into the building (this is actually one of the clauses).
- Boots, boots, boots! Everyone has them, everyone sells them. We're looking into a nice pair for me. I have to say, the French are indeed very fashionable. Purple is the new color. Every window in the city has some article of purple clothing on display.
- Items in window displays have plaques that tell you their price. It's really nice. That way, if you see a cool pair of shoes or a nice jacket, you know exactly how much it costs without going into the store.
- If you're under 26 years old, you get major benefits, like discounted transport and reduced fees at banks, movies, etc. Too bad Andrew turns 26 in November! At least I have a couple of months!
We don't start working until October 1, so we have a little time to explore the city some more. We'll be sending out an email letting you know the next time we post on this blog. If you want to see more pictures, you can always check out our Picasa album at http://picasaweb.google.com/nicoledcwallace. For those who would like to send packages or postcards, we can receive mail at: