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Festival of Bread – Only in France! July 26, 2010

Posted by ebragg2010 in Travel Log.
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Waking up in Canterbury, we started hauling luggage again. We took a bus to Dover, and then a ferry across the English Channel to Calais, France. The view of the cliffs of Dover was spectacular from the upper deck of the ferry, and the three-hour ride was an excellent chance to write letters to family members. Once we arrive, I acquired my 3rd French stamp on my passport, and we set off to make our way to Paris.

Except for one tiny setback. The train station of Calais was about three kilometers from the ferry port, and nothing, including the bus, was open on Sundays. So we started the trek, with the sound of church bells leading us toward the center of town.
About halfway across town, we decided to rest a while in a small square, where 4 townspeople were playing bocce ball (for those who haven’t played before, it’s a game where you have a small target ball on the ground that you try to hit with shotput balls). It was the most intense bocce ball I had ever seen; the eldest man was able to hit the target from across the square, and he was not afraid to poke fun at his fellow players for the margin they were losing by.
After meandering on, we continued across town, stopping to read the historic landmark signs. Once reaching the train station, we made our first forays into traveling by train. Running to catch the train, we made our connection to Paris Gare du Nord. We arrived in Paris around 10PM, and after finding our hostel in the student quarter we got some well-earned sleep after all the traveling of the day.
Upon waking up the next day, we set off across Paris, just enjoying the sights as we had both been there the summer before. Arriving at Notre Dame Cathedral, we were drawn in by the large tents in front of the cathedral; banners proclaiming “Fete du Pain” (Festival of Bread) were draped across the front.
We started out watching some French college students playing racquetball on a makeshift court next to the bread tents. They invited us to play, and we played until we both had blisters on our hands! After that, we explored the bread festival. One tent housed all the bakers, where French chefs were demonstrating their art to several groups of elementary school kids.
The smell of bread baking through the square had made us hungry, so we went across to the tents selling breads and cheeses and selected a plate for lunch. We carried it over to the City Hall, and enjoyed lunch on the square in front. Afterwards, we continued wandering Paris until we were ready to try to reach Metz.
However, we didn’t account for all of the TGV lines to Metz being full. We eventually found a circular route to reach Metz, and we arrived at our summer home around 11PM. Luckily for us, the grad students were already here, so we were able to reach our rooms and enjoy well-earned sleep. The summer had officially begun!
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