October 22, 2013, by Guest blog

Getting to know Tours

Post by Jasmine Philpott

Well, the first leg of my assistantship is coming to an end, (admittedly said first leg only lasted 3 weeks, but still) and I can safely say that I am not going to want to leave Tours come April. It is absurd to think that this time 9 months ago I was in such a panic about the year abroad, and so desperate to get out of it that I was considering dropping out and re-starting my degree! What a huge mistake that would have been. I have astonished myself with my own adaptability – settling in to a new country has been a million times easier than I anticipated.

Having made a trip to Tours back in August to find an apartment, set up a bank account and get a feel for the city, I felt reasonably chilled getting on the plane.  Knowing I had somewhere nice to move in to (complete with some French colocataires) was a massive help.

I met my coordinatrice the day I landed in France and we got on really well (the fact that I brought her some fudge may have helped), and by the end of September I had met all my classes and colleagues. So come the official meeting for all the assistants on the 1st October I had pretty much already started work.

I am not surprised how happy and at home I feel here when I think about how lucky I am. I’m living in the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to (yes, prettier than Rome and Paris) in an apartment overlooking the Loire river. My lycée is apparently the best school in Tours, and the behaviour of the students is impeccable. But above all, the people here are so friendly. Shopkeepers, bank secretaries, waiters etc. really make an effort to talk to you, which is not only great for my French, but also really heart-warming. I made so many French friends within days of arriving, and still make new ones every day.

My first impressions of Touraine culture are:

Great food! Great wine, excellent restaurants, delicious patisseries. People here must stay slim by eating tiny amounts of very rich food.

The perfect mix of old and new.  A brand new tramway winds its way along ancient, quintessential French streets and connects the city with the airport and so on.

A serious lack of variety in the pharmaceutical department – there’s one brand of each item, so making a decision on what to buy is easy.

Some of the stereotypes are true. People really do bike along with baguettes on their handlebars here…

Very cultured. There’s always something going on in Tours, and in the streets you can overhear conversations about museums and art and politics.

Travel is cheap, food is expensive. An orange juice here is like 4 euros, but you can get to Paris on the TGV for 20 euros. Very strange…

Either way, Tours is home now. I’m enjoying my job, enjoying speaking French, and know the next 6 months is going to go by way too quickly.

Posted in First impressions