The past week gave me the time to go out of Paris to see some new sights, feel the warmth of the sun on my face and discover high-quality farm products. In fact, it was the search of fresh farm products that motivated the short get-away and it was only a plus that I discovered new places and learned the historical significance and famous sights in Provins and Rambouillet on the train ride going to these communes and back to Paris.
A friend recommended these commmunes especially after his visit to Montargis and the discovery of vegetables and root crops which were way better than the ones sold in Paris grocery stores and supermarkets. In addition, Provins and Rambouillet are not more than an hour away from Paris by train.
From the train station, we first walked to the markets then after checking the fruits, vegetables and other products, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around until the last possible train schedule going back to Paris before the curfew.
In Provins, we discovered a locally-produced butter that tasted oh-so-creamy with just the right saltiness. I also bought spinach (epinard in French) that looked so much greener and fresher than the ones sold in grocery packages (how good they tasted when cooked even with just water and a pinch of rock salt). A cheery smile from a rosy-cheeked little girl made me buy endives. My friend told me that it has a strong taste so I just got two pieces to try. For lunch, we got baguettes (it tasted so good), Roqeufort cheese, cauliflower, haches, and fresh eggs and had a picnic in a park.
A three-hour walk around the area presented the opportunity to see the medieval ramparts, Cesar Tower, the medieval style houses, the river, lake, trees that looked like they were from a sci-fi movie, shops selling souvenir items and regional products, and even a curious dog by the window, who regarded the tourists below with an air of authority. ^_^
In Rambouillet, I got red turnips (navet), potatoes, tomatoes and eggs. In the small market on the way to Chateau Rambouillet, there were stalls selling dried fruits, plants and flowers, bottled honey and dairy products, aside from vegetables, fruits and meat. I went to a local Carrefour and was fascinated with the shelf featuring regional products. In front of this shelf, I debated with myself for a minute whether I should buy a big pack of pasta made from spinach but decided against it because it was bulky to carry. A quick stop at the Tourism office gave me a chance to chat with a friendly employee. She gave a map, told me that that most establishments are closed to the public, but that I may walk around the chateau and that I may explore the area more when things normalize. I made a quick stop to a church. It was empty but nevertheless, comforting. We passed by the famed rose garden but there were not many flowers; I imagined it would be lovely in spring and summer.
For the rest of the afternoon while under the sun, beside the lake, I read the book “The Diary of Kosa Pan.” I was glad to have the time to time to read it since the day I bought it in a bookstore in Vienna in 2019. (“The Diary of Kosa Pan” is a 76-page book, the only copy in the bookstore when I visited. Almost obscure in the corner shelf, it gave some insights on the adventures in conducting diplomacy in the 17th century, the difficulties experienced by the diplomats and the intricate ceremonies in delivering information and welcoming guests at that time.)
Time passed and then it was time to go back to Paris. I wished the curfew would be moved to a later time (at least 7 or 8PM) in the next weeks, but I guess I should not keep my hopes too high especially since there are talks of another lockdown. But still, with the coming end of winter and the advent of spring, there will probably be more opportunities to explore and get to know France, considering the necessary health and safety measures.
Safe travels everyone. Take care. ❤