Sunday, July 12, 2015

Chambery

I am living in a small town outside of Lyon, the second largest city in France after Paris. I still haven't been to Lyon besides the airport, but Chambery has been unexpectedly great. I figured that living in a small town would be boring, but it has been the exact opposite! Chambery has a festival every weekend that centers around either music or a new culture. I went to the Lafi Bala festival a few weeks ago. It was an African festival complete with a concert and food vendors. The entire city must have come out to it. The usually quiet park just around the corner from my apartment was bursting with people. I had to wait in line for over an hour after a day of hiking just to eat some traditional chicken and rice recipe. It was well worth it. For all of the other festivals (Fete de la Elephants, etc.) I was out of town visiting nearby cities and countries.
A Fountain in the Center of Town
For the next few weeks, there will be music concerts a few days a week at the Duke's Palace. Last week was the first week so I went to both of the performances. The first one was an Indian Bollywood orchestra. Alongside the music, the group had Indian dancers in beautiful traditional dresses. There was also a man who danced with a bowl of water on his head. He added cups under the bowl until he balanced the bowl with four cups on top of his head. He never spilled it even while he was dancing. After him, another man came out with batons that he lit on fire. He twirled them around, threw them up in the air, and breathed fire. It was a great performance. The next night, the music was based on classic films. Most of the movies were American (The Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, Space Cowboy, Cats, Grease, and Singing in the Rain). There were a few French films, but of course I didn't recognize any of them. The orchestra played while a screen behind the musicians showed clips of the movies. Some of the songs had dancers/actors perform in the front. It was strange to hear very familiar American songs sung with a strong French accent. I plan on going to as many of the next performances as I can.

Chambery is also a 30 minute bus ride away from a very popular lake, Lac du Bourget.


In order to enter the beach-like area you have to pay now that it is July. Instead, I usually walk along the street bordering the lake until I find a nice grassy place instead. People can swim there for free, so naturally that's where I go. Yesterday, some friends and I went there and rented a  blue paddle boat with a slide. We had so much fun. We paddled out to the center of the lake with other paddle boats, sail boats, motor boats, and paddle boarders. We listened to music, ate watermelon, and slid into the water. The weather is usually perfect for a lake day in Chambery. Out of all the times I have been to the lake, only one day was cloudy-and even then it was still warm.

Now that all of the kids are out of school, the lake has gotten much more popular. The water is so clear, too. I can see my feet when I'm up to my neck in it. Coming from Tennessee, that is almost unheard of-at least considering the lakes around my house. The omly downside to this lake is all of the seaweed! It creeps me out. It is gold and looks like the seaweed from the Lake in the fourth Harry Potter movie. I'm afraid if I get too close to it, an angry mermaid will grab my ankle and pull me down. That silly fear hasn't kept me from swimming over it to get to a far off buoy, though. I love swimming out over a very deep part of the lake and being able to see the bottom. It's so strange, but I love how clear and clean the lakes around here are. It makes me wonder why the lakes back home can't be as clean as these. It is a shame. The views around the lake aren't too bad, either. Mountains circle the lake. They are small and uniquely shaped. There are far off mountains that look very beautiful between some of the smaller ones. Then, off to the west, there is this amazing view of the Alps, snow capped and perfect. We can' quite see Mont Blanc, but swimming in a lake that has a clear view of the French Alps is such an amazing feeling. They look so close. I can't imagine a more beautiful lake which is why I spend almost all of my free time there. 

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