The above photo is from a recent visit to the Cité du Chocolat in Tain-l'Hermitage. Along with sampling as much chocolate as one wants, there's a presentation discussing 'les idées reçues' - myths surrounding chocolate. In this case it turns out that chocolate isn't an aphrodisiac!
The Cité du Chocolat is owned by high end chocolate producer, Valrhona. Next to the Cité du Chocolat is a Valrhona factory and chocolate school. During a visit to Cité du Chocolat you'll learn how to taste chocolate, not as easy as one thinks! Plus discover how chocolate is made and see the largest chocolate fountain in Europe.
What's often not known about chocolate or really cocoa beans, is that mass produced chocolate is a lot like table wine; a mix of cocoa beans from different locations. Imagine mixing California and Bordeaux grapes to make wine. That would take the soul out wine and all the fun out of wine tasting! Of course 'grand cru' chocolate isn't cheap and it's difficult to see it becoming as popular as wine, but who knows. If nothing else grand cru chocolate is a way to train your taste buds: to discern individual tastes, than the standardized tastes we are so used to in today's world.
Also during my visit to Tain-l'Hermitage I was able to see Palais Idéal, built by Ferdinand Cheval over the course of 33 years and walk in the heights of Hermitage.
Here's a technique to help with learning and improving your French, suggested by fellow American David Tolman of Fluent French. It's echoing, listening to French speakers and repeating what they say. Think singing along with your favorite song. This is a great way to improve your French accent! It's a simple and easy to do technique: in your car listening to French radio or watching French TV at home. Anyplace you can repeat what you hear. So much is available on the Internet and downloadable; you can easily get mp3s to practice from. David explains echoing with an example and has an echoing lesson with normal conversation speed and a slowed-down re-reading along with text.
France is about to undergo a bit of an automobile transformation. Right now 70% of cars on French roads have diesel motors - diésélisé. This is because diesel is about 20 cents cheaper per liter than gasoline as it is taxed less. That's about to change, as the government plans to progressively lower the tax on gasoline and at the same time raise taxes on diesel. This tax policy was implemented in the 1970s to favor French automakers. Thinking was that if diesel was cheaper in France, French automakers would have an intensive to specialize in diesel motors. Giving them an advantage over automakers from other countries.
The problem with diesel motors is the fine particles emissions they give off. Where I live in the Alps there are often fine particle alerts, bring back memories of the smog alerts of my childhood. With this change in tax policy, the government hopes to lower the number of fine particle alerts. This will take time and poses the problem of how to lower CO2 emissions overall, as diesel motors in general give off less CO2 than gasoline motors.
More Fall Reading
Paris Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by the City of Light: Bring the romance and elegance of Paris into your home with cocktail recipes from leading French mixologists and the signature drink recipes of Parisian hot spots. More than just a cocktail book, Paris Cocktails celebrates the art of drinking like the French, with entertaining tips for throwing a perfectly Parisian cocktail party, revelations on the latest trends in French mixology, reviews of the best bars in both America and Paris where you can find the true French cocktail experience, and musings from French and non-French alike who have mastered the art of French drinking.
Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen: Inspiration for Navigating Life's Changes and Challenges: In 1975, Anne Willan, a culinary icon who, along with Julia Child, Jacque Pepin, James Beard, and others, launched the modern culinary industry, founded École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris and educated some of today's most notable chefs - among them Steve Raichlen, Gale Gand, Virginia Willis, Martha Holmberg, and Alexis Guarnaschelli. Upon enrolling at La Varenne, all students received a helpful and easy reference tool: La Varenne Basic Recipes.
The Original Grands Crus of Burgundy: Translation from works describing and classifying the vineyards of the Côte d'Or written prior to the establishment of today's system of Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée in 1936 and a discussion of how they compare to the modern system. For centuries, a number of authors ranging from learned amateurs to experienced professionals weighed in with their thoughts.
Girl with Parasol: Suspenseful novel about looting of Jewish-owned artworks by the Nazis during World War II. These crimes recently hit the headlines with the discovery of an art cache in Munich in 2013, and the release of George Clooney's film "The Monuments Men" in 2014.
Global Insurance Net:
If you are thinking about moving to France you will need health insurance to get your visa. A great company that will help you with this is Global Insurance Net. I found out about Global Insurance Net in 2003 through another expat. Ever since I've recommend the company, with no regrets. Carlos Perez the President, CEO of Global Insurance Net is professional and easy to work with.