Maman had a conference in Nancy, so Papa drove her there and took me along to show me around the city where my host sister Pauline was doing her studies (and where Papa did his studies too). It was a
big city, but not bustling like Paris. The atmosphere was rather relaxed, and fortunately it was a sunny day.
We dropped off Maman at a restaurant and parked the car, then walked to Place Stanislas. It’s a grand plaza with tons of cafés, and plenty of outdoor seating. We chose a table and ordered breakfast. What a nice and stereotypical morning – croissants and coffee under the warm sunshine. All that was missing was a newspaper to read… but I wouldn’t have understood it anyway. Oh well.
Our morning was off to a great start. Papa turned on his tour guide mode and introduced me to the beautiful city. We promenaded through streets, passing by boutiques and bakeries, and stopped by a patisserie to buy a packet of Bergamots – a specialty candy of Nancy, and a can of tea as a little gift for Pauline. We also took a few moments to gawk at the magnificent Baccarat crystals from outside the shop window. Papa explained that Baccarat is a city not far from Nancy, where they make some of the most expensive glassware in the world and used to provide for the French kings. We both popped a second piece of bergamot into our mouths and continued the little journey.
Prior to my visit, Pauline had already invited me to have lunch with her and her boyfriend David’s family. David was of Asian descent who grew up in France, and his family had prepared a Chinese fondue for the Sunday meal. (They call it Chinese fondue in French, but it means Hot Pot!!! Yum) We met up with Pauline in front of her nice and cozy apartment, then the two of us headed towards David’s house as Papa went the opposite way to wait for Maman.
David joined us on the streets and walked with us. He was a dynamic person with a great personality. The three of us immediately started chatting away and David asked me if I was afraid of dogs.
I have no idea why, but the first thought that crossed my mind was that he was asking me if I was afraid of EATING dogs. Probably because I’ve been asked this questions multiple times when people learned that I am Chinese. I guess stereotypes still play a huge role in augmenting the first impressions that people have on foreigners.
Turns out David had an adorable pet dog named Daidai. He was ultimately shocked when I said, “Um I don’t eat dogs…” but we laughed off the scary idea.
Their apartment was at the top floor and had a really nice outdoor terrace. When we arrived, David’s mom was busy preparing everything in the kitchen, but it did not stop her from coming to the door to greet us. We crossed the kitchen and stepped outside into the afternoon sunshine, and we all proceeded to help set up the table. Not long after, the big pot of soup was brought out, accompanied by plates of vegetables and meat to be cooked directly in the heated broth. I couldn’t have been happier to see a homemade Chinese meal right in front of me. I don’t even know how to perfectly describe the feeling of eating hot pot with them… to put it simple, it was paradise.
We topped of the delicious lunch with a cup of coffee and Swiss chocolate. I had a wonderful afternoon with Pauline, David, his brother and his parents. Soon, Papa sent Pauline a message telling her that they were almost done eating at the restaurant, so we prepared to get going.
Nancy is a city that left an unforgettable impression in my mind. I even wondered if eventually I could do my studies there as well… I’d have to do so much research and work a ton for that to happen though. All in all, it was one of the best days I’ve had and I can’t wait to visit Nancy again.