Yesterday I arrived in France at 8:35 A.M., which is 1:30 A.M. in the U.S. We took the bus to the train station in Paris to wait for the TGV train. While we were there, I found it was very difficult to find any free water or toilets, and everything was wayyy over-priced, except for the bread. I bought a "demi-baguette" for 0.42 euro cents. It was delicious! Some interesting things I saw were the tame pigeons... Parisians don't wave.. trash on the side of the road.. and two hobos sleeping under a blanket together outside of the train station. After the LONG wait for the TGV, we boarded to head out for Epinal! The TGV was another interesting experience. First off, I found the TGV to be surprisingly nice and clean. It was very fast, I believe 335 km/h. I made a fool of myself trying to close an automatic door... the French people laughed at me. The toilet was very interesting too.. I spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out how to flush it! The flusher was a FOOT PEDAL! When I arrived in Epinal I was excitedly greeted and received cheek kisses from Lucien's parents! Although I was extremely tired, I was very happy to meet them and see Lucien again! The family was extremely kind and welcoming. They have two very small cars by the way. One is an Audi and one is a Ford KA. The Ford is very VERY tiny. When I arrived at their home, they gave me a tour and offered me food at once. It was a salmon quiche. I met their maid, Vera, who was very nice! She comes on Thursdays. She is Russian and rolls her R's! Mercure, the dog, became my friend right away! I feel much more at home with a dog in the house! The house is beautiful! They have gardens with flowers and apple trees and an orange tree, Mirabelle tree, and lemon tree! Their floors are made of stone. My room is in the mother's office, but is very comfortable and cute, although I am a bit afraid of the statues of heads on the wall... The light is interesting - it lights up the wall behind the bookshelf with the art and books on it. After eating the salmon quiche and the amazing petite strawberry tarte, I went to the market with Lucien and his mom. There was a large (smelly) display of cheese, and all the chicken, pigeons, and rabbits STILL HAD THEIR HEADS. That's enough to make one go vegetarian! We briefly visited a church made in the middle ages in the center of Epinal. I found it to be quite beautiful and interesting. For supper we had Raclette, which was good. It is a little oven that sits on the table. Each person has a little pan to put the cheese (Raclette) in and put into the oven to melt. After the cheese is melted you spread it on your potatoes. There was also slices of meat and cherries. I enjoyed this meal. I found it was advised to wear shoes or socks in the house because they don't want to get their feet dirty...? It was quite strange for me. I took a shower after giving them their gifts and then went to bed. I slept from 9 to 1 p.m. Ahh jet lag! For their lunch (my breakfast), we ate salmon, peppers and egg plants, wild rice, and what they called pasta, but it looked like large pieces of rice and tasted like it too. I really liked the pasta and rice. We also had plain yogurt mixed with hazelnut sugar, which I really liked. We had espresso next, which is traditional after lunch. I added milk and hazelnut sugar to it. It temporarily healed my jet lag! Next we went to a lake in a small city 30 km from Epinal. The city is called Gerardmer. We went to the beach. I found out that the word and city called "Trempealeau" means to just feel the water with your feet.. just to wade in the water.. but not swim. I ordered from a waitress grapefruit juice! There are a lot of pine trees which they call sapin, and they say that there is where the bees live that make the honey? Afterwards, we rented a paddle boat, "pedalos", and rode it on the lake. There were a lot of windsurfers out. After that we wandered the city. I was surprised to see COMMUNISTS on each corner selling their newspapers! It scared me! ANDDD on top of that fear.. I chose to wear my RED shirt that day!!! The market was cute.. there was interesting people with booths along the road. Dogs wandered freely. We went into a bakery that had interesting food, but all looked good. I got an apple turnover, which was delicious! I was surprised that when the communists talked to her she responded and they talked for about 5 minutes about their views on issues. She bought me one of their newspapers which the Dad took a picture of me with.. in my RED shirt.. I got motion sick on the way home. When we got home we ate Raclette again, but I couldn't eat much because I was sick. At 9 PM we walked to the city center to watch a blues band and eat ice cream. I impressed the family because Lucien went looking for a menu but couldn't find one, so I asked if I could try. I went to a man and asked "Avez-vous la carte avec les glaces?" and he gave me the menu right away! They clapped for me. I saw Nick Boldt and Molly G. there. On the way home, we were followed by a kitten who adored us. We jumped over the fence so it couldn't' follow us, but it climbed perfectly up the rock fence! We were shocked. We got the dog to scare it, but they fell in love.. Finally we ran away, but it hasn't yet left the yard.. It is midnight, but only 5 pm in La Crosse, I'm in bed but not tired. Here are some things I learned today - sugar = sucre, honey = sapin, kitten = chaton, Coconut = Coco.