I had been told all week long that today would be hot "tres chaud!", so I left my house to retrieve rent money at around noon wearing my blue dress. French people have a weak idea of warm. I'm not sure why they even have weather reports, because it doesn't affect French dressing:
French: Dark colors. Preferably black. Boots. Scarves.
Météo: Partly cloudy.
French: See above.
Météo: Sunny, warm.
French: See above. Add sunglasses to 1/5 of population.
Since it was a bit breezier than I thought, I changed into shorts and a longer sleeved shirt before I went downtown to find the carnaval. I walked all over the centre-ville of Angers, and nothing. There were lots of small children in costumes and people selling balloons, but nothing was going on. Confused, I met Amy and Liana and we walked about 85.7 kilometers (or 3 gallons, 4 ounces) to the Parc Balzac to try to find the mysterious, adorable red Scottish cows.
Turns out, they're not in the Parc Balzac, at least not until May, but the park was beautiful, with daisies and huge dandelions everywhere, little streams and bridges cutting through shady trails, and lots and lots of green grass. We made it waaaaaaay over to the Lac de Maine, where we discovered a) a swimming beach, b) wind surfing, c) a strange black pyramid building, and d) lots of French enjoying the sunshine (they do this by going shirtless or playing bocce [men]).
After confirming the current location of the red cows, we drifted another mile over to the Lac de Maine park, where there were lots of French people. We saw a little farmhouse, and in its fenced-in field were donkeys, two of whom were HUGE and shaggy. They scared me, actually. They were as big as horses, and had long, dreadlocked fur with huge, heavy heads. Amy tried to say that maybe regular donkeys had mated with the furry Scottish cows. Whatever Amy, April Fool's was Friday.
We sat down in a shady spot and were promptly approached by two young French guys (one burre,or Arab, and one French-African). I guess I shouldn't say 'we' were approached, because it was obviously Amy they were interested in. For some reason, she attracts them. Can't say I'm jealous. They wanted to "talk for two minutes," and then proceeded to sit down, ask for our names, if we had MSN messenger or Facebook (we feigned ignorance) and about the US. They weren't creepers, but they were intruding on our grass-nappage.
Totally pooped (we had been out and about in the park for at least 4 hours), we headed back into town and parted ways. On my way home, I heard a huge commotion in the Place du Ralliement, a big, pretty square. I followed the noise, and found-
I'm still not sure exactly what Angers' carnaval consists of, other than it was the coolest, most exciting, best parade I have ever seen. There were tons of people pressed about, lots of drumming groups, every single kid was decked out in a spiffy Halloween costume, balloons, confetti everywhere, big puppets, stilt walkers, various ethnic groups, face painted adults, and people being generally silly.
I had the best time, squished in with all those Angevines. The parade had a real community feel, and was really laid back, with entertainers and sideline-watchers interacting, hugging, taking pictures, or being attacked by confetti. I had an older man dressed like a soldier through a fistful in my face, and I was secretly pleased, because I got to be part of the party, too, though I got it all over me.
I took too many photos, and got some absolutely precious ones of the kids. Being a kid in France must be sweet. Snack time at 4pm is almost mandatory, the playgrounds have really fun, dangerous looking installations, and you only go to school a half-day on Wednesday.
I'm going to upload a photo page of the parade on my "faux pas" page, if you want to see it. It was so nice to have fun like the French with the French. I haven't gotten a speck of homework done today, but I think having a fun, away-from-it-all weekend was worth it.