Yes it’s official, I’ve taken up residence in a castle (sigh). Nestled on a hillside of Yssingeaux, France is the Chateau de Montbarnier home of ENSP (Ecole Nationale Superieure de Patisserie) and my home away from home for the next two months.
My roommates are all different ages and nationalities, hailing from Thailand, Russia, Australia, Iran, Brazil and a few Americans as well. We’re a diverse and lively bunch, but the one common denominator we all share is our passion for pastry. We are all hungry and we are eager.
The rooms are comfortable, a little less dramatic than the exterior; just your average, run of the mill hotel. There are some nice common rooms and kitchens to hang out with your classmates in your spare time.
Yssingeaux is tiny but charming town in the Auvergne region of France, about 100 kilometers southwest of Lyon. This is the land quaint houses, rolling hills and cheeses whose histories are older than my country. It is lovely but perhaps a bit too quiet for my taste.
A twenty minute walk around the entire town revealed at least five patisseries (because even the tiniest towns in France need a good pastry selection!), a few restaurants and bars, a fromagerie, and a grocery among a few other boutiques. There is a gym that’s never opened, a lovely old church and laundry mat that charges 8 Euro per load. Funny, in France you can get cheese, baguette and a bottle of wine for the price of a load of wash. I suppose when you’re eating bread and cheese this good, clean clothes don’t really matter any more.