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Neelin Views -- Student's trek to France 'unforgettable'

Have you ever wondered if there are countries out there that adore Nutella so much that they devote entire supermarket shelves to it?

Neither have I, but very recently I got a chance to experience first-hand the passion that a certain country has for this hazelnut-chocolate spread in an 11-day trip anyway. The identity of this Nutella-loving nation? Why, France, of course!

When one thinks of the country of France, things that usually spring to mind include romance, fashion, good food, better wine and the Eiffel Tower.

What people don’t usually associate with France is Nutella. But this decadent spread is actually a huge hit, especially when smothered on a hot crêpe and enjoyed on a café’s terrace. You can find it in just about every store and every restaurant in France. They even offer Nutella-flavoured ice cream!

Besides teaching me about the wonders of Nutella, I came out of my trip to France with tons of unforgettable memories.

My first glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea from atop the ruins of an ancient cliffside fortress was an amazing moment, one that I will keep in my mind forever. And when I saw the Eiffel Tower peeking out among the Parisian skyline, I could scarcely believe that I was actually seeing it! Ascending the Eiffel Tower and gazing down at the bustling city below was even better.

However, I have to say that my favourite part of France was visiting the grave of Leonardo da Vinci, an artist that I greatly admire. Being able to pay my respects to such a legendary figure at his final resting place was an incredible opportunity for me.

If up until now you’ve been wondering if there’s anything else to eat in France besides Nutella, fear not: French cuisine is indeed just as delicious as advertised.

During my stay, I partook in as many culinary specialties as I could, including croque-monsieur (a kind of reverse cheese sandwich), flammekueche (similar to pizza with an extremely flat, crispy crust), pâté (meat paste), Parisian ham, and lots of baguettes and cheese. No escargot, though!

Not only did I have a lot of fun in France, I also learned a lot about French culture and history.

My group visited a veritable congregation of castles, cathedrals and caves, including the Palace of Versailles, the Château of Chenonceau, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Lascaux Caves. We even visited an ancient Roman coliseum ... in France!

At every stop, our tour guide painstakingly explained the centuries (or millennia) of history behind whatever priceless historical landmark we were taking pictures of. At one point, he pointed out an old-fashioned building on the side of a street we were passing, lamenting that it was “only 600 years old!”

Finally, a visit to France (or anywhere, for that matter) is never complete until you’ve accumulated more souvenirs than you can carry in both hands (good thing I brought a big suitcase)!

Everywhere we went, I looked for the cheesiest things possible to bring back to my friends and family, which is why my parents’ nightstand is now home to a silver-coloured model of the Eiffel Tower and my brother has a “Je t’aime Paris” T-shirt hanging in his closet. In my family, the tackier the souvenir, the better. All the better to remember you with, my dear.

» Rebecca Xie is a Grade 11 student at École secondaire Neelin High School.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 23, 2014

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Have you ever wondered if there are countries out there that adore Nutella so much that they devote entire supermarket shelves to it?

Neither have I, but very recently I got a chance to experience first-hand the passion that a certain country has for this hazelnut-chocolate spread in an 11-day trip anyway. The identity of this Nutella-loving nation? Why, France, of course!

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Have you ever wondered if there are countries out there that adore Nutella so much that they devote entire supermarket shelves to it?

Neither have I, but very recently I got a chance to experience first-hand the passion that a certain country has for this hazelnut-chocolate spread in an 11-day trip anyway. The identity of this Nutella-loving nation? Why, France, of course!

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