“It feels like years since it’s been here”

SUNSHINE!!!!!  We have been living in a world of foggy mornings and gray afternoons recently.  As someone who is strongly affected emotionally by weather, it has been hard to keep a happy face. But today, the sun shined bright. Bright enough to drive with the sunroof open, to not wear a coat and of course to take a walk!

So while waiting for Célénie to finish music class this afternoon I took a nice stroll around Nuits St George.  I tried to go down each and every windy road that I hadn’t been down before, taking pictures as I went.  Unfortunately I didn’t plan this adventure so I only had my camera phone, but I worked with what I had.

I have definitely gotten comfortable here in France and although that’s nice to feel “at home” it’s also nice to act like a tourist now and then–considering I am, sort of, a long-term tourist in this town/country.  In Nuits St George I discovered that almost every house is a wine Domaine! Its incredible the amount of wine makers in one small town.

During my journey I had a nice chat with an old lady who was also on a walk (a lot slower pace than me but still proud of her for getting out there).  I tried to understand her strong Bourgogne accent (every letter seemed to have a rolled “r” at the end) but it was very difficult.  From what I did understand, she definitely felt as happy as I did about the beautiful weather.  She said these wise words (I think): When the sun comes out we are instantly all so much better and happier!

Preach it sister!!!


French Cupid

Happy Valentines Day: the typical Hallmark holiday!

Cards, heart-shaped gadgets, candles, flowers, chocolates, dinner dates…even elementary school kids give little cardboard cards to each and every friend.  Although I see the “commercialism” of it all, I think its a nice holiday to share with your loved ones.

This year I am in France–duh.  So I got to see how the whole Hallmark hoopla doesnt exactly transfer from country to country.  We Americans just do things big and over the top.  In France I found out that its not normal to give your classmates candy or cards, or to deck yourself out in heart-covered socks and pink clothes.  And trying to find a box of Conversation Hearts–nearly impossible.  Not saying the French dont celebrate this day of LOVE.  I think that would be a bit over kill.  Especially for Paris–the city for love, right?  Its just that the celebration is reserved for a significant other and is maybe more of a private affair if you will.  I am thinking right now of the scene from The Sex and the City Movie where Miranda and Carrie are at Valentines Day dinner with the obnoxious decorations covering the restaurant.  Yeah, I’m gonna say that wouldnt happen in France…

But even so, I was happy to share a little Valentines Day fun with my French family (with help from my mom who sent some awesome gifts).  They loved the socks, candy, and little trinkets that we gave and found it neat that we offer little tokens of love to friends and family on Valentines Day!

Hope everyone enjoyed a special day with someone they loved


Why can’t I see that movie?

Went to see the new film, The Black Swan tonight with some friends (it was only just recently released in France).  I was a little apprehensive to see it in French after hearing how twisted and crazy of a film it was, but it ended up being fine and I understood it all–as much as one can, of course, for a film of that genre.

What I found interesting was the lack of control on who can enter the film.  What I am talking about is age limits for certain movies based on ratings.  What I have come to discover tonight is that these strict restrictions dont exist here.  From my understanding, The Black Swan is rated R in USA meaning that kids under the age of 17 cannot go into the theatre without an adult.

Not only was it difficult to even find a rating on the French version of the movie, there was also absolutely no restrictions on it.  Knowing about the storyline and certain scenes beforehand, I advised the 10-year-old girl that she should not come with us to see it.  Her brother, 14, did end up coming but even that would have been a bit complicated in US.

Dont get me wrong, there is a system for ratings in France, but it seems the French are less worried to tell the general public how to raise their kids, or what films he/she can and cannot be subjected to.

Not sure what I prefer, but as a parent (and Au Pair) I find it is easier to explain to children that they cannot see a film based on the law, and not based on your general instinct….

All in all, good decisions were made at this household for a movie that was beyond mind boggling!


So after feeling a little guilty for not being in the Superbowl spirit this year and because of a request from the men of the house, we made American Burgers tonight!

Boeuf haché and an assortment of condiments, toppings and even a bowl of guacamole….I think I made up for my shortcomings with this meal.  Only thing that was a bit…well, a bit “French” was the wine in our glasses.  My taste buds longed for an ice-cold beer, but when in France….

Anyone have any other truly American meals I need to be sharing with my French family? I make a lot of the meals here and would love to have some recipes or ideas!

Post your thoughts here and I will be sure to give them all a try 🙂 Merci Beaucoup

Dreams of Superbowl food stifled by stomach virus

This weekend I was blessed with my second case of the stomach virus! WAHOOOO! La gastro is well-known in France and so not fun.  So today I was able to just sit in bed and recover from my night next to the toilet (sorry but its true).  While in bed with computer on lap, I caught up on my favorite blogs and wrote a few e-mails.  Randomly during this web-search-filled afternoon I stumbled across this video.  After watching it I could only wish I was in America watching the Super Bowl with a large sloppy joe and about a dozen different dips.  Unfortunately my stomach cannot handle that at the moment, but I do think I have just come up with a great meal idea for the week!!!

St Vincent Tournant

I just want to preface this post by saying that I am about to go against journalistic protocall and write about an event that is no longer newsworthy.  I went to school to study journalism, so I realize my mistake and I apologize (I guess mostly to myself because most of you wont even care).

With that being said, last weekend was the Saint Vincent Tournant. This event started in the 30’s and is a celebration of winemakers.  Saint Vincent is the patron saint of winemakers.  The word tournant means turning and is significant because the venue”turns” or changes villages each year.  This year I was lucky because it was held in Corgoloin (5 minutes from Nuits St. George).  During this festival the village is decorated with tissue paper flowers made by the people in the village (takes about a year’s work to make them all).  Of course the main attraction is the dégustation of the regions wine.  Each year the selection changes (one red, one white) but it always features wine from Bourgogne.

Normally you enter the village, pay a fee and receive a wine glass and about 8 tickets to enter the various tastings.  I went on Sunday morning with David and Louis-Auguste and due to the freezing temperatures we just walked around a while and then headed home to sit in front of the fire!  But during our walk I did get to see the making of a wine barrel which was neat.  Nowadays there are machines to cut the wood (during the demonstrations it was done by hand) but the barrel itself is still handmade!  I was told that the test to become a craftsman of this sort is to make a barrel in 8 hours.  Seems like quite a feat after watching the slow progress of heating, bending, banging, repeating…

All in all a very nice wine festival.  If I ever do it again I would like to see the traditional “ceremony” that takes place on the first day (the event lasts Saturday and Sunday).

La Chandeleur

So as everyone in the States was waiting around to see if Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, I was celebrating a different holiday.  Like Groundhog’s Day, La Chandeleur falls on February 2 each year–but that is about the only similarity in the two fêtes!

La Chandeleur is based in the Christian religion, as many holidays in France seem to be.  It a celebration of a day in Jesus’ early life. The French tradition practiced by adults and kids alike is to eat crêpes for dinner.  Specifically they must be eaten only after eight p.m. and if the cook can flip a crêpe while holding a coin in the other hand, the family is assured of prosperity throughout the coming year.

We didn’t get this into it chez Duband BUT we did chow down on lots of crêpes for dinner!  Cheese, ham, cream, sunny-side up eggs….these were the toppings for the dinner crêpes.  And for dessert we had an assortment of chocolate, sugar and lemon, and whipped cream.  With two crêpe machines going at once (one for large crêpes and one for smaller ones), we ate fast and ate a lot (easy to do with thin, delicious crêpes).

From now on my February 2nd will consist of crêpes AND crossing my fingers that little Phil doesn’t see his shadow so that the gloom of winter will soon be over!

ça fait longtemps!

Well folks, its been a while.  My only excuse in leaving you hanging for so many weeks is that I am enjoying myself.  But this excuse seems a bit selfish especially since I want you all to share in my experiences (thus the idea of this blog).

So what has been going on here in France?
Louis-Auguste recently had the opportunity to play the Saxophone with his jazz group from the Conservatoire at a really cool venue.  Its called La Vapeur and is a jazz bar in Dijon.  The concert fell on his 14th birthday nonetheless so we made sure to fill the seats with his family!

Célénie and I had a day together in Dijon this past weekend.  It’s always nice to spent time with just her.  We dropped Louis-Auguste at a birthday party in the center city and took the 5 hours to shop and look around Dijon.  We went to Sephora, the FNAC (like Best Buy) and a little boutique to get MORE silly bands (she has over 100 already.  This American fad has hit France hard these past months).  We took a break from our shopping to grab a chocolate chaud and crêpes au sucre.  Then after doing the needed grocery shopping we hit a wall and realized 2 hours were still open and we had nothing to do (and it was cold and getting dark).  So crazy Au Pair Beth decided that she wanted to play with toys…where else do you go? Toys R Us! We got there with 10 minutes to spare before closing time.  Plenty of time to jump on a stuffed horse, pass a giant Koosh ball and take a ride on a plastic see-saw.  Afterward we checked out the Piscine Olympic which I frequent but Célénie has never been to.  We even got some VIP treatment when the security guard showed us some special access only pool where you can do SCUBA! Doing BIG things over here in France, that’s for sure 🙂

The twins are eating and sleeping….that’s about it.  They are getting bigger everyday though and we all enjoy having them around.  It’s neat to already be able to see the different personalities between them.  Can’t wait for the summer to teach them to swim (maybe I am getting ahead of myself…)