Happy October. (I’ve been here for over a year)

Since our last chat (my apologizes that it was a month ago) I have extended my VISA for a month.  I just wasn’t ready to buy a plane ticket out of here in September–October just sounded so much better.  It took a while to actually make it official but I finally made peace with leaving and will be returning to the other side of the Atlantic on the 12th.

I am happy to see friends and family and have the holidays in the traditional way that I missed out on last year.  However I am also dragging my feet to leave this life.  A year here in France and I can honestly say that it feels like home.  I enjoy taking my lunch at noon exactly and knowing that everyone else has also stopped their day to eat.  I love grabbing a coffee at quaint cafés with friends.  I am proud that I can flip on the TV and watch a show and understand it all!  I have fallen in love with travel by train and the ease of reaching another country within hours.  But most of all I enjoy speaking this language.  So because of all this I have kept my options open by  buying a round trip ticket…meaning Ill be flying into Paris June next year.  To do what? I dont know exactly but I have time to figure it out.

For now I am enjoying my last two weeks here in France.  Last weekend I took the train 4 hours south to visit a friend in Montpellier.  It was a climate and landscape a lot different from here in the center of the country.  We had fun at the beach, jumping cliffs and exploring ancient villages.  My friend Jess plays soccer in Montpellier so she was also able to snag some tickets to the Montpellier v. Paris soccer game that weekend! Very fun time spent in a new place.

Tomorrow I’m off to Lyon.  I have been to this city a handful of times this past year the first being for the holidays and the most recent to visit friends who had just moved to the “mini-Paris like” city.  This time Ill be going to the zoo with the now 9 month old twins and then a museum which is more up the alley of the two eldest kids.  I’m happy to spend one of my last weekends with the family that has become my extended family.

Bon Weekend!

Taking time to vacation right

I just got back from the longest vacation I have ever experienced.  In The States vacation is taken rarely and it lasts all of one week (at least this is my experience).  In France vacation is treasured and when you have 3 weeks its considered “real.”  The first week is of course not enough, the second you begin to relax and take advantage of being away and the third is the real icing on the cake where you no longer think of home or your responsibilities.  Well, the family and I had 15 days this year in Costa Brava, Spain.  15 days = 2 weeks—not bad! But not enough apparently because we didn’t exactly go straight home.  From Spain we drove to the mountains in France; La Clusaz specifically.  We got in Friday night and were on a day-to-day basis.  The weather was so nice that we only just got home last night, Wednesday.

Interesting to go from the beach to the mountains.  I am more beach and the family is more mountains but I enjoyed both spots enormously! At the beach we ate a lot, beached, SCUBA dove and did an afternoon kayaking.  In the mountains the eating continued and loads of cheese was added because of the fete du Reblochon that took place that weekend.   We did however do a lot of walking around the mountains and even did a thrilling mountain climb one morning so I am hoping that balances the tartiflette (look it up and salivate).

I will add some photos once uploaded. For now its back to the grind for one last month as Au Pair…back-to-school shopping here we come!

a month pause

Sorry for the absence (again) from my postings.  As my mom says, you’re “definitely getting French : )  You no longer experience life as unusual.”  This is somewhat true:  My life is pretty consistent and “normal” these days. This is a cool thing, to think my life is “normal” while living in a foreign country…must mean something. But even so, I try to keep exploring and continue to look at things through the eyes of a tourist.  Things are more exciting that way!

One simple way to do this is to just take a day trip to another town.  Even another little village nearby sometimes meets the need too.  For example a few weeks ago I stopped at an old church I pass every day on the way to Dijon.  Something simple but it was fulfilling.  A little more of an effort; taking a day trip to another town.  I visited Annecy with the family last week.  It’s a beautiful town right on a lake surrounded by mountains.  Unfortunately we have been experiencing more clouds than sunshine so the paysage was less than magical but it’s still nice to get away and see some new places!  I have also enjoyed some unique fun in our backyard because its fruit picking season.  I am pretty sure I have only ever gone apple picking in the US so I was excited to pick some cherries with Célénie this past weekend.  The best part being its right in our backyard 🙂

So although the posts have been few and far between I am keeping busy trying to explore every inch of this country.

Feathers in France

As I sit here on a train, Dijon bound after Easter weekend in Paris, I thought it would be a good time to fill you all in.  I know I have been such a slacker recently but after a week and a half with my family (reunited after 6 months of my being here) I have plenty to talk about.

They came in on a Friday afternoon, which now seems like ages ago.  Funny how that happens when you pack your days with sightseeing making each day seem like 35 hours long.  It was the first time my parents had been out of the country (they got passports just for this trip) so I felt like we needed to do it all and do it right.  This tends to be my attitude when I am a “host”:  I want people to have a great time and enjoy doing whatever I am planning.  But these good wishes tend to make me a bit anxious and stressed (especially when we are 5 people being tourists).   But even though the typical family feuding showed up here and there, looking back on this week I think we had a great time together exploring France.

We began in my neck of the woods: Burgundy.  We drove the Haut Côte, tasted a lot of wine, visited castles, went to markets, tried foods, which nobody recognized and just enjoyed the extraordinary weather we were blessed with.  Thanks to a rental car we even ventured to the Rhône Alps region for a day in Lyon.  Although we were busy it was nothing compared to the ground we ended up covering in Paris Easter weekend…

We stayed in the center of the city at Hôtel des Carmes (recommend it to anyone visiting Paris).  Our first day was a half-day since we arrived at Gare de Lyon in the afternoon.  After traversing the city charged with baggage in a freak rainstorm we hit the ground running.  We took a long walk seeing the Panthéon, Luxembourg Gardens, St Sulpice, Notre Dame, Centre Pompidou and ending with an ice cream on the walk back.

The next morning we woke up early and did the touristiest thing you can—stand in line for hours on end.  We went to Versailles and arrived at 9am (opening time).  Although the line was long we were lucky to arrive when we did because only 20 minutes after we staked our spot the endless “snakes” began to form creating over a 4 hour wait!  We got in there after a bit of bi-lingual crowd control on my part (nobody is butting in front of us thank you very much) and enjoyed the elaborate displays inside the palace.

Being a European Resident under the age of 26 I get free access to many museums including the Versailles palace.  What I didn’t realize was that didn’t include the Gardens.  So as my parents and sisters entered that area I got back in a line that was luckily only about 30 minutes of a wait.

By the end of our afternoon we were hot and tired so on arrival back in Paris we lounged on the Eiffel Tower lawn for a quick nap.  From someone who thinks this area of Paris is dirty and overrated it was one of my favorite moments.  I really felt Parisian.

Afterwards as the sun was setting we took our Bateaux Mouche tour on the Seine.  As if to tell us congrats on an exhausting day, the Eiffel tower lit up for our tour just as we passed under the last bridge putting us face to face with the monument. With sore feet and legs we metro-ed it back to the 5th arrondissement and hit the sac.

The next day I woke up exhausted and a little pissed to be heading to the Louvre for the third time in my life.  This museum is big, exhausting and not really filled with things I want to see multiple times.  But I wanted my parents and sisters to see it because everyone has to if they come to Paris.  I mean how can you leave Paris and say that you didn’t se the Mona Lisa? You cant.

Although I was a cranky bitch at the start, it ended up being great and unlike my past visits. My parents were totally taken back to the years of standing in lines super early at swim meets as we arrived an hour before the place opened.  What a great idea though because we got in by 9:10 (10 min after opening) and saw lots of the museum without the crowds!

After 2 short hours (it always passes quickly in that museum) we walked down the Champs Elyssees, took a photo with the Arc de triomphe.  Our last stop was Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur.  We ended up buying lunch and picnicking on the lawn at the Sacré Coeur.  We really had the best weather ever!

That night, our last together, was ended and topped off with a birthday dinner for my mom.  We drank good wine, laughed a lot and enjoyed being together as a family.

Now I am alone again and its weird.  I love being here in France but I’ve also found it true that it’s who you’re with that matters.  So alone in Paris after my family left I couldn’t help being a bit depressed.  On the positive side though, I have a wonderful family to go back to in Burgundy and only 6 more months until I am again reunited with my own 🙂

Mon Anniversaire en France

Yesterday was my birthday! I am now an old lady (23).

My day started out a little boring; I had school from 8am until 4pm.  But no worries, I made sure to find a way to spice it up… In between classes my friends and I grabbed a table at a café and celebrated with a large beer!  YUM 🙂  And to top that off, the day was absolutely gorgeous! Sun shining & hothothot temperatures.

I need to stop posing with beers (re: previous post)

When I got home that afternoon I was just expecting to get some happy birthdays and a cake.  Like normal I expected to throw a dinner together and help with some homework.  But that was not at all the case.  I really am the most spoiled Au Pair alive because I had such a wonderfully unexpected celebration with the family.  A few weeks back I was asked what my favorite meal in France was. I answered Boudin Noir. Some of you might get grossed out by this but my favorite meal is a blood sausage! That’s right.  I was a little apprehensive the first time I ate it but it was actually delicious with Dijon mustard (of course) and mashed potatoes.  Anyways, its my fav and it was on last night’s birthday dinner menu (which I got to watch being made while sipping on champagne)!  This time we had it with warm apples which now I believe is the best way.  Dont hate until you try it…its delicious!

So we ate that, had some wine (duh) and Skyped my family back in the states.  Mid Skype session the cake was brought out accompanied by “the birthday song” and presents!  The best part was sharing cake and presents with my family back home.  I really have become such a Skype advocate since my arrival in France because of the cool memories it allows me to have and the proximity it gives me to my friends and family back home.  Living across the Atlantic is not half bad when you can see anyone you want at the drop of a hat (and free too).

So all in all it was a fantastic day and night!  I am thankful for my two great families, this great job, this great country and Skype heheh

Vendredi Run Down

So it’s Friday and it was a GORGEOUS day today! Got to enjoy the weather while grabbing coffee (and a beer) in between classes.  Can you tell that I am on an Au Pair salary here? Cheese crackers and a beer…I choose to shop during the week and leave myself with 2 euro to spare come Friday. OopsI am tired and am about to chow down on some wonderful Friday night plancha (thinly cut meat cooked on a hot plate on the table) but I wanted to post a little something. So here are three things from my week, enjoy.

This is how we park in France. Or at least how I park when I am given a TRUCK to drive through Dijon…

This house/château is in the village next to mine.  I am in love with it and one day hope to live here (or in another castle like it).

When I wait for Célénie to finish music class in Nuits St George I sit at this fountain and read. Dont you just love her big tush?!

 

TGIF people 🙂

Vide Grenier

Remember homeroom moms? You know, the moms who would plan the class parties in elementary school, would “man” the wrapping paper sales, come in to talk about the holidays, things like that.  I remember my mom putting together a Christmas presentation in 4th grade. I was a bit of a home body (I’ve made big leaps since then. i.e. living in a foreign country) and absolutely LOVED that my mom came in for the afternoon.  I also loved when my mom was chaperone for those class trips to Washington DC or Baltimore Aquarium. It meant I didn’t have to hold my lunch, duh! Before I get too off track here, my point in bringing up these moms is that I was totally a homeroom mom tonight! Célénie’s school is doing a flea market type thing and I have agreed to participate in the event with her and her brother.   She is lucky because there aren’t just homeroom moms at the school; there is a whole committee of parents who put on different events (one being a class trip for a week to the beach: sweet right?!)  So tonight I got to meet all these wonderful parents as there was “une réunion” (meeting).  We went with pen & paper in hand; ready to learn more about this yard sale.  Ends up the night is a work night and not very information based at all.  Creation of the promotional posters was the goal of the evening.   So as Célénie played in the courtyard with her friends (this was HER idea wasn’t it) I was with the parent crowd gluing promotional pages to large cardboard squares. All worth it when—and this is why I LOVE France—the bottle(s) of champagne were popped for the apéro.  Solid!  I could definitely get used to being a French “homeroom mom”

lights, camera, NO ACTION

It was all planned out. The bike race that goes from Paris to Nice was passing through Nuits St George at 17h.  I had to pick up one kid at the bus stop around 16:30, and the next at a friend’s house around 17:30.  I could drive into Nuits before going to the second and catch the bikers as they passed.

But plans never work.

First kid didnt want to go with me and parents weren’t home.  Always a plan B: go alone and just be a few minutes late for the getting the second (he likes to play at his friend’s house anyways).  Well, ends up I have to take a new route to the friend’s because there was a Franck Dubosc movie being filmed and roads were blocked (It was a beautiful day to film the countryside!)  Pretty cool reason if I do say so myself.  But this meant I would have to wait until later to go into Nuits and hope to catch the end of everything.

Welp by the time I got there I was walking in the opposite direction of everyone: very clear indication that things had ended already. Merde!

Bikers–but not the right ones 🙂