Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Bordeaux Sejour

I was lucky enough to be able to visit my old haunt Bordeaux this past weekend, and it was great to be back!

I stayed with my American friend Carmen, whom I studied there with last time and who now works there as an English Language Assistant in a local high school. It was so weird and delightful to travel to a foreign city and feel at home...because it was my home for 4.5 months last year. Basically, I feel lucky that I'm only 22 and after this year I will be able to call 2 French cities home, sigh.

We didn't have specific plans, but we did try and do a lot of things that we liked doing last year, including a visit to our favorite comfy cafe (Les Mots Bleus) and a favorite English bar (Sweeney Todd's). It was just nice to walk around the streets I used to walk around everyday....I felt like I had never left.

(So glad to see that they still give you free little pieces of cake with your coffee at Les Mots Blues!)

(A nice fountain off of Rue St. Catherine).

(Reunited with my cathedral!!)


We also went to Utopia (my favorite movie theater in the whole's in what used to be an old church, so the individual theaters are decorated with remnants of it, and shows are only 6 euros!!) and saw the movie The Artist, which I looooved. It was so great, I highly recommend that you all see it.

In addition, Carmen and I were sure to check out some *new* sights, so we found a church that I had wanted to go to last time but never made the trek out to.

(St. Croix and its interesting, uneven facade)

We WANTED to visit the early necropolis at St. Suerin (near my old house), but we didn't find out until we got there that it's only open in July & August, booo. I'll just have to go back.

I was supposed to go to my former host family's house at 6:30, but during the day my host mom called to say that she had completely forgotten that there was a concert she wanted to go to, but that if I wanted to come with her she could just take me to the train station from there, so that was great. I met her at home, where I met her new student, as well as geting to see Ynel, my little host brother, who showed me her new computer AND their new cat. It was so nice to be back in their house, even for just a little bit!

Joana whisked me away to the concert, which was taking place in an airplane hanger-sized auto garage, decorated with old-fashioned Christmas lights, so it looked really cool. There were old fashioned cars everywhere, and people were sitting on the car-fixing-things while they waited for the show to start. What I think Joana told me was that at this specific garage, it costs you less to get your car fixed because you take your car in and fix it yourself (but does that even make sense?! As we know, I'm not fluent enough to understand everything anyone says to me). When we got there, we found Patrick, who plays in a duo with Joana and who was probably surprised to see me because he was at our house all the time last year rehearsing, but he probably never expected to run into me again. After we had been at the garage for a while, he told me that he could tell I was less "timide" about speaking French since he last saw me, which was a great thing to hear! Joana met up with some guys that she knew, who seemed pretty unassuming to me, and we drank wine and talked about when the concert was going to start. Joana and I left them to wander around and look at the art gallery that was set up in the other half of the garage, and when it was time for the concert to start, we went towards the music area only to find that Patrick and her other friends that we had been talking to WERE the band. I guess I missed that part of what they were saying. The music was really catchy -- Joana told me that the lead singer had a great African/French accent, but it's not like I could tell or anything.

It was a great little weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Paris, and I was reminded just how great Bordeaux is. I'll definitely be going back at least once again before I leave France this time.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I went to Bordeaux this weekend, and had a great time! But first, here are a few little tidbits about my Parisian life.

1. On Friday, I made Lise watch the movie The Witches (a movie I really like) based on the Roald Dahl novel (which I also really like). I'm always happy when we end up watching *good* quality kids movies, rather than what she usually prefers (i.e. movies about golden retriever puppies who talk and play basketball, and things like that). She kept reassuring me throughout the movie that she wasn't scared, but as soon as it was over decided she was actually terrified, which meant that she refused to do anything without me right next to her, including going to the bathroom. For two entire days. So now I know what kind of movies NOT to suggest, errrrrr.

2. I'm getting the occasional back pain, and I know exactly what's causing it: giving too many piggy back rides.

3. I had my appointment today at the OFII office (something something France immigration and integration), which I was ordered to go to in order to finish my visa process. It was the same as when I did it in Bordeaux, so no surprises there. But I DID have to get a chest x-ray, which is my 5th negative TB-related text in two years. I've become used to feeling reassured.

4. The family has a gas stove where there's a little thing that you have to press down on strategically to light the burners. It's taken me two months, but I've finally learned how to do it the right way (instead of doing it wrong, which takes a lot longer).

5. I'm successfully learning how to use the subjunctive past tense, which deserves its own post, but it's great because it feels really good! It's not too hard, but it's complicated enough to make me think back to my early days of French in high school and college and imagine how proud those teachers would be of me if they knew how technical my French knowledge is now. I'm honestly kind of sad that the 10-weeks of French class I payed for is almost up because it's been so great.

I'm going to leave you with this and try to update tomorrow about my sejour in Bordeaux. But first, some chocolate-blueberry cake! Mmm, France.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This is a post about cats.

One of the many differences between life here and life at home is the way that French cats act. I would say that a good 90% of the time I walk either to or from Mariene's apartment, a strange cat (different each time) will see me and start meowing at me until I pet it. Once, a large gray cat followed me and Mariene back to her house where we played with it for a while, and then we we left it apparently stayed on her doorstep waiting for her to come out again. They're just way more shameless about wanting to play, I guess. 

Our two cats here are really great. Sometimes they really don't want anything to do with us, and sometimes they won't leave  you alone until you pet them. Another big difference between the two countries is that back home, our two cats Osgood and Penelope tend to sleep in tight little ball shapes, but here, Boule de Neige and Toundra (I think that's how they spell it) try to take up as much space as possible:

Toundra on Monday.  

Toundra on Tuesday.  

Boule Boule on Monday.  

Boule Boule on Tuesday. 

Awwww, both cats!

So, you see what I have to deal with on a daily basis. Going to Bordeaux this weekend, super excited!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I would just like to say that it was 39 degrees Fahrenheit today. This is a bad sign -- I'm pretty sure that I was NOT a fan of French winter last time around, and this is only Fall (on that note, we were discussing weather vocabulary in class yesterday. Florence gave us examples of what weather calls for one saying "Il fait frais", which is warmer than "Il fait froid"....based on her examples of "not so cold", I am pretty sure that I am in for a long January & February).

Friday, November 11, 2011

November 11

Happy Armistice Day! This is when that big war ended, or something. Actually, apparently they have a minute of silence in Europe at 11AM to commemorate WWI, which I think is super cool and I wish we had in the US (I spent my 11AM watching The Wire, but I technically was silent because the family is in Normandy, so I didn't have anyone to talk to during that one minute anyway).

Mariene and I keep passing a pizza place in Clamart, so we decided to try it tonight. It's buy one get one free if you pick them up yourselves, so naturally we had to get two, which means that naturally I just ate one whole pizza by myself, mmmm and uggggh.

I'm going to sleep now so that I'll be awake for my English-tutoring gig in the morning! :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween in France!

They don't *really* celebrate Halloween here (although Juliette and her friend did go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood....I asked for an explanation but no one could give me a real one...I guess people hand out candy, but only a limited number of houses or something).

Mariene and I decided far in advance that our Halloween was going to be spent at Pere Lachaise, so we dragged Lewis and Scott (Mariene's friend who was visiting from Bristol) with us. It was a GORGEOUS day outside, and the leaves were beautiful!

It was the perfect day to be there. Mariene has relatives buried there, which made it even cooler.

And lately, I've fallen in love with the Jardin du Luxembourg, which I'm been trying to stroll through as much as possible on my way to whereever else I'm going. The other day, I sat down to read my copy of Les Miz, and it is *infinitely* cooler to be reading about how Marius goes to the Jardin du Luxembourg everyday in order to try and meet Cosette for the first time while I'm sitting in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

(My view as I read the other day).

People usually talk about Paris being beautiful, and while Paris has a lot of beautiful things in it (art, statues, pastries, etc), the Jardin du Luxembourg was the first thing that actually made me realize why people describe the city as a whole like that. I'm sad that my parents will be visiting when it will lack all color and be too cold to go strolling through!