Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's a good thing I just got back from a relaxing vacation, because tonight we are leaving Paris once again...only this time to (drum roll please.....) MEET. THE. PARENTS.

It's an event that has been stressing men and women out around the world for centuries, and now it's my turn. On the positive side, at least I have already been through this once in France, so I have somewhat of an idea to expect. And I can speak French this time around. Plus, nobody can be worse than The MIL. (Right?? Please tell me I'm right! Go on, leave a comment right now.)

Although I do have to say I'm feeling decidedly less freaked out about it than when it was first brought up in December. Which I'm taking as a sign of progress on my part - in the beginning, any mention of any sort of event more than a few weeks in the future brought on waves of panic. But yet just today we booked a hotel for a family wedding in May, and instead of thinking "Ack! A wedding! And a family one at that! And in May en plus- who knows what could happen between now and then?", I (mostly) just thought "Oh, that gives me a few months to find a new dress".

It's all about the baby steps people.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We'll be saying goodbye to the mountains in a few short hours - it was a lovely time, with relaxing mornings and sportif afternoons. In case anyone else is thinking about a ski break, we went skiing at the Isola 2000 ski station and stayed at the Hotel Chastillon. I found a really good half-pension deal on Most ski deals are a week long, so I really liked that they offered some shorter 3-5 day séjours.
I'd read some reviews of the hotel before booking, and they all said the rooms were a bit old-fashioned but that the employees were great. Our room actually turned out to be very nice (minus the wall-to-wall carpet) - but it had balcony and a nice, big bathtub. The hotel itself is located literally on the edge of the main run and is the closest hotel from the bus stop. It has a sauna and a very small exercise room. There's also a ski location counter in the basement of the hotel, so you can literally go from your room and out the door to the slopes. The prices were also cheaper than all the other places we checked. Oh, and the hotel has free snowshoe rentals, which was nice since C doesn't ski (but you do need to bring your own winter boots).We had breakfast and dinner in the hotel every day, and the food was pretty good and varied. Drinks were included at breakfast, but not at night. Besides us, there were mostly families at the hotel, which was meant that we got the small table next to the fireplace almost every night. And the employees really were great - genuinely nice and smiley. You guys know I spend about two weeks per month in hotels, and in all my years of traveling in France, I have never stayed in a place where the people were this nice. They were so willing to help us out, answer questions, etc. So all of that definitely made up for the slightly-outdated room décor.The station itself is pretty good too - there's a cinema, a bowling alley and small gallery of shops (including a grocery store). Our hotel didn't have wifi, but there was free wifi in the gallery. What I liked best about the station though was the number of intermediate runs it had - 21 in total. I only ski about once a year, so I really appreciated that they had a ton of nice, long, not-to-difficult runs. Plus, I was expecting it to be very busy since it's the school holidays, but since it is such a family-orientated station, everyone pretty much stayed at the bottom, leaving most of the upper runs free and clear. I was usually the only person on the lift going up and would maybe cross 2 or 3 people on the way down. It was really nice and peaceful. And a little tip - the Isola 2000 website has "ventes flash" every Tuesday, usually offering 50% off your lift ticket.To get here, we took the train to Nice and then from there, there's a 2hr bus ride to the ski station. The best part is that it is subsidized by the government, so it only costs 2€ roundtrip. So all in all, it was a great vacation and I'd definitely come back here again next year.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hello from the mountains.....where C & I will be spending the week getting some much needed R&R.


Monday, February 15, 2010

C & I have gotten into the habit of watching American TV together once or twice a week. It's good for his English and it gives me my TV fix for the week. And as I've mentioned before, it also has the added bonus of being culturally informative. While he may not yet understand why Americans eat ice cream straight out of the carton, he at least knows that if he ever sees me doing it, he should either back slowly out of the room or come bearing flowers. Or both.

This past week, we ended up watching the Valentine's episodes of a few different shows. I could see he was confused about all the V-day talk and was just not quite grasping the importance of it in the US. So I pressed pause and explained what a big holiday (for better or for worse) it actually was. He was pretty surprised and exclaimed "You should've told me before!"

It's true, I hadn't really said anything - I was actually sort of looking forward to spending a low-key day together before I left on another work trip. I bought the fixings for an American-style brunch, sugar cookies (his fav) and then homemade pizzas at night, but that was about it. And to be honest, I'd spent so much time thinking about what to get him for Christmas and then for his 30th birthday that I just wasn't ready for another big holiday so soon. Plus Le Figaro said that only 18% of the 10,000 people they'd polled planned on celebrating V-day. So I was quite surprised when C took this new bit of knowledge very seriously. People, he got flowers AND a gift. In a continuation of his never-ending quest to make sure I'm not cold, he went out and bought quite possibly the thickest blanket I have ever seen. It is ginormous and I swear to God it weighs about 10 kg. I am hoping it will not suffocate me.

But because my apartment shoebox is so tiny, my lovely new present ended up sitting near the oven. And as I was oh-so-carefully trying to lift the pizza off the pan and onto the counter so I could cook C's pizza, the aluminum foil broke. Dumping my lovingly-prepared, heart-shaped pizza all over its shiny, new whiteness. And then all the sauce & cheese & fixings slid off the blanket and on to my beige carpet.

I only wish I was kidding.

C has not yet seen The Crazy, so I decided against freaking out and instead just set about cleaning up the giant mess. The crust was surprisingly still in one piece- but with no veggies or sauce left, I couldn't really make another pizza. I did however have plenty of cheese left, so I sprinkled some powdered garlic on the crust and covered it with mozzarella and what do you know - it turned out to be the best darn cheesy bread I've ever made. I actually liked it better than C's pizza.
The duvet however did not fare so well, and is now covered in orange splotches - anyone have any magical advice for removing tomato sauce stains?

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I'm curious - for those of you who go to gyms in France - do you find French women particularly uncoordinated? Because I frequently go to the exercise classes at my gym and I can never get over how difficult it seems to be for the françaises. Most have trouble following the sequences, keeping time or doing more than one movement at once. It's like they have very little control over or awareness of their bodies. And I'm wondering if this is because the majority of French women don't play any sort of sport when they're younger?

I don't know about in other countries, but in the US (or at least in Ksam's America), it's quite common for young women/teens to play at least one sport. I guess it helps that most American high schools offer a wide selection of athletic activities, which really isn't the case in France (and even less so for women). But I just find it so odd though - here French women have this reputation for being graceful and comfortable in their skin, but put them in gym clothes and they flop around like wet fish!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Just in case anyone was wondering how the Moulin Rouge was - I enjoyed it, but I don't think I would've paid 99€ to see it.

It started off pretty slow, and I found the mens' costumes to be incredibly cheesy (think white, sequined pantsuits). Speaking of which- I had no clue there were men involved. And why were they always fully clothed??

They picked up the pace after a while though, and I enjoyed several of the acts. I was also surprised to discover that there were non-dance acts - such as an acrobatic act and a ventriloquist - and that some of the numbers involved singing. It almost seemed more like a comedie-musicale than a cabaret.

This should give you a pretty good idea of the show though (warning - there are some topless women in the video):


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Things have very busy chez Ksam, which is why I am greatly looking forward to tonight's festivities. Dum da da da....C was able to get free (!!) tickets to the Moulin Rouge through his work and tonight is the big night. I am so ready to get gussied up and forget all the work issues of last week (that have unfortunately continued on into this week).

And that free champagne won't hurt either....


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The light at the end of the tunnel

My morning appointment got pushed back til the afternoon, so I decided to head over to V-town and swing by the prefecture there. The original citizenship letter I'd received had said there would be a second one coming sometime before mid-April, but in the mean time, my carte de sejour was going to expire, leaving me in this half-foreign, half-French gray area. With nothing but a coffee-stained letter to prove my French citizenship (thanks Fab).

Since I have a lot of traveling coming up, I thought I better swing by the pref in order to clarify my status. And then I got some news that made all the crappiness of this week fade away. Not only was my paperwork ready, but it was THERE! Just a few feet away from me.

She told me that everyone would get their papers at the naturalization ceremony in April, and in my head, I thought "April?? I can't wait til frickin' April". I was considering just grabbing the stack and making a run for it (Just think, I could be like the Robin Hood of french citizenship, going around and distributing naturalization certificates to the poor), but then she told me since I traveled so much and might not be able to make it to the ceremony, she'd just give them to me now. And so my thoughts of helping the poor slipped away and I instead listened as she explained what I would be getting - my naturalization certificate and an original of my French birth certificate. With which I can then go apply for my French ID card, and then my French passport. And once I have those, I will no longer ever have to be dependant on the Fab-meister for help again. ie. Freedom people, Freedom! At long last.

So are there any guesses as to what I will be doing first thing Monday morning?

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


Monday, February 1, 2010

Today has been pretty much one of those days. Ie. A typical bloody Monday. I'm traveling for work again, after a three week post-vacation vacation, and lord are things off to a bad start. But instead of focusing on the negative, I am going to focus on the positive. My visit this morning got canceled at the last minute (ie after I'd already gotten up at 6am to catch my train - and it also means I'll have to make another trip back to Bretagne in the coming weeks). But at least it left me with a morning free, so I decided to go visit a site I'd been wanting to visit for several years now - La Roche aux Fées.The Roche aux Fées is a megalithic site about 20km from Rennes. At about 19.5m (or 64 feet) long, it is by far one the biggest one I've seen. According to Wikipedia, its name comes from a legend stating that fairies carried the rocks to the site in their aprons. Another legend says that if a newly-married husband and wife walk up either side of the monument and count the same number of stones, their marriage will be doubly strong. It was interesting to finally see it, but considering that the adjoining info point was closed til April, I'd say it's probably not the worth the detour off-season.

The other good thing about me being gone this week is that C is also gone. Like I've previously mentioned, he's a fonctionnaire. Last month, he applied for an intensive English training course being offered by his department. It is highly competitive - it is available to everyone in that particular department all over France (from peons up the top guns). All of the applicants have to take an entrance test and only 17 participants are accepted country-wide. So I was really proud to find out that not only was he accepted for it, but he actually got the highest score out of everyone! Which I find funny since we speak in French 90% of the time - but like your average French person, he is very good at reading & writing in English, but lacks a little in the speaking department. I guess I'll find out Friday night just how useful his stage d'anglais was!

PS. Excuse any typos - it is currently 8°C in my hotel room and my fingers are frozen (the owners apparently decided it was not worth turning the heat on for just one lodger).

Labels: ,