Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I've been traveling a lot for work lately, usually at least a 2 day trip per week. It starting to get old going to the same places over and over again, so I was really glad to see we'd signed a new contract with a customer in Southeast France. Finally a new region to explore!
My new client is located in a small town called Saint Marcellin, which is mostly known for the very stinky cheese it produces. Unfortunately there were a few mishaps and I didn't get to explore as much as I had liked, but on the advice of my client, I did take the time to go have dinner in Saint Antoine de l'Abbaye, a small medieval village about 15 minutes away.Saint Antoine de l'Abbaye was also recently added to France list of "most beautiful villages". I was a bit skeptical because I've seen a fair number of villages in my day, but this one really did blow me away. There were tons of little winding streets leading up to the fortified walls. And once inside, there were a million little things to take pictures of. I almost didn't go inside the church, because I kind of felt like "If you've seen one church in Europe, you've seen them all". But it really was amazing inside.The Abbey also had a variety of free museums inside (though they were closed by the time I arrived). I had a lovely dinner in the square, and watched the sunset behind the church spires. My dinner was a local specialty - really tiny raviolis with a walnut salad. I had one of the best red wines I'd ever had - and unfortunately failed to write down the name of it, so I guess I'll have to go back. The owner was really friendly, and gave me a free shot before I left. It looked like there was a layer of Get 27 and Baileys, and I was a bit suspicious, but it tasted exactly like one of the Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. Yum.So I'd definitely recommend stopping by to visit if you're ever in the area. The one thing that did strike me was that I heard at least one group of people speaking American English per day. I was really surprised since that area really isn't a major tourist destination - so maybe they were all locals?


Monday, July 26, 2010


I've always wanted to visit Giverny, and given that it's only an hour away from Paris, we decided to hop in the car this past weekend and go. (Though it did take us more than hour to get there....and not due to traffic lol).

Even though it wasn't the sunniest day of the summer, the gardens were still beautiful and I thought both the entrance price and the gift shop were really reasonable for once.The next day was spent exploring the nearby town of Vernon. We had sort of a funny experience at the tourist office (on the right in the photo below) - the woman working there said "You were at Giverny yesterday, weren't you?" We were surprised but said yes, and she said that she remembered us for some reason despite the hundreds of people she'd seen the day before. We also came across a fairly big brocante, and had a good time exploring things - I'd been looking for a boite à thé for some time now and I finally found one that didn't cost 30€. There were also several other activities in the area, including a couple châteaux and a base nautique where you could rent canoes, kayaks and jetskis. Anyways, it was a good weekend and a trip I'd definitely recommend, especially given it's proximity to Paris and the fact that you don't necessarily need a car in order to go.

Though I had to laugh when we got back to C's that night and he flopped down on the bed and said with a long sigh "Whew, I need to get laid". Apparently my trying to explain the difference "laid-back" and "lay down" has only served to confuse him further because now he confuses them all even more. I tell ya, "English Sundays" never fail to be a source of amusement for me.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Not on a train, not on a plane, not in a car, not in a bar.

Let me just say that I cannot stand the sound of people clipping their fingernails. Or biting their fingernails. It drives me absolutely insane. Up the wall. Batty. Bonkers. Fab came from an entire family of nail-biters. To this day, I still am not sure how I survived a 22 hour roadtrip with them.

Luckily C is not a nail biter. But he is obsessive about keeping his nails trimmed short. Knowing how much I can't stand the sound of it, he usually does it when I'm not around. But the other night he was playing the guitar and they were getting in the way. He was like "Come on, can't I just do it in front of you just this once?"

And I'm all - Um, no. Not gonna happen buddy.

So he said "Okay, fine, I'll just borrow your nail clipper and do it in the métro on my way to work tomorrow. " And my eyeballs nearly popped out of my head. I was like "Aw no, don't tell me you are one of those people!!" I could see him thinking "Woman, what on Earth are you talking about?" So I explained that everyone hates that person - the one who's cutting their nails (or God forbid their toenails -Ew!) in a public place. C said "Um, I think you are the only one who hates that person." His theory is that it's just my problem and that in France it's perfectly normal to do this. And I was all "But no! Even Twitter agrees with me - we just had a big discussion about this the other day!"

So come on blogosphere - back me up. Nail clipping should be done in the privacy of your own home, non???


Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm not going to a foreigner

The perfect example of why you should learn a foreign language from a native speaker whenever possible....
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yesterday was my first Bastille day as a French citizen. And hopefully my last Bastille Day in this apartment.

While I was disappointed that the rain had canceled my picnic plans, I quickly changed gears and decided to invite a few people over to watch the fireworks from chez moi. My shoebox may be tiny, but it does have one fantastic view over Paris and its many monuments. Because I'm so high up, Tuesday night I was able to watch seven different fireworks displays going on in Paris and its nearby suburbs. It was pretty awesome.

And then last night, the Bastille Day fireworks:

Happy Bastille Day as well to all the other new Frenchies out there - Jennifer, Greg, Erica. Am I forgetting anyone else??

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I just realized that today marks the 3rd anniversary of my passing the French driving exam. Which means that after all of this time, I finally have all 12 of my points. 12, my new favorite number.

I thought this day would never come - no more having to worry about getting a ticket or being pulled over and having my 3 years start all over again. Though I have to admit I cheated a bit by never putting that damn A on my car. I drive so much for work that I just couldn't bring myself to do it.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

My co-workers got me good last night.

My boss always tries to organize our annual training week to coincide with one of my trips to the US, and we usually finish off the week with a team-building activity. Since it was so nice out, he decided that this time, we would all go outside and play wiffle ball. I was a bit skeptical at first, but it turned out to be a fantastic afternoon, topped off with happy hour drinks and apps courtesy of The Company.

Earlier in the week, one of my co-workers had suggested doing a pre-4th of July get-together Thursday night since it was my last night, and told me to invite some of the guys. Everyone was giving me a really wishy-washy response though, and I was kind of bummed that no one really seemed excited about coming out for my last night in town. My cousin & his wife were going to be in the area, so I figured at least they would come. We'd told people to come out around 7pm, and my co-worker kept me busy making cheese & sausage plates and blowing up balloons. I thought she was going a bit overboard since no one could really make it, but figured oh well, if that's how she wants to do it....until I brought it all outside and saw about 30 people sitting there. Apparently she'd been planning it for the past 10 days, and had told everyone to say they were busy.

There were decorations everywhere, and most of them were black - since when is 30 considered over the hill? We all had a good time though, and they all got me good - especially when everyone brought out a box of mac & cheese - one box for each year of my life. There was also an ice cream cake. Can you say YUM?Now the question is - how am I going to get all that Mac & Cheese back to France? And more importantly - how much will y'all pay me for it? ;)


Thursday, July 1, 2010

C flew back to Paris on Monday, and my time here is winding down as well. This month has gone by fast and I'm amazed by how much we managed to fit in. Like C said, it was like 10 vacations in one. I'm having mixed feelings about going back. But then again, summer in Minnesota always does that to me. I equate MN winters to childbirth - they're so terrible, but what comes afterward is so great that you forget just how awful it was until it comes around again.

One of the things C was most surprised about by Minnesota was that pretty much everyone I know owns their own home. And I have to say, after two years of living in my shoebox, I had definite penis envy of them all. So many rooms! So much space!

As most of you know, I've been saving like a madwoman to buy an apartment, and I reached my original down payment goal in May. After much thinking (and a lot of not having the time to deal with the rabid Parisian housing market), I decided I would have more options if I kept saving for at least another year. One one hand I'm grateful that I've been able to save so much these past two years, but on the other hand, I can't help but feeling like I'm too old to be living like a 1950's maid. Logically I know that it makes no sense to pay a ton of money for a bigger place when, between my déplacements and staying at C's, I only sleep there maybe a week a month anyways. It's a short time sacrifice for a long-term goal. Yada yada yada. But to be honest, it's getting tougher and tougher to deal with the inconveniences of my so-called apartment.

And I'm also feeling a big nostalgic for my family. Being in Denver with my cousins made me realize how lucky we all were to grow up together. And now they're all married and thinking about having kids, and it makes me sad to think that my children wouldn't grow up alongside them. Look at me, I'm sad for kids that may never even exist! How ridiculous is that? I can't be alone in feeling like this though - how do those of you who actually have kids deal with it? Do you go home as often as you can? Or does your French family fill that void for you?

I'm sure all of this will pass once I'm actually back in Paris - I've just had a lot more time to think these past few days without having C around to entertain me (the latest was having to explain what the difference was between "laid" and "laid-back". Ha!)

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