Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Every once in a while, C and I will go out to the suburbs to do some major grocery shopping. Of course by the time we actually drive out there, the cheaper prices might actually be negated by the amount of gas used, but it's still nice to have a bit more choice and to go to a "real" store from time to time.

So off we went yesterday. Everything went fine, and we got our groceries and headed home. But C has this funny little quirk. He always thinks he can improve on everything. Be it a recipe, instructions, or the GPS - he always thinks there is a better way. 99% of the time, this leads to disaster.

As it did last night on the way back. At one point, there was a fork in the road. The left way was the normal route, the right, unknown. Both the GPS and I were saying "Go left! Go left!". But my dear C choose to go right.

Which meant that instead of driving back to Paris on the freeway, we drove back through every little suburb town along the way. On top of it, most of them were under construction for another tramway, bringing a four-lane road down to a two-lane road. In rush hour. But oh well, it was a chance to visit another part of IdF. Who cares about the frozen food in the trunk, right?

Eventually we came upon this, and I had to do a double-take:A Ronald Gym Club? Since when does MacDo do gyms?

I had a hard time finding any information about them, but finally found a small press clip on their EU site: A balanced, healthy lifestyle involves more than what you eat. It’s finding the right balance between calories you consume and physical activity. We encourage customers to build more movement in their lives, through both large-scale programs and grassroots endeavors, to support physical activity, especially among children. Ronald Gym Clubs are an example of this endeavor.

I'm curious if any of you out there have ever seen one, or been in one? Are they free? Or payant? I'm not the biggest fan of McDonald's, so I wonder if this is just a publicity stunt or a real attempt to encourage physical activity? (or both)....


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Life is good

Yesterday marked three years since I moved to Paris. In many ways, it seems like ages ago, yet I can still remember sitting there in my shoebox that first night, looking around at my life packed up in a few small boxes and wondering "What are you doing here? What's going to happen now??"

And now here I am planning a wedding, with a man who is both beautiful inside and out:


Monday, May 23, 2011

C & I had dinner last Thursday night at a cute little Italian restaurant (thanks Groupon), and since it was a lovely night and there really wasn't any easy way for us to get back home via the metro, we decided to just start walking.

We strolled slowly through the Marais, past l'Hôtel de Ville and along the Seine. Which is where we came across this monstrosity:
The Conciergerie is one of my favorite buildings in Paris, and I was horrified to see it covered in advertising - and for Apple no less. Most of the time when they are redoing building facades here, they will put up scaffolding covered in a photo of the building, so you at least have an idea of what you're missing out on.

I understand that the French government is short on money for building renovations, but this is just atrocious. Not to mention that public buildings aren't supposed to show any external sign of religion or advertising - and you'd think that would be especially applicable in this case since the Concergerie is part of the Palais de Justice!!

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

This ad has been playing during the previews at Gaumont movie theaters, and it always cracks me up because it's so true to life:


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things are *finally* advancing with the wedding plans since miracle of all miracles, I am home for four whole days in a row (and C has the week off- no surprises there).

The biggest news is....drumroll please.....despite Fab doing his best to stop us, we finally have a date!Woohoo!!!

We have also booked the restaurant, the photographer, hair & make-up "artists" and the cake-maker. The invitations are done and ready to be ordered. And today I am off to meet with someone regarding dress alterations. So to my great relief, a lot of the big stuff has been checked off the list.

Leaving time for some of the more "fun" things - liking heading over to the family wine depot in the 16th to decide which wines we want to serve. We came home with quite the selection to try - so come on over! (PS. Teresa, if you read this, please send me an email, I am still extremely curious about your connection to them!!)Lastly, on our way back from the cake tasting, I looked down to see this between our feet:Now if that's not a sign, I don't know what is!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What do you when you have a belle-famille that doesn't drink? Why you spend the weekend doing all kinds of wholesome family activities of course!

You go rollerblading by the sea:And then you introduce them all to bowling, air hockey (hair okay they will say) and pinball machines:
You fall into bed exhausted by all of that fresh air and then wake up the next day to take a walk in the forest:Until you come across a patch of wild asparagus and someone has the bright idea to run back home and get a knife so it can be eaten for lunch:And then while asparagus hunting, you will come across some crazy characters:And then it's back home for lunch, after which everyone will sit around working on an insanely hard puzzle:
Let's see how that used to compare to weekends with the ex-belle famille in Bretagne:

Eat. Drink. Smoke. Nap. Eat. Drink. Smoke. Lather, rinse and repeat.

I might miss the alcohol at times, but the rest is all definitely a breath of fresh air!


Monday, May 16, 2011


Like I mentioned, before, while we were down South, we took a day to visit the city of Foix. You all know I love me some châteaux, and this one has been on my list for a while, especially after hearing L talk about it. So off we went, first to take a look at it at night:And then the next morning we returned (after spending about half an hour turning in circles in the center of Foix due to all of the one-way streets. Consider yourself warned). You'd also better be motivated, cuz it's quite the hike up to the castle on the hill.It's worth it though, because once you're finally up top, you will be treated to some really amazing views:The city down below:The surrounding grounds:Nearby mountains:The grounds of the château were filled with Irises, one of my favorite flowers:And the inside had all kinds of cool things, like old wooden doors:Ancient canopy beds:And views of one of the four tours:
What's not to love?

I'll leave you with a little rhyme that French kids learn in school to help them remember how to spell fois (time, as in one time), foie (liver), Foix (the city) and foi (faith):

Il était une fois, une marchande de foie qui vendait du foie dans la ville de
Foix. Elle m'a dit "ma foi, c'est la dernière fois que je vends du foie dans la
ville de Foix.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger is finally back up and running again!

At least long enough for me to say to encourage those of you in Bretagne (or elsewhere) to participate in the "Journée récréative au profit de Meningites en France". This is a group that is near and dear to me and a few fellow readers, and I would really like to do my part in promoting it: I also know that they are continuously looking for donations for fundraisers, so if you feel so inclined and have anything to donate (money, books, gîtes rentals, etc), please feel free to post it here.

Also, last week we went to eat at another Chinese restaurant with C's brother & his wife (they have an excellent Chinese ravioli buffet à volonté - check it out!!). While we were walking over there, I came across a small Latino market at 55 blvd Lefebvre 75015. Since they were still open, I took a few minutes to pop in and check it out. They had all the regular stuff you would at find at your local corner store, PLUS all kinds of highly-searched for Mexican ingredients. Like dried and canned black beans, all kinds of canned tomatoes with chilies, tomatillos, etc. It's pricey but it's something to keep in mind if you're desperate for certain ingredients...

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Last week, probably due to a month of non-stop working, I lost my voice. It was extremely frustrating, since I had to spend most of the week working with a new client and they were horribly un-understanding. I was finally able to get to a doctor on Friday though, and thankfully the meds have been helping. My voice is probably back to about 75% now.

It's been ages since I last had laryngitis, and I forgot how much of a handicap not having a voice is. It felt like such a throw-back to my early days in France, when I couldn't speak French. Or answer the phone. Buy a train ticket. Talk to the hotel receptionist. Order my meal at night. I was reduced to pointing and hand gestures. I'd forgotten how demeaning it could be.

With the early years still on my mind, C & I went grocery shopping out in the burbs this weekend. As I walked around the supermarket, I had to marvel at all the changes that have come about since I first moved to France 8 years ago. All the products that were not available then but yet are so readily available now. We picked up a small BBQ for our balcony and in the meat section, I found Johnsonville Beer Brats. There was a 2-for-1 offer on Philly cream cheese in the cheese aisle. I picked up a box of Bisquick for our Sunday morning pancakes, and some more Hershey's chocolate syrup for sundaes.

And then there's the whole frozen food phenomenon. When I first came to France back in 2001 to meet Fab's family, one of the things that surprised me the most was the lack of frozen foods. At least in Bretagne, most supermarkets had only a few stand-alone freezers back then. And now 10 years later, frozen food is everywhere. Picard's are popping up like weeds, and are the savior of the working Parisian woman (and single men everywhere).

I suppose it's sad in a way. The long-standing French cuisine and traditions are changing at a fast-moving pace. Makes one wonder what things will be like ten years from now....