Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Monday, October 21, 2013

English weekend strikes again

Scene: Saturday night, as we are getting dressed before heading out to a birthday party.

C: I really like your hole.
Me: ?!?!?
C, pointing: Your HOLE.
Me, wheels turning:  Ohhhhh, you mean my owl (necklace).
C: Yeah, that's what I said.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In another life

This past weekend, I was driving around Minneapolis running errands, and I felt so blessed to be back in a city full of so many happy memories.  But all of the sudden, while exiting off of I94, I had this sudden flash of what my life would have been like had I never moved to France.  Like I had spent the past ten years in the Twin Cities and life was great.  It only lasted an instant, but it was so realistic, looking at myself in an alternate university where I decided not to follow Fab back to his homeland.  It was almost ironic because that was a question I asked myself a million times during my early years in France - would I be happier in the US without Fab?  Or was it worth it to be unhappy in France but in love?

Maybe all of this was brought up by a recent assignment for my masters program.  We had to write a "portrait" of a classmate, as a way to give us practice writing executive biographies.  I paired up with a girl I have become quite close with, and we met up for lunch a few weeks ago at La Defense to exchange life stories. 

It's actually an interesting exercise - 1) taking a look back at everything that brought you to where you are today and then 2) seeing how it is perceived by others.  It was pretty wild trace the chain of events that led to me living in France, of all places.  And really, how often do you sit down and reflect about each of the key events that shaped your life? 

The first one for me was the time I spent in Finland - it really opened my eyes to other cultures and non-US viewpoints.  So much so that when I came back to the US, I sought out other foreigners in order to keep that connection, and that is how I met Fab. As we all know, that's how I ended up in France.  Had I not lived in Bretagne, I would never have heard about The Company, and then I wouldn't have had the chance to travel the world like I have.  And then of course there is the moment where I had to decide whether or not to stay in France or move back to the US (and the subsequent move to Paris, where I met C).

But it's crazy to think that I wouldn't be where I am today had I made a different decision at any one of those stages.  I mean, sometimes you are conscious of that you are the middle of making a life-changing a decision but other times they just kind of sneak by unnoticed, and you only realize much later that it was a total game changer....

Friday, October 4, 2013

Anniversary fun, part II

The second part of our anniversary celebration was a dinner at the Ciel de Paris, at the top of the Montparnasse tower.
We had pre-reserved a menu that ensured us a table near the window with a view of the Eiffel Tower, and this was the view we had upon arrival:
Our menu also included unlimited champagne, so we started the evening off right with a toast.
We were there for the first seating, and I was worried they would try to rush us out so they could fit in as many people as possible, but the service was leisurely and accommodating.
The food was decent - not fantastic, but still pretty tasty - but then again, you don't go to a place like this for the food!
 We also had unlimited wine during the meal and a coffee or tea at the end. 
Three hours later and with full tummies, we took one last look at the view, took the elevator down 56 floors, and then started walking home hand-in-hand.

**As a side note, the Ciel de Paris also has a champagne bar and a Millefeuille bar that offer the same view...but be expected to pay accordingly!

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Anniversary fun, part 1

This past weekend, C and I headed out of town to celebrate our anniversary.  I have class this weekend and will be leaving for the US straight after, so we wanted to spend a bit of quality time together beforehand. We had a Wonderbox to use up, and ended up selecting a fantastic little place near Epernay/Reims.

As you may or may not know, my family is of Finnish origins, so when I came across an imported Finnish hunting chalet nestled in the middle of a vineyard, I knew that was our spot. C was worried that we wouldn't be treated very well (as is sometimes the case with these sorts of "boxes"), but our hosts were absolutely lovely.
The entire chalet had been very thoughtfully decorated, and the whole thing was just so darn cozy.
There were bathrobes and slippers, an adorable little bedroom and reindeer skins on the walls. 
And then there was my favorite part - the indoor BBQ. We had a blast warming up in front of the fire and then cooking our dinner once the embers had burned down.
There was also a fully-stocked kitchen with a small fridge, coffee maker, dishes, silverware, etc. (and little raclette paddles for melting cheese during the cold months!).  We brought our own food, but they also offer a BBQ "basket" for 20€ per person. 
The next morning, we had breakfast on the little patio out back, and once again, our hosts did not skimp.  At our last B&B experience in Limoges last month, we'd paid a lot more for our room and ended up with literally a piece of toast each and a hot drink.  This place - at 60€ a night - offered up a multi-grain baguette, a delicious chocolate chip brioche, fresh croissants, yogurt, cheese, OJ & a hot beverage.
The owners also have their own vineyard, selling their champagne under two different labels.  Part of our stay included a guided tour of their exploitation and a tasting, and you could tell that the husband was just as passionate about his grapes as his wife was about decorating.  He had a very original approach for his vignoble, following the lunar calendar for planting and harvesting, and waxing on about biodynamism.  He used mainly natural remedies for his plants, as well as other elements -such as quartz - to attract the moon's energy to the roots of the vines.

Their champagne was also very tasty, and he made a few special champagnes that were "extra-dry" and "nature", ie low-sugar champagnes that are supposed to help you avoid hangovers.  He also stamps the date the champagne was bottled on the label so that consumers know how long they will be able to keep it.  The prices were reasonable too, starting at around 13.50€ for a bottle.

They also have a gite that can hold up to 20 people and a B&B with three rooms, and the chalet can be rented out just for an evening BBQ.  I'd highly recommend this place if you are looking for a weekend getaway or if you're heading to the Champagne region for some tastings - though the one downside is that you do need a car to get there.  But I left there Sunday feeling so relaxed, and it has been ages since I have been able to so thoroughly disconnect from the world and just be.

Here is their website in case anyone would like to check it out:

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