Monthly Archives: December 2011

az(g)incourt

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notice how i had to put that g in parentheses?  that’s because this battle from the hundred years war was misspelled by the british, and still is to this day.  we went to the site of this famous battle the other day, and learned that the french and british still have very different ideas on the subject.  whereas the british feel that it showed thier ingenuity on the battlefield with thier superior archers and strategy, the french believe that the mud was too muddy and the armor to cumbersome.  it was the turning point of the hundred years war, and guaranteed henry V as a hero and future shakespeare main character.  happy new year’s everyone and bonne annee!

joyeaux noel and bonne annee

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well, well, well.  i have just returned to berck after a few days in beauvais in the picardy region where guillaume’s sister lives.  we decided to take the back roads on the way there rather than the highway, and that was a good decision.  the french countryside is very charming with it’s it’s winding roads, farms, and little villages that look like no one has settled in for 500 years.  the week before(because gui is on christmas break) we went to paris and had a drink at harry’s new york bar, the oldest cocktail bear in europe.  we also went to the cinema and saw notre dame again while searching for books on the boulevard saint-michael.  he is teaching the middle ages right now, so i am getting a crash course in romanesque and gothic architecture.  but, back to christmas. on christmas eve day, we went shopping in beauvais, and madame brondy bought me a pocketbook.  guillaume got a leather coat.  we looked at the beauvais cathedral which is the tallest church in europe and was built in the middle ages.  on christmas eve, we had an aperitif with his parents, sister and boyfriend, and his parents.  we had pousse rapier, which is a liquor you drink with champagne that the muskateers used to drink.  there were lots of vittles like apricots wrapped in bacon and mushrooms with a cheese spread.  we then sat down to a dinner of foie gras, oysters, and duck.  i refused to eat the oysters after gui showed me what happens when you squirt lemon juice on them.  then at midnight, while i was on the phone to the states, they all started singing we wish you a merry christmas in english, so i would know it was time to open presents.  i got some books, lingerie, cds, and tickets to a festival from gui.  we also got red wine, i think one is a vintage 2002, and we have to save it for a special occasion.  the next morning we went to nico’s uncle’s house for a traditional family gathering.  there were so many people there.  i’ve talked about this before, but i will never get over how much kissing you have to do.  and depending on the region someone comes from it’s either 2 or 4, and sometimes you have to start on the right.  we started with what i can only guess were screwdrivers, orange juice and vodka, and ate verrines which are little glasses with layers of veggies, cheese, and meat.  then came the croquettes with potatoes and foie gras and a sweet white wine.  i didn’t participate in the next course which was seafood.  they opened the ten year old bordeaux superieur for the cheese course.  and i ate way too much roquefort.  there were other courses that i stopped paying attention to, then cake and champagne.  after that, because we were in the north, we drank beer.  i was so full and a little drunk.  i understand why people get a prejudice about the french drinking habits because if you aren’t used to it, it seems like a lot of drinking.  however, they always eat while they drink, unlike many americans, so they don’t get drunk the way many less refined drinkers do.  after we went back to his sister’s, we watched et.  i then sat up and read a book about french history.  the next day we left to return to berck, again taking back roads.  the houses in that region often have exposed wood beams on the outside, and some have been built with mosaic bricks and tiles with fleur de lis.  it’s very quaint.  we are planning a visit to azincourt this week to go to the museum.  it’s a battle site from the hundred years war that goes down in history as near genocide, and has a lot to do with hostilities that plagued the british and french for the next 500 years.  it should be interesting.  merry christmas and happy new years!

les enfants terrible

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i apologize for taking so long with the new post.  i was incredibly ill with a cold.  i wanted to do a post about amsterdam, but i am still processing the information, so i will tell you about the latest trip to paris instead.  guillaume and i went back to paris (well, technically it is vaux-sur-seine in the outskirts of paris) this weekend for his father’s sixtieth birthday and his sister’s graduation from nursing school.  i was incredibly nervous, but they made me feel at ease right away.  his father speaks very good english.  we arrived very late at night due to guillaume’s work schedule that day, so we had a quick drink and went to sleep.  well, guigui went to sleep and i read an incredibly outdated french book that still has the word for waiter as garcon and the french word for carborator which i don’t think have been used in cars since like 1975.  when i woke up and looked outside, i realized the seine is right in their backyard.  we went shopping and i got two pairs of boots.  one pair are knee high black leather and the other are grey suede ankle boots that sort of look like cowboy boots.  we got back just in time for lunch.  guillaume, as is his typical way, failed to mention that grandma and aunt would also be there.  i was very polite and did the kissing thing that all french people do when they meet, when they say good morning, when they say good bye, etc.  they kiss a lot in france.  really.  like a lot.  after lunch, guigui, his father, and i went to pick up the new car.  as it turns out, it is the new citroen with all the fancy, space age gadgets.  it’s a red and black hatchback, and gui and i were like two teenagers on christmas playing with the radio and gps, linking the cellphone with the car’s system, and then playing with the locks because when you hit the button the sideview mirrors retract.  we sat down to aperitif and watched his dad open presents.  then more food.  i swear most of my days revolve around meals.  i have gained a couple kilos since my arrival.  his mom is an excellent cook, which i guess is where he gets it.  guillaume and nikolas(his sister’s boyfriend) spent the entire meal clowning around while i talked politics with dad.  i know you’re not supposed to do that, but he started it, so i was obliged to follow suit.  i played with the dog a lot.  he’s a brindle french bulldog.  at one point his dad told the kids to go to bed.  i think we were getting a little too rambunctious.  guillaume was all mad because his mom took down the anarchist posters from his bedroom.  sunday morning we went for a drive and basically just rocked out.  and…more food.  we took a bunch of books and movies.  this is all i do.  eat, read, study french, eat.  i’m sorry if this post isn’t very interesting.  i’m trying to get back in the habit of writing, but i don’t have anything interesting to say.  i’ll work on it for my next post.  it will be about that awesome city called amsterdam where we had tons of fun.  bear with me.