Category Archives: france

busy, busy, busy

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i know i am not posting as often as i should, but i am so busy planning our summer holidays and the upcoming wedding.  it is very difficult to plan when you don’t speak the language fluently.  i think i may have found a florist though, which is the most important because that’s my forte.  we went to a music festival in arras to see pearl jam a few weekends ago.  we camped for three days and saw a lot of great bands, but i think i may be getting too old to spend three days camping and dancing.  i am working on a short story to enter into a contest(if i finish it in time), and i’m hoping to finally hone my skills as a writer in doing so.  there was a country rock music festival in berck this weekend, and i saw a lot of old american cars.  one was toting wyoming’s state flag, which is where i was born!  it is cold and rainy here in the north, not at all what i am used to for july.  i guess it’s better than the heat wave i hear is travelling across the states.  sherlock, the dog, is doing well.  he is hyper as ever.  we are getting a new couch that is a retro orange color, and i’m very excited about that.  otherwise, i am just reading and watching movies, surfing the web, or trying out new recipes.  i wish i had more news, or at least more interesting news, but after the summer holidays down in the south of france, i’m sure i will.  until then, wish me luck in trying to get my french up to par!

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une nouvelle vie

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a season in france has turned into three, and it seems i will be here for much longer…a lifetime perhaps.  i spent my thirtieth birthday in paris with guillaume because i thought it would be the perfect place to start a new decade of life.  the night before the actual day, we had dinner with his folks at their home in vaux-sur-seine.  his mére made steak and hushpuppies, though they actually have an elegant french name that i have forgotten.  they presented me with a summery perfume called escada, and much to my suprise, an iphone.  the next day, we went to the city of lights.  the sun was shining for nearly the first time this spring, and the first time in 20 years it had on my birthday.  it used to be a running joke for me that it always rained on may 23rd.  guillaume bought me a dress at the gap, and some khakis and a tunic.  all the clothes i bought were navy and khaki which he said showed that i was getting old!  at my request, we went to starbucks because i love it so much.  we walked along the quai of the seine, looking at books and prints of ancient maps, then flanéed over to rive gauche to visit the jardin de luxembourg.  we visit there often because it seems as though it has never changed in 100 years.  there we sat and talked about our families.  his great-uncle was involved with the colonozation of laos and vietnam, and his grandfather lived under vichy during the occupation of WWII.  he said they found a pistol in his belongings when he died, and i like to imagine that he was part of the french resistance.  then we walked down rue montparnasse until we stumbled upon the carrefour where le dome, la rotunde, and le coupole all sit.  i hadn’t seen them before.  each of these cafés are mentioned in books by ernest hemingway and henry miller, two of my favorite writers.  we were thirsty, so we sat down at the terrasse of la rotunde and ordered diabolos which are basically shirly temples, limonade and grenadine. i explained the history of these cafés to my boyfriend; that during the 20’s and 30’s they were the hip places to be, especially for expats and writers.  there was a kiosque in front of us, so gui told me i could buy a magazine.  i naturally chose a wedding issue because i’m an events florist by trade.  as i was flipping through the pages, guillaume put a box in front of me and said, this is serious.  when i opened it, there was a band of pink diamonds set in rose gold.   is this a proposal, i asked.  he nodded and i said, oui.  it was hard to top that, but we had dinner at a mexican restaurant because it’s still my favorite food, even after living in france for eight months.  so, in january i will become madame brondy.  i am marrying an intelligent historian who loves rock and roll, books, and me.  i had to fly halfway around the world to find the perfect mate.  but now that i’m here, i will never leave his side.

a small day trip

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bonjour!  i have bronchitis and can’t speak, but at least i can post something to the blog.  i’ve been working very hard on learning french, and now have two of my certificates in the european language course i’ve been taking.  last week, i was bored so i asked guigui to take me to a bigger town to walk around for a bit.  we decided on amiens, which is about two hours to the south of us.  we are really into taking little back roads these days, so that’s what we did.  you really get the feeling of being in europe once you get off the highway.  amiens is a very big town or small city with about four major churches and one cathedral.  we went inside the amiens cathedral to look at the architecture.  i had put my scarf around my head a bit before to shield myself from the cold, and the old man holding the door looked at me like i was a devout catholic.  it took me a minute to remember that many women wear veils when they go into a church.  the statues in the church are amazing.  there are many grottos with statues of saints where you can light candles.  the altar is huge and the ceilings go up really high.  there is huge organ up on the balcony and i’m sure you can fit a thousand people in there for mass.  i did stop in front of the saint christopher statue because he is the patron saint of travelers.  my mom has made me carry his medal around since i was fifteen years old.  after we left the cathedral, we walked around town.  the sun finally came out, and it did a lot to brighten both of our moods.  in the north of france in the winter, it is pretty gray and cold.  amiens was one of the towns that was saved by allied forces during world war II, and like many towns in france, it has a beautiful hotel de ville, or city hall.  that weekend we went back to paris for his sister’s birthday, but i will not write about that because we pretty much acted like fools by dancing and drinking all night.  we are back in berck for the time being but we will go to lille next week so guigui can take a test for his work.  it will give me three days of roaming around solo in a pretty sizable city, and i’ll get to practice my french.  i’m a bit worn out, so bonne journee, and i’ll write soon.

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!