Tag Archives: Travel

summer’s over


i know i haven’t been very good about keeping up on this blog.  august was hectic because that’s the month that the entire country of france goes on holiday.  we went to the south of france and the cote d’azur.  we started off by going to see family in the Alps in a little town the size of belvidere, ne called rossillon.  from there, we went to Mont Blanc in the alps which is also called Chamonix, like the youth hostel my mom works at.  after that we camped for three long weeks with my fiance’s parents.  we saw the palais des papes in avignon which sounded like the tower of babel because everyone was talking so loud in the sanctum.  we went for a drive in Marseilles where i finally got to see the Mediterranean sea, which was as blue as i dreamed it would be.  we spent an afternoon in Cannes which is totally overrated.  everyone there looks like they are posing for a fashion shoot.  Aix en Provence was very cute and luckily had an english bookstore where i got a student’s discount because the girl thought i was one.  i guess i look young!  camping was a huge trial for me, but i got a reprieve when we went to stay in Grasse for a couple of days.  that’s the city that makes the perfume.  we took the opportunity to drive through the country side, and on Napoleon’s road which he took when he was coming back from his exile on Elbe.  my favorite city was Nice.  i think i like it because it’s laid out like an american city with grand avenues.  we went to the flower market and walked along the promenade d’anglais so named because in the 19th century the english would come to Nice during the summers and walk by the sea.  our last day we spent in Monaco where we saw the changing of the guards, and i bought a silly sailor’s hat.  we also drove along the grand prix route.  when we returned to camping, we spent an evening at the symphony for a debussy recital which was pleasant.  by the time our month was up, i was so ready to return to berck.  it was like 90° the whole time we were down south, and coming back to the english channel seaside was something of a relief.  now it’s back to wedding planning and my newly discovered hobby, cross stitch.  next month, i will have been here a year.  my blogs may get fewer and farther between, but i’ll try to write from time to time if anything exciting happens.  i’ve seen more of france in 11 months than most frenchmen see in their lifetime.  a bientot and bisous!


busy, busy, busy


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!

une nouvelle vie


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.

the southwest of france


hello my three readers one of whom is my grandma!  i know i haven’t been on the ball about this blog, but unless you want a blog about an inept 30 year old trying to figure out how to use a french washing machine, you have to wait until i do something cool to get a post.  gui had another of his many holidays the last two weeks.  we drove my american friend to the airport so that she could go home and start her supercool new job at opentable.com, and leave me without an english speaking friend in berck.  then we went to paris where we went to the modern art museum to see an exhibit on Robert Crumb.  that was awesome, but the rest of the museum was pretty dull except for a couple of Matisses.  the next day we went to musee d’orsay which houses all of the impressionist and post-impressionist art that france is famous for. it is the converted paris-orleans train station. i got to see all of the waterlilies and japanese bridges.  i saw the Caillebotte of men scraping floors that has hung in my grandmother’s living room for as long as i can remember.  then i turned a corner and saw hanging side by side starry night and bedroom at arles by van Gogh.  guigui had to restrain me from dropping on my knees and worshipping them.  i never thought i’d get to see those two favorite pieces of mine, especially on one wall.  we visited with all of our parisian friends for the next few days, then were treated to a surprise holiday to bordeaux with the parents.  the southwest is beautiful and warm.  we were next to the atlantic in a quaint inn that served a cute breakfast.  i stared across the wide expanse of the atlantic ocean and tried to imagine new york on the other side.  we took a ferry to acachon which sherlock loved.  we ate a lot.  i discovered cafe gourmand which is a dessert that consists of an espresso and 4 little desserts.  one day we went into the city of bordeaux, and walked around a flea market in a dusty square near a beautiful fountain.  i bought some books in english for very cheap.  i was not happy when it was time to come back north.  it was 25°c there and here it is 8°c.  it is election day here.  we are rooting for francoise hollande because sarkozy is an idiot.  wish us luck that we get a socialist president in power, and get this country away from the nationalist rhetoric it’s been leaning toward.  au revoir!

the american and french revisit the turning point of WWII


since my boyfriend has a lot of vacation time, we took his latest one to go to normandy.  we started in caen where we saw the WWII museum.  it is very nicely done, and covers the time WWI ended through the d-day landings until the end of the war.  there is a seperate part of the museum that covers the implications focusing mostly on the cold war and the berlin wall.  that night we stayed in a creepy hotel above a cafe, and had crepes for dinner which is the traditional food of that region.  the next day we went to the american military cemetary which was covered in fog giving it a supernatural ambiance.  it overlooks omaha beach where the american deembarkment happened.  even my usually cynical facade was changed seeing that graveyard.  after that we went to see the bayeux tapestry, which my mom tells me is one of the first instances of a woman artist, though they don’t mention that at the museum.  it is the story of william the conqueror, and how he got the throne from harold.  bayeux is a very quaint town, but all around the area you can still see the scars from the shellings during the war.  that night we went to see the artist in this strange town.  it had an old school theatre with leather seats.  the movie was awesome, and it really deserved all the oscars it got.  it was also nice to see a fench movie with a happy ending because usually they are all exsistential and depressing.  when we left the theatre, a drunk old man asked us for a euro.  we said we didn’t have any, and he asked gui if he was american.  gui said no, and the old man said something like, i speak english but the french don’t speak it as well as the germans.  i think he was still living in 1941.  we went to mont saint-michel the next day, which is an abbaye sitting on top of an island.  we climbed all the way to the top, but the abbaye was closed, so we just stood and made fun of the people climbing the stairs with obvious difficulty.  we had lunch in st. malo, which is in the bretagne region, and walked along the ramparts.  eveidently, 75 million tourists visit france every year.  there are only 65 million residents, so at any given time when you see two people, one of them is a tourist.  we spent the last day in brest, which is a port town that looks kind of like philadelphia.  i do suggest that if you ever book a hotel in france you be sure to specify that you want a bathroom in your room, or you will be forced to use the community toilets and showers.  for us americans, that can be a little daunting, especially if you wake up late like me, and they have already started cleaning!  i had to drive to mcdonald’s to pee.  we are again back in lovely berck redecorating the bedroom.  it looks like a season is turning into two.  it was fall when i arrived, and it will soon be spring!  i guess that’s what happens when you’re in love!

research in a sense

A Moveable Feast

Image via Wikipedia

my mom and i went and bought books for my trip.  i got a culture shock edition for france which i read all of last night.  she insisted i get a moveable feast by hemingway since it is like the quintessential expatriate french novel.  i also got delta of venus by anais nin since she is a french author, and a close friend claimed i would love her(he thinks he is henry miller).  that girl has a dirty mouth!  it’s good though, i must admit.  as of friday i will know when and where i get into paris, and i am so excited i can’t even sleep.  i think all day of red wine and baguettes, cheese and the louvre.  we probably won’t spend that much time in paris other than to do the touristy things like see the eiffel tower and jim morrison’s grave.  the town i will be living in is in the north, right on the english channel.  evidently it is only a three hour train ride from paris to london via the metro that runs under the english channel.  i am going to make the most of this trip in case it is my only chance at europe!  i have friends in germany we will see, and brugge is on my list after watching the colin farrel movie in brugge which is destined to become a cult classic.  and of course the netherlands.  i am a florist so the dutch have a special place in my heart.  too bad the tulips won’t be in bloom.  i learned a lot from the culture book, and i think i am going to fit in well with the french sensibilities.  i’m sure my language will improve after a few weeks, but more than anything i am looking at this as a new lease on life.  tragedy has been around every corner, and i think this is the universe’s way of telling me it’s ok, everything will be fine now.  i know this so far hasn’t been a travelogue but it will be.  i just thought a diary while preparing would be interesting to start with.  i have my host gifts already packaged, my passport in a safe place, and have washed all my clothes.  leaving philadelphia is going to be a great change.  i’ve left before(and am not a native)but this time it feels different.  i will still be win, but i will be an adult win travelling europe with eager yet experienced eyes.  i can see the beach in my mind in the town of berck-sur-mer.  walking along the channel, imagining a world i will no longer be a part of.  a world where i leave a deceased husband, abusive boyfriends, and streets i cannot walk down without some sort of shell shock.  i know i must return, but perhaps i will come back a new person who isn’t as haunted and who’s skeletons don’t feel like dancing any longer.  i am alive again for the first time in years.  my soul is awakened to what the meaning of life might be.  the little prince tattooed on my shoulder is guiding my way. and as he says, “if you love a rose that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night.”  well i love a flower who lives on a star, and he is telling me to blossom.  the time has come to put away my thorns, and cultivate my dreams.