Sunday, November 28, 2010

A weekend in the country

This weekend I was invited to the country home of a friend of a friend about 100km from Paris to celebrate Thanksgiving.This is the lovely old farmhouse where we stayed. It was cold and snowy most of the weekend. Vivian, the hostess, who is from Australia but has lived in Paris for thirty years, was delighted by the snow. Kristin (my American friend who had invited me along) and I spent all day Saturday cooking the Thanksgiving feast.We ate turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, home-made biscuits, green beans, potatoes, and pumpkin and pecan pie. Kristin and I made everything except the potatoes and green beans, which were brought by the French guests (alas, the potatoes weren't mashed, it was a "timbale" which looked identical to a gratin to my eyes, but they were still yummy.)

For most of the weekend we spoke almost all French, which was great. Vivian (who works as an interpreter and is therefore fluent, of course) and her French friends laughed a lot at Kristin and me but corrected our mistakes and helped us study for our first French test (which will be tomorrow.) At one point during our feast, Vivian asked me to explain the origins of our Thanksgiving holiday, and in attempting to tell that story, I kept confusing the word for pilgrim (pelerin) with staircase landing (pelier), which everyone found very amusing.On Sunday morning we went for a 6km walk along the nearby canal. It was cold and the ground was really wet, but we were glad to burn off some of Saturday night's dinner before attacking the leftovers for lunch.During our much shorter walk on Saturday night, Lena (the 13 year old guest) was telling Kristin and me various ways to say "I'm stuffed." In addition to the simple but not-really translatable idiom "Je suis calé", there is "J'ai le peau du ventre bien étendu" (my stomach skin is well-stretched) or "J'ai le ventre rond comme un tonneau" (my stomach is as round as a barrel.) Very useful phrases.This was a sweet little chateau nearby.Kristin and me, smiling despite the fact that our feet were completely drenched.One of the few spots of color still left in the woods.The back of the little farmhouse. We were sad to leave...

It wasn't quite like Thanksgiving at home, but it was a nice little escape from the madness of the city!

Friday, November 26, 2010


I had a million things to do before leaving town for the weekend, but the sun was shining so I couldn't resist going for a little walk and taking some photos on Friday after class.Apparently I can't get tired of looking at Notre Dame...
or the Seine...
or the Hotel de Ville.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monet at the Grand Palais

Yesterday I went to see the Monet Exhibit at the Grand Palais. Since all the tickets available online were sold out, I knew I'd be standing in line to buy tickets at the door, but for some dumb reason I still wasn't quite prepared for an over-two-hour-wait. Alas, that's what it was. Fortunately it was not raining and not even too too cold, though my feet were pretty numb by the time we got to go in. And even though we were already tired before we saw a single painting, we still somehow managed to spend about two and half hours in the exhibit. It was huge. I've seen my fair share of Monet exhibits in my life and I knew that he was prolific, but seeing so many of his paintings in one place at one time was pretty staggering. I really loved the seascapes he did in Normandy and the early paintings of Le Havre and now I'm wanting to go there more than ever. (Normandy is definitely on my list of regions of France I must visit this time around.)A few pictures of the Grand Palais from the outside, as I was on my way to the exhibit.Today was a cold, wet, dreary day. In between church service and a concert there I met a friend for coffee in St. Germain and then took a bit of a walk through the 15th as I headed back to the American church.

Monday, November 15, 2010

At last, the sun...

As of yesterday it had rained every single day for nine days in a row. Hard. It was so wet that my pants were soaking wet up to the knees, all the time. I blame this for the lack of posting over the past two weeks. So when the sun came out today, I started snapping photos again as I went about some errands. Notre Dame with a little bit of blue sky behind her. Pont au changeCrossing over towards the hotel de ville on rue de la Cité.The Centre Pompidou, where I went to check out the library.This library is huge and it was packed.There were hordes of people crammed onto the balcony for a cigarette break. This picture does not effectively capture how crowded it was.
The daylight was starting to fade as I left around 4:30 to head across to my tutoring session on Rue St. Honoré.I sort of like this shot of St. Eustache peeking out from behind all the greenery around Les Halles. And up closer...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Victory in the metro station

Today I had a triumphant interaction with a typical French customer service person. I needed to recharge my monthly Metro pass and although there are machines that do this in the stations, they don't accept non-European credit cards. Fortunately, someone was behind the desk, so I approached him and started to tell him what I needed. The glass window was shut, so he couldn't hear me, but he pointed at the video screen that says something along the lines of "I'm busy attending to something away from my desk and will return in a few minutes. In my absence, please purchase your tickets using the self-service machines." I looked at it, and then looked at him, and said, "But you're right there." He pointed at the screen again, this time underlining the text with his finger with an exaggerated gesture. I looked at him again and said "Yes, I see that, but that doesn't help me." Finally he opened the glass so he could hear me, and I asked him "You're not able to help me?" He asked what I wanted and I told him what I needed to do. He tried to tell me that I could use the machines to do this. I pulled out my credit card and told him that the machines didn't take my card. He looked at my card and agreed that the machine wouldn't work. Then he just looked at me. I said, so what am I supposed to do? He said, don't you have any other way to pay? I said no. He just stared at me and I stared at him and I said again, "You really can't help me?" And all of a sudden, he completely yielded, took my card and, with the utmost politeness and efficiency, recharged my pass for me. Amazing. I will never again take no for an answer with a Frenchie, at least not without going several rounds first.These pictures, which have nothing to do with the content of the post, were taken near the Tour St. Jacques in the 4th, which is where I took my walk today.