Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Trip to Remember . . .

We boarded the train at Gare Saint-Lazare last Saturday morning and arrived at the Deauville-Trouville station in Normandy just over 2 hours later.

We chose this destination for our weekend getaway in spite of it being rainy season because of les huîtres et les crevettes roses. Fresh off the train, we wandered into La Marine and ordered a giant platter of both:

Fresh bread, salty butter, and a bottle of Muscadet were the perfect compliments!

And, despite predictions, we enjoyed beautiful weather most of the trip.

Later that day, we drove 20 minutes to the the 11th century fishing port of Honfleur.

We tasted the calvados.

We laughed at the expression on this cute little dog.

We window shopped.

And gazed at treats in bakery windows.

The day was perfect, in fact, until Fred blurted out that they had found a decapitated man not far from there. Some things are better left untranslated, like this public notice.

Back in Trouville, there was another public announcement that was equally as serious:

It's difficult to read because I'm no photographer. The sign explains that because this café/boulangerie is open 7 days a week it must refrain from selling baguettes over-the-counter at least one of these days to be fair to the boulangeries that are not open 7 days a week, per labor union agreement. Fred and I enjoyed our omelets and baguette in the café, watching as potential customers walked in and then out of the boulangerie, empty handed.

The most unforgettable part of our trip was our visit of the D-DAY LE CHOC ("The Shock") memorial sites:

The World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Omaha Beach

Pointe du Hoc

I couldn't help but wonder what the soldiers who died on June 6, 1944 would think of today's war.

It's Tuesday, I'm in Love . . .

I man handled nearly every bag. Desperately searching for some kind of clue, I smoothed out the plastic hoping that the name of the magic ingredient was folded in the crease. I resorted to sticking my nose intimately close to the moisture-release holes trying to capture a whiff of raisin, chocolate, walnut, olive, something! What kind of bread was this?!?

I thought my antics had gone unnoticed. However, there was a Franprix employee lurking in the background enjoying la folie. He walked up and said the equivalent of: Are you sure you touched all of them? I laughed embarrassedly and started pointing to the different brown chunks inquiring: Qu'est-ce que c’est? Et ça? Et ça? Et ça? But before he revealed the secret, he wanted to know what I was: Vous êtes anglaise? Nope, not English, American.

He then went into a very long explanation to a coworker who was passing by, and probably couldn’t have given a damn considering she was on a break and had an entire orange in her mouth, about how wonderful Americans are and how we are such friendly and open people. I jokingly said, maybe the people, but not the president. He said that the administration and the people are not one in the same. And went on to say that Americans are some of the nicest people he had ever met. Ahhhhhhhh. How sweet! Then I told him to shut the f^(% up and tell me what was in the bread!!! Just kidding.

I’m in love with France (and the French) encore!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thanks for sharing!

As if I wasn't self-conscious enough speaking in French . . .

The receptionist in the main lobby called my office to announce my student’s arrival and to find out what floor I was on. Apparently, when she hung up the receiver she turned to my student and asked if I was a man.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who's Contaminating La France?

"Goodbye Americans who want to monopolize the world and who contaminate France!!!"

I find it ironic that this person -- who defaced the wall of a restroom (a filthy one at that) in a public library of the 15th arrondissement -- accuses Americans of contaminating France.

It's the rare American in France who pollutes bistros with cigarette smoke, allows their dog to defecate in the middle of the sidewalk, or spits loogies partout.

If, on the other hand, the author of this rebellious outburst is referring to contamination through globalization and commercialization, I can only say that on the odd occasion I have had a craving for McDonald's fries, I have been deterred by the extremely long line of French patrons waiting patiently for their McRoyale.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"Lawn at Rest"

Even the grass gets a vacation in France!

Monday, February 12, 2007

La différence . . .

My French husband is sitting across from me eating a Yoplait yogurt bearing the expiration date of 25/1/07. That's right, 18 days ago. Not only is he eating it, but he's scraping the side of the bare container with his spoon as not to miss a curd. I, on the other hand, won't eat anything in the refrigerator on the off chance that the yogurt container may have brushed up against it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

How Much for Some New Lungs?

I know a French woman who is very lovely, but has some fanciful ideas about my homeland. To wit, she believes that it's legal to buy and sell body parts in the U.S. “Oh really?" I say (wondering how much her brain would fetch). “Yes” she tells me. “Everything is for sale in the U.S. You must pay for everything!”

The next morning I spent a very long time at the post office processing our change-of-address request. The cost: 40€. (La Poste serves as a bank and a post office, managing to combine the two most horrific lines in the history of customer service. I think it should go for a hat trick and start issuing drivers licenses too.)

In the U.S., I could have done this same transaction online for $1.00 or for free if I wanted to go in person and stand in line (impossible, of course, considering I sold my legs to purchase my plane ticket to France).

FYI: The Anatomy of a Rumor

Friday, February 09, 2007

Dear Diary,

I wrote a check at the dry cleaner today. Please don't hate me.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Come on Du de!

A while ago my dad told me a story about a business trip he took to Paris. Sitting solo in a booth, dictionary in hand, he ordered up a “jambon et fromage sandwich”. The waiter later returned with his sandwiches: 1 jambon et 1 fromage. My dad moved the cheese to the ham sandwich and voila! his order was fulfilled. He got the sense that the waiter had done it on purpose. Not being there, I gave him the benefit of the doubt but secretly thought he was a bit paranoid . . . until last night.

I left a dinner party after the metro had stopped running. I jumped into a taxi and gave the driver my street name rue du Couedic (Coo-ed-ick). Not quite as simple as our old address: rue de la Convention, but not crazy hard to pronounce like rue Montorgueil either. Knowing my accent is a bit thick, I spelled it three times for him (I messed up the first time – the “e” gets me every time!) and even offered him up a nice neat little box of where he could find it – c’est entre Denfert-Rochereau et Parc Montsouris, et Général Leclerc et René Coty.

He sighed too many times to count as he struggled to reach the map under his seat, repeating (between sighs) that la rue n’existe pas with me responding each time that yes, the rue did exist because I lived on it. I handed him a piece of paper on which the address was printed. Proof! Ahhh, he said. Rue du Couedic existe, mais vous avez dit rue de Couedic. Lie! But even if I had said de, close enough.

I asked the driver if he spoke another language and then lectured him on how if someone is trying it would be nice if he could at least try to make an effort to understand them. Cognac does wonders for language skills and courage. And cutting off your nose despite your face. Finding no way to make a ham and cheese sandwich of the situation, I told him to stop. I got out of the taxi just near the Seine and almost started crying. Mostly because I felt that I should given that the Seine is the perfect "scene" for a homesick American crossing Pont Neuf, contemplating her place in a foreign country as she struggles to fit in. But it was cold and I needed to get home to my warm bed and sweet husband (to remind me that French people really are nice!) so I whispered "cut", hailed the next taxi, and repeated my coordinates.

Worked like a charm. I didn’t need to wait to get home to be reminded after all.