A Travellerspoint blog

The Randomness of Life

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Its 10:08 AM on this side of the ocean and I am refusing to prepare anything for classes today. Why?

1) For the third week in a row my Friday classes were cancelled. (Thanks to teachers not being here for two weeks and a country wide teacher strike last week).

2) Being the super assistant who is already prepared, I already know what I’m doing for many of my classes next week. And for those I don’t, I have all weekend to think about them.

3) It is supposed to reach 20 degrees (aka 70 degrees in Fahrenheit today). Gorgeous Spring days in March should be spent outside soaking up the daily light. Therefore after lunch, I am going to wander around town and think about how glorious this day is.

Maybe it seems ridiculous to others, but little moments like these are some of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong, traveling, holidays and other big events are definitely exciting, but it is little every day moments which make me remember how incredibly happy I am. Little things like spending all Sunday morning chatting around the kitchen table while drinking tea and nibbling on baguette smeared with Nutella. Or walking by the port with Paty, eating Mcflurries and watching the little French kids jump for joy when they saw an otter swim by. (ok not going to lie here… we were kind of excited too, especially when he emerged from the river and started walking around.) Or going slightly off subject with my students when they randomly asked me how to say “I have to pee” in English. Or eating Sunday lunch followed by someone singing and playing my favorite French songs on the piano. I think these moments will stick out the most when I think of my time abroad. They didn’t cost money, they weren’t extravagant, no pictures were taken, and no real planning was involved. They just occurred randomly; and that is why I love them. Little simple events in life that bounce right into your face and fill you head to toe with complete joy. I realize more and more every day how much I adore the randomness of life’s little unimportant moments.

I’ve got a bit over two months left living life as a “Roannais”. When thinking about this subject, my mind starts reeling, replaying the same thing over and over again. “Two months! That is no time at all! Have you done everything you wanted to do? Don’t waste one moment, profite-bien” And for the most part, yes, I am happy to say I have done many things I wanted to do. And there are still good things ahead. A bit more traveling in France and Europe, some little field trips with friends, some dinner invitations at teacher’s houses, hanging out with people, many more glasses of wine and even some time to taste a bit more of French cuisine.

Also planning some interesting subjects for my upcoming lessons with students including:

• American high school year books
• More American music and movies
• Introducing students to country music
• Possible dancing lesson (square dancing, the hustle, the hokey pokey? Taught my roomies the last one).
• Bringing in peanut butter for them to taste. (They already love the Reese’s I gave them as prizes!)
• American slang expressions (nothing bad, just things like “whats up?”and “Holy cow!”)

If you think I’m missing anything important here Or if you think of cool slang expressions to teach them, please don’t hesitate to tell me. I’m going to make these next couple of months with my students as fun as I can. Yes, the lessons will still be educational, but as an assistant I can play games with them every class period if I want, as long as I’m getting them to speak English. Love this job! :)

Posted by jauntypag 03:53 Archived in France Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomate

The Differences Between the Yankees and the Frogs

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I’m a detail person. I pick up on the difference between the scratchy trill my doorbell makes verse that of the girls up stairs. I notice how my friend’s laugh changes depending on what she is laughing about and how my sneezes always mean something. (Like I’m cold, I need to dry my hair, I’m going to be sick tomorrow… I’m not kidding about this). Thus here, I have stumbled upon different cultural details. These things which I have observed may not seem like an enormous cultural difference to those reading this, but as they always say, it’s the little things that count. And I agree. It’s the little differences in people’s actions, daily life, attitudes and simple gestures which stand out in my mind the most when comparing cultures. I have talked about the French adoration for baguette and 35 hour work week but the little things I see every day are always the most prevalent in my mind. So here I’ll share with you some things I have noticed, experienced, heard about our stumbled upon during my time here.

• No matter which class I am working with, my students always have two things with them: a pencil case and their agenda. ALL students have these at any given time. When the teacher tells them their homework assignment at the end of the class, there is a massive “ziiiip” as they simultaneously reach into their pencil cases and then scribble down the assignment in their agendas. Anyone who has worked in the American school system knows that getting students to write down assignments is more difficult than convincing a cat to jump into a bathtub full of water.

• French people often make a gasping sound. I’ve noticed it a lot when people don’t really know what to say, or just before an awkward silence.

• “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” must be an unspoken French mantra. Why replace something that is old if it still works fine?

Example: when I walk in the courtyard at school in the morning, the earthy scent of wood often greets me. I asked why it always smells like there is a campfire burning around the school in the morning. The answer: the enormous high school building is still heated using a wood. Aka. They burn wood to heat the entire school. Apparently there was a huge fired last year before school started one day. I think school officials would break into a cold sweat while reading this and thinking about all of the safety hazards of this idea. But if it ain’t broke….

• My middle school students wait at the door, in a line until the teacher says they can enter the classroom. They then stand at their desks until the teacher tells them they may sit.

• One would think that every word must have a translation in a different language. False. I’ve come across words that really don’t have an equivalent in French. Like “to be dizzy” for example. Yes, you can explain them but some things are difficult to explain. Try thinking about how you would explain “nerdy” without using the words like geeky, dweeb or other synonyms.

• Americans often do the “fake politeness” thing. You tell someone you should grab coffee sometime even though you never will. You tell someone you love their haircut even though you think it makes them look like a modern day Elvis Presley. I’m not saying the French don’t do this, but they sure don’t do it as much as Americans do. They are not rude, but honest. If they invite you to a concert, it’s because they want you to go with them not because they were talking to you about it and now feel obligated to invite you.

• Going to a bar a couple of times a week to meet friends is not considered an alcoholic action. You haven’t seen your friends for a while, so you go out for a drink or two to catch up on what is new.

• Toilet paper here is different colored and scented. My personal favorite is the tropical scented peach colored tp.

• Pick up lines are few and far between here. If a guy wants to get your attention, he will come up to you, start chatting and maybe buy you a drink. French guys seem to know that obnoxious flirting really isn’t the way to capture a girl’s heart. Dating isn’t just a game here. You go on a couple of dates, you become a “couple”, you meet parents early and you skip all of the games which are so commonly played in the US dating scene. Much better in my eyes, not that we all don’t love a game of “so am I suppose to text him first?”

• Saleswomen do not pester you 50 million times when you walk into a store. They come up to you once when you first walk in, ask what they can help you with, and then leave you to your shopping. They are more than overjoyed to offer advice or help you find something, but don’t follow you around like an imprinting duckling asking for the hundredth time if you need help.

• Speaking of shopping, the French define the word known as “window shopping”. I have NEVER seen more people window shop than in France.

• Grades are always read out loud here. You failed your speech on the weather in England? Well everyone is going to know that the temperature in Liverpool isn’t the only thing that is decreasing.

• Americans are often shocked by the amount of PDA there is on this side of the ocean. Seeing couples constantly smooching, cuddling or gazing dreamily at each other in public is common and accepted. Still quite startling when I round the corner in school and see my students hanging on each other. I have come to learn to avoid the “kissing corners” as I like to call them and find other ways of getting to class.

• Strikes occur in France about every 5 seconds. Seriously between the strikes for the Trains, museums, public works, teachers and even students, there seems to be a very minimum of one strike per month. Just got a paper in my teacher inbox saying there is a teacher strike on Friday….. again…

• I was often petrified to speak French in my beginning French classes at Grand Valley. I worried way too much about making a mistake and people thinking I am a horrible French speaker. Here, I am the opposite. I ask questions all the time and to everyone. I am completely over the “If I make a mistake I look stupid” theory and believe now in the “If I make a mistake no one cares” theory. I think this new one is better. And surprisingly my friends, teachers, students, shop keepers and other people I ask questions to are never offended when I ask questions. They are always happy to help out.

I feel like there are so many other little idiosyncrasies that pop up on a daily basis which I could share with you. Yet, I’ll spare you. As exciting as I think it is to notice things like being able to buy rabbit in the super market or Yoda’s voice when he speaks French (yes its different, they obviously had to dub Star Wars for French tv!) sharing every detail would probably drive you all crazy. Therefore I guess you can just ponder the above statements and secretly hope that the US will one day have tropical scented toilet paper too.

Posted by jauntypag 05:53 Archived in France Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Into the West

Vacation to the South West of France

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My trip to Dijon was part one of the awesome "ski" vacation. Part two: bright and early Thursday morning, Silvia and I made our way to the train station to start our adventure to the west coast of France. After a lovely send off from Roanne, we spent the day hoping from train to train and eventually arrived in Bordeaux early that evening. Exiting the train station, you could smell the nearby salty sea in the air. In fact Silvia and I simultaneously took a deep breath of air turned to each other and said “can you smell that?” Absolutely delightful. We checked into our hotel, discovered we had an extremely odd bedspread with odd nautical symbols scattered all over it, and took the tram to the center of town to explore and find something to eat.Odd Bedspread

Odd Bedspread


As lame as it sounds, we didn’t stay out too late because a day of train travel is actually quite tiring despite the fact that you are just sitting down the entire time. We also had plans to make a day trip the next day to see an old friend of Silvia’s. He is currently living in Birratiz which is right on the Atlantic Ocean. Considering that Biarritz was only two hours by train from Bordeaux and Nicholas (Silvia’s friend) offered to show us around the area, how could we say no?

Biarritz was incredible. Nicholas picked us up from the train station and took us down to his apartment right by the ocean. We were fortunate to have a gorgeous sunny morning, so we walked to the ocean and walked up and down the coast. I absolutely had to touch the water, so I walked down the beach to dip my fingers in the salty coolness, not realizing that the imported rocks which make up the beach are not very firm when they have waves splashing on them. Instead of getting my fingers wet, I ended up sinking in the sand and soaking my shoes and socks. Not exactly what I had planned, but it ended up pouring later on in the day, so it didn’t matter. We wandered along the coast until a storm kicked up and we were drenched with rain. We were on a bridge when it started to rain so we ran to an over pass. Five minutes later it started hailing, yes hailing. Being up above the ocean and watching the wave’s unbelievable force as they crashed in the waves was quite cool. They were so massive that when they broke along a cluster of huge rocks in the ocean, all of the water turned white from the foam of the wave. It was an incredible display of the might power of the ocean. Did I mention that we also saw someone swimming in a little bay while this was happening? Apparently there are crazy people on all continents….
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After a fantastic lunch, we hopped in the car and Nicholas drove us to St. Jean De Luz, a little costal town so close to Spain you could almost hear the trill of the Spanish “r” whenever anyone spoke. We pulled up to the beach and got out to walk around. The beach cups a little bay which in turn is a runoff of the Atlantic. Nicholas told us that the bay actually used to be a part of town until the sea wall which held back the roaring Atlantic was destroyed. Apparently you can scuba dive down to the bottom and see the houses which are still down there. We chatted and wandered down the beach, being careful not let the crashing waves attack our feet and soak my shoes even more. It was so picturesque; I half expected to see a mermaid lounge on a rock as we stared out at the waves. We followed the little port which runs off the bay and discovered it goes all the way though town. Little shops, restaurants and boating schools reston each side of the port mixed in among the typical red and white Basque style houses.
Going Through St. Jean de Luz

Going Through St. Jean de Luz

If you can pull your eyes away from the port for a moment and look at the other side of the town, you are greeted with a spectacular view of the mountains standing tall in the distance. With the ocean rocking against the shore on one side, the foothills of the Pyrenees on the other and a stunning little village between them, the town seriously looks like it should be in a musical or some type of romance movie. We stopped at a café in the center of town to soak up the atmosphere and drink some tea. Music played over the speakers in town as we sat and watched children chase each other around the gazebo on little scooters. After warming up with some tea, we decided to squeeze in a bit more time in St. Jean de Luz by climbing up a hill near the ocean to get a final view. It was perfect timing, because the sun was starting to set as we reached the top. All you could hear was the waves crashing into the rocks below and the wind rushing between the blades of grass. With the sun falling down behind them, the clouds cast a bluish type of light on the hills along the coast reflecting the utter tranquility of the place. I know that if I was lucky enough to live in this town, I would constantly be on the top of that hill, staring off into the ocean, writing and thinking. St. Jean de Luz

St. Jean de Luz

Nicholas took us back to the train station that evening and Silvia and I dozed the entire train ride back to Bordeaux. We spent most of the next day wandering around Bordeaux and exploring the little nooks and crannies. Nicholas actually studied in Bordeaux and before we left Biarritz he drew us a little walking tour of the city to use when we got back. His map was super accurate and we had no problem finding the touristy hot spots in Bordeaux! .True Love in Bordeaux

True Love in Bordeaux

We ate lunch there, tried a local desert called canelle and wandered along the river Garonne in the sun light. I think that growing up the Great Lake State has had a bigger influence on me than I thought. My favorite places in cities always seem to be near the water, no matter if it is a lake, river, fountain or ocean. After spending most of the day in Bordeaux, we wanted to make one last journey back to the sea. Silvia had heard that the little costal town called Arcachon was breath taking, so we hoped a train to find out if the rumors were true. They were. Aracachon is again right along the Atlantic, and must be incredibly touristy in the summer. Not as ritzy as Biarritz, but still absolutely charming with its laid back style. We snacked on croissants on the beach and spent the evening walking, talking, eating and taking pictures.

I was sad to leave this part of France, but the next day we picked up our stuff, said goodbye to our odd looking comforter and headed off to Toulouse. Now in all of my travels, I have never really come across a city I hands down didn’t like. I won’t say that I hated Toulouse, but it definitely earned its spot in the “didn’t like” category on my travel destinations list. Toulouse is called “la ville rose” (the pink city) but after walking around and spending two days there, I didn’t see much pink. In fact I saw mostly grey, brown and black buildings which needed to be cleaned up. It was sad to see a large number of homeless people and skitter away from the consistent amount of cat calls we received throughout the day. We even had the pleasure of witnessing a car burning. After emerging from the train station in search of food one evening, we noticed a large cloud of smoking coming from the corner of the street where our hotel was. We walked a bit closer and discovered what was causing the smoke; a burning car completely engulfed in flames. At first I thought it was an accident, but the way the car was burning and the lack of a second car told me that this was definitely an intentional act. We stood there dumbfounded, just starting at the dancing flames consuming the vehicle as the fire men finally showed up. We decided then that although the train station food wasn’t that tempting, it was probably a better choice to eat fast food hamburgers then to pass out of smoke inhalation trying to find a restaurant on our street.

I cannot say I had a completely awful time in Toulouse, despite the things mentioned above. Walking along the river was quite enjoyable. We had crepes in a pretty little square in town, complete with a merry go round, and saw the translated version of “Valentine’s Day” our last night there. (and incase you are wondering, Ashton Kutcher isn’t’ as funny in French) We went to a cool space museum just outside of town and discovered that Toulouse is the center of space craft construction in Europe. So not all of Toulouse was bad, just……. A lot of it. Will I go back there again? Most likely not. Am I glad I went? Yes. It was an interesting experience.
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Our day of travel back to Roanne took us about 10 hour’s total. We had to switch numerous trains and wound up making it back to the apartment by 9ish. We then searched the apartment for food, made dinner and called it a night.

The last couple days of my vacation were spent here in Roanne and were actually quite enjoyable. I adore traveling; however it is nice to come home (well to my French home that is) and relax a bit after transferring numerous trains and avoiding burning cars. I prepared some lessons for my classes, saw a movie, had a lesson in driving a stick shift (which I can decently do now by the way!) saw some friends and most importantly, enjoyed the last couple days of vacation. Tomorrow back to teaching until spring vacation… which is in Six weeks!

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Posted by jauntypag 13:57 Archived in France Comments (2)

Delightful Dijon

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Instead of giving up something for lent, I decided that I am going to write EVERY WEEK in this blog, starting when I get home next week. Things get super busy around here and although I always want to write, I end up pushing it to the side. So, if for some reason I am not writing frequently, you are allowed to yell at me. And please do. With so much happening all the time it’s hard to remember what to write!

I am currently on a two week vacation! Now you are most likely sitting there, scratching your head and trying to figure out which holiday is around this time and hoping that you didn’t forget to buy your significant other a present for it, right? This vacation is to promote the ski business. All the schools in France have a two week vacation so people can pack up their cars, grab their skis and head to the alps for some skiing. No, I’m not kidding, this vacation is only for that reason. This keeps the ski business going and provides a nice break for everyone. I think I am going to write to Obama and tell him that we need a ski holiday, even though I’m not a skiing person. We’ll see what he says about that.

To kick off my holiday, one of the teachers at the high school invited me to go to visit Dijon with her and her family. I heard that Dijon was a great city to visit, and jumped at the offer to go! So I left Friday night and drove off into the French country side to spend the night at the teacher’s house before we headed off to Dijon the next day. Isabelle, the teacher I went with, has a picturesque English cottage in the French countryside. We passed dozens of cows on the way to her house and had to wait patiently for a flock of geese to waddle out of the road so we could pass. Once we finally got to the house, I felt like I was stepping right into the pages of a storybook. It was stunning. Old wooden stair cases lead the way to the second story, a large wood burning stove sat in the middle of the living room to heat up the house and every room was beautifully decorated with antiques. Isabelle and her husband love collecting antiques and have amazing collections all proudly displayed throughout their house. It amazes me that they have so many gorgeous and pricey things in their house, because they also have 5 boys living with them. Their bedrooms are all on the second story and not decorated in antiques, yet still I was shocked when Isabelle told me that they really haven’t broken anything. I had an amazing room to myself which was decorated with deep purple wall paper in a Victoriana kind of style. Going with the style of the house, the room had statues, pictures, lace ruffles, and little antiques placed strategically around it. I really wish I had Isabelle’s decorating style and the money to decorate my house like hers! I’m pretty sure my mom would have refused to leave the house and declared that she was going to live there forever once she saw it!

The next morning, Isabelle, her husband, her youngest two children and myself all packed up our bags, trugged through the snow towards the car (they had about a foot and a half which is A TON for this part of France at this time of year) and began the two hour journey to Dijon. On the way they pointed out land marks and talked about the region of France we were going to. The two kids also sang French kid songs to me since both of them speak French and English fluently. With French people they always speak French, but they only spoke English to me.

In Dijon we stayed with friends of Isabelle and her husband. The couple was extremely nice and was very happy to introduce me to many foods and drinks that I had never tried before. I tasted about 5 different kinds of wine, 3 new types of cheese, a couple liquors, 3 types of pastries and on top of that a huge meal for both lunch and dinner. Thank goodness we walked around Dijon instead of taking a car or else they would have had to use a forklift to carry me home.
Dijon itself is lovely. It is a gorgeous city with incredible architecture and a lot to do. Of course, my camera batteries decided to stop working while I was there, and once I realized that the problem was with the batteries, not my camera, it was Sunday. And nothing is open on Sundays in France. So I am going to have to ask Isabelle for the pictures she took. I’ll add them to the blog once I get them. In Dijon we went to a museum (and the boys were super well behaved!) did a bit of shopping, followed the owl trail so I could touch a lucky owl on the side of a church (said to bring good luck.), went to a garden which I fell in love with and got to see this amazing carnival show! We were in a huge square at night when suddenly a bunch of lights started flashing and music started playing. From a nearby street a huge fish balloon came wafting above the crowds. Imagine the floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, these were the same but all fish themed. There were a couple fish, an octopus, a lobster, some jellyfish and two giant clams which had huge pearls floating in them. Suddenly the music became dramatic and a huge Eel balloon appeared at the other side of the square. It weaved its way through the crowd and fought the octopus balloon for the pearl. Of course the octopus won; eels rarely get to be the good guys. It was super cool to see and the two kids I was with adored it!
After a couple of days in Dijon, we headed back to Isabelle’s house where I stayed one more night. I watched a cute French kid’s movie with the boys, and they translated the sentences I didn’t understand. Hanging out with them made me feel like a big sister all over again. The littlest one had me help him zip and unzip his coat when we went outside. The other one bought me a cute little cat sculpture to welcome me to France. We played a billion games of “eye spy” on the way back to their house. I love being around kids and hearing them speak in their little French accents, yet at the same time I’m incredibly jealous of how good their French was!
Once again I was floored by the generosity of the people here. Isabelle and her husband went out of their way to show me around and were fabulous tour guides. Before taking me home on my last day with them, they took me to a bunch of small villages so we could go to the markets there and explore. They also found out that I had never tried Escargot (snails) and insisted that we buy some to try! Hate to say it, but they were good! They were taken out of their shells, cooked in wine, put back into their shells and covered in garlic and herb sauce. You pop them in the oven to melt the sauce then eat them with bread. Quite good I must say. I haven’t been disappointed by French food yet. (Besides the yucky Anais drink which is black licorice flavored. Ugh!) I really enjoyed getting to know Isabelle and her family more and wound up just sitting and talking with her a lot of the time. I absolutely adored her collection of lace that she had, and my last day there she gave me a little lace hanky, telling me that she wanted me to have it so I would always remember her. It’s currently sitting in my room with the little cat sculpture and an antique box I bought in Dijon. So many good memories.

Now for part two of vacation: heading out early in the morning tomorrow with a friend to explore Bordeaux and Toulouse! I’ll fill you in when I’m back!
Bisous.

Posted by jauntypag 13:34 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

High School French Class Comes Back to Haunt Me.

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I remember this vividly. A sharp turn around the corner of the upstairs hall and you were mere feet away from the French room. As you approached the class room, you could already hear Celine Dion’s “Mes Amies” playing on repeat, welcoming you to French class. We would drag ourselves into class, pull out our homework, try to rationalize why Madame thought that Japan used the Euro and spend the hour listening to her mix of “French” and English rambling. Although I did indeed gain a general knowledge of the French language from this class and I enjoyed my time there, I really started to learn French when I studied at Grand Valley. However, this does not mean I didn’t retain anything from my French days at Good Ol’ Lakeview. In fact this weekend, I was unexpectedly greeted by a very familiar tune in my little French city…

This weekend I was invited to a “soirée chanson Française”, or in other words a “French song party” by Michelle and Erik. A friend of the couple often holds big themed parties in town and invited told Michelle to invite me and the other the other assistants to join them. The idea was to go and hang out at this person’s apartment, eat lots of food, drink lots of wine, and sing some French tunes. I’m always looking for ways to improve my French speaking so even though my roomies were gone for the weekend and I was a bit shy to go by myself, I figured I would go and check it out. Michelle and Erik picked me up on a very snowy evening in Roanne (aka there was about an inch on the ground when I left the apartment. This is very snowy to the Roannais and they do not like it.) and we headed off to the soirée.

After parking the car and an impromptu snowball fight, we walked to the apartment complex and I was introduced to the host of the party. There were at least 30 to 40 people all gathered around the table nibbling the huge “French song themed” dishes in front of them when we arrived. We unloaded the cider that we brought and then Michelle started introducing me to other people at the party.

I’ve come to find that introductions are always the same here. This is how it goes: I say my name and that I’m from the U.S or the person who introduces me says this for me.

As soon as I say that I’m American, the French person immediately says:
“Oh I have a (brother/sister/friend/daughter/great uncle/ ex-babysitter’s nephew’ cousin’s dog) who lives in (insert name of random city or state).
They then ask me about the location of Michigan/ Detroit. (Some switch to English to ask this, since they are excited to speak English).
When I tell them that it is in the North, by Canada they shiver and say “oh it’s cold there then right?” I then explain the 8 months of winter and the ability to drive a car on the lake for them to get the picture of a Michigan winter.
I must say, I always find it amusing to watch the peoples faces when they find out I am from the States. Americans are few and far between here, so people often look at me like I am a celebrity when I say I am from the US instead of just a girl from the east side of Michigan.

After a bit of chatting and eating, we all headed to the living room to start singing. Some people sang solo or duets. One man wowed us all by belting out “Ava Marie”. A younger girl played “The Maple Leaf Rag” on the piano as everyone bopped along to the tune. (Yeah I know its American, I don’t know how that got thrown into “French song night” but she played it well!) Thankfully when we all started to sing, we were given song sheets so I was able to follow along with the lyrics. (I’m pretty sure that the hostess saved a song sheet specifically for me, thank goodness or else I would have been totally lost.) As I looked through the lyrics, I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t recognize any of the songs. But at the bottom of the second page, in bold letters starting back at me was the song I never thought I’d really hear a French person sing. I always thought it was just a song that Madame Cherny found on a tape and played endlessly for us so she wouldn’t have to teach us more about past tense verbs or the culture of Bretagne. There, at the bottom of the page was the one, the only, AUX CHAMPS ÉLYSÉES! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled to sing it. In fact I’m pretty sure when I saw it I blurted out in English “Hey! I know this one!” startling the chatting people around me. As the piano player began to play the opening lines and everyone started to sway and sing, I thought back to French class. In class, we were always annoyed when we had to sing this song but on that snowy evening in Roanne, I felt like I really appreciated the song for the first time. The bouncy melody, the cheeriness of the words and the truth that “Il y a tous que vous voulez aux Champs Élysées!” gave me one of those happy –to- be- alive type feelings that make life worthwhile.

For the rest of the songs I tried to follow along with the lyrics the best I could, asking the people around me about the words I didn’t know during the breaks. One especially nice guy ended up explaining a bunch of French words, idioms and cultural things to me since I was so curious and asked so many questions; thank goodness of patient people!

To complete the evening of songs, the hostess asked me if I would sing a traditional song in English for everyone, since it is not often they get to hear a real English speaker sing. Dad, I almost sung the Dead Skunk Song, but the French already think that American’s walk around wearing cowboy boots and saying “Time for viddles ya’ll!” therefore, not to elaborate the stereotype, I sung “This Land is Your Land”, complete with hand motions. (If I could have sung a second one, obviously it would have been our favorite song about a squashed rodent!) Singing is not really my specialty but I carried the tune decently and they seemed to enjoy it! I was also surprised that I remember the lyrics since the last time I sung that song had to be in one of those elementary school choir concerts!

I really enjoyed this cultural event in Roanne and am so glad that I have sweet and unique opportunities to peek inside the non-touristy side of French culture. Although the French songs were fast and I only knew one of them, it was fun to listen to the music and try to follow along. All of the people I met were extremely welcoming and excited to talk to me. I also noticed how I could easily speak with people both in a crowd and one on one, without becoming completely confused at what they were saying. Major accomplishment! I’m looking forwards to the next soiree at the apartment. I heard that the themes change all of the time and that they often have dancing themed ones! Better start looking for those tap shoes and try to start thinking of American Dances. Hey, we’ve got the Macarena, right? ;)

I know you are now curious about this amazing song I learned in French class right? No worries, I found the link for you. Amusez vous bien! (enjoy!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28ahHVvrtQQ&feature=related

Posted by jauntypag 14:30 Archived in France Tagged events Comments (0)

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