Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas on the Causse

It's difficult to believe it's been nearly a month since I started a series of posts about the Christmas season in Aveyron. I have even more Christmas material to share, but am forced to accept that Christmas is old news. So I'll leave you with one last holiday shot -- the view from our living room window on Christmas morning 2006.

Festivities continue, of course, with preparations for the New Year's Eve réveillon well underway. This year we'll be celebrating at home, en famille, which will be a nice change from the huge meals of the past few years. And I will certainly have some blog-related New Year's resolutions to share -- so don't forget to click by in 2007!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas from Aveyron

Here's a sneak look at the Préfecture's Christmas tree in Rodez. Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël or Happy Holidays to all! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 21, 2006

No Christmas Spirit in France? No Way!

I've noticed a lot of expat blogs are full of sadness -- I won't say whining -- about the supposed lack of Christmas spirit in France. Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon in Rodez, getting my Christmas shopping done -- finally. And I can assure you that Christmas spirit was everywhere, starting with these two high school students who were perched on a bench in Rodez's public park, le Jardin du Foirail, displaying their version of Christmas spirit.

When I asked if I could take their photo and explained that a lot of Americans and Brits felt there wasn't enough "esprit de Noël" around -- for lack of a better translation -- they vehemently denied it: "Mais si, mais si." So yes there is -- and they are living proof of it. Joyeux Noël, guys.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Are you doing Sunday Christmas shopping?

Noël is fast approaching, and with French school holidays starting on Saturday the 23rd, everybody I talk to is in a rush. Fortunately most shops are open today and will also be open on Sunday the 24th. This is controversial, though, as is the subject of Sunday shopping in general.

Legally, only small food shops can do business on Sundays, and just in the morning. Other shops can open a certain number of Sundays per year -- I think this depends on the département. Sundays before Christmas are of course among the most popular choices.

Some retailers flaunt the law and open on more Sundays than allowed, then pay the fine. And superstores such as IKEA are dying to get permission to open on Sundays, yet employees and their unions resist. Despite France's low rate of church attendance, Sunday remains sacred as far as shopping is concerned.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Going, going...

When we moved to Aveyron in 1995, Rodez had just been through a series of grands travaux, with a fairly new -- and lovely -- public media library, town hall, and departmental archives building. Eleven years later, the city is going through more changes, some of them major and most of them controversial.

Living outside of Rodez, I'm not really up on the advantages and drawbacks of the projects that some say will transform Rodez as never before. One is to change the Ilôt Bonald, a rather rundown area behind the Place de la Cité , into an underground parking lot crowned by other urban renewal projects.

Many city dwellers are worked up about the loss of a fascinating -- I won't go so far as to say charming -- part of the town. Others feel the neighborhood needs, quite literally, a good cleaning up and some nice new apartments to get more people living in town. Shopkeepers reeling from the recent opening of a new galerie marchande, or mall, on the outskirts of the city will likely be pleased with any measure that makes it easier to park in the centre ville.

I don't really have a position on these plans, but am glad I got a picture of this huge old house, just a few steps away from the town center, because it will apparently be going down when the new project goes up.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas Comes to Rodez -- in Trucks and Tractors

Aveyron is starting to get dressed up for Christmas, and I was lucky enough to catch the decidedly unglamorous arrival of these sapins de Noël which now deck the Place d'Armes in front of Notre Dame de Rodez.

I can't help but feel Our Lady would suffice as the most beautiful Christmas decoration possible -- especially at night -- but I do generally enjoy the town's efforts to light up the holiday season.

More and more Aveyronnais are decorating their houses inside and out à l'américaine, and despite a certain ambivalence about this trend, Christmas decorations usually bring a smile to my face -- wherever they are.