Tuesday, February 27, 2007

French Husband, American Wife...

This is a little late for Valentine's Day, but I know a lot of my readers are American women married to French men. If you have love on your mind at the moment, you might be intrigued by the release of a new book by Polly Platt due out in September 2007. Entitled "Love à la française, The Supreme French Exception", it deals with marriages between French men and American women.

The first three tips for success, according to an advance article about the book on Expatica, are:

"— First and foremost, learn the language.
— Learn to cook. 'It's not essential, but it helps.'
— Learn to get along with your mother-in-law. 'Have every Sunday lunch if you have to!'"

Does this advice seem pertinent to you? What do you think of the whole list of ten tips which can be found in the article? They seem rather stereotypical and old-fashioned to me, but perhaps they'll ring true to some of you....
(Image courtesy of Hugh Macleod from gapingvoid -- and do check out his great blog of "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards.")

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Combarel Hospital, the Incongruous

I have learned at least one factoid by writing this series on the old Rodez hospital: why its location was called the "site Combarel." In 1871, the writer Denis Combarel left 300,000 gold francs to the city to improve the existing hospices. Would he have been pleased with the changes the next 136 years would bring to the site?

He probably would have been surprised yet impressed by the architecture of the pediatrics ward, built in 1947. It is a registered historical monument, recognized for its Art Deco style:

Most of the 20th century wards, however, showed a distinct lack of style, making Combarel a place where old met new in an incongruous hodgepodge...

... yet where beauty could usually be found somewhere in the middle of all the concrete:

A few parts of the site, though, were hopelessly uninspiring. I wonder why and how anyone could build this type of construction just a few meters from historic center of the hospital campus -- yet someone did:

Then again, a few of the hospital's "horrors" intrigued me. What was the original purpose of the building below? And how was it being used -- if at all -- in 2006?

The Combarel hospital site was typical of the Rodez I discovered twelve years ago: historical yet funky, and somehow a little off-kilter. The new hospital in the modern business area of Bourran presents a striking contrast. Read about it in next weekend's post...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Combarel Hospital, the Old

Come take a peek at some of the beautiful old parts of the now nearly-empty Combarel Hospital in the center of Rodez...

I wish I had the time to do some real book research about this site -- information on the Internet is quite thin. I have learned that in the XIVth century, Rodez had 13 hospitals. If I understand the cryptic historical article I found on the Web, the Combarel site was officially formed in 1696 by combining three existing hospitals, Sainte-Marthe, Notre Dame du Pas et Sainte Croix.
Fortunately, the oldest and most beautiful parts of the hospital site are on the register of classified historical monuments, and will be protected in any future projects.

There was no getting around the cars for these photos! One of the big disadvantages of the former site was the lack of parking space.
In case there is any confusion, the Rodez hospital has been public and secular for many years. But traces of its religious past -- I think virtually all French hospitals started as religious institutions -- are still present, as you can see above on the left and, more obviously, below.

Please feel free to add or correct any information about the old Combarel hospital site. This post may be updated as I find time to research the subject more.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Good-bye, My Hospital

It may seem strange to write a hospital series, but the construction of le nouvel hôpital in the "New Rodez," Bourran, is yet another major change in the local landscape.

A few years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of being hospitalized for a month in the "old hospital," on the "site Combarel" -- in this very ward, in fact. Strangely, I look back at that period with some nostalgia. Even though I was very ill, I knew -- most of the time -- that I wasn't suffering from anything life-threatening. Time stood still, and I learned that my family could function without me and that life went on at work, even in my absence.

My memories also revolve around the gradual discovery of the funky old Combarel hospital, which was a campus-style establishment nestled in the center of town. A total mishmash of incongruent architectural styles, it has been replaced by a state-of-the-art facility that I got to know recently during my daughter's bout with appendicitis.

La France Profonde will be taking a look at the old and the new over the next few posts, which will be a bit more frequent as I have a number of photos to share with you. In my opinion, nothing better represents the huge modifications going on in Rodez.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

For Music Lovers Only

OK, I promise that I'm not going to use La France Profonde to relentlessly promote my incipient, just-for-fun blog, And So Forth. But I'm making an exception for a recent post about the greatest influences in American pop and rock music. If this subject beats your drum, click on over and give your opinion...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

January Snow -- A Look Back

It's already been over two weeks since our snow episode, so before spring I thought I'd share a few images of Rodez under January 23rd's light blanket of white. I wasn't lucky enough to take pictures of the city during last year's huge snow cover, but this year braved going into town for a lunch the day we got hit.

Had I known what was awaiting me that evening, I probably wouldn't have gone to that lunch! After going home for a few hours at around 2pm, I went back to Rodez for a 5:30 appointment; by the time it was over at 6:30, the local streets were "une patinoire," or ice-skating rink. I took 50 minutes as compared to the usual 15 to drive back to my village on a surreal, wind-swept veneer of ice and snow.

Gritting my teeth and driving at about 15 miles per hour -- as was everyone else, for once -- I finally made it to my village, but not up the hill to my house as the roads were sheer ice. I joined a few abandoned cars in a farmer's field and my husband walked down to save me by putting chains on. Total time to get home: one hour and forty-five minutes!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Bride Wore White

There was quite a wedding taking place in Rodez last week. The bride wore white...

...but her father couldn't hide his disapproval of the match:

He had preferred her angelic but spurned lover who was weeping from a distance:

All this high drama didn't stop the guests from having a good time, though, and this one apparently drank a few too many at the reception!

(Photos courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)