Saturday, January 26, 2008

La Gare de Rodez at Dawn

As dawn breaks on a chilly January morning, what is going on at the Rodez train station?

Come with me to take a look:

At 7:40 am on a Saturday, the joint isn't exactly jumping.

A few passengers drift in; a few cars pull out of the parking lot. And there is no chance of slipping into the now smoke-free train station café -- it hasn't yet opened its doors.

But I could pick up a newspaper and an issue of L'Express with Barack Obama on the cover, and slurp coffee from a Selecta drink machine:

By the way, what yanked me out of my nice house (read "bed") so early on a freezing Saturday morning?

Was I off on an exciting little trip just for moi, myself and I?

Actually, what got me out and about this morning was the blind determination of three teenage girls, two of whom I can claim as my own, to spend the day shopping up a storm at the sales in Toulouse:

And no, I wasn't invited along!
C'est normal...
They chugged off on this sleek new TER, or regional, train:

Not so long ago, the trains to from Rodez to Toulouse were of the squat, square and sooty variety:

So the rail trip from Rodez to la Ville Rose has become significantly more pleasant.

Attention à la fermeture des portes automatiques!
Have fun, girls...
It's going to be a long, beautiful day...

Time to get back to my car:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday 9

(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Rodez Town Aveyron Years Just -- What the ****!!!

On my Google alert for "France profonde" today, I was rather pleased to see some of my content.

Until....I saw that it came from here.

I won't grace this with a screenshot -- not that I can remember how to make one.

And I'd love to shoot off an incendiary comment, but of course the "comment" function doesn't work on this new pseudo-blog, so eloquently entitled "Rodez Town Aveyron Years Just."

Damn you, "dustdiary," if you're going to steal my posts at least get the accents right! I hate to think of one of my favorite local restaurants being known as "Goats et Couleurs!"

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Not That I Bother about Such Things...

I honestly wasn't going to blog anything about France's (I suppose I should say "our" since I'm a dual national) wild and crazy president and his paramour. If there's one topic I want to avoid on La France Profonde, and one "French" term I detest, it's "les people."

But my parents just sent me a quick (3 minutes, 7 seconds to be exact) NPR broadcast by Scott Simon. And if you have 3 minutes, 7 seconds (to be exact) this morning and would like to spend it chuckling, listen to "Sarkozy and Bruni, a French Love Controversy."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Paris, I Knew You Well

There was a time in my life, too many years ago, when Paris meant France and France meant Paris.

As a French teacher in the USA in the 1980s, I took a number of trips to France, including a 6-week stay in Paris on a Rockefeller Foundation Grant. My French stays always included at least a week in la capitale -- and preferably many more. By 1989, I felt much more at home in Paris than Seattle, even though the Emerald City was only 60 miles from my home town.

Sure, I had visited parts of la province, all of which somehow felt parenthetical compared to the big city.

I had even spent four months as a student at the now-defunct "Stanford in Tours" campus -- only a few hours from Paris by train, by the way, even before the TGV. In those heady days of Eurail Pass train travel, my friends and I would sometimes "hop up" to enjoy a Parisian dinner. We would leave Tours at about 5pm, get to Paris just in time to eat, and catch a midnight-ish train back.

I moved to France in 1990, with visions of Paris dancing in my head. Not that I necessarily wanted to set up house and home there... but if I had spent months in Paris while living in the USA, I was certainly going to be heading there all the time...wasn't I?

Or was I?

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday 8

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Looking Up in Rodez

Sometimes I feel almost sick when I think that I lived in France for over fifteen years before learning to look up.

When I started La France Profonde, my goal was to share the beauties of Aveyron with...I was going to say my readers. But as I've said many times, I didn't imagine there would be any readers.

Now when I post, I know someone is out there. I have blogging friends and La France Profonde is a significant part of my life. And I have so many photos that the blogging process is, at times, paralyzing.

So my bloggy resolution for FP in 2008 is to get through my overflowing "Mes Images/France Profonde" file and share more of my pics.

Oops, this one looks like it slipped in from Pau or Biarritz:

Actually not. It's another glance up from the town center of Rodez. You really never know what you will find there.

As time goes on, I wonder if I will ever get out onto the aveyronnais backroads on the pastoral photo shoots I imagined when I started this blog. For the moment, my husband overwhelms me with visions of the aveyronnais countryside that few tourists will ever see.

And I keep snapping shots of Rodez dans tous ses états...

It's a logical division of labor. Thierry drives all over the aveyronnais countryside to work with farmers; I commute daily to la capitale, as some rural dwellers still call Rodez, to teach in a business school.

City rat, country rat? We have both sides covered.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cross-cultural Clips 2

When I published my first Cross-cultural Clips post over six months ago, I thought it was a great idea and something I could carry on every month. I'm always collecting links to "articles of interest for La France Profonde," but time flies by and the articles get out of date. And anyway, it's a lot more fun to post cool photos of Aveyron.

But since I'm working from my laptop computer -- my desktop computer has mysteriously lost its Internet connection -- I have a manageable link list, one that can actually be perused without screaming "Abandon hope all ye who enter!" And from it, I have access to a few cross-cultural clips that should be of interest to expats, Francophiles and others inclined to compare cultures:

1. Here's a basic question for fellow expats: are you happy with your move?

According to a Dec. 20th article from, 80% of us are. Spain seems to be the best destination for expat bliss: over 90% of British expats say they are happy with their move there. However, "the unhappiest emigrants were in France...with nearly 19%...disappointed with their new life."

2. By now most France blog readers know that the smoking ban in cafés and restaurants has taken effect.

Personally, I've been waiting for this day for years, and one of my New Year's resolutions is to get back into the habit of frequenting cafés and restaurants that I have dropped because of smoke issues. I hope most non-smokers in France will do the same to help prove that the ban was a good idea, not only healthwise but commercially.

3. Now that the smoking issue is under control, I can turn my concern to drinking or, more specifically, "le binge drinking."

I used to think France had figured it out as far as drinking, especially among young people, was concerned: no taboos, an early drinking age (16), openness with parents -- all ingredients which led to responsible drinking for fun rather than irresponsible drinking to get drunk. But the tide is turning, with young French people increasingly adopting "the British model" for their forays with alcohol. God save us!

4. Have you noticed more service with a smile in France these days?

I think there's been a gradual improvement over the past ten years or so, but lately I've heard even more "Bonjour Madame!" as soon as I go into a shop and "Merci! Bonne journée!" when I leave -- whether I've bought anything or not. Apparently, though, there is still progrès à faire on the French service report card. "Foreigners rank France's cultural attractions and food as its top draws while hospitality gets the last spot on the list," reports Brigitte Hagemann on Dec. 22 2007 for Agence France Presse.

Have a good day! And if you're one of the unhappy expats here in France, remember that Spain is right across the border!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Bonne année!

This piercing blue sky shone over the Causse Méjean in the Lozère department on January 1st, 2008.

I hope it brings all of my readers a very happy and healthy New Year.

Meilleurs voeux!