Friday, December 31, 2010

No grand réveillon for this gal


"Le réveillon du 31" is all well and good, but I just can't be bothered with it

Is it my American side creeping back, is it age, or is it general party poopiness?

There must be some reason that this year, I am spending the much-made-of réveillon du St. Sylvestre at home more or less alone.

Sure, there will be my husband, a foie gras, a few stray scallops, and some glasses to wash in the morning. But this is a far cry from our French New Year's Eve parties of old.

To be honest, le réveillon has been weighing on me for the past five years or so.

It is a pain to plan.

It is expensive at a time when plenty of euros have just gone out the window for Christmas.

It is food-heavy at a time when most of France has already been feeding heavily.

And it's all over so horrifyingly late! I think the earliest we have ever gotten to sleep after a French New Year's Eve party was 3am. The latest was 6am -- and oops, I hosted that one.

As I write this, I'm sure many of my expat readers are anxiously awaiting the big night, and perhaps putting finishing touches on a fancy apéritif platter or checking that the Champagne is chilling nicely.

I truly wish you the best! But this year, I'm quite content with my cook-a-little, geek-a-little, sip-a-little, stay-at-home réveillon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On. Vacation. Happy. Holidays.


Rodez's little Champs-Elysées, decked out for Christmas 2007

First, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

I know many people work through the 24th of December, and even on the 25th.

But as a teacher, I have been sorely spoiled -- and working until 6pm this evening has made things seem, somehow, un-Christmasy to me.

I'm sure that will change tomorrow as I rush into gear to prepare a Christmas Eve meal...or as all four of us leave in a panic to approach an airport in a warmer climate.

One thing is sure: our Christmas will be atypical.

We are flying off on Christmas morning for a surprise European destination; the trip is the girls' -- and the family's -- main Christmas present.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate. For the moment, things are looking quite good, even if Aveyron is under an "alerte orange" for snow tomorrow.

To be continued, after the facts.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Curious Christmas Coming

The world from my window this evening

'Tis the season -- and a lot of comments are floating around about being in a Christmas panic.

It's interesting for me to note how I have simplified Christmas over the years. Of course, when the girls were little it was necessarily something of a production. I was working a lot less too, and usually had at least their full two weeks of vacances scolaires off -- and sometimes even more.

Now that I work more, and in fact have a full-time contract, I have more constraints. This year, for example, I have class until the evening of December 23rd. I was feeling sorry for myself about this fact until I thought about all of the people who must work on the 24th and, of course, on the 25th.

This year our family celebration will be very simple: our traditional meal of boudin blanc -- nothing could be easier to cook -- and just a few presents.

Early Christmas Day, I will be coming into a new (for me) form of contact with some of those "people who work on the 25th" because we will be flying away on a short trip very early on Christmas morning.

The destination is a secret for now as it is part of the girls' Christmas gift -- not that they are avid readers of my blog!

I think it will be most interesting to be travelling on Christmas-- one of those things one should maybe do once in a lifetime.

Have you ever travelled on Christmas Day -- plane, trains, hotels, the whole bit?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Five Random France Profonde Photos

(Rodez by night; driving down la rue St. Cyrice)

La France Profonde has represented two main endeavors for me: writing and taking photos. Both have waned lately, partly because the number of photos that have piled up in my France Profonde file has become overwhelming.

I do have a Flickr account where some of my photos go, but have never kept up with that faithfully.

As I revive this blog, I hope to get back to posting more photos, perhaps in a random way like today.
(Escargot -- Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

My husband is a crack photographer, and should be getting even crackier given the number of cameras and pieces of photo equipment he has been buying lately. The above photo, besides the nice snail lines, gives a fuzzy view of our deck and front yard.

(La Foire Expo de Rodez, September 2009)

It seems like every weekend there is something going on in Rodez, and unfortunately we don't get to that many of the events. Last year we did go to the major "Foire Expo" -- a big event that is only held every 10 years or some such.

I didn't realize it at the time, but it was the last event we went to on the Place du Foirail, which is now being transformed in order to make room for le Musée Soulages and other attractions. I wish I had taken photos of the destruction of the old exhibition halls, but Thierry and I have vowed to bring you some pics of the ongoing construction of the museum, which is scheduled to open in 2013.

(Irises in our front yard)

I tend to blog about Rodez because that is where I work, and I hold an enduring fascination for the city. But we don't live in Rodez; we live in a bedroom community called Gages. I never have much to say about it because since our daughters left the local primary schools, we don't feel that connected to the community, and it is not the most scenic village in the area.

That said, I spend most of my weekends at home, and it is nice to get away from "the city."


(A random blog award)

I truly did choose these photos in a random fashion, by flipping around my photo files with my eyes closed. This blog award picture came up, and reminded me of the days when I actually got behind in responding to blog awards, memes and so forth.

Remember being "tagged" for memes? Does that still take place in the blogosphere?

Those were fun times, but I don't really want to get into those activities anymore. Just this space, a few faithful friends and readers to comment on and comment to, one post a week...that seems like plenty for me for now.

Bon dimanche!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Various goings-on 1: Trip to Brussels

Since deciding to revive this blog, I have realized I have a lot of catching up to do.

In fact, one of the reasons I have found this platform less relevant lately is that my life increasingly revolves around goings-on that aren't centered on the pastoral world of La France Profonde.

For example, the most exciting event of the school year so far has been my participation in a conference in Brussels about Erasmus internships. I was a conference speaker and everything, and ended up writing and editing, along with a team of three other Erasmus program coordinators from all over Europe, a "Joint European Commission Paper" about the future of the Erasmus internship program.

But that is probably of little interest to you, so back to "my trip to Brussels." Since I had gone there for work, it was only by the luck of plane schedules that I got an evening to go out to eat. I splurged at a famous old restaurant, founded in 1928, La Taverne du Passage:


The next morning, I had not even two hours to explore the city, and spent much of that time doing some intense chocolate shopping:

I had only been to Brussels once, on yet an even more perfunctory trip, and it left me with a very nice impression.

I had forgotten how drop-dead gorgeous La Grand-Place is; I didn't have good photography conditions, but it still left me stunned:


Also, outside of the modern Euro-bureau areas, the city seems to have plenty of funky, old-fashioned nooks and crannies that cry out for further exploration:

It's frustrating to go to a European capital -- THE European capital, in fact -- and have only a few hours to check it out. So I may be back in the near or not-so-near future.