Lemon Tree

So Thursday afternoon, I ended up going to Rambouillet but I didn’t end up going to the castle; I found a mall instead. I spent an hour or so there and then I came back to Le Perray to pick up Julien from school. We played Monopoly and I won (I’ve decided if I have to play so many times, I’m not playing nice anymore :P). Friday, I had school. Kari left the class cause she was more advanced, while a new girl came: Zosia, and I believe she’s from Michigan? but I’m not exactly sure. The classroom is on the left. After class and labs, I took the train back to Le Perray to meet up with Alexia and Julien, and then we took the train to St. Quentin to meet with Catherine. After that, Laurent came to pick us all up and we made our way to Deauville.

Deauville is about a two hour drive from Le Perray, and it’s right beside the sea, in the province of Normandie (which is known for it’s apples). It’s a really rich city, and the houses were absolutely amazing! The houses on the right are typical houses in Deauville. When we got there, the sun was just setting and it was absolutely gorgeous. We stayed in the house that the lighthouse-keeper used to live in but now that the lighthouses work automatically, no one lives in it anymore. The house on the left is the one that we stayed in. We stayed with family friends of the Langlets’ and they had two kids: Brian and Solène. The whole family was really nice, even though only the mom and Brian spoke a bit of English. Once we got there, we all went out for supper, and I had a crêpe for supper as well as for dessert (banane chocolat, mmm!) I also had my first drink in France (third drink ever! haha), which was cidre, and it was really not that good.

The next morning (Saturday), we toured the city. We went to the market, and visited the huge hotel that many celebrities stay at (on the left). We then went walking on the beach, and I saw the dressing rooms of many famous people. We went back to the house for lunch and I got to experience watching people eat shrimp (I didn’t want any) straight from the bag from the marketplace. As in they were full, cold shrimp… After lunch, we all went to a nearby town called Honfleur and it was absolutely gorgeous! We window-shopped at all the little stores and got back in time for supper. On the left is a picture of me in front of the port.

The next day (Sunday), we went to Beauville en Auge by accident so we stayed there for about a halfhour (on the right), and then we went to Beuvron en Auge (where we actually meant to go). It was a cute little town, and just seemed really joyful (left). On the way back to Deauville, we stopped in another little town for lunch. I ended up having a Mackerel filet with mustard sauce, and I even tried a mussel for the first time. Not that bad.. For the afternoon, we spent our time on the beach in Deauville, and in the evening, we went back to Le Perray. The weekend was overall absolutely amazing and it was great seeing a whole new part of France. I’ve added a few more pictures at the bottom because there’s a lot more I want to show (although I’m not putting up all 150 pictures, sorry).

Left – The kids beside the place where everyone does their laundry in Honfleur
Right – Julien and Solène playing in the sand


Left – The view from my window on the foggy Sunday morning
Right – Some of the buildings and houses in Beauville en Auge

Left – Solène was talking to the turkies in Beuvron en Auge and they were talking back

Right – The beach in Deauville

This morning, I had laboratory, and this afternoon, I hung out with Adriana. We looked at the castle in Rambouillet and walked through some of the streets. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera but I’ll definitely go back another day and take some pictures because it was absolutely gorgeous! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Love always
Lemon Tree – Fool’s Garden

Endless Song of Happiness

Sunday was my day in Paris and it was actually breathtaking when I first saw all the buildings! The family drove me there and the only time we left the car was when we got onto the boat that took us down the Seine. We found seats on the top level and it took us on a guided tour around Paris, which took about an hour and a half. I saw the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower (of course), L’Arc de Triomphe, Princess Diana’s memory site, and many other important buildings and places. Afterwards, we drove around for a while so the family could show me some of the places I can visit. I already have all of October planned out, starting with the Louvre on the first Sunday of the month (free admission, you know!). The Louvre looks HUGE though, and apparently it takes way longer than a day to explore, so I will just have to continue again in November. And for those of you who don’t know what the Louvre is (ahembencoughcough), PLEASE read The Da Vinci Code and then think about visiting me.

Monday was the beginning of a new week. I’m really getting used to the whole living in France thing and every morning, I look forward to opening my shutters and taking my first breath of fresh air like they do in the movies. I’ve thought about singing to the birds or starting a song with the neighbours but that might be going too far, plus I’m not sure if they’d know any Enchanted songs. When I walk to school with Julien, I love hearing the bells ringing for a full five minutes at eight, filling the town with sound. I had labs at 8:30 in the morning so Catherine arranged for me to get a ride with one of the moms to my school because she works there. The mom is actually the prettiest and most in-style of all the moms with blonde hair and the nicest clothes, and she has two adorable blonde kids. I was pretty proud of myself for being able to maintain a French conversation on the 15-minute drive there, even though she could easily speak English with me. Well, I got to the school, went to my lab, and it turns out she’s my teacher! So that works out nicely. The picture on the left is my school. After class (which I was counting down the minutes to finish), I ran downstairs to the piano, yay! I was so excited to be able to play again, and I spent a good 30-45 minutes playing the songs in the book that was there. I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot more time in that basement. When I got home and picked up Julien from school, we played another game of Monopoly and when Catherine came home, she said no more monopoly for the next few days (thank goodness! By the way, no Monopoly when I get back. Ever.).

Tuesday was my two-week point since I’ve left. Now, I’m officially 5% done my trip! So I guess you all have that to be happy about. I spent pretty much the entire day talking to Andrea on msn, and then I made supper for the kids and myself. Wednesday (yesterday) was grocery-shopping day again, but we hardly got a lot of groceries because we’ll be gone for the entire weekend. Yesterday was also the day that I finally got a cell phone. I have unlimited incoming calls from anywhere, so feel free to call whenever you feel (preferably not between the hours of 3pm and midnight your time on weekdays, but if you have to then I’m sure I can have a short conversation in the middle of sleeping). My number is 011.336.74.27.11.47 and I hope to hear from you all!!! Also, yesterday in the middle of lunch, Catherine asked me if I wanted to know what I was eating and instantly, I knew it was the rabbit. So I’ve gotten that over with.. it wasn’t gross, just the idea was. Today, I had a lot of stuff I had to get done, and I still have to pack for the trip this weekend. This afternoon, I might be doing something with Adriana and if not, then I’ll be going to Rambouillet to look at some of the castles.

I’m thinking that even though I’m not in Saskatoon, I’m still going to plan stuff out for you to do because I would so do them if I was there so you can just do it for me. Saturday, October 25th – road trip anyone?? Fort Battleford has a Halloween Adults Haunted Fort from 7-11 so why don’t you go (dressed up of course! – I think best dressed might get a prize), have a nice supper, then go to the fort and see who gets spooked the fastest (my bet’s on Katie). I think there are more details but I haven’t been able to find a lot on the topic. But I hope you guys think about it! This weekend, I’m going to Deauville with the family. It’s a town about two hours away from here, and we’re staying in a house right by the sea. I hope you all enjoy yourselves this weekend! Love always
Endless Song of Happiness – Yael Naïm

Chasing Pavements?

On Wednesdays, Julien doesn’t have school, Alexia gets out at 12:30, and Catherine has the day off so it’s actually one of the busiest days. Wednesday was also officially one week of me being here. Catherine and a friend left early in the morning to get massages (I wish!) and her friend left her little boy, Baptiste, here to play with Julien. The boys played the Wii for a while and then asked me to play La Bonne Paye with them, which is pretty much Payday in French. It was pretty interesting, trying to play a French game with two French boys, but I got the hang of it. When the moms came back, Baptiste left to go back home, Alexia came home, and we had lunch. After, we had to begin with all of the errands. Wednesday is the day that we go grocery shopping, so we drove to Rambouillet and got all of our food for the next week. Catherine let me choose some things I would want for lunch, so now I finally have some food that I’m used to. She asked me what kinds of things we have on sandwiches and I was explaining lettuce, tomatoes, mustard, and she stopped me at mustard, “Really?” Well, it turns out they don’t have any mustard in their house so we bought some. Also in France, you don’t buy your milk cold. You buy it in packs and you keep it in your cupboard until you open it. Have I had milk yet? No, and I don’t really plan on it. As I was unloading the cart, my eyes were scanning the names of the foods and I saw ‘lapin’ flash before my eyes. Well, I definitely know what that means! So I’m wondering if I should just avoid all meat this week, or if I should give it a try.. On the way back home, we were listening to the radio and the thing about French radio stations is that they don’t sensor out the words like the Saskatoon radio stations do, probably because most of the people in France don’t know the inappropriate language anyway. So here we are – me and my home-stay mom – driving back home with the full version of P.I.M.P. blasting through the speakers. I personally found it hilarious cause she had no idea what the words were, whereas I knew if it were my own mother, she would have turned it off in a heartbeat and then talked about how inappropriate the music was for the next ten minutes.

Friday was my first day of class, yay! I still walked Julien to school at 8, then came back home, had breakfast, did laundry, made lunch, etc. and caught the train at 10. I spent about 20 minutes walking around Rambouillet, trying to figure out where my school was, and still arrived on time with 15 minutes to spare. Class started at 10:45, and there was a whopping three people in my class: me, Adriana – another au pair from Tennessee, who looks after a family in Le Perray as well, and Kari – a mom who’s been living in France (originally from the US) for (I believe she said) six years and wants to learn French. They then asked me where in Canada I’m from so I told them Saskatchewan. “Oh wow!” Kari says, “so you must be completely used to this weather already…” “Yeah, I guess so,” I replied. “So how far up north are you? Is it like, up in the Arctic?” Everything I learnt in History class came flooding back to me: all of the Canadian stereotypes and I just chose to ignore it and politely explain no, it still gets warm in the summer and it doesn’t snow all year round. My teacher’s name is Ronan and he’s supernice. No English in the classroom though, strictly French. Class goes until 12:45, then we have a break for lunch and then we have labs from 2-4. In the lab, it’s the same as it was in Quebec: listening to a tape and repeating it out loud. I ended up doing dictées the entire time, which is listening to a story or a set of sentences and writing them down, then correcting them afterwards. Adriana and I took the train back to Le Perray together and then I met the kids back at home at five. Other than Friday, I also have labs on Monday from 8:30-10:30 so a total of six hours of school every week. I’m definitely not complaining! After playing Monopoly for (I believe) the fourth time this week, I realized this is just what I needed: being able to play board games again whenever I want and being able to be a kid again. I didn’t realize how much I missed being so carefree and not having to worry about the upcoming party the next weekend, or school or piano, and not always having dramatic problems stuck in my head. I’ve been blessed with a great family: Alexia and Julien are the sweetest, most adorable, kindest kids I’ve ever met and I can talk to the parents really easily about anything. I notice Alexia’s English improve every single day and she’s been spending a lot more time with me now that she’s used to me being here. And Julien is just hilarious. At times, he can have so much energy and just go crazy and at other times, he’s completely silent. I think he understands English a lot better but he still hardly speaks it. That night, I made my first meal cause Catherine was feeling sick. Alexia and I made burgers (on a frying pan?) and they ended up being really delicious.

Saturday, I helped the kids with their English homework: Julien learned all the days of the week while Alexia learnt basic phrases as well as who, what, when, etc. questions. Some of the grammar in Alexia’s notes (which the teacher wrote) was just horrible so I corrected it. I then spent the afternoon playing another game of Monopoly (I can pretty much go pro) and looking through the I Spy book. In the evening, we were watching the TV and one of those ‘You decide’ commercials came on (except in this case, it was ‘Vous Decidez’) and it hit me that soon enough, these kids would be experimenting on alcohol, drugs, and going through all the problems that high school seems to bring. I mean, I was only 15 when I went to my first party and for Alexia, that’s in less than three years. It’s just so crazy to think that they’re so innocent now, but everything can change in a matter of years. It just makes me want to freeze the time now and keep them at this age forever cause the time goes by way too fast.

Today, it’s now Alexia who’s sick so she’s been carrying around a pail and lounging around all day. I’m scared that with everyone sick, I’m going to catch something and I don’t want that to happen. Today after lunch, the family is taking me to Paris to show me the sights! I hope everyone’s having a wonderful weekend!

Chasing Pavements – Adele

Just Some Pictures

Here are some pictures I’ve decided to add just so all of you can have an idea of the house, the town, etc. You can click on them to make them larger.

Alright, here’s a map of Le Perray. I’ve written in where you find Julien’s school, the house, and the train station that I have to go to in order to get to my school.

This is the front gate of the Langlet’s house.

This is the room where pretty much everything happens:

We sit and read, we watch tv, and we eat our meals.

Here’s the kitchen. The chairs aren’t normally up but the maid was there that day. The little cup-
board under the stove? That’s their fridge.

 

Their swimming pool, and their outdoor
ping-pong table!

The street that I live on; we were pretty much meant to be!
And the horses across the street from the house.

Last but definitely not least, Alexia and Julien – the two sweetest kids I’ve ever met!

I’m working on the next post so make sure you keep checking for updates! For those of you who might want to write, I’ve included my address on the side. Have a great weekend everyone! xoxo

Almost One Week Away

Here’s another one Ben, so your keyboard doesn’t get wet. This one was written on Monday, September 15th, 2008. Enjoy! Oh, and tomorrow’s the first regular season Blades game so I better hear about how you all went and had so much fun 🙂

As I sit here drinking my Nescafé coffee, I can’t help but think about how weird it is that everyone I know and love back home is sound asleep in their beds, waiting for an early morning for school or work. Everyone that is, except probably Andrea, who is most likely still on Facebook or photoshopping pictures, or doing whatever she does at three in the morning ☺. Tomorrow, it’s officially been a week since I left and in some ways, it feels shorter but in other ways, it feels like a million times longer. My days have pretty much been the same: waking up at 7, walking Julien to school at 8, coming home and emptying the dishwasher and doing laundry, having lunch at around noon, reading, sleeping, or writing until 4, picking Julien up at school at 4:30, coming back home and playing with the kids until supper (which is usually around 7:30-8), going to bed at around 11, and starting the same thing over again the next day. Even though it’s quite repetitive, I’ve been enjoying myself a lot while I’m here, and I think I’m completely used to the time change now. On Friday, my day was changed a little and I went to Versailles with Catherine so that I could make an appointment to extend my Visa. I was talking to another au pair about it and she said she had to wait for four hours, so I was prepared with a book and lots of paper just in case. I only ended up having to wait for 45 minutes and made an appointment, which isn’t until December. I absolutely loved it in Versailles. I saw the castle from a distance, which was gorgeous and the culture was just absolutely amazing. The city just seemed so alive! Once I got home that day and picked up Julien from school, we literally played 20 games of Uno. Yes, I counted. It was fun though, and I think the kids enjoyed it. On Saturday, I went around the town with Catherine doing errands, and when Julien left for a birthday party, Alexia and I got to spend some time together one on one. Her English is already improving and it was nice to be able to have someone to talk to, even though it took a lot of patience. Her and I spent a lot of time looking through my “I Spy” book, then we played ping pong, the Wii, and she showed me some pictures of her family vacation so she could talk about them. The next morning (yesterday), Catherine and I picked up Alexia from a sleepover and then we went to another town to look for stuff to buy. I guess it’s kind of like a garage sale except in France, everyone just brings all of their stuff downtown to sell so all of the stuff is together. We were there for at least an hour, but Catherine made a few purchases. For lunch, we ate outside in their backyard and I ate lamb for I believe the first time ever. And it was actually really good! Later that afternoon, I went for my first driving lesson, wahoo! That stupid clutch petal is going to tie my brain in a knot. Laurent said I didn’t do that bad, compared to everyone else who has to learn how to drive a standard as well as learn how to drive in general. It’s going to take a while to get used to, but I’ll get it eventually. After that, I went for a bike ride with Laurent and Julien through the forest. I was actually dying, considering I haven’t ridden a bike for at least two years, but it was all good, plus it was nice to see all the scenery. We biked to the town where my school is (Rambouillet), and then biked back. Apparently it was 11 km; that doesn’t really mean anything to me, considering I suck at measurements, but it was fun. The rest of the night, I just relaxed because technically, it was my day off. Now, I’m back to “work” which I love even better than the weekend haha. My goal for this week is to get Julien to start saying English phrases, instead of just talking to me in French all the time. My school’s supposed to call today to let me know when I start, so I think it’ll be either tomorrow or on Friday, depending what level I get into. Their Internet is still not working, which is a shame cause it’s hard enough going without a cell phone and television (well, English television..). Maybe I’ll try to find a wireless Internet place downtown, but in the meantime, I’ll just continue writing on Word and post my entries as soon as I can. I hope everyone has a great sleep and that today will start the week off well. Au revoir!

Confessions Of An Overthinker

Written Thursday, September 11th, 2008
I apologize in advance to any errors; I’m still trying to figure out this keyboard…and it literally took me at least a half hour to type this out.

Hello to everyone, from the other side of the world. What a trip this has already been! I’ve spent the entire time being extremely tired thanks to the lack of sleep I had the night before I left. Yes, I know everyone was supposed to leave at midnight but I guess my parents should have known that it wouldn’t happen. For all of you who don’t know, Mel snuck back into the house and spent an hour hiding behind my couch in the front room while we texted each other, waiting for my dad to finish working. Yes dad, when you came up and talked to me, giving your work number if I needed to call you, Mel was behind the couch that entire time. Afterwards, Mel and I spent an hour and a half in the basement before I drove her home for the last time ever at 2:30 in the morning. Saying goodbye to everyone in the airport was so hard, and I bet most of you saw me cry for the first time ever. I will miss everyone sooo much while I’m here, but I will always make sure I keep in touch. Once I got through security, I waited to board my plane, and talked to a nice old lady about traveling. Once I finally got on the plane, I pretty much broke down. While crying and not crying, trying to sleep and not succeeding, listening to music and crying more when hearing familiar songs, finding Mel’s present in my backpack and crying again, I think it’s safe to say the man next to me probably thought someone died. I sat there thinking “Why am I doing this?” “Why ten months?” “What if I come back and everything’s different?” and so on and so forth for the four hours that I was on the plane. The plane was even more delayed when we stopped in Ottawa and I was just hoping that I would miss my plane to Paris. However, when we finally got to Montréal and I saw the city again from up above, I felt like I was home again and all of my sad thoughts floated away. I just wanted to stay forever. I walked as fast as I could from one side of the airport to the completely opposite side. As I felt the burn rush through my legs, my mouth dry from already being dehydrated and tired; and my money belt thing sticking to my stomach cause it was rising up as I walked, my mind was rushing with so many different thoughts: “I hope I make it, this’ll be good for me” “I hope I don’t make it, I’ll just stay here” “Maybe I can go back.” I got to the gate with ten minutes left until departure, and there was even still a huge lineup to get on the plane. But once I got through and onto the plane, wow. That’s all I can say. The plane was HUGE, like three columns of three, and thirteen rows in each section. I think there were about 4 sections, and I was in the front of the very last one, in row 51. So given those numbers, there were at least 100 people in each section; except for the front which was first class, but the first class was so cool too! Like, this plane was bigger than the Wedding Singer plane. I got window seat, as usual, and I sat beside this couple probably my age or a year older. Across the aisle from me was a man who could very well be a not-so-good-looking second cousin of Alexandre Despatie. But alas, he was wearing a ring. I spent the entire five hours listening to music or trying to sleep and not being able to. When we first got on the plane, it was 8pm Montréal time so they served us supper; and then 3.5 hours later, it was 7:30am Paris time so they served us breakfast. Once I finally got to Paris, I had to stand in line for about a half hour to go through security and then I got my luggage and met Laurent, the father of the family I’m staying with. Of course, I forgot about that whole kiss on the cheek thing and felt like a retard when he leaned towards me and I had no idea what he was doing. We had to take a 1.5 hour train ride back towards where they lived, and I spent the time falling in love with every house that we went past. Once we got to the station, Catherine (the mom) and Julien (the 8-year-old boy – SO adorable!) were there to greet us. Laurent went back to work while Catherine drove me back to their house, which took about another twenty minutes. Once we got there, she showed me around the house and then she went grocery shopping while I spent the next hour unpacking. As she was preparing lunch, Alexia (the 12-year-old girl) came home and then we all ate lunch, which was fish, potatoes, and beans. Catherine thought it was very weird how we Canadians have things such as sandwiches for lunch. After lunch, Catherine took me to my school and to Julien’s school to show me around, and then we dropped Julien off at soccer. Julien doesn’t speak any English at all; he only knows his colours and a few random words, but he can’t make conversation or anything. Alexia is pretty good at English, she’ll understand if I talk really slow and use words that she would know but she only really knows present tense. Catherine and Laurent know English very well, Catherine’s still working on hers but it’s really easy to communicate. I however realized I don’t really know as much French as I thought I did, and now I kind of wish I actually spoke French while in Quebec. Once Catherine and I got back home, I took some time to rest for about an hour and then Julien (who came back home after soccer) and Alexia asked me if I wanted to play the Wii with them. So that’s just what I did, and I suck. It was fun though, and afterwards, we had supper, which was a salmon quiche, and it was actually really good. After supper, Catherine showed me some stuff I would have to do around the house and then I FINALLY got to go to bed, after being awake for 30+ hours. I actually didn’t have a very good sleep though because I kept waking up throughout the night. I woke up at seven, and walked Julien to school at eight, and now I’m here! And I have about six more hours until I have to pick Julien back up from school. I hope everyone is having a great time without me, and I hope everyone remembers to keep me updated. Love always!