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13 mars – priorities

One of the best things about teaching in France are the school holidays. For each 6 weeks of school, we have a 2 week vacation– not too shabby! While I like to take advantage of these breaks to relax, I’d be remiss if I lived in Europe without traveling around as much as I can. After all, who knows how long I’ll even be here!

This week I’ve been corresponding with a friend who I haven’t seen in 2 years. She recently graduated and moved to London and I plan to take advantage of being (relatively) close to England to finally visit her! As we coordinate dates, I look at my empty calendar for the month of May. My teaching contract ends April 30. My visa ends May 15. So far, my plan is to  pack up, go to London, and then head back to the United States.

I tell her, “I’ll either come the week ending with May 20, or the week after May 20. I haven’t really decided. I haven’t booked tickets from Marseille to London yet. I haven’t booked my flight from London to DC. So far, all I have booked are theatre tickets at The Globe on May 20.”

Thus go my priorities. ❂



Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.


11 mars – hiking aux Goudes

2:40 PM Text message from Mom:

Now they are calling for a snow storm on Tuesday!! I may finally get a snow day off from school! Friday was just some flurries!

2:41 PM Reply:

That’s crazy! Meanwhile, it’s 71 here and we’re heading to the beach…

Kelsey and I met at the line 19 bus stop at 3:20 and ten minutes later we were off on our weekend excursion. On the program: A hike through Les Goudes, known as “le bout du monde” to the marseillais: the end of the world. An area along the southern coast of the city of Marseille, Les Goudes are right at the entrance to one of France’s National Parks, Le Parc National des Calanques.

On our very crowded 45 minute bus ride past a stretch of commercial beaches filled with sun bathers, the 15 minute wait for a second bus, and 7 minute drive careening around winding coastal roads, we watched as the buildings and landscape changed shape around us. Where tall apartment buildings were, we now saw modest, fishing dwellings. The long sandy beach was now a stretch of rocky cliffs going as far as the eye could see.

These were the calanques, a landform so specific to this region that it has no English name. Wikipedia says,

A calanque (from the Corsican and Occitan words of pre-Indo-European origin calanca (plural calanche in Corsican, calancas in Occitan) with meaning “inlet”) is a narrow, steep-walled inlet that is developed in limestone, dolomite, or other carbonate strata and found along the Mediterranean coast.

This was my second time visiting the calanques, and both times the most frequent phrase out of my mouth was, “Where are we?!” One one side, the turquoise blue of the Mediterranean stretches tranquilly to the horizon. On the other, barren rocky masses rise in oddly formed shapes, truly giving the impression of being another planet entirely.

We walked along the path for almost exactly one hour. It was truly the perfect day for a hike. The weather in Marseille has been getting warmer and warmer for weeks, but this was the first day that truly felt like spring. It wasn’t just the sun that warmed our faces, but even the air was warm. The light sea breeze was a relief.

As the sun began to set, we reached our destination:  a tiny hidden pebble beach complete with a bar. Though we didn’t patronize the bar, we wondered about its employees… How do they get to work every day?! Do they walk the uneven and sometimes treacherous one hour path we just followed every morning? Is there a secret service road that we don’t know about? Do they arrive by boat? Or maybe they simply live here…

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After resting and enjoying the sounds of the waves and seagulls, we headed back with the sun setting in front of us, and the moon rising behind.

I hope that my mom gets a snow day, but 5,300 miles away, I am hoping for more days like today! ❂



Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

10 mars – Top Ten Cities in France, So Far

Yesterday, I enjoyed reading a variety of “list posts” and, as I am lacking in inspiration today, I am following suit. And so, for the 10th of March and the 10th day of the Slice of Life Challenge, I offer you my Top Ten Cities in France, So Far (limited of course by the cities I have visited, which are heavily concentrated in the south-east of the country)

10. Nice


Going to Nice at the end of January was probably not the best plan. Its long stretches of pebble beaches were all but empty and the town felt a bit deserted. Next time, I’ll be sure to visit during beach season!

9. Annecy


All the guide books will tell you that Annecy is the “Venice of the Alps” because apparently every city that has anything that even remotely resembles a canal is liable to be compared to Venice. This picture perfect town is really stunning, and as a result, also really touristy.

8. Aix-en-Provence


Not going to lie… After hearing stories and stories about how amazing this city is from hordes of study abroad friends, I had pretty high expectations. In reality, it’s a classic, bougey, French town with some lovely fountains and architecture and– that’s basically it. To be fair though, I haven’t yet been on market day, which is when the provençal charm is really supposed to shine.

7. Paris

I mean, what is there to say about Paris that hasn’t already been written?! Relatively low on my Top Ten because I don’t know if I’d want to live there…a little too much muchness. But even so, Paris always manages to surprise me each time I go.

6. Grenoble


The Bastille monument in Grenoble is the site of one of the most magical moments I’ve had the pleasure to experience: the engagement of one of my best friends! I regret not giving Grenoble more of a chance — that seductress Lyon always grabbed my attention first — because I suspect it’s a much more charming and vibrant place than I give it credit for.

5. Bordeaux


Even though it rained the entire weekend, Bordeaux was a joy to visit. The city just felt so livable! We passed dozens of super hip looking café/bookshops that made me want to come back to try all of them. Plus, I wouldn’t say no to all of that wine!

4. Avignon


I only spent one day in Avignon, and on the train home, I already wanted to go back. Between the massive Palais des Papes and the winding back alley streets, the city felt bursting with surprises to be discovered.

3. Lyon

I fell in love almost instantly with this alpine city. Situated on two rivers, Lyon offers all the perks of a big city without feeling too overwhelming and maintaining a certain charm. Plus, it’s the gastronomic capital of one of the foodie-est countries in the world!

2. Marseille

I truly believe Marseille has a bit of something for everyone: a cultural, diverse, busy metropolis bordering intense natural beauty plus 300+ days of sun per year. Literally, what about that sounds bad?!

1. Chambéry

I am basically this little town’s biggest fan. There’s almost nothing to do here, unless you’re really into outdoorsy mountain climbing type stuff, but I lived 8 unforgettable months here and it will always be top in my books for that. Read my article for more on what I love about Chambé ❤

Where in France would you like to visit? ❂



Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

9 mars

On yesterday’s post about making crêpes, I received this comment:

I like your bold words
if one just read those
it is like a poem with in a poem
that captures the essence of it all

This was totally not my intention. I bolded a few words in each sentence simply for the visual appeal; to make the page look a little less like a Big Block of Text. But, the comment intrigued me, so I decided to try it out.

“easy crêpe recipe”
cups and tablespoons
        liters and grams
“recette crêpes facile”
        too complicated…

split the difference

250g flour
“how many tablespoons is 250g of flour?”
        8 or 9 spoonfuls
50 cl of milk
        8 or 9 spoonfuls

magic of cooking

dash of vanilla extract
oil (or butter)
Swirl it around
whatever toppings you choose:
nutella or jam or cheese


I like how this poem turned out! I edited a few of the bolded phrases, reorganized, and eliminated some entirely that seemed to halt the flow. I think my commenter was right that those little phrases still manage to capture the essence of the original post, even the humor manages to come through.

Thanks for the inspiration! I think I owe you all some crêpes :)❂



Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

8 mars – 20 steps to perfect crêpes

Crêpes are known as French pancakes, but they’re really so much more than that. They can be eaten with sweet jams, nutella, or syrups or with savory cheese, meats, veggies and even eggs. I recently perfected my own method to make perfect dinner or dessert-ready crêpes, and you can follow along with my instructions below!

  1. Google search “easy crêpe recipe
  2. Realize that all of these American food blogs and recipe sites have their measurments in cups and tablespoons and you live in a country that measures things in liters and grams.
  3. Google search “recette crêpes facile
  4. Open up the first 3 or 4 links to compare methods and ingredients. Eliminate any that include ingredients you don’t have, like Grand Marnier or rum. They’re clearly too complicated for a weeknight.
  5. Your randomly chosen recipes call for a differing number of eggs: some say 2, others 6…so split the difference and crack 3 into a large bowl. Whisk.
  6. You’ll need approximately 250g of flour, but of course you have no way to measure that.
  7. Google “how many tablespoons is 250g of flour?“. Google tells you it’s approximately 17 tablespoons, which seems like a lot…
  8. Start spooning flour into your bowl. Stop around 8 or 9. Stir.
  9. Add 50cl of milk. Luckily, you have a cup marked with cl that you got at the Christmas Market originally filled with steaming, delicious mulled wine.
  10. Your batter is probably looking pretty watery, so add in the last 8 or 9 spoonfuls of flour.
  11. If you’re making sweet crêpes, feel free to add a dash of vanilla extract or even some cinnamon for extra flair.
  12. Heat some oil or butter on a crêpe pan. If you don’t have a crêpe pan, any round frying pan with a relatively flat bottom will do.
  13. Ladle some batter into the warm pan. Swirl it around immediately, to form a thin layer of batter that covers the bottom of the pan.
  14. Don’t worry if your crêpe has weird little tentacles sticking out where the batter couldn’t quite reach…You’re just going to eat them in 15 minutes anyway.
  15. After a few minutes, the edges will start to peel away from the pan. Using a spatula, but mostly your fingers, flip the crêpe over and cook a few more minutes.
  16. Watch bubbles form underneath the crêpe and marvel at the magic of cooking.
  17. Remove the fully cooked crêpe to a plate, and repeat until all the batter has been used. Place a tea towel over the plate of crêpes to keep them warm.
  18. Bring your finished crêpes and whatever toppings you choose to the table.
  19. Smother your crêpe with nutella or jam or cheese or whatever you want.
  20. Fold or roll. EAT UP!

Bon Appetit! ❂



Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

7 mars – English is hard

English is hard.

Well, sometimes it’s easy: no crazy verb conjugations, no gendered nouns to memorize and accord with adjectives, no difference between formal or informal “you”. But then it gets complicated: pronunciation that has absolutely nothing to do with a word’s spelling, exceptions on exceptions on exceptions, not to mention all of the variations of English spoken around the world.

This last one is what trips me up most often in my job. Overwhelmingly, British English is preferred over American English by my colleagues and those of my friends. Students are exposed to both, but by and large, BE is the rule. Things I’m asked to teach that aren’t natural to me, an AE speaker, include:

  • Have you got brothers and sisters?
  • I’m wearing trousers and a jumper.
  • It’s 23 past 4.
  • Today is Tuesday, the 7th of March
  • Take out your copybook and rubber.

François is a CM2 (5th grade) teacher who loves to teach English. In his class, I co-teach with him, rather than intervene on my own. He is teaching his students actions and hobbies, things like “to read” “to play basketball” “to dance, ” a unit I’ve also been doing in several of my other classes. As François describes to his class how to complete the interview questionnaire he’s just passed out (Ask your partner, Can you sing? and record the response) I pull out some flashcards labelled with action words.

We call on students to name the images: to play football, to swim, to ski. We get to the line with pictures of instruments. “Pay attention class. For instruments, you must say THE, like ‘I can play THE piano’.” He looks at me to verify. I shrug and mention that it doesn’t really matter if you say THE or not. It means the same thing.

“No, no. Maybe some instruments you don’t have to, but I am sure that piano is one where you must say THE.”

I raise my eyebrows, but figure it’s not worth arguing about right now. Maybe it’s just one of those weird things they decided to teach EFL learners so there is a semblance of rules. I hand over my flashcard labelled TO PLAY PIANO with another shrug.

Back at home, curious, I search for the “official” rule and find this post in a discussion on WordReference:  “I suspect that play the guitar is BE, play guitar AE. “

I am really starting to understand why we say the best way to master something is to teach it. ❂



Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.