All posts tagged: Chateaux

To TAPIF or not to TAPIF, that is the Question

Since returning home, I’ve felt more and more like I’ve been living a double life. In my first weeks back home, I was so surprised by the number of times I described myself as having “just graduated” which I suspect is because taking a year to teach English is France feels so unconnected to the rest of my experience learning and creating and teaching theatre, to the point where I feel like it didn’t even happen. I am striving now to find avenues to connect my professional and personal life to my experience in France, so I can feel like it was worth it, like it meant something in the greater scope of my life, but it’s not easy.

I Heart Chambery: anniversary edition!

I had the idea to fill this National Geographic questionnaire out from fellow TAPIF blogger Hardly Snarky, who wrote about her city of Aix-en Provence. I have been working on mine for the past few weeks, and am posting it today: 6 months to the day since arriving in Chambé!! I heart Chambéry because it seems to have a dash of something for all tastes: endless outdoor activities in the surrounding mountain ranges and lakes, great local wines and cheeses, a small but fervid arts scene. It actually reminds me a lot of a previous hometown, Charlottesville, Virginia: a sleepy college town surrounded my mountains, which was at one time home to a great philosopher whom the inhabitants still obsess over today… Throw in perfect baguettes and easy train access to some of Europe’s most vibrant cities and voilà! As a native of Washington, DC with no great athletic abilities or aspirations, I never thought I would grow such an affinity for mountains, but I’ll admit, the natural beauty of Chambéry has swayed me. At least …

Life in Limbo

My first days in Chambéry, though thrilling, included probably the most anxiety-filled moments I have ever lived. Why? you ask. How could you possibly be stressed while surrounded by stunning mountain ranges around every corner and all the croissants and éclairs you can eat? Because, dear readers, I was functionally homeless for about two weeks. Add in the fact that pretty much every single administrative task we need to complete requires a justificatif de domicile, or proof of housing, and this limbo status quickly resulted in doing basically nothing that first week except frantically calling and emailing potential landlords, or staring at my computer screen, paralyzed with anxiety (I’m mostly exaggerating…mostly). France is just full of Catch-22s. For example, you need an address to open a bank account, but some agencies require bank account to rent an apartment. Or, you need an address in order to receive a SIM card (only if you order online. I HIGHLY recommend not doing that and going to the store in person), but it’s nearly impossible to contact landlords or agencies without a French phone …

Delusions of grandeur

Visiting the Chateau de Versailles can feel daunting. There’s a lot of pressure to “do it right” and “avoid the crowds” and “avoid weekends”  and “go early”…….oops. Our attempt to mix these words of tour guide advice with our college student sleeping habits led to rolling out of bed and to the train station by 10:45 and arriving in the quaint city of Versailles around 11:30. It’s so interesting, because as Americans, our history was founded in small wooden town halls by farmers and business men. Our concept of “American royalty” lies somewhere between George Washington and Beyoncé. And our most extravagant palaces are the big white marble buildings of DC or privately owned celebrity mansions. The Chateau of Versailles is completely foreign territory, and not just because it’s in another country. I struggle to think of a way to describe it other than enormous and sparkly. No seriously. Everything is covered in gold. And that’s just the outside.