All posts tagged: France

When in Provence…

In April, one of my best friends came to visit me in Marseille all the way from Chicago! Laura and I spent a couple of days chilling at the beach in Marseille, and then departed on a 3-day road trip through the beautiful villages of Provence along with two other friends. We were a little early for one of the main attractions – the famous lavender fields were not quite in bloom – but we completely enjoyed ourselves and the Provençal landscapes all the same! I will admit that, for some reason, the prospect of planning a road trip thoroughly intimidated me! Maybe it’s because I had no idea what would be do-able in a given day, because I don’t actually even know how to drive, or because we had no particular destination and there is SO MUCH to see in the region. Luckily, our fellow travelers were super low-maintenance, so coming up with an itinerary, though intimidating, boiled down to choosing a few “Must-Sees” and then filling in the gaps. CAR RENTAL We decided …

Is TAPIF a “real job” ?

For the past few years, April has been a grab bag of various bittersweet emotions… In 2014, I was about a month away from graduation, in the midst of several intense theatre projects, and then was accepted to my first year of teaching English in France! Bitter: leaving school, my friends, my family, my country. Sweet: Uhhh…France?! In 2015, I was on the last legs of that first contract, pretty sure I wanted to stay in France, but desperately waiting for news of a contract renewal. Bitter: saying goodbye to Chambéry, unsure about returning. Sweet: staying hopeful… In 2016, after a year of hustling 3 part-time jobs at home, April saw yet another acceptance to TAPIF!! Bitter: again leaving behind friends, and a taste of the “real world” Sweet: do I really need to say it? Which brings us to 2017. After 7 amazing months working in three schools with great, supportive colleagues and funny, sweet students, I am once again preparing to say goodbye. But this time, only for a few months. Against all …

23 mars – when you gotta go…

Many little family shops or neighborhood bars have quirky bathrooms. You know the ones I mean. Some are covered in cheeky murals, others have funky toilet paper holders, and they all extend or reveal a bit about the character of the establishment. France is notorious for particularly grim public restrooms. They usually consist of a toilet with no seat jammed into a closet so small your knees are practically grazing the wall. And they often leave a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness. But hey, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. Desperate times and all that… Which is how I found my self face to face with this toilet. I have to wonder about the sign… What event (or events) lead to its posting ? Why is it in English ? Is that really what the proprietor intended to say ?? Whatever the answers to these questions, it really made me laugh. And the toilet was fairly clean to boot! All in all a worthwhile foray into the sketchy world of French public bathrooms! ❂   …

18 mars – questions for france

Why don’t pencils have erasers attached? Is the obsession with writing only in pen the secret work of the White-out lobby? Why do grown adults use scooters as a legitimate form of transportation? Why do children ride on tiny bikes with no pedals? What is with the general lack of technology skills? Why is there a national obsession with slippers? Why are the titles on book spines printed in the opposite direction? What do kids do if they are thirsty at school since there’s no such thing as water fountains? What is going on with the seatless courtyard school toilets? Is there any rhyme or reason to the annual resetting of the train schedules? What are marshmallows and cough drops doing in the candy aisle? Has no one ever suggested standardizing the sizes of your mattresses? And what is with all the square pillows? What is the point of having a door handle in the center of the door? Why are keys so enormous? Do regular rounded paperclips exist in France?  Why is nail polish so outrageously expensive? Why …

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. …

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 …