All posts tagged: living in a postcard

Vacation: Travels, Halloween, and the Great Assistant Reunification

Yes, you read that right. Vacation!! After working for less than two weeks, we had two weeks off for La Toussaint vacation. In fact, French schools have about two weeks of (paid!!!) vacation for every six weeks of school. Not a bad deal!! In lieu of lots of long posts about every fun event, which would probably take me another 3 months to write…I’m going to attempt shorter vignettes of the memorable moments, arranged more or less in chronological order, and sprinkled of course with pictures! REUNIFICATION DINNER Our attempt to unite all (well, most) of the Chambéry assistants, who have inadvertently been separated into mainly two groups: anglophones and Italians (and others) involved introducing the Italians to the game Mafia ….. which drew a few begrudging chuckles. We ended up changing it to Assassins to be more “politically correct” PICNIC AT LAC DU BOURGET Step one: procure alimentary items. Step two: take bus to beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and bathed in what has frequently been described to you (and rather ominously, you might add) as the last …

Started at the bottom, now we’re here

During my second week in Chambéry, I stayed with a really wonderful and generous woman who rents her spare room on Airbnb. The weekend that I stayed with her, she told me about a massive event was happening all over centre ville: La Grande Braderie de Chambéry. This is a massive market/yard sale that takes place twice a year in practically every single open space in the centre ville. There are official stalls that vendors and artisans rent to sell anything from antiques to cheese to leather products to clothing to books to ski equipment and on and on and on. These are supplemented by the particuliers who arrive 24 hours in advance to stake their claim on a plot of land in order to sell whatever the heck they’ve lugged with them from chez eux, including hand-me-downs, books, movies, dishes, refrigerators. They descended upon the town Saturday afternoon and stayed all through Sunday, camping out overnight. As Marie was explaining all of this I was thinking, Great! What fun to experience on one of my first …

Chambéry Jamboree!

Okay, so technically the title of this post does not rhyme when pronounced correctly, but indulge me for a while because I finally have received more details about where I will be living and working while in France! On Monday, I got my ‘arrêté de nomination’ (my work contract with the French éducation nationale) in the mail! After 20 minutes of being confused by French paperwork, I determined that I will be moving to Chambéry, in the Savoie département!! If there is one small town in the world where it is possible to taste the gentle way of life in an atmosphere of a pleasant and safe trade, it is Chambéry! -Jean Jacques Rousseau Chambéry is the capital of the Savoie départment and has a population of around 60,000. It honestly seems kind of similar to Charlottesville in many ways: a university town, surrounded by mountains, old time-y architecture, was once home to a great thinker upon whose writing many foundational texts of America are based (Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote the Declaration of Rights of Man in …

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.

Le week-end de royauté

This past weekend was many things. Exhausting. Delicious. Shiny. Charming. Vast. Ridiculous… I spent a very large part of Saturday in VERSAILLES, touring the Chateau and Jardins there. I have overall a Ridiculous amount of information and pictures to share with you all, so I’m saving that particular journey for a future post. Here’s a little teaser, to whet your appetite. After a very tiring Saturday, I decided to take a rest day…I met some friends at the beautiful Places des Vosges, thanks to Saida Dagata and my host mother for the recommendation!! La Place des Vosges (pronounced sort of like voj) is the oldest planned square in Paris, built in 1612. It’s a perfectly symmetrical plaza, completely surrounded by identical buildings (called pavilions) and a big arcade walkway. Some really famous tenants have occupied the pavilions, including Victor Hugo (his building is now a museum), Cardinal Richelieu, and the seat of the Academy of Architecture! It’s such a lovely and private square. I would love to go back to study or picnic or just hang …

Birthday Weekend!

Moving right along to last weekend!!! Saturday was the birthday of one of my good friends in the program: LANA!!! We planned a day of picnic-ing (or as the French say: faire un pique-nique) in the park that happens to be just behind the apartment Steph and I live in: Parc André Citroën. Yep, like the car. Evidently, this park was built on the former site of a car factory. We wanted to go because during dinner one night, our host family told us that there’s a giant hot air balloon that you go up in! Obviously that needed to happen. So, a group met Steph and I outside our apartment and we left in search of lunch and the park! Along the way, we discovered a bunch of small grocery stores, shops, boulangeries within a 4 minute walk…aka things we should probably know exist so close to us. The park is really funky and modern–sort of like a post-modern version of the traditional French Le Nôtre style garden. There seemed to be a TON …