My last week in France, I finally made it to a McDonalds! We stopped in at the McDonalds at Versailles on our way back to Compiègne.
The first difference I noticed from an American McDonalds was that there is a separate counter for the McCafe, where the French can buy a variety of high quality coffee/espresso, pastries, and even…
And speaking of assimilating, I decided to try a McBaguette! Two all beef patties with French swiss cheese, mustard sauce and lettuce – all on a wood-grilled baguette. YUM!
My verdict: McDonald’s in America does french fries better, but the McBaguette was, without a doubt, the tastiest burger type fast food fare I’ve had in a long time. It really was super delicious and I wish I could get it here.
To quote McDonalds – I’m lovin’ it!
One of the things I miss most about France is the Patisseries… My goodness, the readily available pieces of edible heaven at every corner!! I especially miss my favorite patisserie in Compiègne – a little place with a blue overhang just across the street from my favorite bar.
Croissants (American croissants just aren’t the same), Pain au chocolate, Pain aux amandes, the tarts, the macarons, everything baked to perfection and so good you’re convinced it must be made with demon magic. Yes, I miss my local patisserie, but I’m proud to declare JOB WELL DONE at trying as many of French desserts as possible. Here are some highlights…
Hmmm…. After this post, my mouth is watering… Time to break to finish dinner.
Here I am, home for 1 month and I still have blogs left to post about my time in France. Despite how it looks, I haven’t just been sitting around all day long, eating fast food in front of American television all day long (really! I haven’t even spent one day doing that!)… What I have been doing is job hunting (I start tomorrow!), trying to integrate my cats with Jason’s cat, organizing various rooms in the house, cleaning, working on the backyard, lots and lots of cooking, and, okay, maybe I have spent some evenings sitting around on the couch watching American television (Ghost Adventures rocks my face off).
But, I do want to get this French blogging done (after all, I am now wandering through the extremely unknown waters of wedding planning!), so lets see how many posts I can throw up in the next 72 hours. Ready, get set – BLOG!
I didn’t include Mont St. Michel on my “55 Ways to make the most out of my last 90 days in France” list, because I didn’t think it was realistically a place I could visit this year. Mont St. Michel is in Normandy, in the middle of nowhere on a semi-isle at the edge of the sea. Really, the only feasible way to get there is to drive and since I don’t have a car in France I long-ago crossed Mont St. Michel off my list of possibilities.
Happily, the couple we stayed with in Brittany mentioned that Mont St. Michel was on our way back to Flers and they offered to take us there! You can’t imagine how exited I was to see this site. Mont St. Michel is the second most visited part of France, after Paris, and is a religious site that draws pilgrims to this day. According to legend, Saint Michael slayed the dragon on this site in ancient times, and later his angel appeared and instructed the bishop to build an abbey on the island. The first chapel was built the same year, in 708 and the site is still impressive!
We were only able to spend about an hour here, so this place is definitely still on my “to-visit” list for a future trip to France. For an abbey built on a small semi-isle, there is SO MUCH to see. Mont St. Michel deserves an entire afternoon (or even a full day trip) and next time, I plan on giving it the attention it deserves.
I’ve put off this post for awhile, because how do you write about such an amazing region? After the south of France, Brittany was the most beautiful region I visited and it was hands down the most interesting, history-wise. Being in Brittany felt like being in a mythical legend or fairy tale. Everything is green and magical-looking.
In fact, I loved Brittany so much, I visited the region twice in my last two months in France! Because my words couldn’t possibly do such a magical place justice, I’m giving you photos!
Well… Accomplished, in a manner of speaking.
What I’ve learned from my experience (which could be totally different from the norm) is how difficult it was to enroll to audit a French class at UTC… I wasn’t able to do it in the fall, because I missed the cut-off.
I was told to come back in January. I did. Then I was told to fill out some paperwork and come back with it at the beginning of February.
I did. Then, I was told to come back and meet the professors one day in mid-February and they couldn’t take my paperwork until I had done that. Fine, except I teach on Thursdays and couldn’t make it. I told them that and they said, no problem. You can go to the language center the next day and meet the teachers.
Did that, except I wasn’t able to meet anyone that day. I had to come back.
Do you see what I mean? And throughout all this, I was never able to get my hands on a course calendar or choose my own class. If this is the ordinary process to enroll for classes, I wonder how anyone manages to do it?
Finally, I was told about an FLE class (like ESL, but French) and enrolled in that class. Unfortunately, that class only met Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday was the business communication part of the class. No problem. I can make Wednesday. Thursday, unfortunately, the grammar/conversation portion of the class interfered with my teaching schedule. I asked about other French class options, but was never given an answer. So, finally, I just went ahead and enrolled.
The classes were small, less than 15 people, and seemed great. I did go to the Wednesday class, and even if it didn’t improve my French grammar at all, at least it was another hour of total immersion in French every week.
I went to the Thursday class as well, as often as I could. Unfortunately, do to my teaching schedule, I was never able to make it for the entire class, and some days I wasn’t able to make it at all. The days I did make it, I came for the last hour and generally made it in class in time to catch the last bit of conversation and all of the grammar lesson.
I’m not sure how much these classes helped me to improve my French, but I’m glad I had the experience. Word of advice for any teaching assistants in Compiègne for 2012-2013: If you want to take an FLE class at UTC – Visit the university ASAP after you arrive in town. Seriously, the sooner, the better. If you miss your opportunity to enroll in the Fall, you won’t get another opportunity to sit in on classes until March!
Two weeks ago, I took a day trip to Paris. The goal – see the Tim Burton Exposition at the Cinémathèque Française.
We had bought our tickets in advance, which turned out to be a really splendid idea because, while you could buy tickets at the door, the wait to get in was over two hours!!! Come to find out, the French really love Tim Burton.
The exposition was fabulous – with original sketches, drawings, photography, sculptures along with all sorts of treats from Burton’s entire filmography. If you love Tim Burton and will be in Paris between now and August – this exposition is definitely a must-see! Or, if you love Tim Burton and are lucky enough to find this exposition in a town near you next (it started at MOMA in New York, who knows where it will go after Paris) – GO SEE IT. If not for the massive crowds, I could have happily spent all day wandering the exposition – it was like an up close and personal look into Tim Burton’s mind and imagination.
My one complaint about the exposition, is that there were no photographs allowed. The reason, I suspect, is because they wanted you to buy a book on the exposition in the gift shop afterwords. That was a disappointment, but all the more reason to go see the exposition live, since I don’t have photos of the event to share with you, my online friends.
Well, after an emotional roller-coaster of the past two days, it’s official. My contract as a language assistant in France is over and I will never again walk into one of those seven classes to teach. Even writing this the next day, I feel a little misty-eyed.
I’ve felt SO loved over these past few days. In every class, I got cards and drawings from kids to remember them by. One class gave me flowers and bought me a journal – each of the students had written/drawn something to me on one page of the journal and they decorated the front themselves. One little girl in another class gave me a rose and said, “I bought this for you. It was 3 euros! But you’re worth it.” Another class passed around a note during my lesson, at the end of the lesson, they gave it to me. On the top it said “None of us want you to leave. Please stay.” And they had all signed it.
And, in my lower-income school, a place that should have been harder to teach, but turned out to be my favorite school due to the passion of all the teachers there and the compassion/desire to learn I felt from the kids, they went all out! My younger class gave me a class photo from Mardi Gras – they had all written a note to me on the back and decorated and laminated it for me. All of them gave me drawings and cards too, and many of them gave me little keepsakes “as souvenirs.” “Here Rebekka, take this pen. I want you to have it.” “Take my highlighter.” “Please, take my pencil.” They thrust various school items at me and wouldn’t here it when I tried to give them back. “But that’s yours,” I’d reply. “No, I want YOU to have it.”
My older class had an entire sack of goodies for me – they all contributed something to it, and I received everything from homemade cards and drawings to earrings and even a bottle of perfume.
But what really blew me away is the gift I received from the teachers. They gave me a card that they had all signed and they all pitched in to give me a necklace, earrings, AND — a BEAUTIFUL hardcover, illustrated book with all of La Fontaine’s poetry and stories in it!!! An amazingly generous gift that I will use for years to come.
These seven months spent teaching have been an incredible experience for me. I’m so glad I came here with this program. I’ve learned SO much, about France and the French language, about teaching, and about myself. I’ve discovered in myself a passion for teaching that I didn’t know I had. Its hard work, but SO rewarding – rewarding enough that I’m committed to the career-change when I get home, someway, somehow. And, if the opinions of my students and teachers I’ve worked under mean anything, I’m good at it.
I’m not sure what the immediate future holds for me, job-wise, when I get home. I’m not sure if I can find a district to hire me so that I can work as a teacher and go through the alternative certification process this year. I’m trying though. And, if I need to go back to school, I will. I think I’ve found my niche, all that’s left is to work my way into it.
Last Saturday, I was back in Paris. The goal? Explore a new museum! Namely, the Marmottan Monet Museum. It’s in an area of Paris I had never been before, and this is something I love about Paris – even when you think you know it well, there are always new and gorgeous quarters waiting to be stumbled on.
After we emerged from the metro, we were greeted by a lush, blooming park! Even if you don’t have any desire to check out the Monet Museum, this park would be a lovely place to spend the afternoon! Tons of walking paths, and some play areas for children. There was also a larger than life statue of Jean de la Fontaine (famous French poet who reinterpreted fables as poetry… Shown here with The Fox and the Crow).
Just across from the museum, there was this nifty merry-go-round. Man-powered, and each child gets a stick (lance). As they go around, they try to catch little metal rings in their “lance.” Super cute~
But anyway, back to the museum. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside. It’s not a huge museum, but there were several well known works by Monet and other impressionist era artists. The musuem (I think) was once a house, and its grand without being intimidating.
A definite highlight for us (because we are SO cultured) was the gift shop! There were all kinds of fun things to play with, and Becca and I both left with Chalkboard mugs (Yes, that’s right. Chalkboard mugs. You can even write on the handle!!)
So many people have told me since I arrived in France, “Go to LaDurée. You will not be disappointed.” La Durée is principally known for its macarons, but they also house a cozy little tearoom/restaurant where you can order breakfast, lunch or dessert.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon for some dessert (and hot chocolate, which I had been told was the best in France). After a brief wait in line, we were escorted inside and upstairs.
The first thing that struck me about LaDurée was the scent, a mix of sugar and heaven. It took forever to decide on a dessert – the menu is pages long and EVERYTHING sounded delicious. Luckily, they served us our drinks first.
I’m not sure if I would hand LaDurée the prize for France’s best hot chocolate, though it was delicious! It wasn’t like any hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted… it was, quite literally, as though someone had heated a bar of the highest-quality chocolate to liquid – it was SO thick and rich!!
For dessert, I decided on “Saint-Honoré Rose-Framboise.” A puff pastry with rasberry filling, rose-icing, and ROSE flavored whipped cream!! It was dangerously delicious and very filling. And yes, that is an actual rose petal perched atop the pastry.
If you are ever in Paris, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to dessert at LaDurée once. Yes, its expensive, but you will NOT be disappointed.