Solidarité

Like so many, I am deeply saddened by the events in Paris. I could delve into my thoughts on the politics of the situations we as a changed, evolving world face today, the ideology of how to improve things, my own pessimism regarding our ability to ever bring peace to this kind of fight, or the grief that those who have lost must feel so acutely. Thankfully, none of our loved ones were hurt. To talk of my own grief for a country I love seems self-centered at a time when so many are so personally affected.

So instead, I’ll talk about why I love France. It’s in part the obvious: the beauty – both natural and man made, that exists throughout the country. The fabulous food. But it goes much beyond this. While listening to NPR today, I heard a guest comment that we (Americans) have certain things we admire about other countries. We admire the Germans for the machines they make – their cars. The Swiss for their watches. But when it comes to the French, we love the way they live. We idealize it, bien sûr. We also poke fun at it (another strike? Geez!). Yet it is the French way of life, the joie de vivre, the bon appetit, the je ne sais quoi that we so admire and wish to emulate. For the French celebrate life. Art. Family. Food. History. French culture is a celebration the things that make being human great. The essence of humanity.

So I continue to celebrate France. France, Paris, Je t’aime pour toujours.

 

Ten Things I Love About The French

1. I love the appreciation the French have for good food and good wine. A Frenchman I know once stated that when a person isn’t willing to indulge sometimes, enjoy great food, let go a bit, it “really says something about that person.” He couldn’t comprehend people who never eat the good stuff, even if it might go straight to their thighs. Lest you think the French are okay with gluttony – they aren’t. (I think half the women in France are starving themselves because they certainly aren’t exercising!) They just aren’t into denying themselves the pleasures of life.

2. I love Sunday lunches, where families gather to spend a couple hours together over a nice meal.

3. That je-ne-sais-quoi French people possess. The way the women seem to never style their hair yet it still hangs in perfect waves with just the right amount of flyaways to say: I’m beautiful, and I’m not trying. The slightly arrogant, stooped posture of the men that says I’m more intellect than athlete, and I don’t care what you think about it. What is it about French people…it’s so hard to put a finger on it, it’s that je-ne-sais-quoi. They can drive me crazy, but I still love them.

4. I love that they flirt with most everyone, even in the most benign situations. Not to be anti-feminist, but turning a simple transaction – like buying a container of aspirin – into a dance of compliments and innocently arching eyebrows puts a smile on my face. I call it the French version of customer service.

5. I like that the French enjoy intellectual conversations and pride themselves on being realists. I like that they will engage each other in a verbal battlefield over ideas and current events, yet not take the conversation personally or allow it to damage a friendship. Except sometimes I don’t love this. I should probably put this on a list about things I don’t love about the French, too.

6. I find French men’s abhorance for white socks (even when exercising!) endearing.

7. I love that the French believe, and pursue, balance in life. Between work and play, time for children and adult time, in indulging in their desire to enjoy amazing food but not overdoing it….

8. I love the way my French friends are always happy to spend time together. We linger over meals, enjoying long conversations, enjoying each other’s company, playing games, long after most of our other friends have decided it’s time to get back home, or go to the next party, or who knows what. The French prioritize people in their lives in a way that I wish we did better here.

9. Scarves. I stayed in Paris long enough to learn several different ways to wear a scarf, and wear it well, but not so long that I stopped smiling at people. I love the elegance of scarves, and the way the French propel scarf-wearing to an art form.

10. Get away from Paris or any other major city, and you will find the French to be some of the most welcoming, gregarious people you will meet in your travels. Even Paris is getting better – complete strangers have – gasp – smiled at me and offered to help me when I appeared lost or confused. Parisians in restaurants have complimented my imperfect French and cute accent. Learn a few key words and get ready to knock down those stereotypes!

Photo Day: Les Villages Perchés en Provence (Part II)

Part II of those charming perched villages:

Tourette-sur-Loup

Tourette-sur-Loup

St. Paul de Vence

St. Paul de Vence

Moi, in St. Paul de Vence, 2008

Moi, in St. Paul de Vence, 2008

St. Paul de Vence

St. Paul de Vence

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

St. Paul de Vence - this place is made for photos

St. Paul de Vence – this place is made for photos

Newer part of St. Paul de Vence

Newer part of St. Paul de Vence

Photo Day: Les Villages Perchés en Provence (Part I)

As I gaze out the window on falling snow and a ground covered in blankets of white, my thoughts drift to warm places. So now, I’ll sip my hot tea and take an armchair trip to the South of France. Care to join me? On y va !

The steep, rocky mountainsides of Provence create not just natural beauty, but lend to stunning, charming architectural wonders perched high above the Mediterranean.

Pottery in Vallauris

Pottery in Vallauris

Mougins

Mougins

Mougins

Mougins

More of lovely Mougins

More of lovely Mougins

Mougins

Mougins

Gourdon

Gourdon

Gourdon

Gourdon

Gourdon

Gourdon

Perfume distillery in Gourdon

Perfume distillery in Gourdon

I have a fascination with doors and doorways. Loved this one.

I have a fascination with doors and doorways. Loved this one.

Passport to Paris: A touch of France in Denver, Colorado

Denver Art Museum

Denver Art Museum

Last weekend we visited the Denver Art Museum’s Passport to Paris exhibit, advertised as “More Monet in Denver than ever before.” I love the French Impressionists, so there was no doubt we were going to go, even if it meant dragging a three-year-old and an eighteen-month-old through an art museum. Between pushing buttons on the audio tours for the kids to keep them entertained (“Mommy! She stopped talking again!”) and pulling my daughter’s curious fingers away from priceless works of art (“NOOOOOOOOOO! Off limits! Eyes only!” Cue hyperventilating  Mom all too aware of angry glares from other patrons) we managed to see most of the works displayed in the show’s trio of rooms.

DSC01306

The rooms: Court to Cafe, Nature as Muse, and Drawing Room, focus on French art from the late 1600s to the early 1900s and include a fascinating look at how art and society mirrored each other through these dynamically evolving centuries. The show incorporates 50 masterpieces from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, 36 landscapes from the impressionist artists from the private collection of Frederic C. Hamilton – on public display for the first time, as well as drawings on paper from master artists of the period. Here are a couple of my favorites (no photography was allowed, so I had to scan them from postcards I bought):

Claude Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil, 1873 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Claude Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil, 1873 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The Beach at Trouville, 1870 by Claude Monet

The Beach at Trouville, 1870 by Claude Monet

If you are in the Denver area and interested, the show is here through February 9, 2014, and tickets can be purchased online or at the museum. Click here for more details.

Photo Day: Aix en Provence and the Abbaye de Sénanque

I’ve never been to Provence in the fall, but summers there are magical. Here are some more of my favorite photos:

 

Aix en Provence

Aix-en-Provence

Place du General de Gaulle, Aix-en-Provence

Place du General de Gaulle, Aix-en-Provence

Fresh fruit of Provence

Fresh fruit of Provence

Abbaye de Sénanque, from the road above

Abbaye de Sénanque, from the road above

Abbaye de Sénanque and lavender field

Abbaye de Sénanque and lavender field

Me in a lavender field

Me in a lavender field

I adore sunflowers!

I adore sunflowers!

Vineyard tucked into the hills of Provence

Vineyard tucked into the hills of Provence

Another view of the Abbey, with lavender fields

Another view of the Abbey, with lavender fields

Lavender

Lavender

Je t'adore, belle Provence!

Je t’adore, belle Provence!

Liebster Award

liebster awardThere’s nothing like an award nomination to boost morale and motivation! A fellow Francophile at Oh Sacré Bleu nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thank you, and Yay!

This award is a pat on the back for newish bloggers from fellow bloggers, meant to help spread the word about our favorite blogs out there in the blogosphere.

As part of the Liebster award, I must do the following:

  • Post the award on my blog
  • Thank the blogger presenting me with the award and provide a link back to their blog
  • Write 11 random facts about myself (uh-oh)
  • Pay it forward: find 11 other blogs with less than 200 followers that I enjoy reading and nominate them. (This is a tough one! Many blogs I follow have more than 200 followers, or have already been nominated, or I don’t know how many followers they have and couldn’t figure it out, but here are a bunch of really great ones that I’m happy to share. Sadly, I had to leave many of my discoveries off the list.) Okay, so, my dad was a math teacher, leaving me with a strong left brain, and I have to wonder… if every nominee faithfully nominates 11 blogs, after about 10 rounds, we’ve well exceeded human population … but I digress. It’s great to receive and spread blog love.
  • Answer the 11 questions the award presenter asked me, and ask my nominees 11 questions

Here we go:

Random Facts About Me

1. Many of my relatives are cowboys, the real deal (read about them here). I, however, am horribly allergic to horses.

2. I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. to work out.

3. I’m left handed.

4. I’ve sprained my ankles well over 20 times between the two of them. Ridiculous.

5. My mom wouldn’t let me take French in high school, despite me really wanting to. She said, “Carol, you live in Arizona. You’ll never have any occasion to use French. You’ll take Spanish.” Then I married a Frenchman. I like to remind her of this story.

6. I  need a social media detox on a regular basis. I have a crappy little phone with no internet access and I like it that way. I often leave it behind, as well as my laptop – life feels freer and simpler when I disconnect from all devices. I’ll take a paper map over GPS any day.

7. I’ve been to 5 continents. Missing Australia and Antarctica.

8. Even though the bottle says rinse then repeat, I don’t repeat. I’m rebellious like that.

9.I recently discovered that I’m dairy intolerant. It’s really pissing me off.

10.  I’m a redhead. I’ve always been one, and I’ve always liked being one.

11.  I have a doctorate degree in physical therapy.

Eleven Questions from Oh Sacré Bleu

1. Why do you blog? Because I love to write. And I think I found a good subject to blog about.

2. Are you in any way a ‘cultural failure’? i.e. You don’t do something that is typical of your nationality or culture (e.g. an Indian who doesn’t like spicy food, an Irishman who doesn’t drink alcohol etc) I think being a Francophile makes me a cultural failure, doesn’t it? It certainly did during the “freedom fries” craziness. I also don’t like apple pie, I can’t get excited about baseball, and I can’t bring myself to eat a corn dog. I just threw up in my mouth a little thinking about corn dogs.

3. Do you believe in ghosts? If I say no, will the ghosts find out and come to get me?

4. What’s a really bad song that you secretly like? See You Again by Miley Cyrus. Yeah, that’s right. She was in Hannah Montana mode when she rocked this one.

5. One country you can’t wait to visit? Only one? Ok. New Zealand.

6. Dogs or cats? Dogs. Big dogs.

7. Favourite city in the world that you’ve visited? I have to say Paris, right? I love Paris. Not to live, but to visit.

8. Do you collect anything? Randomly and unconsciously, I do. Buttons. The extra ones that come with new clothes. I don’t just collect them, I hoard them. Weirdo.

9. Favourite destination in your own country? Yosemite National Park

Happy happy me, in Yosemite Valley

Happy happy me, in Yosemite Valley

Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls

10. Worst thing about living in my country is…. Angry, hateful, bitter political climate.

11. Best thing about living in my country is….Diversity. People, cultures, food, terrain – you can find it all, here.

 

My Nominations:

C’est La Vie Cuisine Yummy recipes and a slice of life from a Frenchwoman living in the U.S.

Little Miss Frenchified An American teaching English to Strasbourg high school students.

Multilingual Parenting Advice and insight from a parent who has been there and done that.

Learn French With Jennifer A French teacher married to a Frenchman gives us a word a day. Great resource for French learners.

Stumbling Into Paradise Fun stories of adventures in learning French (complete with stereotypical hardass French teacher) and traveling.

The Head of the Heard Stephen shares his adventures of living in a foreign country and raising a multilingual child.

Au Lit! An Aussie married to a Frenchie living in France

The European Mama A Polish mom married to a German living in the Netherlands and raising three kiddos

Brian Goldsmith Photography For some fantastic armchair traveling

Meg Travels Beautiful photos and anecdotes from around the world

Traveling Frenchies Family of Frenchies, traveling the world

 

Okay, you guys are up: Eleven Questions for My Nominees

1.     If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

2.    What is the best book you’ve read recently?

3.    What is the nicest thing a random stranger has ever done for you?

4.    Your life will be made into a movie. Who do you want to play you?

5.    What was your favorite childhood toy?

6.    What is your guilty pleasure?

7.    Sweet or savory?

8.    If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

9.    How many and which languages do you speak?

10. What was your favorite subject in school? Least favorite?

11.  If you could have any job other than your current one, what would you do?

Now what are you waiting for? Go check out these blogs! Go!