Here’s an interesting article I found on WordPress, again about France’s school lunches.
As I searched Youtube looking for something interesting to show my high school students about the differences between French and American schools, I ran across this video about the French school lunch program. The contrasts between their lunch system and our’s in America are astonishing!
French children are taught from the very beginning, at home like at school, the importance not only of eating healthily, but also what it means to enjoy a meal and the company with whom one shares it. It’s no wonder that French children can more easily, and more patiently, sit through a three or four course meal on a regular basis without making it torturous for both themselves and their parents (or teachers!).
Enjoy the video, and tell me your thoughts!
Sunday Morning’s Man in Paris David Turecamo explores France’s strict diet regiment within the school system’s gourmet lunch menu.
Contract #4, Let’s do this already!
My last post started out, “Moving to France in 24 days, and long-stay visa”. That was on May 14, and two contracts ago. The funny thing is that there are a lot of people interested in our house, but for reasons way out of our control (nothing to do with us or our home), the sale just keeps falling through for one reason or another. We are now (or most likely will be tomorrow) on contract #4. I think it’s a good sign that the people who want to buy our house are French. They need a car too, so we’re going to throw in the Beetle for good measure (I needed to sell it anyway). Everyone who has been crossing fingers and toes for me, please don’t stop now! This is it; I can feel that this is going to happen now.
In seven days I’ll be leaving on a trip to Europe with my students. I’m leaving François at home with the kids, and he still has to work until June 15. It wouldn’t be very nice of me to leave him with two kids to care for and a whole house to pack, so that’s what I’m going to start working on tomorrow. I guess we will go ahead and reserve the container, get everything ready to load into it, and if it doesn’t work out…. Well if it doesn’t work out then I just have no idea what to think about what the next step should be.
I did get to Chicago last week for my long-stay visa. I was so nervous leaving my passport at the French consulate, knowing that I need it for my trip next week. They pretty much assured me that I’d have it back in time. I sure hope so! Say what you like about French bureaucracy, but I had a great experience once I actually found someone willing to answer my emails. In the course of one day, about ten emails were sent between us. She helped me locate the documents I needed and assured me that when I came to my meeting in Chicago everything would be fine. Guess what? My meeting was scheduled for 10:20. They called my name at 10:10 because I got there a bit early. By 10:14, we’d completely finished and I was out the door.
Now I have to psyche myself into believing that we’re really moving, and that this time next week I’ll be on a flight to France with my students, and I won’t be coming back (not to live here, anyway).
Checklist for the next week
1. Reserve 20-foot container for a date in late June.
2. Pack up everything François and the kids won’t need over the next few weeks and get it ready to ship.
3. Empty my classroom and desk at work.
4. Put finishing details on student tour of Europe.
5. Inform my friends and family that this is really happening and somehow manage to say good-bye (???)
6. Organize a big, huge play date in the park with kids and their friends who they may never see again… That’s going to be rough. BBQ maybe?
7. Quit my job…. No, I’d better wait till after closing to do that one.
8. Get banking in order….401K thing may need to get done after we’ve moved.
9. Purchase one-way flights for François and the kids…. at the last minute just to be sure.
10. Stay calm, cool and collected (this may be the hardest part).
After what seems like months of sending papers and documents back and forth to the French Consulate in Chicago, we finally received our new “livret de famille” via Express Mail yesterday!! We also received French birth certificates for our two little ones, and now it’s time for a celebration because they are now officially both FRENCH and AMERICAN!! This is progress. Time to order the French passports.
Now I just have to work on French nationality for myself…. I really should get started. All of this should really be helpful once we get to France.
On another note, we had a showing of our house on Saturday, and another one tonight (everyone cross your fingers for us that these will be the people who fall in love with our house and put down a contract right away).
My TOP TEN reasons for wanting to relocate to France:
(maybe I forgot something, or maybe you know better! in any case, let me know what you think!)
Reason # 1
Quality of life
Reason # 2
Work to live, not live to work. Taking time to enjoy life, spending time with family, longer lunches and dinners. Slower pace of living. Sundays are what they used to be in the United States forty years ago.
Reason # 3
Healthier lifestyle, pedestrian friendly cities, beaches, mountains, walks in vineyards.
Reason # 4
High-quality health care system, affordable to all, low cost prescription drugs.
Reason # 5
French gastronomy, locally grown fresh produce markets, bread, cheese, olive oil, Mediterranean diet.
Reason # 6
Easy travel to diverse locations (other European countries); children grow up (with the possibility of) being exposed to more foreign cultures. And no matter where you live in France, Paris is just a quick train ride away.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway
Reason # 7
Some of the best, and most affordable wine regions in the world. Summer wine festivals in the Languedoc are fabulous.
Reason # 8
Mediterranean climate: The weather may not be so fantastic in every part of France year round, but in the Languedoc, it really is quite pleasant most of the time.
Reason # 9
Manners are still important in France, and the vast majority of children are raised to show respect. This is very important to me.
This is a picture of my son, my niece, and some friends.
Reason # 10
Comparatively low violent crime rate. We are not planning to live in a big city, but even in Paris I feel safe walking alone at night.
It’s almost scary how much I’ve heard (or overheard) people saying that they’re not going to travel this summer. Why? It’s not because of the economy or because they’re afraid of terrorist attacks. They aren’t going to travel because their kids are too small. While I haven’t given advice where advice is not requested, I did think about it a good bit. We’ve always traveled with our kids, and though the flight to France or 12 hour drive to Louisiana may not be the MOST fun we’ve ever had, the reward has been enjoying our summer travels to places near and far even if we do have little ones. In this post I’m going to focus on traveling with kids in France. We all know that France is the world’s #1 tourist destination, but what usually comes to mind are the museums, fine restaurants, wine tours, etc. In a nutshell… We think of grown-up stuff. When traveling in France with little kids, you may be amazed at how much there is for them to do. It’s just that before you have kids you don’t pay as much attention to what’s going on for the younger set. I’ve been digging around in my pictures looking for shots of our kids having a blast in France. Sometimes you’ll see we’re in Paris, other times in the south.
You can go directly to their website @ www.bateaux–mouches.fr for pricing and schedules. The ride doesn’t last too long, and if you choose to go on the cruise on a day when it’s nice out you can sit outside on the deck as we were in this picture. The cruise along the Seine gives you really nice views of practically all of the important monuments in Paris. In the summer, you have to wait until it’s pretty late if you want to see the monuments illuminated… which might be a challenge if you have really small kids with you. Here’s my baby having so much fun on the carousel in the Champs de Mars park, Eiffel Tower. I wish I could remember how old this carousel is. Let’s just say it’s VERY old and old-fashioned. What I mean is, there’s a guy who stands in the middle and hand cranks the thing so it will turn! Only in Paris! There’s so much fun stuff to do in the Champs de Mars. You’ve got this great park with swings, jungle gyms, this carousel, a sand box. There’s also, on the other side of the park, an area where the kids can ride donkeys, ride in little go-carts, watch a Marionnette show. Here are some pics from the Champs de Mars:
By the way, these swings go REALLLLLY high! So much fun, but make sure you strap ’em in real good! They also have swings like these in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is over in the Latin Quarter. Another really neat place for people of all ages. Here are some pictures taken over there:
There are plenty of marionnette theaters all over Paris, but for some reason I really like this one in the Jardin du Luxembourg. So much fun. The old man comes out with his bell in hand and starts ringing it when it’s puppet show time. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t speak French (but of course, it helps if you do!) because the show will entertain both your kids AND you regardless. There’s probably no better way to have a truly Parisian experience, right along with REAL French parents and their kids, than at the marionnettes.
This is one of the most beloved activities of our kids at the Jardin du Luxembourg. You rent one of these little sailboats, especially fun on a moderately windy day, and you play to your heart’s content. There’s just a small fee, but you’re good for a solid hour of seeing your sailboat fly across the basin and running to catch up with it. If you go on a day with no wind… you may have to wait awhile for your boat to get to the other side but it’s still so much fun.
Who knew there were so many donkeys in Paris? As at the Champs de Mars, your little one can take a donkey ride at the Jardin du Luxembourg.
What kid doesn’t like trains? In France, a great option with the little ones is to board the fastest train in the world (on rails) and head down for le Midi (the south) where you’re sure to have nice, warm weather and you’ll meet some of the sweetest, most kid loving people on the planet!
When most people think of the south of France, they think of “The Riviera”… La Côte d’Azur. Yes, it’s quite lovely! BUT if you’re on a budget and want to really get to know the south of France, where there are more French people and less tourists, head on over to the Languedoc region. It’s just as beautiful, it’s less crowded, and it’s cheaper!
You’ll be hard pressed in Paris to find an outdoor swimming pool where you can relax, but in the South, finding a pool is no problem!
Now here’s something just as much fun for Maman et Papa as for the kids. Go and take a walk through the vineyards. They’re everywhere, literally. Along the way, maybe you’ll run into a little “dégustation de vin”… WINE TASTING!! Did you know that the Languedoc produces the largest quantity of table wine in France?? And if you’re on foot or if you have a bike, you don’t even have to worry about driving! Yeah… Watch out if you’ve been to a dégustation and then have to drive while you’re in France. They’ll stop you and you’ll get a DUI. It’s gotten really strict. Just don’t do it!
La cigale, the so-called symbol of the South of France. You’ll find them depicted everywhere, on tableclothes, in ceramic form, just everywhere. If you’re really lucky you’ll find one coming out of it’s shell, just being born. It’s a real privilege!
Bullfighting is really big in the south of France in the summertime, but it’s not exactly something you want to go see with your kids…..a liitle too much blood. In Provence, you can go with your kids to see a provençal style “bullfight” where the guys taunt the bull but nobody gets hurt. You can see the guy jumping over the wall here in this picture. It’s pretty exciting, no matter your age.
……..to be continued…….
See, if we were living in France, my kids wouldn’t be hungry for dinner at 6:00. We wouldn’t be having dinner until at least 7 or 7:30. BUT, they wouldn’t go to bed at 7:30 either! So it’s a trade off. Hectic around here at 5:00 trying to figure out what to cook for dinner but so worth it when Maman et Papa have adult time in the evening.
So, dinner. What’s it gonna be? We made a lavish trip to Whole Foods this weekend so the frigo is plein à craquer.
I’ve just about psyched myself into preparing “Steak au Poivre” à la Julia Child. Pretty sure we’ve got everything it takes. Sure would taste great with some homemade freedom fries but I used all of the patates last night. Will have to make do with a ratatouille….NEVER a bad choice. Unless I decide to sauté some ‘shrooms instead. Yes, that’s it. A sauté of mushrooms and a full-bodied red are a fine match! Bon appétit!
….hours later….. Ok so I decided to go with the ratatouille. Mushrooms disappeared somewhere. Set the table in the backyard. Gotta enjoy these cool St. Louis nights while we can. Soon the mosquitos will attack.
Oh heaven forbid…. 4 o’clock is creeping up slowly and I’ve obviously forgotten about the goûter. My kids are going to riot. The goûter. The God-given right to all children big and small. 4 o’clock snack. Don’t be mistaken, the goûter is not to be had at 3:45 or even at 5 till 4. Nope, they don’t call it the “4 heures” for nothing, and today my darlings, Maman has forgotten. Off to Panera we go, unless I can come up with something better on the way home. Think maybe I have some slice-n-bakes in the frigo.
A little about me… I’m from Louisiana, which may somehow explain my obsession with all things French. Not living there anymore, moved away when I was 23 to see what it was like “away from the south”. If anything, I’ve come to have a much greater appreciation for most things southern than I ever had when I was living there. I’m living in the big middle of the midwest in the great city of St. Louis. Some will say that St. Louis is a small town, but if you come from a place somewhere in Louisiana that isn’t even considered a town and doesn’t have a post office… St. Louis is pretty damn big. Ok Louisiana people, especially those who know me. YOU may be from a town, but I’m from a community. A community that has only a gas station (with some darn good boudin, if I may say so myself) and a golf course.
Been living here in ole St. Louieeee off and on since ’96. In the meantime I’ve managed to earn a Master’s degree in French, get married to a very sexy Parisian, procreate a mini-me troop of three, live in Béziers, France (mediterranean coast, west of Montpellier), come back to St. Louis to be a high school French teacher, and the list does go on… More about all of that later.
I decided to get started on this blog when I realized that this American-French lifestyle I live certainly isn’t unique to me. When you fall in love with someone from another country, there’s way more to it than what you can see when you say “I do”, or just “Oui” as I did at our wedding in France. There are the first days, before the days of real jobs and children when you seem to focus entirely on perfecting, as in my case, the French language. Then there are the little cultural differences that make life very interesting. And then…. drum roll…. And then you have the kids. What a pleasure, yes I’ll agree there’s nothing quite like being a parent. This is, after a certain number of years of marriage, the time when you’re really going to make it or break it. Of course I know that’s true for all married couples, probably with or without children, but boy let me tell you something. Raising the kids the international way, growing up in America with a very French lifestyle, speaking only in French at home with the kids…. Now in my mind, this is the stuff good blogging is made of! So if anyone actually clicks on this link, even by accident, I hope you’ll enjoy.