What a wonderful weekend in spite of the thunderstorms that took over Saturday afternoon. I have to tell you about our trip to Les Halles on Saturday morning. “Les Halles” is an indoor market that’s open every day, even on Sunday. You can purchase practically anything you want there: fruit, vegetables, olive oil, meat, poultry, HORSE meat, fresh eggs, pastries, and the list goes on and on. We’ve been to Les Halles many times in the past, but on this particular Saturday, it was getting close to noon. We were there with the kids, and all of our stomachs started to rumble at about the same time, so it’s no surprise that we all scoped out “La Gargote des Halles” at the same time. We hadn’t planned to eat out, in fact we were shopping to have “de quoi manger” at home. It was time for a compromise: l’apéritif!! And why not, it was the weekend after all!
The plan was to just have a little snack of chorizo. Needless to say, we wanted a glass of wine to go with that. Then we ended up ordering an assiette de cochonailles (a plate of charcuteries), a bit more chorizo, a plate of homemade fries, some fried pimentos like they eat in Spain, and another glass of wine for each of us and a Coke for the kids to split. It was so much fun with the bustling atmosphere and friends meeting up left and right, and it was also very inexpensive. By that I mean 40€ for the four of us. Now here’s the most interesting part, and something we’re planning to do very soon. You can go shopping at Les Halles and pick up whatever it is you’d like for lunch, whether that be meat, fish, seafood like mussels, etc. You bring it to La Gargote des Halles, and for 2€50 they cook it for you! If you want some of their to die for homemade fries to go with your meal, it’s just 3€50 extra. Oh, and a tempting glass of really good local wine will cost you less than 2€ a glass. Definitely worth a trip to Les Halles de Béziers. This may become a weekend tradition chez les Crespin. I don’t believe there’s one out of the four of us who would complain about that.
20 Foot Container…We Need A Miracle to Make it all Fit!!
This may look like a lot of stuff, but let me tell you, this is only the beginning! As we carefully packed, bubble wrapped, shrink wrapped, numbered and inventoried every single item in our house, the total number of items came out to 203. The sofa counts as 1 item just like a trashcan does, so you have to consider that. It’s been one heck of a week trying to get all of this done by today, Friday. François and I ended up going to bed at about 3:00 in the morning, deciding to wake up early to finish up the rest before the movers would arrive.
When the team of three movers arrived, they took one look at all, and first told us that it’s “the best wrapping we’ve ever seen.” I asked if I could quote them 🙂 But then they told us that in their opinion there’s “no way that’s gonna fit in a 20-foot container, so you should start to consider what you would like to leave behind.” What??? That’s not what they told us when we reserved this thing! After about fifteen minutes of real stress, mostly from my sweetie, I went out and had a look at the container. The thing is huge. As of right now, the movers are still here and trying to load it all up. I’ve decided to remain optimistic (is this a trend?) and believe it will all work out. I’ll keep you posted, but for now I’m sitting here on my living room floor blogging away while I watch them try to fit the sofa through the front door. This is the first time we’ve ever had movers do the work for us, and I would highly recommend it. I can’t help thinking about when our container arrives in France and we have to unload it without a crew. Every time I packed a box, I imagined that the next time I would see our things would be in our new apartment in Béziers. By the way, we decided on the first apartment!!! We listened to what all of you said, and took the plunge.
I’ll stop writing now so that I can go and see the progress, but for now, everyone repeat after us:
“We believe it’s all going to fit!!”
With our departure date only a month and four days away, it’s time to go to Chicago to get (another) long-stay visa that will allow me to live and work in France for a year. During the first year, I plan to apply for French citizenship. This time last year I went to Chicago for the same exact visa. Turns out I didn’t need it after all, but I said it last year, and I’ll say it again. French bureaucracy may have a reputation for making official procedures as difficult as possible, but the people who work at the French Consulate in Chicago are really, really helpful. I do think that it helps that I write all of my emails to them in French. Perhaps if I were writing them in English I wouldn’t make such a good impression, and they may be less willing to take the time to help me. They literally located all of the documents I will need for my visa. I just have to show up with my passport, a few photos, and an envelope for them to send my passport with the visa inside back to me.
This time last year, we had big plans to move to France. We were hoping to sell our house quickly and move to France during the summer. As it turns out, our house didn’t sell until October, so back in August we made the decision to spend another year in St. Louis. Life doesn’t always work out the way we would have hoped, but in retrospect, having this extra year to get our affairs in order has been very advantageous for us. It’s given us more time to think about what the next step will be, and I’m not just talking about where we will live.
For example, I’ve been spending a LOT of time trying to get my online language school website up and running, and hopefully it will take off during the first year. I’m also working a lot on a second blog, Learn French With Jennifer and recording French language videos for my YouTube channel. This is so much fun, it’s truly exhilarating! I never knew how great it would feel to create something of my own. Have any of you created Internet based businesses? I’d love to hear about it if you have, because I only have one and a half more weeks left of working as a high school French teacher. I also need to come up with a name for my French & English language school, so feel free to share if you have any ideas 🙂