Je dois partir

Today I said au revoir to my old neighbourhood. Upon arrival, the door code had changed so I had to loiter at the door until a resident arrived and then lather on the “bon soir” and smile a lot, to get inside.

Seeing one wine glass empty, and one mug on the table is a little depressing, but – c’est la vie.

I took all 7 of my suitcases and my blender, and my bicycle and voila – upon me descended the neighbourhood for idle chit chat, in French, about my “demanagement” – evident from my belongings on the pavement.

As I was explaining to the boulangerie, and the old lady who lives upstairs and a random gentleman who stopped to admire my pink and purple bicycle – I realized – wow, I am easily speaking French !! I can speak French! I told the boulangerie my situation, and in these conversations I learn the lessons I miss in my class. Where I am moving is moins cher. Australia is tellement far away. I learned the difference between the words for crying , and raining.

In the worst, most difficult situation while I am trying to find a new home, negotiating with someone who is not who I thought .. dealing with disappointment and having to keep on working, living, every day : I can now speak to people around me!

Transferring a bicycle is a challenge, the first Uber arrived and flat out refused. I called another company and explained in French that it was a small road bike, all clean with a removable wheel – and a woman arrived with her car blaring bad music making the conversation even harder.. I ended up leaving the bicycle in the building.

C’est ça. That’s all.

The next chapter awaits…

here is a nice poem – for French practice: À la recherche du temps perdu, de Marcel Proust.

https://youtu.be/am357Aw3c7s

Horoscope

Bonjour!

Well, my French adventures continue with full intensity and variation, and surprises.

I spent the morning trying to translate my horoscope from French Elle, only to discover it is from June. Oh well. Venus must have left Chez Vous long ago. C’est la vie.

I find myself living in a homestay associated with my private school. A lovely Haussmannian building with a large apartment, tapestries, lots of security … and more opportunities to practice my French with my lovely host.

Here is a photo of the walk home from a soirée last night, crossing a road near our place. You might recognize the arch at the end of the road.

My French goes up and down. One week I am motivated to practice and study and I spent many days in the library and made progress to B1.1!

Unfortunately I then had a bit of a disruptive week, and I’m back into A2.2. Oh well. I can communicate, and remembering whether it is qui or que or dont will just come in time. My partner’s mother tongue is French but he refused to speak French with me as he likes to improve his English and finds it annoying to be patient with me and speak slowly etc, which I understand with his busy job and so on. So homestay it is!! It’s an adventure!

With difficult times come new exciting and unexpected opportunities. The value of friends in a new city cannot be stressed enough.

Now that I’m living my life more independently, let’s say, within a week I’ve seen my 6 friends in Paris who are proving to be completely solid, and reliable, and a huge comfort in a new city in which my language ability is not so great. I am so grateful to my friends here and also hugely grateful to my mum and dad, and my patient friends at home who take my calls at any time of the day or night to talk.

I did a photo shoot with Juliane Berry on Sunday, in the role of a detective solving a crime. Her son Henry was the assistant and it was such a fun morning!! I’ll attach some photos. Undercover spy – maybe this is my calling in life !

The area I’m now living in is quite fancy. Quite different to where I was living.. now I will go to the Parc Monceau and take a walk, and then visit the houses of Dior and so on, because my host runs this group. I’m meeting such interesting people !

Guadeloupe program

To learn French, I’m writing a phrase or three each day, about what we have done.

In Guadeloupe the program is, breakfast on the terrace overlooking the sea, driving to les plages de sable blanc avec des cocotiers (white sand beach with coconut trees) and then swimming, and reading our books on the beach, before lunch at the Red Whale!

It does sound like paradise, but in August there are an incredible amount of mosquitoes!

To finish each day, the program entailed returning to the house before the sun set over the sea with an aperitif… en fin d’après midi, nous rentrions à la maison pour prendre l’apéritif devant le coucher de soleil sur la mer, tous les jours!

Nous avons aussi vu un banc de plusieurs centaines de dauphines; ils jouaient tout autour du bateau sur lequel nous avions embarqué.

(We have also seen a pod of over a hundred dolphins a who played with the boat we took).

We also snorkeled and swam with turtles and colorful fish, and coral at the Reserve Costeau on Basse Terre, which was absolutely beautiful!

(Nous avons nagé et plongée avec des tortues, beaucoup des poisson colorés et des coraux dans la réserve costeau à Basse Terre).

It was also really lovely to enjoy the water without the fear of sharks, however I still kept my eye out, just in case….

Bonjour from Guadeloupe!

Bonjour!

We are on a tropical island in the French West Antilles called Marie-Galante. We flew to Pointe-a-Pitre from Paris with a direct flight of about 10 hours, and then came to this smaller island by boat.

Here are some photos of the beaches in the far north west of the island which are beautiful. White sandy beaches with palm trees, just like a postcard.

The southern part of the island is quite badly affected by seaweed. This is a different kind of seaweed to the Sargasses seaweed I’ve seen elsewhere. This is apparently due to chicken farming in the Amazon… here is a photo of what should be the most beautiful beach on the island:

We are here for one week, and then go to the mainland of Guadeloupe for another week, and then to New York. The Parisians work hard, and then everyone takes the whole of August off! So a lot of shops simply close for this period, at least in our arrondissement of Paris.

Our house here in Marie Galante is perched high up on a hill with a private swimming pool overlooking the sea, and on a clear day we can see the next large island nation of Dominique which lies between the two French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. There is a history here of colonial sugar farming, and Marie Galante is called “The Island of 100 Windmills”. We are yet to visit a distillery of the famous Rhum Bielle that comes from the sugar cane.

Here is Dominique island:

The local Creole food is very tasty, and yesterday we found a restaurant called La Bailene Rouge at Saint Louis in the north west of Marie Galante. We both ordered the same Parakeet fish dish, which was absolutely delicious and cooked right in front of us!

Today our plan is to go back to our favorite beach called Plage de la Moustique…snorkel and swim and relax under a Mangrove (the Palm tree isn’t as shady) and then return to this delicious restaurant!!

À bientôt!

Paris snow, flood and finally…spring flowers

Here are some photos of one of the snow days we had in Paris. We have had three! When I woke up and saw out of the window that everything was white and was forming a proper layer on the ground, I caught to metro to Champ de Mars and was there by the time the sun was rising. It was absolutely magical. Due to the roads being closed, and people not being able to drive to work…the metro home was not so magical!

Palais Royale above, and here with some dogs:

I could post hundreds of snow photos. For me, it was wonderland every day. I did catch an awful cold, and I’ve never experienced being so cold before (being from the land down under), but it was still a real novelty to see snow falling, and settling on beautiful Paris before my eyes!

Next extreme weather event was the flooding. This was actually before the snow, but is less photogenic: here is the same promenade, during and after the flood. You can see how high the water was – the path was completely submerged:

Here is a lamp on Île Saint-Louis, during the flood, and how it looks on a regular basis.

Finally, after about 6 months of brutal and relentless coldness, rain and snow, the trees are turning green and some trees are even turning pink!

Tomorrow I am going to a picnic at a park where there are supposed to be plenty of blossom trees. Fingers crossed they are in flower.

Other than the weather, and flowers, my life consists of learning French every day, and then practicing it on my way home from school with vendors of cheese, wine, fruit and vegetables, and bread. Next, I need to join the gym!!

Au revoir!

Good morning from London!

I love the quick service between Paris and London. Just a two hour journey from city center to city center. I can’t rate it highly enough!

I’m going back to Paris this afternoon, and arrived on Wednesday. Just a quick visit for some dinners with friends!