01 December 2009

To Christmastown and back

I've been more or less absent from the internet world for over a week. It's difficult! I depend on the internet way too much. Our cable box exploded (not literally, don't worry) about ten days ago which leaves the apartment phoneless, internetless, and cable tv-less. Our new box should arrive in the mail any day now...


Here is a photo from Assistant/French Thanksgiving. It wasn't quite like at home, but it was really fun and great to taste some comfort food for a change! I made a green bean casserole that I thought was going to turn out gross but was gone in about 2 minutes flat.

Field trip to the Louvre

On Friday (Nov 27) I accompanied a class of CP and CM1 kids to the Louvre (this would be the equivalent of first and second graders in the US). For insurance reasons I had to go to the school in the morning at 8:45 even though (a) we weren't boarding the bus until 10:00, and (b) I live in Paris already. The trip to paris via bus should have taken an hour and a half, but because of the bouchons on the highway (bouchon = cork, but the French use it for a trafic jam), the trip took three hours. We arrived back in Paris at 1:00pm.

Touring the Louvre with nineteen 7 year-olds was... fatiguant. Our tour lasted an hour, and I spoke about 6 words of English: black, blue, white, star, bird, painting. The rest of the time I was busy yelling « rangez-vous » to the kids so that they would stay in order. They listened to me about ¼ of the time.

Despite my complaints, I must say that it was a very educational experience for me to see what a field trip is like from the other side (and in a foreign language)!

Rewind a few days...

The weekend before Thanksgiving I was feeling a wee bit restless. Because I've been pinching pennies (or Euro 1 cent coins) for a while now (surviving on help from gracious family members, which is what I was thankful for on Thanksgiving), I haven’t really had a chance to leave Paris in some time. Julie, Alexis, and Alana mentioned an interest in traveling to Strasbourg (east of France on the border with Germany in the Alsace region) to visit the famous Christmas markets. I jumped on the bandwagon because it was exactly the kind of « girl trip » I knew I needed.

(Oh, and le gouvernement français finally paid me, so I'm feeling more or less on top of the world right now.)

See Strasbourg on map below

Strasbourg: Capitale de Noel

Sooo, on Saturday afternoon I took the train all by my lonesome to Christmas town. Every day I become more and more impressed with the tasks I find myself accomplishing here in France. I can already see a massive improvement in my willingness to approach strangers while speaking French-- something that I'm not sure I have ever really felt comfortable with in English. The biggest lesson I've learned is that if you put yourself out there, things will happen more easily.

I met up with the girls in town on Saturday evening. We walked around the marchés, took pictures of the HUGE Christmas tree, and listened to some Frenchies attempting to sing English Christmas carols. I think Strasbourg is the most charming city I have ever seen! I felt like I was in Disney World the entire time.

For my first dinner I had Tartine Flambée. It consisted of:

dough (or ½ of a baguette)

melted shredded cheese

crème fraîche (the most useful cooking ingredient in the world and it does not exist in the US.. it's like sour cream but thicker)

lardons (like little pieces of bacon that also don't exist in the US but are in almost everything here)



I fell in love with this food immediately. I even bought myself a dish towel that has the recipe for tartine flambée as a souvenir.

Another regional delicacy found in Strasbourg (and I mean EVERYWHERE in Strasbourg), is vin chaud (hot wine). It's basically like hot sangria.

On Sunday we went on the boat tour down the river, had brunch with Julie's old French roommate from Georgetown, and visited more markets in the Petit France quarter. The other girls left on Sunday night, but I decided to stay until Monday because it was actually cheaper that way. I had a wonderful time wandering around the city by myself!

I've been in Europe for 78 days already!

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