A few days before leaving France, Aaron, Sophie and I went to Uzès for the last time. I wanted to pick up some fabric and a few other odds and ends before heading back to the States. We casually walked around and I tried to soak it all in, knowing it would be awhile before visiting Uzès again. I found the things I wanted and then we found Antoines’ partners boulangerie. It was right in the heart of the centre ville and, of course, we had to try some pastries. Bien sûr! The presentation was so pretty and it wasn’t bad on the taste buds. It was another lovely afternoon in Uzès!
Aaron and I love Uzès and we love to spend the evening dining out in this beautiful village. A few weeks ago we strolled along the quaint streets before finding a delicious Thai restaurant. We are trying to fit in as many leisurely strolls as we can with the time we have left. Oh, how I will miss Uzès!
This past year we have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know the Serrano-Milone family. There is Elias, Aurore, Maëlle, Gabrielle (Dada) and Joshua. They are a kind, wonderful family who live in Toulouse, about 3 hours north of us. We love them and we are hoping they will get to America in the next few years. We have had many weekends and short trips together. This past 8 days they came to stay with us in Sanilhac, except for Elias who came for the weekend and then met us at the beach on Wednesday. We all had so much fun together! Many hours were spent poolside, at the river, jumping cliffs, watching movies, playing card games, catching frogs and crabs, laughing and laughing for hours! Many tears were shed as we had to say goodbye! We feel so blessed and grateful to have met the Serrano-Milone’s! The kids all had control of the camera for 8 days and we have hundreds of photos so I have had to go through all the pictures and try to choose a few for my journaling.
Saturday, July 18th, we had a ward party at our house. We were so happy to have our kind friends from our congregation in our home. We had a kitchen full of food, laughter and friendship! It was a hot humid day so the pool was enjoyed by many! We have made some incredible new friends this year! We feel very grateful to have served amongst so many wonderful people from all backgrounds!
Below is a picture of me and a few of the ladies in our Nîmes ward attending a Stake Women’s Activity in Montpellier. Left to right: Aline, Nicole, Isabelle, Darcie, Nicole et Claudette.
Today we got up early and went to Marseille. We had plans to go to Château d’If. Château d’If is a fortress (later used as a prison) that was built in the late 1520’s to early 1530’s on the island of If. It is the smallest island of the Frioul archipalego about a mile off the coast of Marseille in the Mediterranean Sea. Alexandre Dumas made the Château famous in his popular novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. This is the reason for our wanting to see the Château d’If.
We were all in the car by 8:45am and made it to Marseille in less than 2 hours, quickly found a parking spot and headed to the Vieux Porte. We walked up to the ticket counter and posted on a white piece of paper that looked like it had just been torn out of a notebook, was a handwritten note, “No chateau d’if today”! Aaron lost his cool a little bit with the lady. Customer service does not exist in France. This woman could have kindly said, “We are so sorry for the inconvenience!” But instead, she just said, “No, it’s closed.” She didn’t give us an explanation, except that the wind was too strong.
French websites are terrible! No explanation needed. If you have experienced it, you know what I am talking about. I had checked the Château d’If website and there was nothing about weather conditions or a possible cancellation because of wind, etc. I looked at it in French and then I did the English version so I wouldn’t miss any important information. Clearly, there was nothing posted about closures. We were disappointed and irritated to say the least!
Well, what to do on a hot day in Marseille! We took the ferry boat to a different island, Frioul, and passed right by Château d’If. We walked around Frioul, had lunch and enjoyed the beautiful views. We did not pack any bathing suits or towels so none of us swam. It was a bummer because there were beautiful coves where people were swimming. Over all we made it into a fun day, but we were disappointed that we didn’t get to visit the famous Château d’If!
Marseille has a beautiful Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde Marseille. It is a church that sits atop a hill that overlooks all sides of Marseille. Aaron took me there on our honeymoon many years ago! It is beautiful!
This is the Old La Major Cathedral. I have never been inside, but it is an amazing site. It is a Roman Catholic Cathedral that seats the Archdiocese of Marseille.
AJ was the most disappointed in not being able to get to Château d’If. We still got pretty close, just at a distance!
After we arrived on Frioul we walked around a bit and then found a little restaurant for lunch. Alexis ordered a plate of petits poissons, little fish, thinking it would be a little sampling of a few pieces of fish. After she ordered it and asked the waiter a few questions about it I realized it was not what she was going to be expecting. She then ordered a salad but we kept the order of fish. The fish plate arrived and as we expected it was a huge mound of little deep fried whole fish. Alexis still ate a few, but AJ and Austin enjoyed most of them. Jack and Tristan both tried one but they could only eat the tail side, not the eyes!
While walking around Frioul we came upon a sculpture. It was a metal rhinoceros with a clear plastic box in its’ open stomach area. Inside the plastic box were books. It was a little library for those who would dock their boats and needed something to read. It was the coolest, yet oddest of ideas. I guess the oddity comes from the location.
We had a fun day in Marseille, even though it wasn’t what we had hoped to see and do!
This is Adrien, one of the school children in Sanilhac. He is also the grandson of our neighbors Patrick and Denise. Adrien and Jack enjoy playing together, especially soccer in our yard. The two of these boys have sometimes acted like siblings, arguing over who won/lost. Adrien’s mother, Carole is a working single mom. Her parents, Patrick and Denise, are the ones who would get Adrien to and from school and Carole usually would not be able to pick up Adrien until 7pm. This is very common in France to have the mamie, grandmother, and/or papi, grandfather, take care of their grandchildren. I will miss seeing Carole, she is a very sweet lady who has always made me feel very welcome and comfortable! Plus, she has a contagious smile!
School ended for AJ, Austin and Tristan the week of June 22nd. The last day of school was not until July 3rd, but at their ages the kids do not stay that last week and a half. Schools stay open because most parents work and it is a form of governmental babysitting. Most working families do not have their vacation until the beginning of July. Most French vacations last anywhere from three weeks to six weeks. So, schools stay open until July 3rd so working parents do not need to find another form of “day care” for their children.
The three boys were happy to be finished with school. They had a day that was dedicated to turning in their books and a conseil de classe (class meeting) when all students get to see their final grades. Overall AJ, Austin and Tristan did a great job this school year! Many teachers commented on how well they integrated and communicated. They will miss their friends they have made here, the delicious school lunches, a few of the teachers, riding the public bus, playing the tennis ball game during class changes, two week vacations every 6-8 weeks… but they will not miss the long days of school!
The last day of school for Jack and Sophie was July 3rd. They had field trips, water game days and just a last few weeks of school filled with so many fun activities. It has been sad for these two cuties to say goodbye to the Sanilhac Sagries school. Jack was very disappointed when he was advanced to the next grade (CP) with his friends and he knew he would not be with them next school year. It is a dilemma for Jack. He enjoys his life here but also wants to return to America. Sophie had mixed emotions too. She was a little melancholy the last few days of school. She is so young to be able to understand what she is feeling, but she is taking all the changes with happiness mixed with a few tears!
Aaron and I are so grateful that our children have had this schooling. Most of them are bilingual as the end of our time in France is approaching. Now onto the next challenge… retaining the language!
This is Sophie’s “report card”. It has pages of all the things she accomplished and the page where her teacher advanced her to the next grade, moyenne section.
Sophie et Maîtresse Sylvaine
Sophie et Elza
Jack, le directeur Gault (principle), et Sophie
There are beautiful sunflower fields dotting the countryside right now! When the sun hits them “just right” they are incredible. We pass these fields on every route out of Sanilhac. One of these fields is in Sagries, which is part of our commune. Sagries is on the other side of the hill from Sanilhac, with about 3 km in between. This evening I decided to go get a few pictures as the sun was beginning to set…
On May 16th some of us took an evening walk. I remember Austin bringing the camera because he wanted to capture some of the countryside around our little village. I just discovered some of his photographs on my desktop and wanted to record them.
I am grateful that some of my children have been able to appreciate the beauty of this country and realize it is not like anything they have ever seen before. Every place has its’ natural beauty and I am grateful Austin has stopped to enjoy the view!