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!
Last weekend Elias, Aurore, Aaron and I went into Uzès for dinner. Elias drove his car and he found a parking spot along the Boulevard Gambetta and we were set to go eat. After a few hours of a fun and yummy dinner we came upon Elias’s car and two other cars parked in front and back of his car. Each one was COVERED in pigeon poop! The people sitting at the adjacent cafe were all laughing as we were looking at the three cars, specifically Elias’. We could not believe the amount of poop. There were even pigeon feathers stuck to the car. We were laughing so hard. As we were pulling out of the parking spot, a family passing by was pointing at our car with disbelief and disgusted looks upon their faces, followed by laughter! It looked like a war zone of pigeon poop, feathers, and tree branches!
These photos do not do the scenario justice! We quickly found a car wash at 11:30 pm so the poop would not start “eating away” at the paint on the car. When we arrived there was another man in the next car wash stall washing his car because of the same problem! We all about died of laughter!
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!
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!
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
Friday, June 19th our family was invited to Maria del Carmen and Paul Mallet’s home. It was fun because the Jerome family, Ribera family and Darguence family were all there too. There was delicious food and fun friendships! The Mallet’s have a nice open yard so the kids could run around and play! Paul has built their lovely home from ground up! Maria has a beautiful armoire in one of her bedrooms. It is roughly 8 feet tall and is absolutely stunning! I was in awe of its’ beauty! I would not be able to find something like it in America for under $10,000. Armoires are so well made here in France and they are used by almost every household.
Below are some photos taken by Maria on her phone. My phone was not working very well so I could only snap a few. We are going to miss our friends!
This is what a plate of snails look like being served at a restaurant. When Aaron and I were in Paris Aaron decided to order escargots for John! John had one and decided to leave the rest for table decoration! I still have not tried escargots because I just can’t get over the fact that I pick them up on the roads that I run and move them so a car or other pedestrian will not kill them. Plus, the thought of eating something that tastes like dirt doused in garlic and oil does not interest me!
Mother’s Day in France was Sunday, May 31st. Jack and Sophie spent some “secret” time at school and at church creating beautiful gifts for me. It was a beautiful and simple day spent in France. We attended church where the primary, which consists of Joseph, Emma, Jack and Sophie, sang a Mother’s Day song. It was interesting because they did not sing during the sacrament service. They were allowed to sing after the closing prayer. Everyone stayed in their seats while the children walked up and sang and then the four children passed out flowers to all the mother’s in the congregation. All 4 children were so cute, especially Jack and Sophie! After church we headed to the Sea for a day of “rest”. It was very enjoyable!
Sunday, June 21st, was Father’s Day here in France. In years past, Father’s Day has fallen on a different day in France, so we were happy America and France were on the same page this year! Again, Jack and Sophie created handcrafted items for Aaron. They were so excited to give him their gifts. We attended church and the 4 primary children sang a Father’s Day song after the closing prayer. Jack and Sophie did a great job! It was so fun hearing them singing in french!
Alexis made Aaron breakfast in bed: sweet potato pancakes, which he enjoyed!
John, Jenn, Aaron and I took a dinner cruise on the Seine when we were in Paris. It was another thing Aaron and I had not done before, so we were looking forward to the experience. My first trip to Paris as a teenager my family and I took a river ride on the Seine, but it was not a dinner cruise.
We had a great time! The waitress was so surprised when we told her we would not be having champagne or any alcohol. She asked us quite a few times if we were sure we did not want something more than water and/or soda. By the end of the evening she told us she was very impressed that we did not drink alcohol. It is a very hard concept for the french to understand and respect.
We arrived at the boat around 8pm and we left the dock at 8:30. It was a two hour cruise up and down the Seine. We had a menu with 3-4 choices for each course. We ordered our food at the start of the cruise and the courses, 4-5 total, kept coming until the ride was over. We started with an apéritif, cheese/cauliflower puffs, with our drinks, then we had soup or a salad, our main dish, a cheese tray and then dessert. I tried the duck and Aaron had a plate of veggies. Their mashed sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes were so yummy! We all really liked our food!
It was fun seeing some of the sites from the boat. For example, the Eiffel Tower was beautiful as we rode by. When the sun goes down the Eiffel Tower has a light show on the hour and we happened to be passing by right at 10 pm. It was so neat! Also, Aaron was able to capture the Statue of Liberty, with the Eiffel Tower in the back ground!
We loved being with friends and we had a night of laughter, good food, fantastic ambiance in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!