Le Spectacle “BATUCADA”!

Jack and Sophie had a school musical “spectacular” in the Batucada genre.  I didn’t know what this was until I did a little research.  Batucada is a mix of African and Brazilian samba usually played percussion style.  All the children in the Sanilhac school had been practicing their songs and music for months.  Jack would always note when it was lundi, monday, because that is when they had music class.  Sophie would come home singing a little tune that none of us understood, except for her and Jack!  The children were so excited for their performance and were saddened when it got cancelled last friday night.  Le spectacle was taking place at the centre ville because in this style of music it is performed while walking. So, the program was for the children to begin at la mairie and work their way through the little village and stop at 2 other places, la place du château and la place du Four, while playing their instruments and singing.

It was raining all day friday.  In fact, we had flood warnings again in our area so the children obviously could not perform in those conditions.  Jack and Sophie were so sad the fête, party, had been cancelled.  They wanted to get their “costumes” on and show off what they had learned! :(

On monday when they returned to school it was announced that the spectacle would be mardi soir à 18h, tuesday night at 6pm.  Hooray!!!  Tuesday we woke up to beautiful sunny skies.  You could feel the excitement in the air when I took the kids to school. Around 4pm dark clouds rolled in and it started raining!!!  Jack and Sophie would look out the window every 5 minutes to see if the rain stopped.  It would rain, then stop, then rain, then stop, then sprinkle, then stop…  Around 5:45pm the rain stopped and we knew we had to get the kids to la mairie.  Sure enough, the whole town was there and all the school children were ready to perform, rain or shine!

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When we arrived Jack was trying to locate his instrument that he had made but he could not find it amongst all the others.  He was able to grab a tambourine.  Each class was dressed in a different colored shirt.  Sophie wore white, Jack had green, our neighbor Thomas has blue, our friends Adrian, Rudy, Marie, and Marius had on red shirts.  It looked really festive when they were all marching down the streets together.  Jack and Sophie got to wear colors around their waist, neck, wrists and Sophie had a purple flower in her hair.

I loved watching Jack and Sophie sing, dance and interact with everyone!  I had to pinch myself as I was watching them perform, in the rain at times, surrounded by old stone houses and narrow stone streets.  AJ, Austin and Tristan all knew people and/or friends from the village.  We feel a part of this community and there definitely were tears as I thought about leaving this beautiful place in just 6 weeks.

IMG_3132 Sophie’s teacher, Mâitresse Sylvian

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IMG_3134 Principal Gault

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Dinner on the Seine

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

La Chorale

One week ago I went with my friend and neighbor, Morgan, to tag along with her to her choir practice.  She belongs to a choir association that invites anyone to come and sing. There is a yearly fee and the choir performs at various events.

Aaron had originally volunteered me to go with Morgan, so when Wednesday came around I was complaining a little that I “had” to go.  But, at the same time I was looking forward to the experience.  I had talked to Morgan about it a few days before and she said it was very relaxed and I did not need to be nervous.  (The unexpected can be nerve racking!)

We drove through the countryside and arrived at this tiny village, Le Pin, for choir practice. It was held in a room similar to a town hall.  I was surprised at how many people were there.  I was expecting a small choir.  It was fun!  I was welcomed with bisous from anyone I met and I immediately was singing right along side Morgan.

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We began the practice with 15-20 minutes of warm ups.  None of it was voice warm ups. We were doing stretches, breathing techniques, choreography steps, etc.  I felt like I had just turned on an exercise DVD and we were “warming” up for the cardio workout.  I’ve never had that experience before a choir practice.  The rehearsal lasted 2.5 hours.  They have a repertoire of 2 hours worth of concert songs.  A few familiar songs included, “You Raise Me Up”, “Go Tell it on a Mountain”, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Hallelujah”. The others that were practiced were in French and a few were origin to South Africa.  The last 30 minutes of rehearsal was spent practicing the choreography for each of the songs. The conductor was frustrated because at the last concert a few women were not in sync with the “moves”.  I sat out for most of this because they needed to be in performance positions.  In the end I was very grateful Aaron volunteered me to go with Morgan.  It was fun being with her and experiencing something new!

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Bruno

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Bruno is one of our good single friends that we have had the privilege of getting to know while living here in France.  We met him at the church we attend in Nîmes.  He lives in Alès, which is 40 km (25 miles) from Nîmes.  He is a very thoughtful and kind man.  We have had him to the house a number of times and he has come to help us with yard work, rides to and from church, and he has given our children gifts spontaneously.  Bruno would always call and check up on me and the kids when Aaron was traveling.  It has been a blessing to have Bruno in our lives.  We will miss him!

Chemin de Candordy

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Chemin de Candordy is the name of the road that our little “Impasse”, or dead-end street, stems from.  These are the cute ceramic road signs in our village.  The hand painted drawings are different throughout the village.  They add a little extra character to the normal (French) street signs.

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This is Dennis and Ann Marie’s gate and entrance to their house.  They are one of five neighbors on our “Impasse”, or street.  We see this white gate every time we come or go from our house.  Most home owners have gates.  Property is very private and if you visit someone you have to ring at their gate.  One does not even get to the front door.  Most gates are automatic, like a garage door in America.  Ours is not.  If you notice in the above photo, there is a small light on the right hand side of the gate.  When their gate opens/closes this light will go on to warn anyone of the operating gate and/or someone pulling out of the driveway.  I have noticed this light at many residences.

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This is the intersection of our “Impasse” de Candordy with Chemin de Candordy.  The property with all the shrubs and trees is Patrick and Denise’s house.  They have been great neighbors, especially during the floods.  Their grandson, Adrian, goes to school with Jack and Sophie and he is often found at our house.  In fact, Jack and Adrian argue like brothers.  Adrian is 9 years old.  They usually like to play soccer.

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This is a view looking down our Impasse/street.  Around the bend to the right is our house, 6 Impasse de Candordy.  We have loved our little street.  Last weekend our street had a “neighborhood” party.  It was at Ivan and Caroline’s house.  They live at the end of our street.  They have a son who is in his 20’s.  Ivan had Mojitos ready for all of us to drink and we had to kindly decline!  Ivan and Caroline are known for their crazy and fun parties.  Ivan brought out his guitars and my boys tried to play with him.  We were all singing and enjoying each other’s company.  It was so fun!  When my kids started feeling a little tired, around 10:30, they were saying goodbye to everyone and we noticed the french were a little surprised by this.  Aaron and I asked if it was polite that they leave and okay for them to leave (after all, we just lived one house down) and they all responded that it was fine, just unusual.  Usually the kids all stay up late with the adults.  Aaron and I did not leave until after midnight.

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Paris with Alexis

Last week I enjoyed taking Alexis and her roommate, Rebecca, to Paris.  Rebecca was leaving for America and, of course, Paris was a must see.  We visited all the popular sites.

The Eiffel Tower

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The Louvre (the below pictures are of Napoleon III Apartments)

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Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie (I didn’t get many photos.)

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Ladurée

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No photos:  Versailles, Notre Dame, Champs-Élysées, Place de Concorde, Tuileries Gardens, Metro, RER, delicious restaurants, crêpes, Arc de triomphe…

Great Roman Games

Saturday, May 2nd we had the chance to go see a reenactment of the ancient Roman Games in the Arènes de Nîmes.  The Nîmes arena is a Roman amphitheatre dating to 70 AD.  We have visited the arena on a few occasions but this time was awesome (despite the mile long line and heat)!  Jenn and John were still in town so we all got to have a new experience together.  The spectacle is performed by 500 participants from around Europe. When we arrived at our seats, each person received a colored program with a red handkerchief.  This “red” was our team and whoever was in the arena competing, the respective color would be waved in the crowd.  The team colors were red, green and white.  This Roman Games was based on the famous military commander, Hannibal. Hannibal was considered one of the greatest generals of antiquity.  He played an important part in the history of the Mediterranean area.

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The Games lasted 2.5 hours.  It was a long time to be in the sun, but we did eventually get cloud coverage and it cooled off a little.  This was a performance I am so happy we were able to participate in.  I don’t know if we will ever get a chance to see a reenactment quite like this in a 2000 year old structure!  We were all interested as chariots came roaring out in the arena and started “fighting” each other, or seeing the “fights” against the barbarians of different lands.  It was very entertaining and we had a fascinating afternoon imagining life in times past!

Versailles

One of our favorite places to visit in Paris is Versailles.  Aaron and I love going and spending an afternoon in the gardens.  We took Jenn and John to Versailles and we spent quite a few hours there.  The grounds are massive, around 1,976 acres of land!  We all had a fun time visiting the Château, Marie Antionette’s hamlet, the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon and the extensive gardens!

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Marius

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This is our friend Marius!  He is the kindest 10 year old boy I have ever met.  Aaron first met Marius at Jack and Sophie’s school.  Marius is responsible for opening the locked gate for those students who ride their bike and need to store his/her bike.  Sophie rode her bike to school one day and Marius helped her get her bike “locked” up.  Since that first meeting many months ago, Marius has met up with our kids at the stade, field, to play a sport, he has come over to our house to hang out with the kids, we see him riding bikes through Sanilhac, we see him at the village events, etc.  Marius always has a huge smile on his face.  He lives right next to the school and he has an older brother, Justin, and a younger brother between Jack and Sophie’s age.  Marius is very polite and very kind.  He always tries to help others if they are hurt or need something.  He adores Sophie and is always looking out for her.  We love Marius and wish we could bring him back to America with us!  We will miss seeing his adorable smile and miss his genuine kindness!

Running of the Bulls

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Back in the Fall our neighbors, Morgan and Guillaume, told us about the running of the bulls in our little village of Sanilhac.  They told us it would be in May and it was really fun and something we did not want to miss.  They took us to the bull ranch one afternoon so we could see all the bulls.  They have about 20-30 head.  We were anxious to see this event but we had not seen any advertisement as we approached the month of May.  The children all had friday, May 1st off from school.  I had noticed that stores were advertising they would be closed on May 1st and we were not quite sure what the holiday was.  Until, Aaron and I returned from Paris with my girlfriend, Jenn and her husband John, the night before May 1st.  When we were driving back home from the train station I noticed gates were being set up in certain places in Sanilhac.  A light bulb went on and I knew “this” holiday was somehow associated with the bull run.  Sure enough, Aaron inquired at the Boulangerie about 30 minutes before the events were to start.  The running of the bulls began at 11am and then activities were happening throughout the weekend.  May 1st is Labor Day in France.  Everything was closed!  (We had to buy some eggs from the baker because all the grocery stores were closed.)

We all quickly got ourselves ready and we went down to the centre ville.  There was a lot of excitement.  People were lining along the barriers and some were, also, just walking in the middle of the roads.  I was a little perplexed by this.  I had envisioned bulls being herded through the streets of our cute little village and was a little concerned for those just casually walking around in the streets.  Jenn and I had to run through a field of waist high weeds so we could reach the boys as they were watching from the side of the road.  Right as we got to the road the parade started.  I say parade loosely because it was nothing like a US parade.  It was just a line of trucks and cars.  3 trucks started this parade and then we see horses all packed together tightly.  A few horses were getting a little “wild” and their riders had to reign them in to get control.  Within seconds, this pack of horses went right by.  We would have totally missed seeing the bulls if we had not been on this little overlook of the road.  There were 3 bulls sandwiched in between the horses.  This was the running of the bulls.  What?  Did we miss something?  This was fun?  We all broke out in hysterics because of the stupidity of this event!  I didn’t even have time to take a picture of the 3 bulls that were hidden.  We laughed so hard!!!!

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If you look at the above photo you can see the hilarity of the moment.  There is the parade of horses with 3 bulls in the middle, an old french man on his bicycle, young men running with the parade in their typical french sweatsuits, two kids on a four wheeler right behind the horses…  Not shown are the rest of the residents of Sanilhac driving their cars/trucks in this parade.  We all looked at each other and asked, “was that it?”  Maybe this is one of those moments where you had to be there to appreciate the humor!

After this running of the bulls, all the spectators started making their way to the center square for drinks, fair-type games for the kids, food and music.  As we were walking we came across a few of the injured horses that had obviously been hurt by the bulls horns.2015-04-30 21.32.46

The kids enjoyed the few games they had set up.  John gave the boys a little money so they could shoot for a prize.  It was funny!  We all had some great laughs that day!!!

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