Ma professeur m’a demandé la semaine dernière ‘Est-ce tu veux avoir un bébé?’ après je lui ai raconté ce que j’avais fait pendant la semaine. Le weekend dernier, je suis retournée à Adelaide pour le ‘baby shower’ de ma cousine. Ma cousine a vingt sept ans et elle va avoir un bébé en août. C’est une bonne nouvelle pour ma famille parce qu’il sera le premier garçon dans notre génération.
‘Est-ce que je devrais avoir un bébé ou voyager souvent en France?’ C’est la question que je me suis demandée cette semaine. La plupart de mes amies ont eu des enfants il y a quelques années. Quand j’étais plus jeune, j’espérais avoir une famille pas trop grande, peut-être avec un ou deux enfants. J’avais envie aussi de me marier et de vivre heureuse jusqu’à la fin des temps avec mon âme sœur. Mais la vie n’avait pas prévu ça pour moi et j’ai dû quitter mes envies. J’ai dit adieu à cela il y a cinq ans. Maintenant, c’est difficile de retrouver tout ça.
On me dit que le grand amour se passe une fois dans votre vie. C’est vrai, ça. Dans ma vie, il y avait un homme qui était mon tout. Nous nous ressemblions – entêté et fidèle. Nous avions beaucoup de disputes brûlantes parce que nous étions jeunes et passionés. Avec le temps, c’était de mieux en mieux. Après six ans, nous nous connaissions comme nous-même.
Quand il a eu trente et un ans, on l’a diagnostiqué avec un cancer du ventre. C’était un cancer rare et violent. Il le combattait très fort mais le cancer a gagné après un an. Quand il est mort, mes envie de la vie sont mortes avec lui.
Maintenant, je me demande ‘Est-ce que je veux avoir un bébé?’ Je pense ‘Non’. J’ai trente cinq ans cette année et je pense que je suis trop vieille pour ça. En plus, j’aime ma liberté et je ne veux pas changer ma vie. Également, j’ai déjà un ‘enfant’. Ma chienne Chloe est mon enfant! Elle me fait toujours sourire. Elle est très intelligente et elle a la même personnalité que moi – entêtée et très fidèle. Pour mon mari et moi, notre situation nous donne l’opportunité de voyager souvent en France. Maintenant, ma vie est géniale et je ne veux rien changer.
I thought I’d follow up yesterday’s post with a slightly sobering one. With over 42 million tourists a year, the City of Lights is the most visited city in the world. It is so easy to be bedazzled and awestruck by the beauty of Paris, which make us tourists easy prey. And where there is easy prey, there are predators… Their hunting grounds (surprise, surprise) are the highly tourist-populated areas – the métro and practically every tourist site in the city.
As mentioned in earlier posts, the French are very proud of their culture and their language, so it is no surprise that all their public signs are in French. English may be a universal language, but that is not the case in France. So for a tourist, this adds another bewildering element to the mix. (This is why I really think that one should learn some basic French if you are thinking of travelling to France.) So imagine this scenario… You arrive in Paris, giddy with excitement. Everything is so amazing. You are wowed by the beauty of the architecture, the streets, the people… by everything really… You start walking along the streets, or maybe you decide to be adventurous and take the métro. You think to yourself – how hard can it be? I do it all the time at home. You continue on your way, basking in the glory that is Paris when suddenly, you look around and realise that everything is in French. Why aren’t there any signs telling you how to get to the Louvre? Uh-oh… maybe you need some help after all. You look around you and there are endless streams of people walking past. Everyone seems to know where they’re going, except you of course. Then you have a brilliant idea – of course, you packed a map in your bag. That was great foresight! You pull your map out and start scrutinizing it, absent-mindedly leaving your bag open. You my friend, have just posted a sign to your back ‘Easy Prey – Pick Me.’
Think it won’t happen to you? Hmm… I had ample warning from my tutor, read up on all the scams and how to avoid them, I learnt enough French to read the signs, I researched our métro route for all our destinations, I even pored over maps so I would have a rough idea where our destinations were, and we still got caught out once at Champs-Élysées when I was searching for the FNAC outlet. Exiting the métro station, I had no idea which direction we were facing. Feeling hungry, we decided to stop by at one of the sandwich shops for a quick bite. At the counter, the girl who served us spoke good English and she even warned hubby to be careful with his money, indicating to a group of dark-skinned youths loitering around the entrance of the shop. That should have alerted us. We paid for our sandwiches and left the store. Hubby was munching on his sandwich and I decided I needed to get my bearings so I pulled out a map from my bag. I was trying to work out where we were so I took my eyes off hubby for a minute. When I looked up, he was being harassed by a gypsy girl for money for food. He looked stunned as she was getting aggressive and was getting right in his face. I grabbed his hand and turned to her with a stern ‘Non’, and started dragging him away, thinking that would suffice. Imagine my panic when she started following us. (This was during the day, on a street full of people.) We ended up running away from her, before eventually losing her in the crowd. After that experience, I had to give hubby a crash course in how to avoid ’les mendiants’. He fared much better later on in the trip when we were approached again by a gypsy girl while we were having a picnic lunch at Square Jean XXIII behind Cathédrale Notre-Dame. The point of my post is not to scare you. To be honest, I felt safer walking the streets of Paris than I do when I’m in the centre of Melbourne. But there are things a tourist should do to avoid being targeted as easy prey. A bad experience can really ruin what could be an amazing visit to Paris. (We had no safety issues when we were travelling in the countryside, although again it would be wise to follow prudent security measures like locking your car, being careful with your belongings, etc… Really these are things that you would normally do in your home country anyway.)
Anyway, here are my safety tips for Paris:-
- Know how to spot ‘les mendiants’. These beggars (my tutor calls them gypsies) work in groups. They are generally Romanian gypsy women, some of them even young teenage girls. They are quite easy to spot as they are dark-skinned and ethnic in appearance. These beggar women beg on the side of the street, usually with some sort of sob story about needing money for food. Some of them will approach you directly for money (which is what happened in our case) although it is illegal for beggars approach people and they can get arrested. However, a minor cannot be prosecuted, which is why that didn’t stop the young girl from approaching us.
- Beware of scams. They are rampant at all popular tourist destinations. There is the gold ring scam – The scammer picks up a ‘gold ring’ off the street and gives it to you, telling you it’s your lucky day. They will then ask you for money in exchange for the ring. Sometimes they will even put it in the hand of an unsuspecting tourist and then demand that they be paid for it. Then there’s the friendship bracelet scam – The scammer will reach for your hand (without your permission even), attach a string, make a bracelet with it and then ask you for money. There are also the petition scams – The scammer is usually a young girl (specially designed to make you lower your guard). She shows you a clipboard with a petition in English. The most popular petition at the moment is to help deaf and dumb children. (We had that tried on us too.) Once you sign the petition, she will then ask you for money. If you are heading to Montmatre, my tutor tells me they line the street on rue de Steinkerque as most tourists get off at the Anvers métro stop, thinking rue de Steinkerque offers the most direct route to the top of the hill. You are better off using the Abbesses métro station with a western approach towards Montmartre.
- Beware of aggressive vendors. These street vendors line the streets at popular destinations like the Tour Eiffel, Montmartre, etc. They can sell anything from souvenirs to bottled water. With these vendors, there is no ‘just looking’. If you show any interest in their wares, they will hound you. Their tactic is to intimidate you into buying their stuff.
- Beware of pickpockets. I could write a whole page on this one. Be especially careful on the métro. As mentioned above, the métro can be a little overwhelming for the first time visitor. Keep your wits about you. Pickpockets usually work in groups and their weapon is misdirection. It could be the person next to you who ‘accidentally’ spills something on you, it could two people yelling at each other pretending to have an argument while the well-dressed middle-aged lady sitting next to you relieves you of your wallet, it could be a group of teenage schoolgirls squeezing in next to you, it could even be the well-dressed gentleman standing next to you who ‘drops’ his book. Anything that draws your attention is designed to distract you. While I think secret money belts hidden underneath your clothes are a bit extreme, I do believe that if you carry a bag on the métro, it should be one that can be easily secured and would appear to be too challenging for a would-be thief. My handbag of choice has a zippered opening, with an extra belted clasp going over the top of the bag. It sits snugly under my arm and it is physically impossible for anyone to stick their hand into my bag without me knowing. Hubby carries our camera in a messenger bag which has a clasp on the front, and a zippered compartment on the inside. He always has his hand over the bag, which again makes it physically impossible for anyone to stick their hands into the bag. We don’t carry anything in our pockets. All money and mobile phones are stored safely in the bags. If we know we are going to take the métro, we always take our Navigo pass out while we are still on the streets, before we head into the métro station. In the métro, we usually try to stand facing each other instead of side by side. In the end, the best deterrent is to not appear like an easy prey. Pickpockets roam all the popular tourist destinations. So while you are awed by everything you are seeing and experiencing, always be mindful of your belonging.
- For single travellers, Paris is not an unsafe place. But again, beware of any random flirtation from a complete stranger. See this post for a real-life account.
- Then there’s the usual travel advice – make sure the taxi runs by the meter, check your change at the cashier, secure your belongings, do not set your bag down unattended at any time, do not give money to any stranger no matter how sad their story is, never flash easily-lifted valuable items around – iPhones and iPods are particularly popular with thieves. This is all common sense really…
- Learn these French words – ‘Non’, Allez-vous en’ which means ‘Go away’ and ‘Dégage’ which means ‘Sod off’. You need to say it in a firm tone. The appropriate head shaking and hand gestures would probably help too.
- With scammers it’s best to not even allow them to finish their ‘sales-pitch’. Interrupt them with a firm ’Non’, look away with disinterest and keep walking. Make sure your steps are purposeful and do not show any hesitation. They see that as a sign of weakness.
- If you think you are being pick-pocketed, do not be afraid to yell ‘Voleur’ which means thief. Drawing attention to yourself may be your best defence.
- Do not feel sorry or bad for being abrupt, rude or unkind. A fellow British traveller we met on our travels in Bourgogne used to work in Paris and he told us that the bands of gypsy beggars are operated by the Russian mafia. That may well be true… The pain of having to cancel credit cards or being stuck without your passport or cash in a foreign country far outweighs the potential help you can offer anyone.
I hope this does not dampen your enthusiasm for this wonderful city. Paris truly is magical and beautiful. If you put a little effort into planning and know how not to stick out like tourists and easy prey, I’m sure you will fall in love with Paris like we have.
When we were in France last year, we had nothing but good experiences with the French. Our experience in Italy on the other hand, was a different matter… But I often come across people who either hated Paris or France, or think that the French are arrogant and rude. Of course there will always be exceptions and you will meet rude people wherever you go. But in general, I have found the French to be very friendly and helpful. However, if you behave like an idiot (in their eyes), do not be surprised if you get treated like one. You need to understand their culture and their ways. Here are my tips on French etiquette:-
- Do not be loud and obnoxious. This is one of the things that I found to be most off-putting and annoying in other tourists when we were in France. You do not need to speak loudly to get your point across. The French are generally very dignified and reserved, and this type of behaviour is likely to alienate you even more.
- When entering a store, always say ‘Bonjour’ and when leaving always say ‘Au revoir’, even if you are just browsing. Do that you will probably get better service. The addition, a salutation such as ‘Madame’ or ‘Monsieur’ is optional. In some high-end stores, you should wait to be served instead of making your own selection and pulling stuff off the shelves. Yes, this can apply to department stores too. When we are at Le Bon Marché last year and hubby was buying shirts, one does not simply just pull your size off the shelf and take it to the changing room. You ask for your size. In this case, hubby was given a shirt in a different colour but the same cut, in his size, to try. Yes, it goes against ‘the customer is always right’ principle that we are used to but that’s the way they do it in France. You are more than welcome to continue doing what you normally do, but don’t complain if the French are rude towards you when you do so.
- Same goes for buying produce at the grocer’s or at the markets. It is not usually self-selection which means you do not handle the produce yourself. You should tell the seller what you are looking for and he/she will make the best selection for you. There are exceptions sometimes though so I usually observe what the locals do and follow suit.
- Learn some French words. It really goes a long way and benefits you at the end of the day. I’ve found that the French really show their appreciation for any attempt at speaking their language. ‘Bonjour’, ‘merci’, ‘au revoir’, ‘s’il vous plaît’ are really easy words to learn. Even a ‘parlez-vous anglais’ and waiting for the usual ‘oui’ (lots of people in Paris speak English) before you launch into a torrent of English words will probably earn you a French friend. My parents have been to Paris twice and got away with only knowing a few French words. They even stumbled into a French restaurant for dinner one night where there was only one waiter who spoke broken English. The menu was entirely in French, everyone spoke French, but between them and the waiter, they managed to order their food and had a wonderful meal. They say that they were treated very politely and everyone was very friendly. It probably helped that my parents greet everyone in France with ‘bonjour’ and they say ‘merci’ and smile a lot. There are some great free podcasts that you can easily download from the internet to learn French. I personally have never been a fan of podcasts as I find them too boring and repetitive but for someone who wants to learn the language but can’t find time to sign up for a course, or have regular classes, this is a convenient way to learn the language, or at least the basics of it.
- At a restaurant, calling a waiter ‘garçon’ is seriously one of the worst faux pas you could make. And yet, I still read many guidebooks recommending that. I brought up this subject with my tutor and she looked completely scandalized when I asked if that was an acceptable way to attract a waiter’s attention. She told me I should never, ever use that! The best way would probably be to say ‘s’il vous plaît’. One other thing about dining in restaurants… Do not order just one dish. While it is perfectly acceptable to order just two courses for lunch instead of the usual three, one is a very lonely and unpopular number. A good meal is one of the most important things to a French person, and ordering just one course is almost an insult to the chef and to the people you are dining with. Also, while dogs are welcomed in most restaurants (yes, some dogs will even happily sit on chairs next to their owners), a doggy bag is a definite NO NO!!!
- Contrary to some guidebook again, tipping is not compulsory. Generally, you will round up your bill to the nearest euro and leave the small change behind, but tipping is not necessary. By law, your restaurant bill already includes a service tax. I asked my tutor if she ever tips and she gave me a blank stare… LOL. By all means, if you are dining at a 3 Michelin star restaurant and it was so amazing that you feel like tipping, go right ahead. Just don’t do it out of obligation.
- If you are driving, don’t drive too slowly and do not hog the left lane on the expressway if you are driving slowly. Funnily enough the French can be quite aggressive behind the wheel. Driving in France is quite similar in some ways to driving in Asian countries. One weird thing is when you park, you are allowed to gently bump the cars in front and behind you while you squish your car in between spaces. So if you are walking down the road and see this happening, don’t run off to call the police. It’s perfectly acceptable in France.
- When meeting for the first time, it is appropriate to shake hands. Between friends, you may share a ‘bisou’, that’s the fabulous French ‘air kiss’. For ‘le bisou’, you lean in towards your friend and kiss the air next to their cheek without planting any part of your lips or face on their faces. The custom of ‘bisous’ is extremely complicated as the number of kisses depends on which area of France you live in. Down south, it even gets up to 4 kisses, which can result in a lot of knocking around of heads. For Paris, it’s two ‘bisous’. I asked my tutor which sides should you lean into first for the first kiss. She believes you should lean to your right first, and then your left. Who am I to argue with a French woman who has lived in Paris? The other thing about invading personal spaces is the French do not do hugs. It’s an invasion of personal space so no matter how close you are, even if you’re family, you do not do hugs!
- And finally the sticky question of ‘tutoyer’ and ‘vouvoyer’. The French have two ways of saying ‘you’ – the formal ‘vous’ and informal ‘tu’. One should always use ‘vous’ until invited to use ‘tu’. Yes, this applies to all interaction, including the taxi driver, the sales person, the waiter, everyone… They are especially particular about this in the country. However, the younger French generation are not so strict about this rule and between friends, you could easily get away with ‘tutoyering’. I was ‘tutoyering’ my tutor after my first lesson. Again, if in doubt, observe your French counterpart and follow what they do.
I hope this post has shed some light on some crazy French customs and has helped you ‘devenir un parisien ou une parisienne… un peu, peut-être’.
By Theadora Brack
Whenever I need to get far away from the hustle and bustle of Paris, I trek it to Le Domaine de Marie-Antoinette. Nestled behind Château du Versailles is a palace called “Le Petit Trianon,” along with a dreamy little hamlet created for the Queen. It's the perfect spot for some tranquility, introspection, and splendor in the grass!
I booked our tickets for the TGV from Paris to Cannes today. I remember when I bought train tickets for travelling in France, for the first time last year. It was quite daunting and confusing. I trawled TA for information and was thankful when one of the posters came to my aid with some much needed information. Living in Australia puts us in a different region for most bookings and puts us at the mercy of random French quirks such as credit card usage, etc. Also, sometimes booking on the French website gives you better prices compared to booking on an English site. I thought I’d write this post to help some other fellow traveller who may be looking for answers and tips on how to book a train ticket.
If you read French, the best site to use for train bookings for travel within France and from France to another European city would be the SNCF website. If you do not read French then your other option is the Rail Europe website. However, prices on the Rail Europe website are so ridiculously inflated it’s not funny. I’ve read that the American website is especially good at charging their customers almost double the price as compared to the French SNCF website. If you are patient, you can check your travel dates and times with the Rail Europe website, but book via the SNCF website so you get a better price. Check out this website for more information on how to navigate the crazy Rail Europe websites and step by step info on how to book on the French SNCF website. (This is valuable information especially if you are booking from the US.) Note : I checked my ticket prices this morning on the Rail Europe Australian site before I booked with SNCF and the tickets i wanted were the same price, but when I checked prices for another trip I wanted to book, the Australian site was more expensive. It’s always a good idea to check against the SNCF site.
Although TGV and most train tickets now work via the e-ticket system, some tickets still require collection at the ticket booth or via the ticket vending machines at the train station. Bear in mind that ticket booths at train stations have operating hours. So if you are taking a 11pm train, chances are you won’t be able to find a ticket booth that is open if you are in a small town. To collect your ticket from the ticket booth, you will need to present the same credit card that you used to purchase the tickets. If you are in a small town, remember that the person at the ticket booth may not speak English. (I experienced that last year at Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. Luckily, I knew enough French to get by.) You also have the option of collecting your ticket from the self-serve ticket machines (which have an English option). Again, you will need the same credit card used to purchase the tickets, and the credit cards must have a chip and PIN. So if you have AMEX or Diners, you will need to collect your tickets from the booth. I have also read that some people have had issues with using their credit cards at the ticket machines even though the cards had chips and PINs (the French don’t like foreign credit cards… LOL.)
Tickets go on sale exactly 90 days before the travel date. You cannot book ahead of 90 days. Also, remember that Europe have different timetables for winter and summer so there is also timetable changes mid June and mid December, which can mean that the 90 days may get squeezed to 60 days or less around those dates. You can however check the time and prices for tickets in advance. I have found that they don’t change much. If you have set dates for travel, booking 90 days ahead is definitely the better way to go. Booking your tickets this way, you will have access to PREM fares. PREM fares are non-exchangeable or refundable, but they give you awesome discounts, sometimes as much as 50% off the regular price. Like today, I booked our tickets – PREMs of course - and paid an extra 4 euro each for 1st class tickets compared to the normal economy class prices.
Another option for savings is the iDTGV although it’s a bit of a hit and miss. IDTGV bookings open 120 days in advance. They are basically extra carriages attached to the TGV train. You have the option of choosing a lively carriage or a ‘zen’ carriage where mobile phones are banned and where calm and tranquility rules. The prices are quite good but most people I know have had problems getting their payments to go through. Again, foreign credit cards are not welcome and it’s a bit of a hit and miss which cards go through. I have known of a couple of people whose cards went through but for the majority of us non-French people, the common error message we get is ‘votre carte crédit n’est pas acceptée’.
I won’t elaborate on the process of booking a ticket as the above mentioned website ‘The Man is Seat Sixty-One‘ does a great job of that with step by step guide and pictures. I really encourage you to book through the SNCF website though. It is not as difficult as you may imagine. Just one tip from me – when it comes to filling out your personal details, Nom is surname/family name and Prénom is your given name. The French ask for your family name first, instead of your given name, like we normally do here in Australia.
Other random facts on train travel in France:
- TGV stands for Trains à Grande Vitesse which literally translates to ’trains at great speed’. They can run at up to 320km/h. The one that I’ve booked for us from Paris to Cannes is double-deckered and I have chosen seats for us on the upper deck. This should give us a good view of the countryside. According to the train seating plans, we should be on the right of the train, which should hopefully give us great views as we pass the coastline.
- All long-distance TGV have a bar serving drinks and food, but you can always bring your own food and drink (including alcohol) on board. In fact, the French do that all the time.
- If you do not have an e-ticket, you must validate your ticket before boarding the train. You do this by placing them into a yellow machine with ‘compostage de billets’ written on them. Failure to do so can result in a fine!
- You can bring your bicycle with you on the train. It is usually free for short distance travel but may require a small fee on some longer routes.
- The French love their dogs so of course your dog can travel with you on the train. Sometimes it may incur a small fee. In my imaginary world, I can see us boarding a train, heading to our next holiday destination in France, with our beloved Chloe in tow
- If you are booking more than one ticket, do not be alarmed if you do not get consecutive seat numbers. As long as you are booking all the tickets together, you will still be seated together… unless of course, you are booking for 20 people, at the very last minute.
Well, that’s it for my brief introduction on train travel and ticket purchasing for France. I hope it helps someone with their trip planning.
I recently discovered this beautiful chanson. No, it was not the melody that caught my attention (which in fact is rather dated), but les paroles (the lyrics). I cried the first time I heard it. It moved me that much… And Charles Aznavour has this amazing talent for storytelling through his singing. I am loving him at the moment, for this very reason, the same way I have always loved Sinatra for English songs. I have attempted a translation in English. Again, I have not translated it word for word but I have tried to convey the feeling of the song. There are some sections which I find almost impossible to truly translate to English though. If you read French, I hope you enjoy the lyrics as much as I have.
Je n´aurais jamais cru qu´on se rencontrerait
Le hasard est curieux, il provoque les choses
Et le destin pressé un instant prend la pause
Non je n´ai rien oublié
Je souris malgré moi, rien qu´à te regarder
Si les mois, les années marquent souvent les êtres
Toi, tu n´as pas changé, la coiffure peut-être
Non je n´ai rien oublié
Marié, moi? allons donc, je n´en ai nulle envie
J´aime ma liberté, et puis, de toi à moi
Je n´ai pas rencontré la femme de ma vie
Mais allons prendre un verre, et parle-moi de toi
Qu´as-tu fait de tes jours? es-tu riche et comblée?
Tu vis seule à Paris? mais alors ce mariage?
Entre nous, tes parents ont dû crever de rage
Non je n´ai rien oublié
Qui m´aurait dit qu´un jour sans l´avoir provoqué
Le destin tout à coup nous mettrait face à face
Je croyais que tout meurt avec le temps qui passe
Non je n´ai rien oublié
Je ne sais trop que dire, ni par où commencer
Les souvenirs foisonnent, envahissent ma tête
Mon passé revient du fond de sa défaite
Non je n´ai rien oublié, rien oublié
A l´age où je portais mon cœur pour toute arme
Ton père ayant pour toi bien d´autres ambitions
A brisé notre amour et fait jaillir nos larmes
Pour un mari choisi sur sa situation
J´ai voulu te revoir mais tu étais cloîtrée
Je t´ai écrit cent fois, mais toujours sans réponse
Cela m´a pris longtemps avant que je renonce
Non je n´ai rien oublié
L´heure court et déjà le café va fermer
Viens je te raccompagne à travers les rues mortes
Comme au temps des baisers qu´on volait sous ta porte
Non je n´ai rien oublié
Chaque saison était notre saison d´aimer
Et nous ne redoutions ni l´hiver ni l´automne
C´est toujours le printemps quand nos vingt ans résonnent
Non je n´ai rien oublié, rien oublié
Cela m´a fait du bien de sentir ta présence
Je me sens différent, comme un peu plus léger
On a souvent besoin d´un bain d´adolescence
C´est doux de revenir aux sources du passé
Je voudrais, si tu veux, sans vouloir te forcer
Te revoir à nouveau, enfin… si c´est possible
Si tu en as envie, si tu es disponible
Si tu n´as rien oublié
Comme moi qui n´ai rien oublié
My English translation:
I would have never believed that we met
The curious coincidence, it causes these things
And hurried destiny, pauses for an instant
No I have forgotten nothing
I smile although I look only at you
If the months, the years
Place their mark on us
You, you have not changed, your hair perhaps
No I have forgotten nothing, forgotten nothing
Married, me? Come now, I have no want for that
I like my liberty, and also, between you and me
I have not met the woman of my life
But let’s have a drink, and tell me about yourself
What have you done with your life? Are you rich and satisfied?
You live alone in Paris? What of your marriage?
Between us, your parents must have consumed by rage
No I have forgotten nothing
Who would have told me that one day, without being provoked
Destiny would suddenly place us face to face again
I believed that my feelings would have died with the passing time
No I have forgotten nothing
I don’t know much to say, or from where to begin
The memories abound, flooding my head
And my past returns with its burden of defeat
No I have forgotten nothing, forgotten nothing
At the age when all I had to give was my heart
Your father had for you other ambitions
To shatter our love and to spill our tears
For a husband chosen by his situation
I wanted to see you again but you were shut away
I wrote to you a hundred times, but always without a reply
It took me a long time before I gave up hope
No I have forgotten nothing
Time is short and the café is already closing
Come yes come let me walk you across the silent streets
Like the time when we stole kisses beneath your door
No I have forgotten nothing
Each season was our season of love
And we did not fear neither winter nor autumn
It is always spring when you are young
No, no I have forgotten nothing, forgotten nothing
It has done me good to feel your presence
I feel different within me, a little lighter
We often need to be bathed in our adolescence
The source of our past softly returns
I would like to, if you want to, without obligation, to see you anew again at last if it is possible
If that is what you want, if you are available
If you have forgotten nothing
Like I, who have forgotten nothing
Jeanne d’Arc naquit en 1412. Elle fut une héroïne française et une sainte catholique. Elle naquit à Domrémy, une ville de la province Lorraine. Son père s’appelait Jacques d’Arc et sa mère s’appelait Isabelle Romée. Son père travaillait comme fermier et notaire de ville. La ville de Jeanne d’Arc fut loyale au roi de France malgré le fait qu’elle se trouvait dans la region occupée par la Bourgogne.
Quand elle eut 12 ans, elle eut une vision de Saint Michel, Sainte Catherine et Sainte Margaret. Ils lui dirent qu’elle devait se battre contre les anglais pour son pays et son roi. À l’âge 16 ans, elle rendit visite à la cour de France. Le Dauphin Charles VII fut impressionnè par Jeanne d’Arc et elle partit pour Orléans avec l’armée française.
Elle arriva à Orléans le 29 avril 1429 et elle reussit à chasser les anglais d’Orléans. Ce fut une grande victoire pour les français. Après cela, elle mena l’armée française à Reims. L’armée française conquit Reims le 16 juillet et le Dauphin Charles VII devint roi de France.
En 1430, les bourguignons la capturèrent à Margny. Elle tenta de s’échapper quelques fois sans succès. Son roi Charles VII la trahit et il ne fit rien pour l’aider. Elle fut vendu aux anglais par le Duc de Bourgogne. À Rouen, elle fut jugée et condamnée. Elle a été tuée le 30 mai 1431. Attaché à une colonne, elle fut brûlée vive. Le 16 mai 1920, elle fut canonisé par le pape Benedict XV. Depuis ce moment, elle est l’une de saintes catholiques les plus connues au monde.
We have house guests at the moment and this sounds like a good recipe for dessert tonight. A crêpe is a type of thin pancake which originated from Brittany. It can be served with either a sweet or savoury filling. I personally prefer the sweet filling.
I don’t think we tried enough crêpes when we were in France last year. From memory, we only had it twice. The first french crêpe we had was at a market in Tours on blvd Béranger. The name of the crêperie was Chez Jean Mi. We had a crêpe citron sucre and a crêpe nutella. The guy at the crêperie was charming and a real charaacter. He had a chef’s hat on and he was belting out French tunes as he was making the crêpes. The crêperie stand was all decked out in French flags. I loved it! I wish we had taken a photo.
The second crêpe I had was at Maison Lameloise in Bourgogne. I had their crêpe suzette for dessert. It was flambéed at our table and was rather impressive, and the caramelized Grand Marnier sauce was yummy.
This year, this is a list of crêperies I’ve come up with from my research for Paris:-
- Breizh Café – 109 rue Vieille du Temple
- Chez Alain – 39 rue de Bretagne (inside Marché des Enfants Rouges)
- Chez imogene – 25 rue Jean Pierre Timbaud
- Crêperie Josselin – 67 rue du Montparnasse
- Oroyona – 36 rue Mouffetard
I’m sure we won’t get round to all of them. And really you could find a crêperie stand easily anywhere in Paris, but these are ones that have been recommended to me or have had good reviews. I’ll be sure to post our own reviews after we get back. I’ve started counting down the days now. Our trip is exactly 3 months and a week away and I’m starting to get excited
It’s the first week of winter and boy am I feeling the cold. I took Chloe out for a walk this morning and although the sun was shining, the winter chill is most definitely here. A blogger I’ve been following posted this post on her blog Bel ‘Occhio yesterday. I loved the sound of her peanut butter choc chip cookies and decided to make that my afternoon project. Et voilà! Success…
You can find Virginia’s recipe for this yummy peanut butter choc chip cookie here. Now that the baking is done, I’m sitting back with my freshly baked cookies, enjoying a cup of tea on a cold, crisp winter’s afternoon.
For my choice of tea, it has to be Mariage Frerès. I fell in love with Mariage Frerès during our trip to Paris last year. We were staying in Le Marais, and wandered into their tea room at rue du Bourg-Tibourg. The shop was amazing! There was an entire wall covered with tins of different teas. You would go up to the counter and make your selection, which will then be scooped out of the tins and weighed out for you by men in white lab coats. Yes, that is how seriously they take their tea! The selection on offer was mind-boggling. Their website states that their selection of tea is made from over 600 tea merchants, with constant new additions. We asked if we could take a photo of the place and were told that photography was not allowed. (Note to travellers to Paris : The French take their window-display and display of their goods very seriously. It’s almost like what we would consider copyright so it’s always polite to ask if you can take a photo before clicking away on your camera) We did however select 3 tins to take home with us.
The history of Mariage Frerès goes back to 1660, when Nicholas Mariage and his brother were sent by King Louis XIV and the French East India Company to procure trade agreements for trade in tea, spices and other colonial goods. The family business continued on and in 1854, Henri and Edouard Mariage founded the Mariage Frerès tea company. For 130 years, the company maintained a whole-sale only business, trading with top-ranked hotels and tea shops in France. In 1983, the company finally ventured into the retail business. Today, the Mariage Frerès brand of tea is sold in over 60 countries, served in world-class hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental in Singapore, Le Meurice in Paris and Claridge’s in London.
Those of you who live in Melbourne will probably be familiar with tearooms like The Oriental Teahouse and T2. I’ve tried the teas from them. In fact, prior to this, I was a big fan of the fruit teas from Oriental Teahouse. Believe me when I say that Mariage Frerès blows the competition out of the water. I have seen Mariage Frerès teas at Simon Johnson but sadly the selection is very limited and the price is almost double compared to Paris. But if you are heading to France or Japan (they are HUGE in Japan judging by the number of shops they have there), do stop by and check out this wonderful teahouse. For more details visit the Mariage Frerès website.