Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thirty-two...


...days and counting to the Tour de France. To see the route, go here.

This will be the 98th Tour... I hope to take the kids this year, as we've only been once. About five years ago it passed by a little bitty nearby village who's population probably doubled for the moments the cyclists and all the entourage whizzed on through...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day


 

This is inside the Saint Croix Cathedral in Orléans.

I wish you all, especially those who've lost loved ones fighting for our country, a very Happy Memorial Day. And I'm not sure "thank you" is a phrase big enough for those of you who have fought for freedom or are currently working to ensure it. 

Regardless, thank you.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Joyeuses Fêtes des Mères


To wish you a Happy French Mother's Day, here's a scene from the chapel at Yèvre le Châtel, named one of France's Most Beautiful Villages...

I may be American, but I live in France, so it's okay to celebrate on two dates, no? Father's Day here falls on June 19th, though, so no double dipping for my husband. He's French, anyway.


tags: Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Webkinz are here!


Actually, they've been here for about four years now, but for some reason, this says on the bottom in red that this is an introductory offer, for 8.99€... That's a bargain considering when they launched these several years ago, we could find them in Gifi (a chain store with toys and hosuewares) for 18.50€ for the full-sized ones and 12.99€ for the Lil' Kinz.

If you've never heard of Webkinz, these are stuffed animals that have an online life. You feed them, clothe them, buy them rooms in your house, save up for expensive pools or trampolines, etc.... You play online games to earn the money. It's really quite well done.

I love this product, but at those prices, we found it well worth it to import them from the US. They were about half the price when not on sale... They never seem to have taken off here, and it's a shame, because the kids we gave them to here really loved them if they got them registered online.... They were a good tool for picking up some English at first, but now kids can play in 14 languages, including French...

Confession time: I had one of my own for awhile. I loved some of the word games! Think Boggle and Scrabble with twists, and online with a timer...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Les Voitures Anciennes


Antique cars...

I'd love to know the stories this old car knows... Not sure what make, model or year it is, but on the side it says, "Grand Hotel."

We saw this on a lazy Sunday afternoon as we were walking around town... A big group of antique cars were parked in the mayor's parking lot and everyone was milling around, peeking their heads inside. We were among the curious...


Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Somewhat Familiar Restaurant


Okay, so it's Domino's, but where's the classic pepperoni pizza?

You can create one with their Extravaganzza if you say, "Hold the red and green peppers, onions, mushrooms, ham, black olives and spicy meatballs." In French, of course.

No regular old pepperoni... and we're only one country away from Italy...

Personally, in the time we've been here in France, I've been forced to change in many ways, and I've decided that crème fraîche and smoked salmon or rotisserie chicken are entirely appropriate items to include on a pizza. One by one, my tastes are changing.

Call it the domino effect...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cool Fountain


This is from La Source, as in source of water... They bottle water in this town... So, I guess it's only natural that one of their main stretches should have an original fountain...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Countdown...


Thirty-nine days and counting to the Tour de France...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pass the Wine!


I love quaint small-town shops, especially ones that sell French wine...

From Barbizon, outside Fontainebleau...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Je Te Vois


"I see you."

Painted on a café restroom door in Barbizon...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fontainebleau Station


Once we move, this is where I'll be picking up and dropping off guests and perhaps traveling to and fro myself... It's the Fontainebleau/Avon station, or gare. If you are studying French, beware of the pronunciation here...

The first year we moved to France, we visited a relative who was living in Grenoble near the train station. One day when I got lost while driving, I kept rolling down my window and asking passersby, "Où est  la gare?" except that I was pronouncing gare like care. To a French person, this sounds like guerre, so I was basically asking strangers, "Where is the war?"

So, pronounce gare like bar. Remember it like this: meet at the bar in the gare.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Patient Pup


We found this guy (gal?) dutifully waiting for his master today at the local grocery store. It's typical for the shops in Europe to have hooks for leashes so that owners can bring along their canine friends....

I tried this with my dog Bailey when we lived in Switzerland, but given she was already six when I introduced the idea to her of a <pleasant trip to the store>, she quickly got the rep of Ill-Mannered American Dog. It was just waaaaay too exciting for her when she saw other dogs just sitting there, patiently doing their people watching.

"Come on, buddy, you KNOW you wanna YAP. Let's hear it!"

She was never as tranquil as this guy here... So I quit taking her... You can't teach an old dog... yadayadayada...

BTW, the 16th of May was St. Honore Day in France so if you've got any friends named Honore, you're a wee bit late in wishing them a Happy Saint's Day....

Today is St. Bernardin, so now you've got a head start on that one....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

High Flying...


Seen over the Guidel Beach in Brittany during our Easter break... Headed towards the Lorient airport... Not sure what type of plane...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No Fishing!


This is from Les Etangs des Aisses, a local park where we like to go and walk, and the kids play on the swings...

tags: La Ferté Saint Aubin


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Boulangerie Vincent






This is Vincent Boulangerie, the first bakery in town when coming from the north, a few blocks past the castle. It's the oldest here, having been open since the turn of the 20th century. It was first run by Joseph Vincent. He was born in 1863 and just 12 years later went to Romorantin south of here to serve as an apprentice with a couple who considered him like their son.



Next it was son Jean's turn. He married in 1929 and Marie-Louise worked by his side. (She was a modern woman who even drove a car.) They took over the business in July 1950 and wanted to open a new bakery, but at the time of this decision, a car unfortunately crashed into their storefront, completely pulverizing the façade. They were forced to rebuild.



Their son Jeannot began his apprenticeship in 1947. He was passionate about his work and slowly replaced his father when he became ill and later died. In the 1960s and 70s, there were many modern advances in the industry... new tools, brick ovens replaced by metal ones... Jeannot married Michelle, and more and more Marie-Louise came to depend on her daughter-in-law. It was hard work, six days a week, but apparently all the Vincents loved their field.



Since 1998, Jeannot and Michelle's son Bruno has held the reins, with help from his wife Claudine. In 2006, they created a Salon de Thé in an adjacent room, where people can enjoy cakes, salads and quiches in a quiet atmosphere.



tags: La Ferté Saint Aubin

Fruit Fantastique


Gotta love a good old-fashioned fruit stand... We bought a kilo of cherries (cerises) and two mangos (mangues) for 7€, which equates today to $9.88. Still not cheap, but they were quite good...

Couldn't get a good look at the avocados, so didn't buy any. They're one of my faves. I find it funny that in French avocat is also the word for lawyer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Building Vocab, Bit by Bit


I always thought the word for paper towel was sopalin, until recently... Turns out the real word is essuie-tout, like "wipe all". Sopalin is a brand name, so it's like saying Xerox when you mean photocopy...

After seven years in France, I still learn something new nearly every day... 

BTW, they also say Kleenex here...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cheeseburger Chips


You've heard of people putting chips on their cheeseburger, well now there are chips that really do taste like cheeseburgers...

I was already in the checkout line when I asked my daughter to pick out a bag, but "nothing gross." She came back with this...

On the back, we see that they have also come out with "Pizza Pepperoni," which is ironic, because I've been hard pressed to find a pepperoni pizza since we've been here....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Poppies!


Yes, it's that season here. They're dotting the roadsides everywhere...

This is posted especially for my friend Anne, who says poppies, coquelicots, are her favorite flower.

Enjoy!

tags: wildflowers in France, fleurs sauvage

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Boys in Bubbles


Our town had its annual Fête de Printemps (Spring Festival) recently, and this was one of the main attractions... At five euros per child ($7.17), no, my kids didn't go.

I am not sure how they get their air inside these contraptions. After they said it was not for asthmatics, I didn't want to know more...

They sure looked like they were <having a ball> though!

Happy Friday the Thirteenth. A little side note on that: in France, they consider the day as having potential for both good and bad luck. So, there is usually an extra French Loto drawing on Friday the Thirteenths...


tags: cheesy joke, French gambling, La Ferté Saint Aubin

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Boulangerie Vincent


This is Vincent Boulangerie, the first bakery in town when coming from the north, a few blocks past the castle. It's the oldest here, having been open since the turn of the 20th century. It was first run by Joseph Vincent. He was born in 1863 and just 12 years later went to Romorantin south of here to serve as an apprentice with a couple who considered him like their son.

Next it was son Jean's turn. He married in 1929 and Marie-Louise worked by his side. (She was a modern woman who even drove a car.) They took over the business in July 1950 and wanted to open a new bakery, but at the time of this decision, a car unfortunately crashed into their storefront, pulverizing the façade. They were forced to rebuild.

Their son Jeannot began his apprenticeship in 1947. He was passionate about his work and slowly replaced his father when he became ill and later died. In the 1960s and 70s, there were many modern advances in the industry... new tools, brick ovens replaced by metal ones... Jeannot married Michelle, and more and more Marie-Louise came to depend on her daughter-in-law. It was hard work, six days a week, but apparently all the Vincents loved their field.

Since 1998, Jeannot and Michelle's son Bruno has held the reins, with help from his wife Claudine. In 2006, they created a Salon de Thé in an adjacent room, where people can enjoy cakes, salads and quiches in a quiet atmosphere.

tags: La Ferté Saint Aubin

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Labor of Bread Making


These old tiles are fixed on the wall outside Boulangerie Vincent (Vincent Bakery) at the northern end of our town. Each represents a different phase of the labor that goes into making our bread, from tilling the soil, to planting the seeds, then harvesting the wheat, crushing the wheat with grinding stones, properly storing the wheat, and finally, perhaps the process we think about most other than eating: the baking.

Boulangerie Vincent has been run by the same family for four generations. Tomorrow, I will share more of their history...

tags: French bread, pain français, La Ferté Saint Aubin bakery

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tarte Tatin


Tarte Tatin is a classic French dessert which you might describe as an upside down apple pie... And here's why....

It was created in 1898 at Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, about 40 minutes south of Orléans. As one version of the legend goes, Stéphanie Tatin, one of two sisters who ran the hotel, left some apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. (Aw, just give me a plate anyway.) She tried to salvage the situation by putting the pastry base on top of the apple pan and sticking the whole thing back in the oven. Then she flipped the mess back upside down and served it to guests, who raved over it.

The dish is now a permanent fixture on the menu at Maxim's Paris.

For the official recipe, click here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Crazy for Crêpes

 

You can't got to Brittany without eating crêpes. It would be simply unFrench of you... Even if you aren't French.

This was one my mother-in-law made, with bananas sautéed in butter, topped with thick chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Absopotively stupendous. (Worth making up a word for...)



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Flageolets


Until today, I thought these were lima beans. But the translation for flageolet is flageolet and they are somehow different. To me they look and smell like lima beans, they have the same texture as lima beans, etc. but apparently there is some slight something that's not the same.

My kids often eat these in the canteen, because I don't think to buy them. Not on my radar. We got this can in the supermarket basket we won last week, and I thought them to be a rather odd addition, thinking at the time, "Who likes lima beans?" But then I remembered, as I was searching for a veggie to go with lunch. "Who wants lima beans?"

I got two out of three mois, and quite enthusiastic ones at that. Bernard offered to fix them up with cream and garlic and he and Alex were quite happy campers, gobbling them up like caviar.

Ellie, while stating that she didn't like them, still ate them all.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Do You Speak Breton?


In Brittany (Bretagne to the French) all of the street signs are like this... in French and Breton, the local language.

It's a dying language by most accounts. It's estimated that only about 200,000 people speak it today, but there were 1.3 million back in 1930. Breton (Breizh) is spoken in Lower Brittany and comes from a Celtic language community between Great Britain and present-day Brittany. Until the 12th century it was the language of the upper classes.

So far, I've only learned kenavo, which is goodbye. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Selling Soda or Something Else?


Orangina's furry friends are back... This is a French soda--orange of course--with bits of pulp in it. It's quite good if you like sweet, sweet drinks...

Today's post is more than just a photo; I'm adding a youtube link because these animals have cropped back up on billboards, so I'm often reminded lately of my first encounter with them. I was sitting in a theater, waiting for a children's movie to start and this was among the commercials:

 

Ahem.

I never knew that deer and pandas had breasts, but welcome to French advertising. As you can imagine, this campaign created quite a stir....


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nous Avons Gagné! (We Won!)

 

Last Friday night, our local Simply Market had a special "Buy Anything For Ten Percent Off" sale for two hours (except gas and alcohol, though certain wine was on sale). I made two trips and stocked up big time. Awesome deals. At the end of my second round, the cashier asked if I wanted to put my name in a drawing for a shopping cart loaded with goodies...

Well, lo and behold... We found out today when we went to the store that our ticket had been drawn!

It's great that we have guests coming in a few weeks and a going away party to host... Otherwise, I'd be digging into those pistachio squares and chocolate biscuits toute de suite (right away)... Control, control...

I'm gonna miss this little store, but luckily in the area where we hope to live, the closest market is also a Simply... So perhaps we'll still be at home...

PS... Okay, let's be honest. There's little chance those chocolate biscuits are gonna make the weekend...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Finishing Touches


Here's a behind-the-scenes French secret, a kitchen-sized blow torch to make just the right crusty topping for our Easter Coquilles Saint Jacques (scallops)...

These were exquisite. Sorry, but I didn't get the recipe... I scarfed mine down before I could even think of asking, and then the next course came... I think our holiday meal lasted about two hours...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Great Band Names (??)


I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to hear the discussions that went on when the names of some of these bands were chosen...

No, I didn't attend... This poster was on a restaurant bathroom wall in Brittany on our recent trip... More from this Atlantic coastal region in coming posts... We had great weather!

PS... for my French readers, perhaps you won't want to know but booger means crotte de nez.

tags: Etienne de Crecy, Bot'ox, Boogers, The Black Box Revelation, Le Prince Miiaou

Monday, May 2, 2011

Banque de France


This is the Bank of France in Orléans, on the main street, Rue de la République.

I'm not sure why the front door was open here, since it was a Monday. In general banks are open on Saturday mornings and closed all day on Mondays...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Picture Perfect View


This is another shot from Yèvre le Châtel in the Loiret Department. Off in the distance, we see colza fields in full bloom on the road towards Pithiviers.

To my friends in France, Happy Labor Day! Unfortunately, this year, since it falls on a Sunday, there is no day off...