Saturday, December 31, 2011

Uh, Step Aside Please, Ma'am...

I once unwittingly brought firecrackers on a plane. No one else noticed, either, fortunately. Pétard translates to firecracker, and although these are made of primarily chocolate,

the brown paper strip to the upper left of the chocolate is a firecracker strip. You pull both ends and it makes a loud snap!

I remember bringing a bag of these long ago to Texas and being proud because I knew that papillion (see the bag above) meant butterfly. How well informed I was!

If ignorace is bliss, I've been truly blissful at times during my nearly eight years here...

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Spider on the Ceiling

Okay, so it's not necessarily on the ceiling, but I love this French expression: "une araignée au plafond." Translated, "A spider on the ceiling," is like "bats in the belfry" in English....

A.k.a. the person is crazy.

I think I'd have gone nutso if we had not evicted all the spiders from our house when we moved in this past July. The house had been empty for seven long months, so they'd moved in with their suitcases, their children, and their cousins' children, etc.... It was a long battle to convince them this was now our place.

This dew-dropped web is on a fence outside near the back patio. I can live with it there. But please, no more spiders on my ceiling or I'll end up with spiders on my ceiling!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sharon fruit

Like in the U.S., unusual fruits start to crop up at the grocery store during certain times of the year... These are actually some our friend brought back from Guadaloupe but I've seen them in the stores and never thought to try one... They are called Sharons, and I'd never eaten one. (Have I been under a rock?)

By checking online I learned that these are actually native to China. The waxy skin is similar to a tomato's but thicker and easy to peel . The orange flesh is sweet but more firm, like a soft apple. There are no seeds. The taste is very mild, much less flavorful than citrus fruits.

At first I was surprised my friend could bring these to us through customs, but then I realized something: Guadaloupe is a department of France, so it would be like bringing oranges from Florida to Massachusetts...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


While serving a little boy who eats lunch with us on Wednesdays, he asked me for some "church cheese." I didn't understand until one of the kids reminded me of the TV ad for this cheese... Click here for an example.

There are many monks sitting around at dinner and one presents the cheese to them. They gesture for him to bring it to them while saying, "Amen," which is a verb for bring...

BTW, Chaussée aux Moines means Chaussée Monks. So, Des Moines, Iowa's name means The Monks...

tags: Chaussée aux Moines, fromage

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Once bitten...

...twice shy?

This guy did not trust me for some reason. I tried to get him to open his eyes for the photo, but after a few shots, when I puckered my lips and made that smacking sound you make to cats, he got up and fled across the street.

In French, they have an expression, "Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide," which means literally, "A warmed cat fears cold water." So, it's the equivalent of, "Once bitten, twice shy."

I guess he didn't like me disturbing his cat nap...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Duck, Duck...

But no goose, at least not on this plate. This was our Christmas lunch, served up by Chef Bernard. Or at least it was for the duck fans. I got a lovely scallops plate (not pictured) in a heavy cream sauce. Ooh la la!

You're looking at magret de canard (duck) in a fois gras sauce, haricots verts (green beans), pomme dauphine (the closest French equivalent of tater tots) and marrons (cooked chestnuts).

PS... This was one of the kids' plates, and the potatoes were badly placed. The chef was not happy to see this imperfect presentation!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas...

...from our little village to yours!

PS. No, it is not typical to have little villages in France like this from what I've seen, although my mother-in-law sets one up. This is mine from Texas. In general, the French decorate less than Americans, although there are the occasional semi-Griswold houses out there...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gotta Be Da Shoes...

Okay, so normally in France, it's the children's slippers that are set out under the tree... But the kids in this house didn't know the Le Père Noël was coming a day early... And Santa's helpers were getting awfully tired.

Children here place their slippers under the tree and Père Noël groups that child's gifts near them. This makes for a long task when gifts are all mixed together in the bags, and some still without tags....

French people don't often use stockings, and we didn't have the ones that went home with the cousins last Christmas.... So the stockings were hung on some chairs with care -- don't note that Saint Nicolas didn't stuff them this year! Hence the candy on the floor. That got divvied up equally on "Christmas morning" under the watchful eyes of two nine-year-olds....

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Sink Soon!

My regular readers are going to think I am obsessed with toilets for as many times as I've included shots... But I am just so excited that when the guys from the heating company came to install the radiators, they also set us up with what my husband needs to put in a sink... See the pipe on the left. Woo hoo!

It's typical in France for toilet rooms to come equipped with just the toilet, and then have a sink somewhere around the corner, perhaps in the rest of the bathroom. The closest one may even be in the kitchen. Eww.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

♫♪♫ Chestnuts swimming... ♫♪♫ an ocean of sugar... ♫♪♪

These are for one of my French relatives... You've gotta have a huge sweet tooth for them!  Non, merci! Marrons glacés are basically cooked chestnuts loaded with sugar, corn syrup and preservatives.

Talk about a sugar high!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ay, Caramba!

Someone's got a lot of talent here! I think it's pretty good, anyway. I can't draw stick people.

If you're wondering how I snapped this shot, yes, we were completely stopped in traffic for awhile yesterday along the higway up to Disney. But some of the waits in line there were even longer... LOL!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


The irony here is that in French, the word car can mean because, for and bus...

This is not quite a bus, but he can dream, can't he?

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Vegas, Baby!

French style, on the main stretch in Fontainebleau....

Unlike the real Las Vegas, however, you can't go today. Like many shops downtown, this one is closed on Mondays.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wheel Excitement

Okay, so this one may not be as big as La Grande Roue in Paris, but the view is also surely spectacular... It sits just across the street from the Chateau de Fontainebleau...

Check out the log benches in front too (between the Christmas trees). They're for sale: 160€ each. Bad joke coming....

So you can sit and spin.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lean, Mean Cleanin' Machine

This is for all the Ambers out there...including my younger sister....

It always surprises me to see the cleaning people working in the stores during opening hours. I'm not sure which I could prefer though: working at 3 a.m. or having to navigate around distracted shoppers like me? I've even seen some of the big ride-on ones being driven around stores at regular hours... That's gotta be tough!

I always try to steer clear, and not just because I like my ankles.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christmas Miracle!

I was moseying around the Carrefour in Avon yesterday when what to my wondering eyes should appear but Reece's peanut butter cups! A whole lot of them. Available in triple pack!

These are my favorite chocolate bars, and I've never seen them for sale in France before, so there was dancing in the aisles, champagne flowing, and everyone rejoicing at my fantastic, fortunate find....

Actually, it was just me, so excitedly snapping photos that all of them turned out blurry... There were no prices listed, so I took my chances at the register that they wouldn't be like the large Hershey's bar I bought a few weeks ago (almost seven euros--I thought the box was near the one-euro price tag.) But the Reece's was a euro-fifty, which works out to $1.95. So I bought it.

The Christmas miracle is that I still haven't eaten it. I will put it in my stocking and share it later when our relatives arrive...

No, really.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Feeling at Home...

...and not just because there is an awesome bakery on the other side of that window.

If you look closely, the street is named for the United States' 32nd president, Franklin D. Roosevelt...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Patron of Lost Things

San Antonio, also known as Saint Anthony, is said to be the Patron of Lost Things. There's a saying that goes, "St. Anthony, please look around; something is lost and must be found."

Please help me in praying that he finds my wallet, which has been missing since Saturday.... Luckily, it did not contain my license or green card, and the credit card (now blocked) shows no charges...

Saint Anthony was born to noble parents in Lisbon in 1195, and was noted for his amazing preaching skills. His credit for helping with lost items stems from an incident where someone had taken a valuable psalmbook that St. Anthony had been using. The saint prayed very hard that the book would be recovered. The thief is said to have returned it after seeing a shocking apparition of Saint Anthony.

These tiles are embedded in the wall of a nearby home that we pass by regularly...

PS. Saint Anthony: the wallet was brown, worn and said Elite all over it...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reading Time at the Spa

What book is Santa reading these jokers?

"Le Petit Prince," bien sur...

This is from a spa (the same featured yesterday) on Rue de France, in Fontainebleau...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Awaiting His Arrival

A beautiful display in a storefront along Rue de France in Fontainebleau.... More on this tomorrow...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rocher D'Avon

These were layers of ecstasy.

Entitled "Rocher d'Avon," this came from a bakery of the same name on the main stretch in Avon. It was a layer of chocolate crust, creme, cherries, a thin cake, and topped with a slice of marzipan. Rocher translates to rock; this area is famous for its rock climbing offerings.

So you might say, this cake rocked.

I haven't posted any real foodie shots in awhile, and it is the holiday season, no? Enjoy!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mmmm.... Milka

Internationalism at its best!

German chocolate, mixed with classic American cookies, sold in a French chain store called Intermarché...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Under the Big Top

A nice bonus that French companies often give their companies is some sort of outing for the families around the holidays. This year, Bernard's new company offered deeply-discounted tickets to the circus. So Sunday afternoon, off we went to stand in line to go under the big tent a few towns away. We were packed in like sardines! But it was a good show, and we'd promised the kids we'd do a circus for a long time, so this enabled us to tick this off the list...

Was tough to get good photos, though. Bright lighting gave me such clear shots as this:

On the left, that's a woman spinning from a ribbon (and no other attachment as far as I could tell). On the right, you've got a dog suspended in air on a stick... The dogs and cats were among the kids' favorites... But the big favorite of the animals were these... No surprise:

The final act was not at all what I thought it would be. Once again, the photos don't tell much. Sorry for that! What you're looking at here (really!) are three motorcycles inside a metal sphere riding around without smacking into each other.

And then, with the lights out...

They got a rousing applause for their finale!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Meaty Issue

Viande animaux translates to animal meats. Aren't they all meats from animals? LOL, okay, this is (of course) the section where you find what you are going to fry up for your pooch...

Yes, meats you can cook for your dog and cat! There is a frozen section like this in a French chain store that sells only frozen foods too...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making the Rounds

We didn't ride La Grande Roue de Paris on this day, because it was as cold as it looks here. Maybe if it'd been a little bit more like this (color manipulated below) we'd have been more excited about climbing aboard:

This Ferris wheel has toured around in recent years, making stops at the end of the year in Paris' Place de la Concorde where we spotted it, as well as in several other European cities. I found the story here. I won't repeat it in my blog, since that of course would be.... (scroll down for yet another bad joke....)

....reinventing the wheel.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Going in Style...

I complain a lot about French bathrooms, so in all fairness, let me applaud this one... It says filles (girls) and garçons (boys) on the wall hiding the toilets... Spotless. Adult bathrooms spotless too. It costs 50 cents to get in, but well worth it.

This was in the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris.

(Don't forget it's pronounced gar, and not like hair. See my explanation.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Official...

Someone has really thought of everything. Warning, bad joke below. (scroll down)

....They've got us covered.

Perhaps the most unusual thing about this automat is not the product, but the price. Four euros is actually not bad for an umbrella. I had thankfully remembered mine on this day, so I can't describe anything about the quality for you...

This was at the end of one of the tracks at Gare de Lyon (Lyon Station) in Paris...

tags: parapluie distributeur, umbrella dispenser

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Real Fixer Upper...

I pass this house every day on the way home from taking the kids to school... It helps me keep things in perspective. We bought an older home nearby this summer and havebeen replacing windows, heating, electricity, etc. So when I pass by this one, I tell myself, "Hey, there could be so much more to do!"

I don't want to know what replacing a roof costs in France, and thankfully, that's one thing we are not going to have find out...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Say It Like It Is...

If you see your opponent sporting this, you can't exactly be surprised if you catch him cheating...

This was for sale in a major French grocery chain earlier this fall. That dang "un-" prefix. Gets ya every time.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Bride's Got What?

Here's another case of, "It doesn't work in English..."

The explanation: in French, a délice, is a delight... I am not sure what the "bri" part adds to it...


tags: bride, lice

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yes, You Can...

...take the stairs!

For just 4.70€ you can get to the second level, and 9.90€ will get you the elevator to the top after that. We opted for the easy route (time constraints, of course!)

No matter how you get to the top, the views are spectacular!

Even on a cloudy day...