Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pseudo-Pizza


This is boxed flammekueche, also known in English as a flambéed tarte. I like it as a non-acidic alternative to pizza, since there's no tomato sauce... Pronounced flahm-kooh'-kuh.

It's an Alsatian dish that's often made with fromage blanc (a sort of soupy creamy white cheese), onions and small bits of fatty ham called lardon.

Flammekueche is one of the most famous dishes from Alsace, in the upper northeast part of the country.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fêtes de Jeanne d'Arc


Today marks the opening of the annual Joan of Arc festival in Orléans. The festivities honor the French girl known for liberating the French from the English in 1429. Each year, a young girl from the area is chosen to serve as "Joan" for the event, which concludes on May 8th, the date Joan managed to create an important turning point for the French in the Hundred Years' War.

This statue was erected under the reign of Napoleon the Third on May 8, 1855. It was damaged in World War Two, partly by celebrating American troops when Orléans was liberated in August 1944. According to an elderly French man who took me on a personal, impromptu tour of the city one day a few months ago (what a sweet man!), the American troops broke off Joan's sword during their joyous arrival...

The statue was renovated in 1950, thanks to donations from the people of New Orleans, Louisiana.

tags: Orléans history, WWII

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Yèvre-le-Châtel


This is a medieval fortress in Yèvre le Châtel, which is classified as one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. We visited recently on our way from Orléans to Fontainebleau. There is not much else in the town (no shops or restaurants) but we enjoyed the scenery here on this sunny spring day.

The present castle was built at the beginning of Philip August's reign in the thirteenth century. It benefitted from the latest defense techniques adopted from the Middle East by the Crusaders. Toward the end of the Hundred Years' War, troops stationed here fought against the English stationed in nearby Pithiviers, then they went to the aid of Joan of Arc in Orléans.

Later, the fortress was abandoned. The castle fell into ruins. Around 1980, associations of volunteers came to its rescue to enable it to be open for visitors today.

tags: French history

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Closer to the Colonel


This was from a recent trip to the Fontainebleau area... The colonel is alive and well all over France, but not in Orléans yet, so when we move to Fontainebleau area soon, he'll be within about 20 minutes' drive.

This is probably not good news for me.

PS. I tried to translate Finger Lickin' Good to no avail. Perhaps that's why they've left it in English on all their buckets, walls, etc...

tags: French fast food, Colonel Sanders

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bon Voyage!


Bike rentals are everywhere in the cities of France. Here in Orléans, you can rent one for an occasion with a credit card or get a year-long subscription through the mayor's office. For more info in English, click here.

BTW, vélo, bike, is pronounced vay'-loh...

tags: Orléans tourism, cycling, bicycle, louer

Monday, April 25, 2011

Potheads


These guys were at a junction somewhere around Malesherbes, on our way to Fontainebleau...

BTW, Malesherbes means bad herbs...

tags: French pottery, poterie français 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Joyeuses Pâques!


Happy Easter to all of you who are celebrating today!

This is the Saint Gault Priory in Yèvre-le-Châtel. Its apse and bell tower base date from the beginning of the thirteenth century. We made a stop here recently because it's listed as one of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France." And it truly was... more on this site in the coming days...

Photo by Ellie, age eight and a half. (She requested her name be written in pink.)

Tags: French church

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Another Bouillot Creation


The kids are getting good with such lines as, "We should try that mom. Come on, we've never tried it. And you could post it for people to see on your site."

They really know how to work me.

This had a layer of creme on top of a biscuit, and since we divided it into thirds, it disappeared before anyone noticed that somebody had swiped the white chocolate piece in the middle.

tags: French pastry, decadence, strawberry tarte, tar, patisseri, fraise

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wisteria Lane



I'm convinced you can't take a bad shot in Barbizon, especially when the Wisteria (Glycine in French) is in full bloom. It's a picture-perfect, postcard-shot-on-every-corner kind of village.

La Boheme serves traditional French cuisine. We were just passing through, so I can't tell you anything more about the food, but the Wisteria sure smelled delicious.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Admiring the View


 

From Galeries Lafayette in Paris... I so loved the scenery... This is truly a place to go window licking.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I'm a Walkin'... Yes, Indeed...


Check out the prices and you can tell it's not the sale season right now... I didn't buy anything.

Shoes in France, in general, are much more expensive than in the states.

To do the conversion of these prices, try www.oanda.com.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Balloon People


Maybe it's just me, but silly advertisements in another country always look even sillier to me. This is for the TGV... Get away to Switzerland for tickets beginning at 29€ one way.

While I can appreciate the point about the fresh air of La Suisse, I'm thinking I'd more likely look like one of them after taking in my share of chocolate and the cheese...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fontaine St. Michel


It was hard to get a good shot of this fountain because clueless cell phone addicts or pipelettes (chatterboxes) kept walking into my shot.

Okay, and I'll admit I was majorly distracted by the fact that there were no less than five book stores right in the vicinity here and I didn't have time to spend an hour in each like I'd have liked. (After all, it was Mamma Mia night.)

This is the St. Michel Fountain, in the heart of the Latin Quarter. My husband suggested we meet here, as many people do when visiting the city, since it's an important landmark. It was erected in 1860 during the reign of Napoleon the Third, and was created by the French sculptor Davioud in 1860. Saint Michel, protector of France, is seen here slaying a dragon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...


Easter...

Don't ask me why the French have Easter bunnies out everywhere... the Beloved Rabbit does not make deliveries here. Instead, it's the Bells of Rome who are charge of distributing the goods on Easter morning...

Legend has it that on Good Friday, all the church bells in France fly to the Vatican bringing the sadness and misery from Jesus' crucifixion with them. The bells fly back on Easter Sunday morning and drop chocolate and eggs in our back yards.

Therefore, French church bells do not ring from Good Friday to Easter morning.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Got Time on Your Hands?


See how long it takes you to figure out how to duplicate this scene at your dinner table... I think it would be 2025 for me and I'd still be not have it perfect...Not my cup of thé...

From a café inside Galeries Lafayette, the Gourmand section, in Paris...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tulips, Take Two


Couldn't resist throwing another tulip shot in here... This time from the mayor's office in our little town... It's teeming with tulips and other spring flowers...

I'm jealous... mine are all keeling over now... I'll spare you that shot.

To my friends in the US, happy tax filing day. I get an extra two-month extension as an overseas resident, so June 15th is the deadline here...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Definition of Yellow


Each year when I see this plant growing in the fields, I think how it simply defines what true yellow is for me. Not any particular shade, though it looks a bit yellow green to me here. It's always a stunning scene around April and May when the colza, a.k.a. rapeseed, is in full bloom. We've got loads of fields full of it around here.

It's what canola oil is processed from. It's readily available here and likewise touted for its omega-3 fatty acids... I prefer olive oil, tastewise, but colza wins hands down for being more picturesque in my book!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ma Fleur Préférée


This is the colorful scene these days along the national route 20 on my way to work... Zillions of pink, red, yellow, white and purple tulips are lined up waiting for tulip fans like me to come and pick them ourselves... 

Tulips are my favorite flower, so every year, I can't resist making a stop here for a large bunch, especially since the proceeds go to cancer research...

Le Lions Club Orléans Doyen has been selling tulips like this for 24 years now, and through 2010 they've raised a grand total of 674,894€.

They're just 10€ (about $14.50) for 30 flowers. A bargain at twice the price!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fanning the Flames of Sibling Rivalry


This was among the books big brother got from a friend for his birthday...

The Junior Guide to Training/Raising Your Brothers and Sisters Well...

Little does he know, I caught little sister reading it after bedtime last night...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gateau Anniversaire


A.k.a. "birthday cake" from yesterday. Yes, it was my day. Let's not have that age conversation, okay?

This cake is also known as a "Pithiviers," and it's named for a town about an hour from here. Mmm, sugary and delicious. I love the white icing, though I passed the glazed orange peels off to the kids.

In doing my research about this cake, I see that there are many varieties, though this looks like the one I see in all the bakeries around here (minus the fancy toppings). It's got a white almond cake inside that's quite dense.

I'm sure my waistline's a bit denser today now too...


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Can I Have Some Scotch, Mom?


The first few times I heard this request from my kids, it really jarred me, but I don't flinch anymore. It's just how French people refer to good old 3M Scotch tape. They rarely say tape here, which would be adhésif. It's kind of like how we use the word Xerox, when we mean copy...

So, my eight- and ten-year-old aren't hitting the hard stuff.

Though these packets do disappear reguarly without explanation...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Toffee's Wheels


French people are known for taking their dogs everywhere, and  "Toffee" is no exception...

She always seems pleased as punch when I see her being towed by her young owner. Well... more pleased that is than she was on this day, when she was asked to pose for the camera in her remorque . Her look says to me, "Just get it over with already" ... or however French dogs would say that.

Your chariot awaits, madame!

Friday, April 8, 2011

For the Indecisive


Can't make up your mind when faced with gut-wrenching choices such as chocolate, vanilla or coffee?

The Trio was created for you. And it's got a bonus smack of butter cream to hold it all together. It's for the ultra-gourmand and those who simply can't ever come to a decision on critical matters...

This is from the bakery near my work. I went there to get a salad. I did get the salad, but somehow I started telling the lady I wanted that-- <What is that thing??>... And the next thing I knew, she was wrapping it up in the special bakery paper.

It all happened so fast.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Très Chouette

 
I thought these little earrings were just too darned cute, so I snatched them up a few weeks ago... And since then, I've had fun showing them off to French friends, while using a carefully prepared line: Ils sont très chouette, non?

There's a double meaning here. It means, They're really neat, no? But chouette, pronounced "shwet," is also the word for a female owl.

Look out, I making my puns in French now. Oh the poor French folks in my path...

Still waiting for one of them to tell me that I'm a real hoot...

<You knew that was coming, right?>

For my French readers, a hoot is someone (or something) who's very funny or amusing, but it's also what we say an owl says...


tags: French expressions


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beaugency's Salon Du Livre


There's no better way to spend a Saturday morning than with a bunch of school children who are interested in reading... and by being surrounded by thousands and thousands of kids' books and about 25 of their authors and illustrators.

A few teachers from my children's school offered to take children from three classes to the 26th annual Salon du Livre in nearby Beaugency this weekend. They rented a bus and off we went... parents, children and even older siblings... unusual for a French school to do an outing on a weekend like this; I greatly appreciated it. All the kids either bought or made books at the event. A few got theirs signed by the authors. Bonus!

We saw an antique printing press, listened to stories and some of the kids made their own carnets du voyage, a.k.a. travel journals.

One of the parents wished she'd had more time to look at everything... So she decided to go back the next day and took my daughter with her... I guess there's no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, either!

I, however, had to come back to reality, back into the non-fiction world, and go to work on selling the house. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Combien Ça Coûte?


Well, these may be big fat goose eggs, but that's not what they cost.

In fact, they're one euro each!

*For my French readers, goose egg generally means "zero." It's often how we express a score. Or, a goose egg may be what we call it when someone gets a big bump on their head from an injury....


Monday, April 4, 2011

Irony...


Among the streets I pass on my walk to French class every week is "Rue D'Angleterre."

England Street...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Where's the Beef?


Well, it's everywhere at this chain restaurant... We were greeted by a large ceramic cow at the entrance, the menu was in leather, the selections were a beef lover's dream, and the bill came propped in a real beef bone. Looking at it sorta made me think, "Woof, woof..."

Naturally, I had pasta... with seafood.

Another interesting note about this place... when my husband and friend were at the bar paying, they discovered that kids eat free. I'll make no bones about that!


To my French readers: "Where's the Beef?" was a popular slogan in the mid-1980s for a fast food burger chain called Wendy's. It was used in a presidential campaign by Vice President Walter Mondale to attack another candidate, and became even more widely repeated afterwards... It essentially means "Where's the substance?"


tags: La Boucherie restaurant, French chain restaurant


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Obama is Coming!


Me, around 7:30, yesterday morning: "Kids, come in mommy's room! I've got big news!"

<feet scurrying to me>

Them: "What is it?"

Me: "Did you hear the phone ring last night around 11 p.m.?"

Them: "No."

Me: "President Obama and his whole family are coming to Orléans on the 14th of April, and they're looking for an American family to host them."

Them: "Really?"

Me: "Yes, they don't like to stay in hotels. So we need to get the house put in good order. I told them, 'Yes!'"

Them: "Yes!"

I proceeded to explain where everyone would sleep, and that no, they weren't bringing their dog, and yes, we'd ask Bernard to cook for everyone. Then, I pulled out the proverbial rug....

"April Fool's."

I really had them going. I probably should have kept it going until I'd gotten clean rooms out of them, but I decided that would have been cruel...

We do need to get the house in order, though. It's going for sale very soon, since we are moving to the Fontainebleau area... Sniff, we enjoy our little town...

More on this subject to come...

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fish Day!


When April first rolled around for the first time after I met my husband, he called it April Fish Day. I thought that was humorous. He didn't know it was called April Fool's Day. Then much later, I learned that in France it's called Poisson D'Avril. April Fish Day...

So, the joke was on me.

In fact, some say the tradition of playing jokes on others on this day started in France. Legend has it that when France's King Charles XIV modified the calendar in the 16th century, lower class people in rural areas were the last to hear about it. Those who weren't up-to-date with the change or who followed the old calendar system and still celebrated New Year's between March 25 and April 1 had jokes played on them.

Among the stunts were sticking paper fish to others' backs. Victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish...

This is my daughter's artwork here. She's got about 15 paper fish ready to go. This one says, "Reserved for Teachers."

I'm usually good for pulling something over on my kids/husband on April Fool's Day... If my plan works, I'll share tomorrow...