Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Licensed to Mean Two Things

Finally, we got our license plate numbers and got the plates made. And the first thing I thought when I saw them, I thought, California and Virginia! Two of the six states I've lived in. What irony!

But then some of the French members of the family looked and them and saw what I hadn't: ça va. This can be both the question, "How's it going?" and the response, "It's going" or "It's okay."

So, double irony.

I was worried that the plates would spell something stupid in English, as I have seen many, many, but alas, ça va...

Note that I erased three digits from the middle for our privacy. Another note, you can choose what department you want to be shown as being from. Seventy-seven is our current department, but some people choose where they were born or where they grew up...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Surprise, Surprise?

I think there was no question about what would be on the cover of French newspapers today! The headline reads, "The Artist conquers the world."

The Oscars were too late at night on Sunday for Monday's editions, so here we have 39-year-old Jean Dujardin, a well-known French actor. He's beaming after winning Best Actor for his portrayal of George Valentin, an older silent film star working with an up-and-coming female star.

Dujardin is the first French actor to earn the Academy Award for Best Actor; he won the same award at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this year and at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011.

His next film, Les Infidèles, is set for release tomorrow across France.

Monday, February 27, 2012


This was the estimated wait time for Crush's Coaster at Disney Studios. Yep, ninety minutes. So we promptly passed it by. Again. (Fifth visit in a row?) We passed on instead to the Parachutes, only to find the line there said 65 minutes.

Then we wisely headed to RC Racer, and found ourselves in front of a sign that said a mere 70 minutes. We'd never done the ride, and didn't actually see zillions of people waiting anywhere. We made the zig zaggedy walk along a rubber race track only to see a gabillion people in a snakey line that seemed to end nowhere.

So after brilliantly avoiding the 90-minute Crush's Coaster wait, we ended up hanging around for 105 minutes (yes 1-0-5) to ride RC Racer. You're kind of trapped up to a point to have to pass back through all the people...

Call me a sucker, but the ride was worth it.

I'll be looking to go again on our next visit. And will be bringing a small table and deck of cards.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Come As You Are

I'm rather nonplussed by this latest McDonald's campaign. I really don't get it. 

The translation of "Venez come vous êtes" is "come as you are."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Girls' Night

As we had three girl cousins visit the other night, this seemed appropriate... They are little cheese cubes made by the same company that makes "Laughing Cow" products, a.k.a. "La Vache Qui Rit." These are for a "Soirée Filles" so they say.

Girls' Night...

I especially liked the blue ones... scallop flavor. The green were goat cheese (I can take 'em or leave 'em) and the pink were sun-ripened vegetables. Inside each wrapper there are little trivia questions. I didn't happen to note if they were geared to women or not...

Don't tell the guys I served them these. Shhhhh.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Hot Rabbit

In French, a guy who plays the field, a ladies' man, is called a chaud lapin, a hot rabbit.

At least this guy advertises exactly what he is?

Yes, Playboy magazine exists in France, but of course the men buy it just for the articles.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's a Small World

There is something about this Disney ride that doesn't leave me...

It's not the scenes on "It's a Small World." I never seem to remember them well. Was Hollywood here before?

And how come I've never seen the one for France? Surely, there is one and I just haven't been paying attention. I am usually trying to snap photos that are not blurry... Like this one...

No matter what I see though, and what I don't, the one thing that never leaves me for hours and hours after we take this ride is------the song.

♫♪♫♫ It's a world of laughter, a world of tears... ♪♪♫

If you've been there, you've probably got it looping over and over in your head now, thanks to me.

You're welcome, de rien!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Snake Oil Salesmen?

I have to laugh when I pass by this display in a window of a Fontainebleau pharmacy... Check out the creature in the tube on the left...

Either they have a good sense of humor there or there really are some medicinal purposes for snake oil? Maybe someone else can explain...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fishing for Something Good

 A scene from a cute little fish market in the pedestrian walkway of Fontainebleau....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stating it Clearly

I'm all for making the punishment clear for those who think, "It's just for a minute."

tag: handicapped, 135€

Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Icon in France, too

This is this week's cover of Paris Match, the French equivalent of the United States' People magazine. It's no surprise, considering Whitney Houston's enormous fame in this country.

Her death was all over the news here as much as everywhere in the world. In the days after she died, we heard, "I Will Always Love You" so many times on the radio, as well as several of her other number one hits.

The main headline, "Une Étoile s'est Éteinte," translates to "A Star is Extinguished." 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stack It Up!

This is called a Saint Honoré cake, named for the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs. And for good reason!

This traditional French cake has puff pastry for the base, then small cream puffs dipped in caramelized sugar, all covered in a healthy serving (meaning generous, not fat-free, bien sur!) of fresh whipped cream. Finally, it was decorated with raspberries, pistachio nuts and red currants.

This was incredibly difficult to share, although somehow we managed. I'd bought four treats at the same bakery for a special occasion today, and this was clearly the favorite (not to mention the largest.) I added the fork in the photo, but it still does no justice to the monstrous size of this cake.

If this whets your whistle for a bit of French pastry making, here is a site that has begun adding recipes in English. I will let you know if he adds a St. Honore, but there are many great recipes already....

Friday, February 17, 2012

Last Call...

Today is the final day to exchange French francs for euros. There are reportedly about 4 billion francs lying around the country (in other people's houses) which is about to €600 million ($788 million).

French banks will accept bills (20, 30, 100, 200 or 500) through the end of the business day today... Commercials have been running on TV to remind people to hunt down their remaining francs and turn them in... 

Having moved just eight short months ago, if we've got any, they haven't turned up yet... These few  coins are all I found...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Natural Sweet Tooth

It's not yet strawberry season here, but these came from Spain and at 2.99€ for 500g, I didn't find them totally outrageous.

I loved these chopped up in vanilla yogurt...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wait, I've Got a Coupon!

Coupons are a rarity in France, compared to the United States. Oh, those mornings when I'd hear that giant Sunday edition hit my doorstep. I would spend so much time sorting and clipping. I remember once getting 35-cent coupons for Pace Picante Sauce that were worth triple at Kroger's because they were under 50 cents. It didn't matter that the salsa cost 99 cents and they were giving me back 6 cents to buy the product. Those were the days.

Now, there is no Pace, just Old El Paso products here, and a jar of the same size costs about 2.50€ ($3.30). 

But I am happy to see a coupon, anyway, and I took advantage of this offer, with 70 cents off one liter of soup. I even remembered to give the cashier the coupon, despite being so many years out of practice....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bonne Fête de St-Valentin !

Happy Saint Valentine's Day! In France, it's usually an occasion reserved for lovers, as opposed to the United States, where we might send flowers to our moms, give out cards to classmates, etc.

This label says "Saint Love" so it seemed like a good choice for the day... Though upon further research, I learned it should be served with volailles (poultry, okay) and gibiers à plumes (game birds, I'm not game for that.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Suck It In!

Some Mondays are just extra special. That's my white car on the right. Just how thin did this person think I was????

It took me back to my days in high school when my little blue Chevy Chevette's driver's side door only closed properly if shut from the outside. When someone wasn't there to slam it for me, I had to crawl from the passenger's to the driver's seat. It was especially challenging when I wore a skirt.

Ah, memories of the good ole days. Or, more like: grumble, grumble, grumble. I was none too happy to find this.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Except Local Desserts?

I'm all for sticking with local desserts too... I've given up Twinkies since we've been here, and not just because there probably aren't any for 3,000 miles.

Actually, this means no big trucks or buses except those offering local services...

Long live local desserts!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Doggie Waiting Area

Many stores have these chains for customers' canine friends, but the cute little sign is a first for me.

BTW, no doggies took advantage of this special zone last night as it was still -3C and windy. Bone chilling cold is not fun for dogs either. The only one I saw was snuggled warm inside the car parked next to us, patiently awaiting his master's return...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why I Love Les Soldes

I love the sales in France because even though I already have a Santa costume, who could resist this at just 1.5€? And it's marked down from 9.99€, which was still a good price...

Sales run this year in our department through February 14th and there's a summer round that runs from June 27 to July 31.

I'm gonna look great in this beard.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Think Spring!

This is beautifully painted on an electrical building in Montereau, a few towns south of us. They have quite a few well-painted utility buildings around town... Someone's got talent.

Of course, they look so bright and cheery until you get close and see the sign that says things about high tension and danger of death if you try to go inside here unauthorized...

Anyway, think spring! We need it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nice to Meat You

Or not.

This was quite the unpleasant sight to me the other day, seen while out driving with a friend near the Fontainebleau marketplace. But you can be sure this meat is fresh. There's no need for refrigeration these days, as we are still dealing with sub-zero (albeit Celsius) temperatures.

And this morning, we woke up to more snow!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Crowded Subways?

No, it's actually an ad for women's equality...

The sign says, "What place are we ready to allow for women?"

Monday, February 6, 2012

St. Gaston Day

Don't forget to wish your favorite Gaston a very happy St. Gaston Day today... It's his official day on the saint calendar here...

I don't know any Gastons either, unless you count Gaston Lagaffe... He's a well-known comic book character, created by Frenchman André Franquin. In English he's known as Gomer Goof. (An inspiration for Gomer Pyle? He does look a bit like him...) The title here, Lagaffe nous gate translates to "Lagaffe spoils us." His comment, M'enfin !! means, "What the --?"

Comic books like this series are a big hit here, for both young and old kids. They're called BDs, an abbreviation of bande dessinées in French. Gaston came about in 1957. This Peter Pan-like boy is known to be lazy, irresponsible and oblivious to the world. Common sense is completely absent. A regular theme of the strip is his effort to avoid doing any real work. His age is never clearly defined; he is expected to be in his late teens, yet he has worked in such fields as rocket science, chemistry and telecommunications. He is both endearing and completely exasperating to his stressed-out co-workers.

Maybe you don't know Gaston, but perhaps you work with one? Don't forget to wish him or her a Happy Saint's Day...

By the way, the real St. Gaston was a bishop from the turn of the sixth century and was also known as St. Vaast. He was known for converting Clovis and for teaching him after the victory of Tolbiac in 496.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It's C-c-c-old!

I laughed out loud when I saw this license plate downtown the other day...

We are expecting a low of -7 and a high of (drum roll, please) -3 today. But that's Celsius, so it's from 19.4 to 26.6 Fahrenheit.

Doesn't that sound so much better?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Winter Wonderland!

We had heard it might snow, then it might not, for days. So we were pleasantly surprised last night when we opened the door to leave for catechism...

We've been told there are fish in the fish pond but haven't seen them. If there are some there, they were frozen fish last night...

The kids were thrilled that the snow stayed overnight... They opened the blinds first thing this morning to check...

Looks like it could be a good day for a bike ride...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Think There's a Typo?

Actually, there isn't (no matter how you slice it) because in French, they spell sandwiches without an "e."

Maybe it's for the same reason we Americans decided to make colour, flavour and favourite into color, flavor and favorite when we crossed the Atlantic with these words.

I have no idée.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Choose Your Side...

...of the burger force.

May the onions be with you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Trop Tarde ! Too late!

I've read that January 31 is the last day you're supposed to wish Happy New Year to your friends, family and coworkers in France. Well, somebody shoot me, I'm past the date. (Hey, that's just an expression--y'all know I lived in Texas, right?)

I've also read that it's bad luck in France to wish someone Happy New Year before January first. So, could it just be extra good luck if I offer you my best wishes for the new year on February first?

If not, well then, Happy Early Groundhog Day.

PS. Note the space after the exclamation point in my title and on the card. This is how they punctuate with them in French... The same goes for question marks, but not for periods.