Thursday, July 19, 2012

Things we won't & will miss about Paris...

We are almost ready to leave, so we decided to make a list of will and won't miss.

Josh: dog poop, crowded metro, my apartment, the accent on french words, pickpockets, the rain, rats, the homeless, homeworks, the teachers...

Isa: the waiters in the restaurant, the teachers, the bank, the drunks and the homeless all over the city, the dirt, the rain, the dry-cleaning close to home, the security doors in the metro, the stairs to our front door, the smell in the metro, the weirdos all over town, the hairsalons, our noisy neighbors, the dust on the furnitures, carrying luggages in the metro without elevators, the clercks in public offices, Orange telephone customer service...


Josh: crepes, baguettes, pain au chocolat, the view from the Eiffel Tower, the museums, my friends,

casual conversations with people you just met, going to buy groceries across the street all by myself, staying at home while mom and dad
are having dinner in a close by restaurant, macaroons...

Isa: the musicians in the metro, the fromagerie and the boulangerie at the corner of the street, picnic in the public parks with cheese and wine, the old buildings, the cabblestone, the health system, my friends, the moules frites, the escargots, the courtyard of our apartment, free museums for the kids, the ads , my colleagues, the monokini, the farmer market every other day, the English bookstore close to the school, my Monday morning coffe-breaks with the other moms, walking around the city at night without fear, not using a car, the poems, french books, the chocolate store, crepes, les baguettes aux cereals, my Navigo card, rock salt, my son talking in French, smoking in a bistro, concerts in churches...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

14 Juillet's time for celebrations in Paris

I've been dreaming of a pic-nic "en plein air" in a park, at sunset since the last couple of months...unfortunately the weather has been awful. So I almost gave up but then, on the 14 of July, this opportunity came up again and I was able to fulfill this little dream of mine.
Together with another couple of American friends, we packed some cheese, baguettes, delicatessen and of course wine and we went in the most unusual spot in Paris where too have pic-nic: south of Montparnasse , along the avenue Pasteur, there is a small green area, almost big as a tablecloth, on a steep slope on one side of the curb.
At first sight, you wouldn't think of this spot as a desirable place where to sit and eat on the grass while chatting....but, as usual, we were wrong. After a few minutes from our arrival, the place was packed with people waiting, as we were, to admire the fireworks.  The amount of spectators was close to a thousand, on the grass, on the curb but mostly in the middle of the street, which had been closed to traffic by 9:30 pm. When we arrived there, we understood why this place was so popular: the avenue Pasteur is in straight line pointing to the direction of the Tour Eiffel and this particular area is elevated with respect to the rest of the nearby buildings so that you can enjoy a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower !
The fireworks celebrating the "Prise de la Bastille" were spectacular and lasted more than half an hour , for Josh's greatest enjoyment.

 What a night!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Catamaran stage at Ile d'Arz

The decision of sending Josh to a one week sailing stage was part of the deal: you work hard to learn French, then you'll get as a reward an entire week sailing on catamarans with other kids in the Golf de Morbihan (Bretagne). He did it. So we enrolled him with Jeunesse et Marine, a well know organization here in France,  we provided him with all the necessary equipment (40 kg in the backpack....almost as much as he weights!!!)  and here he was, ready to board on a train with a group of other French kids. Of course I gave him a mobile phone, just to be sure he could contact me. 

At first, I was somehow worried.... I wouldn't see him for a whole week, the kids in the group were a bit older than him (13 - 15 y.o.) and, even worse, all of them spoke only French. Would he survive? During the first hours, it was all about texting messages and calling back several times. Then, magically, the phone stopped ringing and whenever he called me or sent me a message, it was only to let me know that everything was great and that he was having a great time. 
Just for informative purpose, this is the place: 

The train trip took about 5 hours, after which they arrived at the campsite. The kids (24 overall) were assigned to big tents (6 kids in each)....I can only imagine the mess at the end of the week. Supposedly they had day shifts so that someone would keep it clean but apparently no-one seriously supervised them...

Their day started at 8 am, with breakfast (caffe latte and cookies) then the daily briefing about safety, manoeuvres and knots. After that, they spent spent all day on the catamarans: 3 kids on each catamaran and the moniteurs (coach) on the motor boat following them and giving them (actually, yelling them...)directions and instruction. 

The environment was very friendly and the camp supervisors were fantastic: Josh had so much fun and made a lot of friends. He learned how to make some knots (noeud de chaise, en huit, de cabestan), he learned the technique of tacking and beating, port and starboard, etc. He was also allowed to build his own bow and arrow. Cool! Of course, being surrounded by older kids, he learned all other terms, cursing mostly, in French (at least back in LA the other class mates won't understand...). They had sailing competition but also "passing gas" and "burping" competitions, much more amusing! What do you expect when parents are not around!
At the end of the week, all the kids packed their belongings and went on an 2 days adventure to conquer a small island, set up a bivouac camp, eat and sleep there and then come back. 
Overall, it was a great experience. I am so happy that he did it and we hope he'll continue next year. 
The worse part of the entire adventure was when I opened his back pack....OMG !!!!!!! 


Monday, July 2, 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012

LACMA in L.A. or Bourdelle in Paris?

Hard to tell...last week I decided to visit a small museum close by....actually smaller than the Louvre but quite huge! It's the Musée Bourdelle, in the 15th. As soon as I walked in, I saw this statue ...

and I had the feeling I've already seen it somewhere....then I realized I saw the same statue back in L.A., at the LACMA:

The museum is interesting, very secluded and quiet: the sculptures, both in the gardens and in the halls,  are impressive for the dimensions.

An unexpected discover in the middle of the city. When you have completed all the major museums in this city...

Friday, June 29, 2012

School is over !!!!!! Arrivederci !

After endless dictation tests, math, history, geography, poems,  painful spelling and grammar exercises, countless hours in the class, exhausting home works, several field trips...the school year is over. It seems impossible but it's true. No more 6:45 am alarm clock, no more rushing to the metro, no more Mme P. 
Josh made it, we made it. 
Pretty soon we'll be back to our "regular" life in L.A. and French will only be a weekly class in Pasadena. 
It's been hard but exciting...and the memories will last forever. The people we met, these amazing kids, full of energy, passion and enthusiasm, their parents, so inspiring and brave, with their incredible background of experience. We laughed, we supported each other, we visited together this city, we had breakfast and dinners together, play dates, we kept in touch for emergency situations, we shared fears, disappointments, but also happiness and pride for our kids. In this city where we were all, more or less, foreigners, we bound and held on to each other as a team. Without the kids and the parents we met, this whole year would have been impossibly hard. 
Each of them has his/her spot, in my memory, in my heart. Each of them shared some of their time with us and I will always cherish their friendship. 

last day of school in front of EABJM
the Cafeteria next to the school

at "Cafe' Cosmos" for our last coffee after drop-off
farewell party at Square Saint - Lambert

As a dear friend once reminded me, “Arrivederci” in Italian,  means “until we see each other again”. So, to all of you, arrivederci and thanks for this year.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Paris: city of light, love...and affairs!!!!

If you happen to go around Paris these days, look carefully at the advertising billboards that are located in various corners of the city, particularly in the subway stations. Perhaps, as it happened to me, your eyes will fall upon the gigantic pink posters advertising messages entirely unconventional, as theses: 

These are ads posters, somewhat audacious, of a popular website for extra-marital exchanges, which, in contrast to other similar agencies dedicated to singles, has no qualms to promote....yes, cheating! I admit, these ads are original and impertinent, although they look perfectly at ease in a city where infidelity is a value much more advertised than morality. Only in France?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

From Altadena to Paris...

When my friend Etta called me last week to get details on what kind of sandals to bring to Paris, I replied: "Never mind the sandals, just get rubber boots, an umbrella and a raincoat." She freaked out  and began to search desperately these items around Pasadena and Altadena, without success. Etta, don't you know that you find them in any subway station? They are the number two souvenirs for the tourist, aside from the Tour Eiffel snow-dome. 
But I must admit that I was somewhat pessimistic: in fact, during her six days of vacation here in Paris, she could enjoy the sun even for two days in a row. A windfall!
I must say that her choice of staying in Versailles seemed crazy to me, but then I realized that she could enjoy a magnificent hotel and rest in the train after the long rides around this town. We walked around for kilometers, we ate foie gras (last chance before moving back to California) and escargots, we had excellent wine (yes, the kids tasted it and they asked for Coca Cola after that!!!), we laughed, we made ​​long lines together with the other thousand of tourists, we told each other the latest news, our children had a good time and everything went well . 

See you soon, in Turin, and thank you for everything!