Take one Canadian girl in les Alpes.
Add the ups & downs of living in France.
Cover with melted cheese...
Et voilà !

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Il neige !

It was about 3 o'clock this afternoon. 
We were working on comparatives & superlatives in class. 
I was in the middle of explaining to my students why you can't say "more intelligenter than"
when I noticed the snowflakes falling. 

Lots of snowflakes. Falling fast. 
It was beautiful. 
But then I started thinking about the drive back to Annecy, the hilly road with all its twists & turns.

My students - all grown men - noticed me looking outside & turned to the window as well.
 They immediately got all silly just like little kids do when the first snowfall of the winter comes along.
 I sent them off on a coffee break so I could have a moment of silence
to ponder whether or not we should end class early.

After pondering (I decided to finish class at the normal time),
I used the fancy-dancy retro camera application on my phone
to snap a couple of photos from our classroom window.

Our classes take place in an old building across from the train station in Bellegarde.
 The view isn't anything special. 
 But today?
 With the snow blanketing the platform & sticking to the rails, it was quite lovely.

And the drive home? 
Well, we took our time, went super-slow & got back to Annecy in one piece. 

 As for tomorrow morning's commute, 
let's cross that bridge (or not, as the case may be...) when we come to it, ok?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Digesting: do not disturb!

Eat enormous turkey dinner, drink wine, sleep, repeat.
That was my weekend.

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And just as soon as I finish digesting, I'll be back to tell you all about Frenchgiving 2010!

Friday, November 26, 2010

In which I continue to blog about food...

I've just had a look back at my previous posts & realized that the last five are all about food.

Um, how French of me!

Les français have a reputation for being obsessed with food
& the longer I live in France, the more I realize it's true.

local cheese at the market in Annecy
Fancy cuisine & posh restaurants are great,
but what I really notice here is the extent of people's everyday appreciation of food & cooking.

When I eat lunch with my students,
they talk in great detail about what they ate for dinner the night before
& what they are planning on making for supper that night.
They discuss the best way to prepare leek quiche
or debate how many different kinds of cheese you need to use to make a proper fondue.

My students don't scarf down sandwiches or run out to grab a burger and a Coke.
They bring leftovers from their home-made meal the night before
(which they heat up on a real plate & don't just eat out of the Tupperware box, thankyouverymuch!)
Out of their lunch bags comes
bread (fresh from the bakery that morning),
fresh fruit for dessert.

It's all about the importance of the meal-time ritual.

This is the very aspect of French culture that has earned them a spot on
UNESCO's  "intangible" heritage list as of last week.
This was big news here & the French are - understandably - proud of this new honour.
You can read an article about it here (maybe not on an empty stomach, though!)

In more food-related news,
this weekend I'll be enjoying a Frenchified American Thanksgiving dinner
chez our friends Camille & Charles.

I'm really excited about the pumpkin pie.
(Even if it didn't make it onto the UNESCO list.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's the little (overpriced) things...

The big supermarkets in France all have an "exotic foods" section, 
where you can find un-French things like taco kits, HP sauce, Patak's curry paste & PG Tips tea. The packages are usually miniscule 
& the prices quite the opposite. 

 I always like to check out the selection, 
even if I can rarely justify paying the 
"it's-super-expensive-because-it-comes-from-really-far-away" prices.

However, I was très tempted to hand over my hard-earned euros 
when I spotted this at my supermarket last week:
I actually gasped & immediately sprinted over to take a closer look.  
The shoppers who happened to be in the same aisle looked mildly bemused.  
(FQ looked mildly mortified.)  
I didn't care, because, there,
right next to the teeny jars of overpriced Skippy, 
was Ocean Spray cranberry sauce!!!
Could I look more delighted?  Probably not.
I'd never ever seen it in France before, hence my excitement.
And although I didn't buy any this time,
I will definitely be saving my centimes to splurge on some in the future.
(In the meantime, the lingonberry stuff from IKEA actually does the trick quite nicely...)

Happy Thanksgiving to my American family & friends!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


French bakeries are full of all sorts of beautiful deliciousness.

While I'm not a big fan of meringues (I'm more of a flaky-pastry girl), 
that doesn't change the fact that they are lovely to look at.

It's been drizzly & grey here in Annecy.  
Seeing these pretty pastel shade in a boulangerie last Sunday 
helped chase away the ugh-it's-still-November blues.
(For a few minutes at least.)

Which flavour would you choose?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Frenglish: Bun's

How often do I have to remind my students of the rules about apostrophe "s" to show possession?  
Way too often.

So imagine my horror when I spotted this in the frozen-food section of our supermarket:

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Seriously?  "Bun's"??!! 

(Also, France has a bakery on practically every corner.
Why somebody would choose this microwave-able atrocity 
over a still-warm-from-the-oven brioche is beyond me.)

The mind.  It boggle's.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Scenes from Sunday

Yesterday friends from Lyon came to visit.
It was lovely to spend Sunday together.

No sooner had everybody arrived than FQ & Emie got to work making crêpe batter.

Look at that concentration!
Meanwhile, Emie's little sister Théa kept herself busy...
... until it was time to eat.
Then us grown-ups (& two-year-olds) sat down to lunch.
Behold le crêpe party, the best gadget ever.

Making your own individual-sized crepes?  
So. Much.  Fun.
(Even if things get a little messy when eggs are involved.)
After eating a zillion crêpes & polishing off a couple of bottles of cider, 
we needed some fresh air.

We bundled up & headed down to the lake.
We wandered into the old town 
& took the obligatory tourist photo in front of the old prison
Annecy's most famous landmark.
There were lots of people out for a Sunday stroll in the vieille ville.

After a quick stop at a cheese shop to pick up an (edible) souvenir...
... a pause to say hello to the local waterfowl...
... & a glimpse of the beginning of a beautiful winter-afternoon sunset...

...we headed home to warm up with hot chocolate.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Can you have your cake & eat it too?

If you'd run into me a week ago today, I would have looked something like this:

Relaxed & happy, right?

Well, can you blame me?
I was in Budapest & beyond excited to be exploring a new city.
It was FQ's 30th birthday & everyone was in a festive mood.
The sun was shining, we had lots of fun plans
I was about to eat what was quite possibly the most delicious piece of cake ever:

lots & lots of walnuts + layers of cream = heaven
We had all sorts of yummy hot beverages at hand:

And a table in a cosy corner of a wonderful little "cukrászda" (pastry shop):

No ordinary pastry shop, either.  
This one claims to be the oldest on the European continent!
You can read more about the history of the Ruszwurm here.

It's on a little street in the Castle District, practically next door to Matthias church.
can you believe it was mild enough for people to sit outdoors?! 
So there you go.
That was last Friday.

This Friday, there was no cake.
No rush of excitement at discovering what is around the next corner.
No birthday celebrations.

there was an alarm clock that went off far too early,
a bleary-eyed version of me in the bathroom mirror,
a rushed morning with not enough time to finish my tea,
an hour's commute,
a class of unruly adult students who are trying my patience in a big way,
lunch (still no pastries in sight),
more teaching, more students driving me up the wall,
an hour's drive back to Annecy,
end-of-the-work-week exhaustion, 
grocery shopping.

Making the most of a long weekend in a beautiful European capital?
Piece of cake.

Surviving the crazy work week immediately after such a long weekend without spending the entire time wishing you could go back in time & have another piece of that heavenly "torta"?
Not so easy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Budapest Shadows

We were walking down one of the narrow streets in the Castle District of Budapest. 
FQ pointed out the shadows cast on a building by the rooftops opposite it. 
"That would make an interesting photo," he said. 
And he was right.

click on the collage if you'd like to enlarge it
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Budapest in Yellow

For someone as snap-happy as me,  
4 days + 3 nights in Budapest = more than 600 photos.

Sorting through all the pictures I took is a bit overwhelming to say the least.  
Should I organize them according to day one, day two, etc?  
Or by location?  
Maybe grouping them by theme (the Danube, the churches, the pastries!) is a better idea.  
Hmm, hmm, hmm...

(& yes, I am a Virgo, if you were wondering...)

So you can imagine my relief when I noticed 
that a lot of my photos from our long-weekend trip had something in common: 
the colour yellow. 

I decided to borrow a concept from one of my very favourite blogs,  
little brown pen, which features absolutely gorgeous photos & "colour collections" such as 

 Best.  Idea.  Ever.

I threw a few of my best yellow-ish shots together
& presto!
A blog post was born.

And you know what?

Yellow has never been one of my favourite colours, 
but I think Budapest may have helped to change my mind. 

phone booth & autumn leaves = double yellow
one of Budapest's lovely old trams
cute cafe (which may or may not be named after my sister)
this gentleman was out walking his three funny dogs
the subway (isn't the station gorgeous?)

the synagogue (Europe's largest) at night

beautiful little street in the Castle District
market hall
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P.S. This post has been brought to you by the word "sárga".
I'll bet you can probably guess what that means in Hungarian!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Not a spare second to blog today!
I taught all day, came home for an hour & then turned around and headed out to a concert.
We went to see Calogero, a French pop rock singer.
It was a great acoustic show.  
There's nothing like live music, is there?

Here's a video of one of his singles from last year, "La Fin de la Fin du Monde".
I quite like the song & the video is interesting too.

(An aside:
Dear skinny girl Calogero is clutching in this video,
Your shoulder is beyond bony, my dear!
Get yourself to the nearest boulangerie and eat a croissant or ten.
OK?  Feel better?  Good.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Buda... wow!

So we're back from our whirlwind long weekend in Budapest.  

I pretty much walked around the entire time saying, "wow!!!"  

Ready to do the same?  Here's a sneak peek at some of my photos:

The Chain Bridge

View of the Parliament Building from the Castle District

Inside the Parliament
Us at the top of Saint Etienne Basilica
On the Chain Bridge at night
And speaking of "wow", can you believe how fabulous the weather was??

Balmy in Hungary in mid-November.  Who knew?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Hello, Danube!
We leave for Budapest tomorrow afternoon.
I couldn't be more excited!

I can't wait to eat this:
Cake at the Gerbeaud cafe.

Ride this:
I heart old streetcars.
Walk across this:
The chain bridge... wow!

And jump in this:
One of Budapest's famous baths.
I'll be back at the start of next week to tell you all about it!
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