Posts in Family Time
Functional French and it's Benefits

The Good and the Bad of being fluent in a language came to me this morning after a rough evening at an English book club. Living in a country where I only speak a “functional French” and that is still limited to mostly face to face conversations versus the telephone, I’ve actually been secluded from having to deal with conflict, anger, other people’s “pain body” as Eckhart Tolle calls it or ordinary frustrations. I smile on greeting, say “Bonjour,” and at times enter into a conversation about scheduling a play date, a pickup or asking a question. My comfort level with deep, fluent conversations in French is still limited to my hour with my French teacher who tolerates anything and talks with me about everything, a five minute conversation here or there with a patient person I’ve gotten to know or with friends and neighbors when Jean is there to help fill in the gaps later of what I missed. As a result I never realized how protective being only “functionally French” is. I don’t have the capacity, the language, the speed of speech, or the tenacity to engage in conflict in French. As a result I am quite a peace in the language!


Maybe this is my answer to a more peaceful existence while living here!


Read More
Lyon, the often missed French city

Lyon, a Gallo-Roman settlement situated a few hours from Paris, Avignon and Geneve is often a city one waves to as they pass by the on the train. This time we decided to take a direct line and spend a day and night in the city on the way to Geneva.


The old ville has been renovated as a pedestrian area with fantastic shops and gastronomic restaurants every ten yards. Spending a week there and you still would have more places to eat than time. The Gallo-Roman remains to modern architecture, not forgetting Romanesque and Gothic buildings - Lyon has preserved its ancient districts echoing with memories of its 2000 years of history.are as good as those seen in Paris and the vibrancy of the city is felt throughout.

Read More
Costa Brava and Barcelona

Toussant (All Saints Day) is celebrated by a long weekend for those working and a ten day vacation for the schools. The French love celebrating their saints and so who is to complain. Toussant, Nov 1 is the day after Halloween when everyone buys hugs plants of fall flowers and visits the graveyards of their ancestors, picnicing, praying, and enjoying the sun. The ancient stone cemeteries are full of life and colored with orange, yellow, purple and bordeaux colored flowers.


Taking advantage of the vacation we headed down to Costa Brava and Barcelona for a few days. Costa Brava is the bay of beaches between the French Border and Barcelona. Roses the largest bay is a grand bay with miles and miles of white sandy beaches. Stretching down the coast further are small bays, beaches, fishing villages and inlets cut between jagged cliffs and expensive homes built on the edge of the coast. Similar to many beautiful places it especially reminded us of the California Northern coastline.  DSC08812.JPG

Read More
Costa Brava Spa Surprise

Costa Brava Spa Surprise  - a beautiful family day spa


Our car pointed south for our Touissant (Fall) vacation towards the Costa Brava beach resort of  St. Felieu de Guixols and Barcelona. Our attempt was to have a bit of repose time at a spa as well as see the sites, but of course the challenge with spas is to find one that allows and invites children. Voila!!! We found it and we highly recommend it; the Magma Thermal Leisure Center in Catalonia, 20km south of Girona. Situated at the base of a major hiking area lies a long two story building, sleek in architecture both inside and out and immaculately clean and pristine. Opened in 2002, the thermal leisure area’s grand space is massive with it’s two story glass windows overlooking a grassy meadow, chestnut, oak and occasional beech trees, and the Guilleries mountains . Visiting the thermal waters provides a relaxing and playful break from hustle and bustle of Barcelona and has something for everyone from infants to seniors. The leisure center, 870 square meters of thermal water surface and 45,000 square meters of garden, includes a central spa with a temperature of 36 C with a counter current river, pressurized water cascades, hydromassage benches, bubble basin and hydromassage beds all layed out in a spiral-like pool 1.5 meters deep. Set above the central spa are two hydromassage jacuzzis for 8 people with a temperature of 35 C. Set below is a toddler’s playground set in a pool 5 meters wide and 30 cm deep as well as a four lane 25 meter swimming pool at 28 C. DSC08771.JPG

Read More
Day Trips in Languedoc A Day Off

Even in France you sometimes need to truly take a day off. It seems like we have been working hard since the Spring vacation finishing up some writing and Jean working diligently on his dissertation which is a life of its own. Plus end of the school year activities are added into the schedule with what seems like less and less free time. Now I know this is all relative as we do live at a leisurely pace, but a day off was needed. 


I decided it was time for a mini vacation so we headed off for Marie St. La Mer and the Camargue where the original cowboy came from. The land of white horses and taureaux. Starting off we took a two hour horseback ride through the Camargue to see the etang and the flamingos close-up. Zoe-Pascale having taken a year's worth of poney lessons was confident on her tall white horse, one of the famous camarguais horses. Jean a bit timid loved his gentile horse and moved through the landscape slow and steady. DSC08013.JPGInterstingly all the baby horses are born brown but turn white as they grow older and only the males are used for horseback riding.

Read More
May in the South of France

May 2007,


Mom and Dad have come to visit for two weeks. At 83 and 86 they are a marvel at traveling across time zones and enduring the long plane flight to France. Visiting with us and Zoe-Pascale was their main objective with of course a little bit of shopping for Mom in the Uzes marche. Walking her to school, then trekking back to the Tabac (where you buy newpapers and cigarettes and lotto tickets) for the Herald Tribune and back to the Bar du Marche (the happening cafe in St. Quentin) Mom and Dad went every morning. The cafe booming with tourists this time of year kept Mom busy visiting with English speaking tourists from various countries. By the end of the week they knew exactly what to order and were on first name basis with Natalie and Ramon the new owners. Jean and I would take our morning 5K walk and often join them for a cafe creme before starting our work for the day.


Read More
The Joy of Skiing in the French Alps - Spring Vacation Part 1

Last year we indulged in a ski vacation with Club Med in the French Alps which was worth its value. However, this year on a bit more of a budget we headed off for Vaujany in the Alpes d'Huez region (French alps) of France. What we have been finding is that there are hundreds of little valleys and resort towns that are built for vacationers, families, and winter and summer activities. Vaujany one such town has been building new apartments for rent with a mini shopping area full of ski shops, restaurants, a market, an indoor swimming center and gym, ice skating rink and ski resort. It has blended tradition with modernity and provides skiing, swimming, skating and trekking facilities in the beautiful mountains of France.  The village is connected together with covered stairs and escalators as well as a van service to the cable car starting point. From the village you take one of three cable cars up the mountain to the ski stations.

Read More