Disclaimer: this post was written in partnership with Frantastique!
3 years ago, after all the stress with buying the new house, and settling in there, we decided that we needed a break. When friends of us mentioned that they wanted to go on vacation in France, we considered this a great idea and booked the flights and a hotel in Villeneuve Loubet, a little village in Southern France.
We landed, got the cars, made it to our village, and hours into our arrival there, we already commited a horrible faux-pas. See, we had the nerve to be hungry at 5pm. Who is hungry at 5pm? Not the French, obviously, because most restaurants were closed for a break and those that weren’t only served drinks and beverages.
So we sat down in one of the brasseries, and asked the waiter what we should do. Remember, we were hungry. And you know what happens when I am hungry. My friend? She was pregnant, and visibly so. The waiter then nodded in sympathy with our husbands, and pointed to a bakery and said that as soon as we buy drinks we are invited to eat our pastries and sandwiches on their premises. The waiter didn’t want to deal with one pregnant lady and one crazy lady and he was right. I wouldn’t want that, either.
The rest of the stay was wonderful. I managed to get some rest. We got to eat great food. K. must have been thinking that she had arrived in the Cheese Paradise. She loves cheese, the smellier, the better. Every Saturday and Wendsday, there was a market where we could buy fresh fruit and vegetables. I bought Coeur du Beuf tomatoes- I love them. They look like little red wrinkled pumpkins but the taste is divine. I also bought avocados, but you already knew I would. I was also very tempted to ask the fish seller whether his fish were fresh but decided against it.
The day before we left we have commited our second faux pas, or even two of them. First, my pregnant friend and I ordered tea. With lunch. The waitress is probably still under shock. Secondly, we didn’t order the kid’s menu for K. because she probably wouldn’t eat it. K. eats everything but not every day and not in every quantity. And that’s OK, I prefer her to eat what we eat anyway.
Her little friend ordered the kids’s menu and didn’t eat it, so the girls shared their lunch which was nice. And of course, the French kid’s menu wasn’t much different that the usualy adult’s menu, it just came in smaller portions. The girls also ate bread with olive tapenade and loved it!
We ordered the whole menu and it was delicious. All of the courses served were fantastic, and the portions were just perfect so I could try everything (a starter of eggplant and bell pepper with cheese followed by baked lamb with purple! potato puree) and still had place left for dessert, a lovely chocolate lava cake. It was so yummy! I love France!
Which is just as good because France and I, we have a history. I have family in France, and my father grew up there, and French was my parents’s secret language when they didn’t want my brother and me to understand what they were saying. However, soon enough it turned out that I could understand it anyway but I didn’t take a course until much later, as German and later English became my priorities.
After my last English exam, I had the time and the mindset to start French again. It was easier for me than for other in the class. I could speak better and I understood more than they did. But I had problems with writing. At some point I went to live with a French family in Nancy, to work on my French. And it was great, and interesting, and I learned a lot. But the first day I arrived early in the morning, I went to see the city of Nancy (very lovely, I assure you) to do some shopping, I kept my head down and tried to make myself invisible so that nobody would attack me with their French.
I still feel the same way. Maybe it’s because I somehow seem to think I should speak it better. However, while my spoken French still works (but only when my partner in conversation doesn’t speak anything else), my reading skills are rather poor, and my writing is disastrous.
Luckily, I can now learn French with Frantastique-and now you can too!