November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving: year five.

I have spent five consecutive Thanksgivings in France. It’s a hard holiday to miss out on, as any American expat can attest to. So, just like last year, I held a Thanksgiving potluck, complete with my recipes for green bean casserole, twice mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Another American friend brought candied yams, and the French participated by bringing bread, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake. My Russian friend even brought a Russian dish.

Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, the Thanksgiving potluck had less of the spirit of being thankful and felt more like a dinner among friends, but I’ll take it.

As seems to have become a tradition on my blog, here are 5 things I’m thankful for about my French life this year:

1. The French boy. He reads all my school papers and corrects all my grammar mistakes. He introduced me to many wonderful things about the Alps, like tartiflette and their vin blanc. He’s an amazing boyfriend and I’m so grateful to have him in my life.

2. Mes amis. I have met so many awesome people since moving to Troyes, and without them I’m sure this little town would be quite dull. I’m especially grateful for all the people in my masters program, who help keep me sane and deal with the ridiculous amount of projects we have.

3. Mon appartement. Despite the worrisome addition of bells in the church next door, which has yet to come to fruition, I love our new apartment. We are in the heart of the city, right next to a beautiful medieval church, with easy access to free parking, and to top it all off: my favorite Christmas time treat (les croustillons hollandais) are sold at the place (square) just out front! I’m definitely going to be gaining some weight this holiday season.

4. Voyager. This past year I’ve been able to visit a glacier, go wine tasting in Italy, and take a road trip in the Netherlands. All of which were made possible by new French boy’s car, so maybe that’s what I should really be thankful for? I love being able to travel and experience so many different cultures.

5. Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s hard to remember why I chose to move away from my friends and family to a country that is quite disorganized and can be very frustrating. And while Thanksgiving is something super American, I am so grateful to get to celebrate this holiday. It helps me remember all the wonderful reasons why I do live in France.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

November 11, 2013

Les Cloches

When looking for a new apartment to move into with the French boy for this last semester in Troyes, after several mediocre apartments, we walked into one where I had a coup de coeur (love at first sight).

It was luminescent. There was a puit de lumiere (a lightwell / a skylight) in the center of the building that provided light for the living room. The apartment was facing a little used street, and had beautiful big windows letting in even more light. There was even natural light in the toilet and bathroom, thanks to the puit de lumiere.

In Troyes, while the medieval timbered houses are charming, they let in little light. To finally find an apartment, in the city center, on a pedestrian street, with this amount of light was exceptional. But it wasn’t only the light.

Looking out of the living room windows, the neighbor’s beautifully kept flower garden was visible.

Chez les voisins.

The kitchen came complete with an oven. The living area was huge, with an archway. There were two bedrooms, each with a view of the neighboring medieval church.

l'eglise as seen from the bedroom window.

And there lay the problem. Churches in France aren’t simply for Sunday morning service. They are for all the time. Church bells ring for the hour on the hour, and some even ring every 15 minutes.

I knew this though, and so I asked our realtor straight away if this particular church came with ringing bells. She assured me it did not.

Totally enamored by the apartment, we signed the lease.

After living here for about two weeks, while reading the local newspaper, the Frenchboy had some bad news. The newspaper announced that they were going to be putting bells back into the church next door.
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