January 31, 2016

Normal conversation

While still on the job hunt, I was discussing the different interviews I had been on in France with my brother. I had gone to job interviews at eight different companies at this point, and at most of these, I was offered a beverage (coffee/tea/water) at the very beginning of the interview.

At interview #8, however, no such offer was made. Eventually, after about an hour of interviewing, the interviewer asked me if I would like to go join everyone for le pause café.

Several employees were enjoying their mid-morning coffee break, and I was able to join in on everyday conversations and really get a feel for the place.

After agreeing that it is an interesting interview tactic, as it allows the employer to observe the interviewee in a social setting, and it allows the interviewee the opportunity to see if they’d be a good fit, my brother asked me, “well, what did you guys talk about?”

“Oh, you know, just normal stuff… mostly about vineyards, different wine producing regions, and champagne caves.”

“Normal? ...that is so French!”

I hadn’t even noticed.

Visiting champagne caves in Reims!

January 3, 2016

First French Christmas

Being unable to re-enter the French territory if I left it due to visa complications, I celebrated Christmas this year in France, with the Frenchboyfriend and his family; my very first French Noël.

Christmas in Paris.

French Christmas is all about family and food, a lot of food, with a little bit of Père Noël thrown in.

The celebrations started on Christmas Eve, with a family dinner lasting from 7pm till 2:30am, with about an hour of that dedicated to opening gifts. The rest? Drinking delicious champagne and wine, and eating several courses, from appetizers to a cheese course, and of course way too many desserts to count.

I learned that in the South it is traditional to have 13 desserts. We didn’t have quite thirteen, but we did have homemade chocolate covered clementines, marzipan fruits, bugnes, gingerbread cake, and bûche de noël, to name a few.

Christmas decorations in a small skiing village next to Frenchboyfriend's hometown.

In between the cheese coarse and the dessert coarse, who to my wandering eyes should appear but none other than the not-very-elusive Père Noël!

France’s equivalent to Santa Claus actually shows up while the children are awake to bring them gifts. While there weren’t any children present, Frenchboyfriend’s grandpa still dressed up as Père Noël and added a bit of Christmas magic to the evening.

French children also don’t need to hang their stockings by the chimney with care, as the French get their gifts directly from the big guy and don’t have stockings at all.

This probably explains why Frenchboyfriend’s family kept referring to all the gifts under the tree as being from Père Noël. There didn’t seem to be the same distinction between family gifts vs. Santa gifts that I have in my family.

Christmas day we underwent the eating endeavor again, only this time with the dad’s side of the family.

But meals didn’t stop there! We continued to have lovely dinners with various other members of the family and good family friends for the next several days. And then what else do you do for New Year’s Eve but eat a big meal?
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