Category Archives: Culture Shock

What Will Robert & Mireille Make of Canada?

  They’re on the plane as I type this…probably somewhere over that   troublesome Icelandic volcano that has been causing us so much grief.

Robert – our mystery helper saviour who allowed us to create our wine cellar under the cobblestoned streets of Beaune and his wife Mireille (whom we have never met) are arriving at the Vancouver airport tonight for a three week stay here in the Great White North. 

Except that the cherry blossoms and rhododendrons are all blooming, so there’s nothing much white about it at all.  Robert and Mireille have traveled quite extensively in Europe, but never to North America. 

I am really wondering what they will think of it all…will they mind the dearth of four hour lunch breaks?  Of fabulous cheeses?   How will they cope with everyone blathering in English around them?

And most importantly, will Canada make Robert feel inspired to break out in his now-famous rendition of the “Ban Bourgignon“?

Stay tuned ici at www.grape-journal.com !

Clementine’s Favorite French Words

Clem’s speech has really taken off, and it is the strangest mix of English and French you have ever heard.

Her favorite words in English: “It’s mine!”, “faster”, “my turn”, “so cute”, “big girl”, and “OKAAYYYY!?!?!?!?!” which is tacked onto the end of every sentence, whether the sentence is in English or French.

Her favorite words in French: “Chocolate”, “habilles (clothes)”, “voila!”, and “fromage.”

The sentences come out something like this, “Voila! It’s mine fromage, OKAAAAAYY!?!?!?”

Maybe she has actually created a new language. Clemlish?

Family Photos With a Two Year Old

Seeing as we were all together in Hawaii (and looking sun-kissed by this point) we thought it was the perfect opportunity to update our family photos.

Clem’s blue plastic snack cup was a non-negotiable element if the photo was going to happen. This is the only decent one with both of the youngest grandaughters looking at the camera, everyone’s eyes more or less open, and the pre-teens not doing their signature weird toothless smile.

And seeing as Franck and I don’t seem to have a single photo of us with our Bevy, we thought we would get a few family shots as well. In this one I was holding on to Clem for dear life and hissing, “take the goddamn photo NOW! NOW DAMMIT!”

Yes, that strained look on my face is because I knew I was holding a two year old (aka a ticking time bomb).

A nanosecond later she started to squirm out of my arms and kick Camille in the back.

And then Franck tried to take her – which only positioned her better to pour Cheerios over Charlotte’s head.

So he gave her back to me. Thus ended our family photo shoot with a two-year old.

Un Petit Peu Hawaiian?

As you all know, my three girls (collectively know as “The Bevy”) are half French and half Canadian.

But our two weeks on Maui has got me wondering…

Could they also be a little bit Hawaiian?

A World Away…

Thanks to my wonderful Beaune correspondent Allison May, I got a glimpse of just how very different March 6th was in Beaune, France and then here where I am on pretty much the other side of the world in Maui, Hawaii.

Allison was duly impressed with the tenacity of the merry-go-round operator on the Place Carnot, which was something I always marveled at as well. Come rain, wind, or as you can see here, snow, little can stop the manège.

Allison also sent me this great video yesterday of the snow falling in the streets of Beaune and on the shoulders of some very disgruntled-looking Beaunois. From what I hear of my Burgundian friends and family, everyone is thoroughly sick of what has been the hardest winter in recent memory.

Of course I told my long-term guests at La Maison des Chaumes before they arrived in January that winters were mild in Burgundy compared to Lethbridge, Alberta and recommended they didn’t bother bringing their snow gear. I am still ruing that day (as are they, sans doute!).

And I am remaining veeerrryyyy quiiiiiieeeettt about he fact that it’s 5:30am here in Maui and I am already wearing my tankini.

Enjoy, and merci again Allison!

Frenchman Goes To The Moon, Otherwise Known As Maui

My postings have been a little light this week as I have been preparing Franck, myself, and the bevy (that’s A LOT of sundresses) to fly off to Hawaii tomorrow morning.

Kihei, Maui to be exact.

I was lucky enough to spend at least three weeks every Spring in Kihei growing up but I haven’t been back since Grade 12, the year before I went to France and my life spun on its axis.

We’ll be staying at the same condo complex we used to stay at – Hale Hui Kai – and I am expecting the entire experience to be a bit of a blast from the past…with the exception of having to chase after a 2 year old instead of lathering myself with a thick coat of baby oil and frying like a rotisserie chicken under the palm trees.

And then there’s Franck. The first time he ever even took a plane was when he came to Montreal so that we could be together a few months after I left France. Granted, he has more than made up for lost time since then, but growing up in Villers-la-Faye Hawaii was definitely not on his radar.

Paris, yes. Maui, no.

As he said to my parents a week ago, “If you had told me when I was ten that I would go to Hawaii one day, I would have looked at you as if you had told me I would be going to the moon. It seemed that impossible.”

And yet…that’s where we will be sleeping tomorrow night.