Category Archives: Snapshots of French Life

Frenchitude Lesson# 43 : Celebrate Bastille Day

We got a true Republican send-off two days before we left France.

Despite the fact that we still had tons to do and very little time to do it, we wouldn’t have considered missing Villers-la-Faye’s annual 14th of July celebration.

The 14th of July – or Bastille Day as it is also known – bien sûr celebrates the storming of the Bastille that heralded the start of the French Revolution. All over France the day is an opportunity to drink some wine, eat good food, and sing Edith Piaf songs.

Here is Camille at our seat under the tent that they set up on the Place de salle des fêtes.

He we are serving up a magnum of Hautes-Côtes 1993 that Jean-Francois Bouhey, one of Villers-la-Faye’s wonderful winemakers, brought along for everyone to enjoy.

And here are the big girls, happy after their face-painting, duck bobbing, rifle shooting free-for-all.

Us Germains weren’t village champions of anything this year, unlike last year. No matter, not only did we have the very valid excuse of moving fatigue, but we had a great time anyway (and just for the record, I came 4th in the women’s quilles.)

Last but not least is the background noise of pétards, or little fireworks, going off all day long. And I ask you – who, young or old, doesn’t like to set off fireworks?

So, no matter where you happen to be on the globe for the next July 14th, stop and drink a glass of wine with friends, or eat something delicious, or make some gratuitous noise.

I believe that there is a little bit of Frenchitude in everyone. Like so many things in life, it just begs to be celebrated. Bastille Day is the perfect opportunity.

As for me, I’ll be in Villers-la-Faye on July 14, 2010. How could I possibly be anywhere else?

Whose Idea Was This Anyway?

Older children left to fend for themselves like Gavroche and other orphan children under the bridges of 19th century Paris with only a sprinkle of water.

On days like today when I have a million move-related things to do and a 17 month old who has decided to give up her naps, this whole trans-Atlantic lifestyle thing doesn’t seem like such a good idea after all.

I’m sure it was Franck who first suggested it…*grumble*

Cinq Ans Passés

Moving is Hell.

I knew it before, and the past two weeks have confirmed it for me.

Yesterday afternoon when I was racing back from Beaune the digital temperature screen in LadoixSerrigny read 37.4 degrees Celsius. I knew Hell was supposed to be hot, but come on.

Moving is Hell because one’s house looks like this;

And because of all the mess and open doors and dangerous stuff lying around the babies have to be put in The Prison (a.k.a the play park) a lot.

Surprise, surprise! Babies don’t like being put in The Prison. And babies who don’t like being put in The Prison BITE when they are put in The Prison yet again.

All of that is really hard. The exhausting, overwhelming kind of hard.

But harder still is taking your girls to their last day of school in France and realizing that on their very first day of school in France they looked like this;

And that on their last day of school in France, they look like this;

There is nothing else that quite as dramatically strikes home the fact that we are closing a chapter on five years of our lives.

And…what a minute….who is that interloper?

Hold on…has somebody shrunk Franck, changed his gender, and put him in a red and white striped dress?

Nope. That would be Clem. A little person who wasn’t even around five years ago but who now takes up a Very Big Place in the Germain family (even when she’s in The Prison).

After I took these photos I cried all the way up to Dijon where we had to go in the 35 degree heat to buy linoleum.

It is ridiculous really, because we will be coming back often, and I am truly very happy about moving back to Canada. I feel in my gut that it is the right time.

Still, I look at the photos above, and I cry some more.

The Healing Powers of Wine

Saturday morning I woke up not only with a very sore throat, but a very full day ahead of me. However, the first thing on my schedule was my annual rendezvous in Volnay with my friend Charlotte and this year with her equally lovely friend Stéphanie for the “Elégance de Volnay” women-only blind winetasting.

Sore throat be damned – I wasn’t going to miss it.

Here is our table. I think we are looking pretty darn elegant for 10:30 in the morning.

Of course, it WAS a lot of hard work. We had to blind taste 8 different bottles of Volnay 2005 vintage (one of the best vintages over the last several years) then discuss the wine, make our own tasting notes, and then mark each wine individually out of 20.

It was exhausting.

And in the course of the two hours I spent tasting some of Burgundy’s best wines, my sore throat completely disappeared (and so have the panic attacks for the time being).

Thank you Bourgogne.

Le Caveau in Action

On Saturday night Franck finagled babysitting for the bevy and we went down to Beaune to meet several people for an apéritif at Le Caveau du Relais du Vieux Beaune.

Besides Franck and I, there were the Browns (who had just stayed at La Maison de la Vieille Vigne) and their friends who just so happened to be wine importers to the US, the Stones (who were staying at Le Relais du Vieux Beaune) and our friend Marjorie who runs the fabulous Cook’s Atelier and her lovely friend from Arizona.

Here Franck is explaining something, probably my wife was so gracious about me having to work nights and weekends sandblasting this cellar while she looked after our bevy (Not).

More likely, it was something about our fantastique cooling system which is being installed next week.

We served Claire’s wine (bien sûr) and everyone had a choice between a refined white and an elegant red. Marjorie claimed her spot for her and her daughter Kendall’s wine.

I think our Saint Vincent over at his post on the far wall was very pleased. We even got a photo of Franck and I, a rare occurrence as usually I am always the one behind the camera.

In Vino Veritas!

Now That’s What We Call "Chantage"

The other day Camille came home from school bursting with news.

“Gaston (name changed to protect the young and naughty) showed his zizi to everyone today at the cantine during the cheese course!!!”

“Did that bother you?” I asked.

Non,” Camile said. “I just told him that I would tell the teacher if he didn’t give me ten of his best Pokemon cards.”


Camile pulled Gaston’s ten best Pokemon cards out of her jacket pocket and flashed them at me with a toothless grin.

“It worked! I hope Gaston shows his zizi tomorrow.”

Un Vol By Any Other Name

I recently picked up this gorgeous pine armoire at one of my secret addresses in Dijon. I think it dates from the early 1900s or so, boasts an amazing honey-toned patina, and fits in perfectly in our entrance at La Maison des Chaumes.

I guess seeing as I am in France I’m going to be French about it and not be so gauche as to say how much I paid. But let me just say – it was a total steal and I can’t help but get a little frisson up my spine every time I look at it. Un vrai coup de foudre

Is it normal to feel this way about furniture?