My Weird and Wonderful Weekend. Part I



This weekend was not just any weekend, it was what is known around here as “Les Trois Glorieuses”, or in other words, the huge Hospices de Beaune wine auction and attendent party. And this weekend starts on Friday, just to stretch out the fun and madness. And as for me, as you will read, there was a lot of both…

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 17th

8:00 am

Panicked phonecall from the Wine Authority in Beaune (the BIVB) who are big players in the Vente des Vins. There is a page long press release about the 2006 vintage that is released to the Associated Press and the freeloader journalists, and which needs to be translated into English. Can you do it?
“When will I receive the french document?”
“Around noon.”
“When do you need it by?”
“5:00pm at the very latest.”
“Well, I have an appointment in Beaune at three, so it will be rushed but if you’re sure I can get the document by noon…”
Oui, oui, no problem. Ah merde, must go, things are crazy here”. CLICK.

8:10 am

Franck has to run over to Magny to wait for the water guy to come and read the meter. Two days previously Franck had huge fight with them over the phone wondering WHY the meter guy could no simply call him when he was nearing Magny, which would save Franck from waiting around for an hour in the cold. And guess what the shining example of the french civil service answer? “Bah, monsieur, you should just wear a warm jacket!”

So Franck, disgruntled with French civil servants, is in a foul mood. When I shout “get the car back by 8:30 so I can take the girls to school!” he just grunts.

8:30 am

Where is Franck with the car???? The girls are all ready, jackets on, stuffy toy and school bag in hand, etc. etc. but where is Franck???? Finally I hear a car in the driveway and then a knock on the door. Whew, he’s back, but why on earth is he bothering to knock on the door of his own house? Open the door and see a nice young man holding a clipboard.

“Bonjour Madame, your husband made an appointment for me to come and service your furnace this morning.”

9:00 am

Through what can only be attributed to a minor miracle manage to heave mountain of dirty laundery out of the way and get furnace guy settled and drive girls to school before the big wooden door closes me out. When I come back home Franck is at home talking furnace talk with furnace guy, and the whole place smells like oil. Get into office to see answering machine light blinking. It was the damn water meter man who, in the end, DID call to say he was coming.

11:30 am

Go down to school to pick up kidlets for lunch, my two plus it was our day to have Alix and Eloi as well (my friend Charlotte’s children). Get everybody home, hands washed, and stuff them full of smiley fries and fish fingers. Balanced meals have a tendency of going out the window during days like this.

12:30 pm

Gulp down coffee and check emails to see if famous “communique de presse” has arrived.
Nada.

1:00 pm

Still Nothing. I have to leave the house again at 2:30…Call BIVB. Where is the document?
Answer: “They’re still winetasting and arguing over the wording.”
“I need it! I’m leaving home in an hour and a half.”
“I’ll call them and tell them to hurry up.”

1:30 pm

Document finally arrives. Just FYI and to paraphrase – the 2006 vintage is looking pretty good despite very difficult weather conditions this year. The whites are excellent (especially the Chablis) and the reds, while a bit more uneven, show some promise in the more robust, well-vinified wines, although there is a bit of a problem with high tannin levels. Translate madly for one hour, and send the doc off just as I hear the car wheels crunch in the driveway as Franck comes to pick me up.

3:00 pm

Sitting in gynecologist’s office for yearly exam. Reflect that it was probably a Good Thing that I was preoccupied this morning and didn’t therefore have too much time to dwell on afternoon appointment. Gynecologist has reputation of being a good doctor, but is rather off-putting as has a “Le” in his last name and is therefore an artistocrat of sorts and also wears a silk “foulard” around his neck, which is something I have certainly never encountered before in Canada. Also, in France there is no modest sheet to cover body parts during the exam. You have to strip in a little cubicle and then walk across the room and hop up on the examination table completely naked – there is no sign of any modest paper sheet at any point in the proceedings.

4:30 pm

Have survived, although personal dignity is, quite predictably, in tatters. Run off to grocery store with Franck to buy lunch food for the “Vente des Vins” meal we are having on the next day, and then dash off to pick up the girls from school.

5:30 pm

Pick up girls, go to Meme Germaine’s to have traditional Friday evening “aperitif” (kir, Bien sur). Drop off girls at Franck’s parents, and delirious with possibilities, hop back in the car and head back to Beaune in search of something to eat.

7:00 pm

Bought delicious hot sandwiches (mine is chevre cheese and lettuce) at La Caravane on the Place Madeleine, and go to the bar next door with them and enjoy a beer from Belgium. Stroll around the streets, where all the Christmas lights are strung up and glowing and sparkling and basically making everything quite magical.

9:00 pm

Get home, and do an hour of mad house cleaning and table setting for lunch tommorrow.

10:00 pm

Collapse in front of the TV and decide to watch our Sopranos DVD again.

12:45 am

What total idiots. Tony and Carmela and the crew are just way too magnetic. Set the alarm for 5:45am – only five hours from now!