May 29, 2015

Surely, the Corniest Post: Rond Cendré


Surely, this is the corniest post I've written about France (and I won't call you Shirley). When we had a French exchange student stay with our family nearly 40 years ago, we served him corn on the cob at our house in upstate New York. François was aghast, horrified, disgusted, and probably insulted, too. We had just served him pig slop, as far as he was concerned.

May 26, 2015

Mini-Europe, Questionable Choices: Petit Bourguignon


I know the Eiffel Tower is big, but here it's just ubiquitous, and I mean that fairly literally. Nearly every place we go in Europe, we can see it looming over the local sights. Even from the Grand Place, for example, the famous market square in Brussels, it's there in the distance. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that every place we go in mini-Europe, we can see the Eiffel Tower looming.

May 22, 2015

Suffering (Slightly) from the Syndrome: Le Trinquelin


I'm not asking for a pity party, because if I were, I realize the world's smallest violin would, sarcastically, emerge. But people who live in Paris can sympathize when I say that I'm suffering from VFS: Vacation Fatigue Syndrome. No, it's not a real thing, but it should be. If it were an official diagnosis, it would a French epidemic.

May 18, 2015

Your Shaved Uncle: Tome de Bufflonne


If your uncle shaves your uncle, your uncle will be shaved. It's perfectly logical, really, but sounds like this in French: "Si ton ton-ton tond ton ton-ton, ton ton-ton sera tondu." Using the syllable "ton" (but spelled "tond" once) ten times in a row in a way that is grammatically correct is more impressive than anything we can do in English, as far as I know.

May 15, 2015

Bread and Water: Brie de Montereau


Prisoners get it. And so do chic bistro-going Parisians. And the rest of the French. Bread and water -- the stuff of life, and even more so here in France. The Fête du Pain (Bread Festival) tent is once again erected in the square of Notre Dame. To be more precise, it takes over the square in front of Notre Dame. It's the one and only thing each year that the city deems worthy of this place of honor: absolutely nothing is more sacred to the French than their bread.

May 12, 2015

The Advantages of Being Small: Valromey


We've just been to the Vatican, will be in Luxembourg in a couple days, and are planning a trip to Guernsey this summer, so I realize when I say that France is a "small" country, it's all relative. But from an American perspective, it's small -- and noticeably so. For gymnastics, the advantages of being small are obvious; but being a small gymnast in a small country can be big.

May 9, 2015

What Taboo?: Crottin de Brebis Affiné


About to send her youngest child off to university, my friend recently went in for a job interview here in Paris. "How old are you?," the interviewer asked. Explicitly. And you can't tell me he was too ignorant to know this is a taboo question because he was a lawyer, interviewing a lawyer, for a job as a lawyer.

May 6, 2015

A River Runs Through It: Camembert Pomcalva


Budapest is nicknamed the "Paris of the East" for many reasons; one of these is the river that runs through it. Like the Seine flowing through Paris, the Danube cuts through the middle of the city, curving and winding under bridges and around little islands.

May 3, 2015

A Mile in My Shoes: Roche Montagne


I'm suddenly hearing a lot about the Fit Bit -- the little gizmo that measures how many steps you take in a day. It's the modern pedometer, I suppose. Anthony has an app on his iphone that does essentially the same thing, as long as the phone is in his pocket, measuring out the rough distance walked each day along with a special notation for staircases climbed.

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