Celebrating 225 Years! What do you have planned?

Today is my sixth Bastille Day (or as the French call it, “la Fête du Quatorze Juillet” or “la Fête Nationale“) on French soil. Although it’s a big anniversary — the French are celebrating 225 years of no more Bastille — I sort of missed out on the fireworks last night. I had bailed on a dinner/fireworks-viewing party earlier in the day because I was feeling under the weather, and our apartment in La Courneuve offered a less than optimal vantage point for the municipal fireworks display. I could still hear them, though, as well as all the fire crackers being tossed in the street below my window! There have been other events, of course, including the big parade down the Champs Élysées this morning, but we didn’t watch that either. The only thing we have planned, in fact, is a long walk in a park to get some exercise and fresh air. It seems like catching the French air force’s practice flights over Le Bourget yesterday afternoon is about as festive as it’s going to get for us this year … Continue reading Celebrating 225 Years! What do you have planned?

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So Much More Than a Paperweight

Chapter 3 of
My Life as an English Teacher in France

A few weeks ago, we commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. I decided not to write a new article about that momentous day; instead, I shared two earlier articles about the history of the landings and about my first visit to Omaha Beach. Normally, that would have been the end of je parle américain‘s D-Day commemoration, but something subsequently happened at work that I need to share … Continue reading So Much More Than a Paperweight

Paris Meets the Plains

My French mother-in-law is absolutely enamored of Native American culture: the music, the dance, the clothing, the history. So, when French Mother’s Day rolled around this year, we did something very out of the ordinary for us. Instead of having dinner or lunch around the family table, we took a trip to the Musée du Quai Branly to see an exhibition on the Plains Indians of the American West. Knowing my mother-in-law, there really was no better way for us to celebrate the day with her. It was a special moment for me as well — as her American son-in-law — to share our mutual appreciation of the native peoples of my homeland.

Continue reading Paris Meets the Plains

“humble before their sacrifice”

Here in France, it’s hard to miss the commencement of the 70th-anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings, from traffic problems all over Paris to a friend’s mobile uploads of Her Majesty’s arrival at Gare du Nord this afternoon. In the midst of all that, I want to take a quiet, solemn moment to remember the sacrifice made by so many on that day and in the weeks and months that followed to liberate France from Nazi occupation. Much has been written — and much is surely being written even as I type away here — on the significance of the day. Instead of adding to that (or possibly detracting from it), I’ll just share the words and images from my last two efforts to express the complex mix of emotions the day evokes for me. (Click the title links or the photos to access the two articles.) Continue reading “humble before their sacrifice”

Back in the Kitchen

In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve now spent four Thanksgivings in France. I think it’s probably the time of year when I feel most like an American expatriate. What I mean by that is that it’s the day when I feel the pangs of homesickness most acutely. Thanksgiving’s not a holiday here, of course, so I get pretty nostalgic watching my Facebook newsfeed fill up with status updates from back home about thankfulness, good food with family and friends, and even travel headaches. Looking back across the Atlantic at what you’re missing can easily give you the blues … which is why expats just have to make Thanksgiving right where they are! To be frank, I haven’t always succeeded on that score. Out of the first three Thanksgivings I spent on French soil, only the first featured a traditional American feast, so it really was high time for me to get back in the kitchen … Continue reading Back in the Kitchen

It’s official!

With this post coming the day after Thanksgiving, you’re probably expecting a run-down of how I spent my fourth Thanksgiving living in France. Alas, this has nothing at all to do with that. We’re actually not celebrating this most American of holidays until tomorrow evening, so you’ll have to wait a few more days for that story. Instead, this article is just an update on a genealogy project of mine. It’s probably not very interesting or exciting to most of you, but it’s a big deal for me:

It’s official — I’m a Huguenot!
(… well, I’m officially the descendant of two of them.) Continue reading It’s official!

Tiny Little Chewy Cakes

They look like bundt cakes, but they’re less than two inches tall. Even so, they pack a wallop of deliciousness. They’re canelés, which have become — hands down … or rather “out” for seconds — my favorite French pastry: pure heaven made from flour, eggs, milk, butter, sugar, vanilla, and sometimes rum. Continue reading Tiny Little Chewy Cakes

What breakfast was meant to be.

Image used under the terms of
the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license
© 2006 Virtual Steve

I first encountered muesli in the form of Kellogg’s Müeslix back when I was a teenager, and I finally got to taste the real thing when I first traveled to Germany and Switzerland in 1992. Based on those first experiences, I always thought of muesli as a (relatively) healthy breakfast option. I mean …

whole grains + fruit + nuts = pretty good for you, right?  Continue reading What breakfast was meant to be.

Once upon a time …

First of all, allow me to apologize for the delay in writing something for you, but things have been in a state of flux since we officially became a French family a fews weeks ago. That little red family register has changed a lot of things for us, the most immediate of which is that now I don’t have to be a full-time student to stay in the country! Given that I was already feeling both overqualified and overwhelmed in my last academic pursuit, I decided to just drop out. In the long term, that means that my schedule will be much more conducive to holding down a full-time job. In the short term, it means my schedule will be much more conducive to pursuing all kinds of personal projects ranging from the mundane like writing for je parle américain, to the utterly useless like learning Irish Gaelic, to the extremely ambitious like … writing a novel.

Yes — writing a novel.
Now, I know that might sound like a pipe dream, and
I know that living in Paris hasn’t transformed me into Ernest Hemingway,
but bear with me for a moment. Continue reading Once upon a time …

You’re a huge WHAT?

It’s not “official,” but I am pleased to announce that I am a …

Huguenot

“You’re a huge WHAT?”

Not “huge”

“Hu-gue-not”
/ˈhyo͞o gə ˌnät/

n.,
a member of the Reformed or Calvinistic communion of France
in the 16th and 17th centuries;
French Protestant.

Let me explain … Continue reading You’re a huge WHAT?