Letters to home – France

Hello, my friend!

It is late now, and the wild cats are groaning territorially outside the patio doors. Our Villa in Romanieu, ‘Ile de France,’ is a wonderous place. It boasts of two stories with a kitchen and three bathrooms, hardwood winding staircase and Italian tiles, ‘Hobbit-style’ rounded porthole windows and bright yellow French furnishings and glass coverings.

We have rented a car. The French rendition of a minivan is our version of a wagon, but with thinner wheels. We visited Paris some days ago – an hour drive away – and we found a phenomenon on the road ways: the French drive like maniacs. They do not ‘que’. The traffic rules simply seem to be ‘no touch another car, no lines to follow, no rules, try to adhere to a red light, no order.’ Five lanes converge into two, and, somehow, they do! Traffic roundabouts, which are massive traffic circles, abound in a maddening frenzy of cutting off, veering around, and giving in to any car that comes within a centimeter of your side door.

Drive or be driven over, give way to anyone you might have to hit, no yelling and no yielding to pedestrians. Ever. Don’t honk. Don’t look in other driver’s eyes. Motorcycles rule the road, particularly on the yellow dotted line between traffic. Yet, somehow, order prevails, and in the end, no one remembers anyone else, and the day burnishes into a lovely memory of only savoir faire.

Lesson one:

Above all (surprisingly), blend in. Buy great fashion but do not wear it in Paris. We, unwittingly, wore great outfits brought from home (shop here? My wallet is laughing), and we were certainly gazed at with curiosity.

All dogs are called ‘caniche‘, even if they are not actually caniche (which means ‘Poodle’).

“Hah!” I stated aloud whilst in the Eiffel Tower Park as we gazed up, up, up at the (in my humble opinion) ugliest structure to dominate the skyline when close up.

“Why, this arrogant French woman who has shoved me aside to let her dog pass aside of me has a ‘wannabe’ caniche. I, however, own three Caniche Royale. And they have better manners than this woman and would eat her daschund for breakfast.” To her credit, she ignored my inglorious manners and I apologized under my breath.

Prices for items are sort of culturally relative; they may be 10 Euro (about 13 CDN), and it would be worth 10 dollars CDN at home. We visited Reims today, to see the Cave of Mumm Champagne; the une ambiance was remarkable. I have a new appreciation of how Champagne is made – two fermentations and great science! They had a fantastic vintage 2004 Champagne reminiscent of fresh green melon and lemons.

I will chat with you again soon!

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