Wednesday, February 18, 2009

chez medecin

I have returned from the life and the rich and the famous to the life of the rich...hehe. This week I took a sewing class with this woman who used to work for all the big labels like Gucci, Prada, etc. She had her own store in Monaco! I don't know how good of a teacher she is though because my creation is not that amazing...

ok i have to document this because it was so funny and i want to remember it. tonight at dinner we had the funniest conversation about hair. Charles has really long girlish hair and he refuses to get it cut. he likes to hide behind it and he thinks it looks cooler. at at the same time Christian was saying that he needs more boys in the house, because there are 5 girls and charles looks like a girl with his haircut. then charles got mad because he thinks he is a grown up man. Christian asked him if he had facial hair, and he screamed "NO! BUT EVE HAS ONE ARMPIT HAIR!" haha eve was so proud of it! she showed everyone at the table! and then charles told her to cut it and she matter-of-factly responded that if you cut it it will grow back thicker and darker! haha it was so funny.

veronique thinks everything can be solved by a "tezane" which apparently is a kind of tea with herbs in it. lilly wasn't feeling well the other night and she made this huge concoction with honey and and herbs and tea. and manon was cracking me up because she said she wanted to go to the doctor, but vero wouldn't hear of it. christian said it is because she is from bretagne and it is the bretagne method to refuse medicine! haha.

they are always keeping me laughing :) but at the same time they remind me of home because no one sits at the dinner table...i miss my fam!!! can't wait until my rentals come :)

Monday, February 16, 2009


Hello Monaco! On Saturday night we got to Monaco, where we enjoyed the most luxurious weekend a college student could ever dream of! Included in the price of our program was a dinner with the whole group. We went to this delicious restaurant overlooking the yachts in the harbor of Monaco. It was so delicious! Afterwards we went to the Monte Carlo casino, which is the casino in the 007 movies (so I've been told I've never seen it). It was so cool! I'm pretty sure Beau would have died here haha. I've never been gambling before, and I was too scared so I only gambled a euro on the slots. But it was still cool just to be there! There were so many fancy cars, yachts, designer clothes stores, restaurants, etc. Definitely a different way of life!


I just got back from an amazing weekend in Nice and Monaco! Nice was so beautiful - the buildings were so colorful and the sea was amazing! When we got there we tried all of the native food at the market. There is a lot of Italian influence there so there is really great Italian food and seafood as well. I tried socca, which is kind of like a crepe but made out of chick pea. It was really good. Then they also had this delicious pastry made out of swiss chard, pine nuts, raisons, and dough that was soooo good.

After we walked around and ate a little we went to carnaval! The carnaval parade that we went to was called "Bataille des Fleurs". They had huge floats all made out of flowers, it was really cool. The outfits of the people in the parade were amazing as well! They threw mimosa flowers on us, which are they yellow flowers that are in season now. It was really fun !

Pictures are copyright of my roomie, Lilli! Isn't she talented???

Friday, February 13, 2009

L'homme qui rit

Tonight I went to a French play written by Victor Hugo called, L’homme qui rit. The play was performed by a traveling theatre company who set up camp in Aix for two weeks. It was a sad story about a boy who has lived an unfortunate life, and of course it ends in tragedy. The music and acting were great! I had a hard time understanding some of it – the actors were not actually French, they were British, so that might have had something to do with it. Luckily I read the synopsis on wikipedia before I went – gotta love that website.

The ambiance of the play was almost better than the actual play! Shall I set the scene un peu? Imagine freshest, coldest air, in the middle of the woods in southern France on a dark night – and stumbling upon a small and cozy tent filled with rowdy French people and traveling thespians. I almost felt like I was an extra in the movie Chocolat, when the band of gypsies (aka Johnny Depp!) takes Juliette Binoche to the boat party to hang with his fellow gypsies. You walked into a little tent filled with people, with vintage posters for theatre on the wall. There was this crazy man who looked like a character from a movie: he had a huge mustache, darker skin, a newsboy hat, dangly earrings, and a vest. He was serving “vin chaud” and tea to everyone before the show began. The show actually took place in a big tent – and when you walked in you could see the actors getting ready in their makeshift dressing rooms on the side. It was like Moulin Rouge in real life! Afterwards the actor stayed around and talked to us.

Maybe I’ll just stay the summer and travel around France with the theatre gypsies???

Here is a pretty bad picture of an actor getting ready, and sitting next to me is my roomie Lilli and our friend Alex!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

la dégustation

So...three weeks in and already I went wine tasting! IT WAS AMAZING! A local American woman who has her wine certificate (it's actually a Masters!?? who knew?) hosted a class for students in Aix. She had it in her adorable apartment, and I met lots of cool new people. At the beginning of the class she said "who is not able to legally drink in their home country?" and I was the only one who raised my hand haha. Everyone was very happy for me it was funny - especially the other Europeans.

French wine is not sold like American wine by the type of grape. It is sold by the region where it is made. In Aix, we have the best weather conditions in the world for making rosé. I learned that the color of wine has nothing to do with the grape juice - the juice is all white. The color depends on how long you leave the juice with the skin while it is fermenting. Rosé can be as dark or as light as the producer wants. Also, wine in France is never 100% of one flavor - it is usually always mixed.

I happened to like the light fruity wines and the dark spicy ones. We had yummy fruit with the light wines and dark chocolate with the red. We took little sips of each one - and learned all about snobby wine etiquette. Swirl swirl swirl, SNIFF! and sip! Hilary gave us a wine wheel aroma to help us figure out which tastes we liked best. There was so much to remember! At the end they served us a student-budget-friendly wine that was made in Chili. It was delicious, and it only costs 4 euro! Yes mom and dad I can buy wine in the store...mwahahaha!!!

Maybe the Mulvaney/Parker families can have a wine tasting party early this summer before it gets too hot? Now the only problem is that I have to learn how to cook the food that goes WITH the wine...

Monday, February 9, 2009


On the tour with Erin, she took us in her rusty old Renault to the Calanques, which are big cliffs that overlook the sea. You can go hiking all the way to Cassis, which is a nearby beach town. The Mistral was so strong that day, my French friend said "il faut etre américain pour aller dans les calanques," meaning that no sane French person would go hiking on cliffs with the wind so strong! It was a beautiful day, but the wind made it freezing cold. It was so beautiful though, I am going to go back when it gets warmer. We climbed all the way to the top of that cliff in the picture. Afterwards we sat and had hot chocolate on the beach to warm our chilled bones.

marseille (again!)

I spent the weekend in Marseille! There is so much to see and do there. On Saturday it was the last day for winter sales, so me and my friend Cari went shopping and I got a cute jacket. On Sunday a former CEA student who lives in Marseille now took five of us on a tour of Marseille. She took us to places I hadn't visited before, which was awesome! Plus, for lunch we went to her boyfriend's grandmother's house. She was this little French lady who didn't stop talking for two hours straight! It was so funny. And there were one of two people who just started learning French, but she wouldn't accept that and just kept talking and talking. She kept force feeding us cheap white table wine, which she said was "a woman's wine" because the top has a twist off cap and it has less alcohol content than normal wine. Then, as she giving us stale bread and the french equivalent of tastykakes she called herself a "vrai gourmand". Ha! She was cracking me up.

In this picture, it's a Coke ad but it is saying "allez OM". OM means Olympique Marseille, the soccer/football team that everyone loves here. I am dying to get to a game! Maybe i'll go one weekend to see what it's like :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

la famille

I think Charles should be a model! Don't be fooled by this good looks...he is so sassy. Although he would get along great with Liam because he loves Wii! And he's always showing me his computer games and such. I told him about Rock Band and he was amazed !

la famille

I know I have mentioned my family, but I don't think i every really described my family. I live with Véronique, who is a psychiatrist and she sees patients at the house. Christian is a consultant for artists, performers, musicians, etc. and he travels a lot for work to Paris or around France. So a lot of times he is not here. He has been everywhere in the world almost! They traveled a lot together before they had kids - Veronique worked as a "hostesse de l'air" or a flight attendant for an Italian airline before going back to school.

I have three French sibs: Manon, Charles, and Eve. Manon is super smart, she's 15. She loves Bob Marley and playing guitar! Usually I wake up/go to sleep to Bob...Luke and Manon should go out! She's single and she's really pretty Luke! She loves basketball too :) But she's chatty so I don't know if that will work. JE RIGOLE!

Charles and Eve are two peas in a pod. They fight horribly but they cannot be separated and they adore each other. The whole family is very animated; they love singing and dancing and being goofy. So I obviously fit right in! I wish I spent more time with them - everyone is so busy, the only time we are together is for dinner during the week. On Thursday and Friday morning I get to have breakfast with the babies because I have early class, I love it! We somehow always have the best discussions over breakfast. For example, who knew that Véronique was on a French game show, where she was tested on general knowledge against French stars. She won three times, bringing home a TV, a phone, and a vacation. And Christian's grandparents started UDF, Union pour un Democratie Francais, a recently retired political party. Cool, huh?

Tonight we had my favorite dinner yet! Everyday there are fresh, delicious vegetables and fruits for sale in the city. This equates to DELICIOUS! meals chez moi. Last night Christian made sushi! I really want to learn how to make that when we get home. The kids helped him make it because they each have their favorite kind. Anyway, tonight we had salad first, with this delicious spicy asian sauce and little tiny tiny shrimps in it! Then we had this gratin with cheese and some mystery vegetable that I don't know the word for in english. Apparently it belongs to the onion family, but the only thing I could think of was shallots. They were very dark green, so I don't know if it was exactly the same kind of shallot that we have in the US. With the gratin Véronique got jambon italien, prosciutto! I love prosciutto. Then we had steamed potatoes, but I have never eaten this kind before; they were brown on the outside and yellow on the inside, and almost sweet tasting. And for dessert delicious oranges. yumm :) Hopefully I can recreate some of this back in the US!

Side note to Julia and all other lovers of the Melting Pot: Eve got a fondue set and the other night we had some fruit kind of like grapefruit but more sweet and less bitter and oranges in dark chocolate. We MUST have a fondue party this summer!

Donc, je mange très bien ici. In conclusion, I eat very well here!

Here is are some photos of me and Eve goofing around. We both love to dance - she is a very good actress. They were taken by another American student who lives in my house, Lilli! Lilli is awesome, she's from Arkansas and super nice. She's also a very talented photographer. I'm lucky to have such a great homestay.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I think I just changed my blog so that anyone can comment on my posts, if you have an account or not. You just have to pass this little safety test (so I don't get any spam) Hopefully this works! Let me know :) Vous me manquez ! I miss you all!

la fete des chandeliers

Le lundi soir Charles n’était pas la – il est parti avec son école sur un jour de camping. C’était génial ! On peut discuter avec les adultes sans être interrompu. Veronique est vraiment fort : elle est psychologue, et elle voudrait dire ce qu’elle pense tout le temps. Moi, je ne trouve pas ça vraiment moche : elle pense que si tu restes silents tu n’es pas ton vrai soi. Je ne sais pas si c’est vraiment correct en français mais…ok. Je t’ai dit que de temps en temps c’est la politesse qui peut vraiment m’arrêter de dire ce que je pense. Elle, elle n’avait pas un problème de dire que le pape est un Nazi ! Bien qu’il j’ai dit que je suis catholique. Hehe…les différences entres les cultures.

De plus, j’ai rencontré une jeune fille française hier soir qui aussi étudie la psychologie. Mais elle me demandait « est-ce que tu es Aixoise ? » le meilleur complément du monde. YAY !!!!

Monday night my host brother Charles wasn't here - he went on an educational camping trip with school. It was great! We could talk with the adults without his interruptions hehe. Veronique is very smart and strong-minded. She is a psychiatrist, and she says what she thinks all the time. I don't think that particular philosophy is very flattering; she thinks that if you are silent and don't speak your mind you are not being your true self. I told her that from time to time your manners may keep you from speaking your mind. She may take it a little too far because she tried to tell me that the pope was a Nazi in his youth...hint hint ***that is when you use your manners Veronique !

In other news I met a French girl last night after church (it was la fete de chandeliers last night, the 2nd of feb when everyone takes down their Xmas trees and eats crepes? No frenchie can really explain to me the significance of it). She gave me the BEST COMPLIMENT IN THE WORLD! She said "are you an Aixoise?" meaning do you live here in Aix? WOOO! It was loud so she couldn't really hear me speak my bad french but hey at least my outfits are working! a bientot....

Marseille (2)

Monday, February 2, 2009


Le samedi j’ai renconté Nathalie à Aix ! ouai c’était vraiment bizarre de se voir ici ! Mais j’ai passé une très bonne journée avec elle et ses amis qui viennent d’Allemande. Le dimanche je suis allée à Marseille avec Emily, Cari, et Arielle ! J’aimais très bien Marseille ! Il y avait beaucoup du monde la, et c’était vraiment différent qu’Aix. C’etait vraiment une ville très grande, mais avec les gens gentils et la nourriture excellent. C’était beaucoup plus divers qu’ici. Aix semble quelquefois dans un autre univers, un univers de boots et café et l’élégance. J’ai vu plein de choses merveilleuses. Le Vieux Port était charmant, et L’Hôtel de Ville très jolie. On a visité aussi la Charité Musée, qui était un cadre pour les pauvres en 1674. Maintenant c’est un musée. J’ai beaucoup aimait aussi le Cathédrale de la Nouvelle Major. Ca, c’était mon favori parce que l’église était crée pour faire connaissance a la fait que Marseille reçoit des choses de la Moyen Orient. Alors, l’église a la décoration Byzantine. J’ai jamais vu une église chrétienne comme ça ! C’était génial.

On Sunday I went to Marseille with some of my friends in the program. I really loved the city! There are tons of diverse people here, and it was nice to get out of the bubble of sophistication and snootiness that is Aix. I saw tons of cool stuff in Marseille! We walked all around the old Port which was really charming. My favorite thing was la Cathédrale de la Nouvelle Major. The cathedral was created to represent the importance of Marseille as a port city. It therefore tried to incorporate art and architechture from the Middle East in a Christian church. It was so beautiful!

bon apetit

Le vendredi, j’ai des cours qui commencent à 8h et finissent à 15h sans pause ! Alors après les cours j’étais vraiment fatiguée, et j’avais vraiment faim. Alors il y a une petite boulangerie qui s’appelle Paul très bon, et j’achetais un sandwich avec la tomate et la mozzarella. J’étais en train de rentrer le cours à mon école, mais j’avais tellement faim que j’ai mordu un petit morceau dans la rue. Un mec très beau m’a vu et il a dit « bon appétit mademoiselle ! » C’est bizarre, mais Vivienne me disait que c’est quel que chose que les gens disent aux étrangers quand même : le seul chose acceptable ! C’était vraiment un moment français.

On Friday I had class from 8-3 without a break. After class I was really tired and really hungry. I went to this really good chain bakery I love to get a yummy sandwich and I couldn't wait to get back to school to take a bite of it. This french guy saw me obviously drooling over my sandwich and he said "bon appetit mademoiselle!". Normally, I would be freaked out because you NEVER talk to strangers in France, not a hello on the street or anything. But one of my teachers told me that this was a normal thing to say when you see someone enjoying food! Strange huh? I really felt like a French person!


On Wednesday we visited a Santon factory. A santonnier is a person who makes these little Santons, which are very characteristic of Provence. A Santon is a little figurine used for the creche, or the Nativity scene for Christmas. Provencals don't use just the baby and the stable and the wise men  - they include the whole town in the image! One Santon that is famous is Le Coup de Mistral, which is an old Provencal man who is struggling to hold on to his hat and cloak while facing the terrible winds in Provence called the Mistral. 

It was really cool to see how they make these figures - they are all handmade! It takes weeks to make even the smallest one.