Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Yesterday, I went to MacDonald's for the first time in about six years.  Not only any MacDonald's though, a French MacDonald's.  It was vastly different than any experience than I have ever had.  I got the "Royal Bacon" which came with fries and a soft drink.

Now think American MacDonald's and the size of the burger I bought in America...My burger was easily half the size of an AMerican bacon burger.

And the fries, they were the size of the fries in a Happy Meal, easily.  The best part was, that when I was finished I did not feel like I needed to run a 5k to burn it off. That would not be a bad idea, but I was left feeling perfectly satisfied, if you will.

The drink was between the size of a small and a medium in the US.  I got a Coca-Light, that is what they call Diet Coke, so don't come to France and ask for a Diet Coke because you will not get one.  All of the portions were reasonable compared to the American burgers, my friend Marine was able to eat four Big Macs in the span of fifteen minutes without getting sick!

Also a little tid bit for anyone who wants to comment and does not know how:
You can now comment as status Anonymous, but if you do please sign your name/s!
You simply have to click select profile and then Anonymous to comment then hit comment!

Thanks for reading my adventures, I have many more to come!

Monday, September 27, 2010


Saturday, Adélie and I went to Lyon with Joelle and a few of her friends.  We took the train from Bonneville to the Gare de Lyon Part-Dieu in the center of Lyon where we met Joelle.  We then went to the one and only mall in Lyon, it was absolutely huge and I now understand why they put maps in almost every corner of malls.  We met one of her friends Ivan, who owns an apartment in Lyon at the mall and then proceeded to Les Halles de Lyon, where fresh produce of every sort is sold.  Since we were going back to Ivan's apartment to make lunch, we had to buy something; and boy did we buy something.  We bought quenelles, which are heaven made of flour, eggs and butter, a lobster sauce to cook them in, and pralines for that afternoon's gouter.  There were stations for fresh meat, seafood, saucisses, and dried food.  There were also a few pastrie shops, such as the one that we bought the pralines at, throughout Les Halles that had tummy-rumbling desserts on display.

After buying the ingredients for the future meal, we took a stroll back to Ivan's apartment by crossing through downtown Lyon and the Rhône Bridge.  After eating the magnificent meal of quenelles, rice and green beans, Joelle, Adélie and I headed down to visit Old Lyon.  We took a "funiculaire" to the top of the hill with the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, which was built in honor of the Prussians not invading Lyon.  The three of us rented a bike from Vélo V, one of those bike stations where you can rent a bike for a day, week or year.  The hill was so steep I was afraid that I was going to fall right over the handlebars.  The other thing was that whenever I stopped, I had to get off the bike completely because my legs were too short to reach the ground.  Once we got to the bottom of the hill where  I could breathe and walk again I was totally fine.  As we were walking through Old Lyon, we ran into La Fanfare de L'école Centrale Lyon who were playing a mix of so many different known tunes, the Aristocats to the University chant in the USA.
This past week I received my first test (devoir or controle in french) in french class in "figures de style".  I was absolutely terrified of taking it, because I did not want to see the outcome.

When we got them back a few days later I was so shocked to realize that I got a 14.75/20!  In France all of the grades are out of 20, so do not determine the percent in your head, because it is not like that.  That grade is not bad, in fact all grades above 10 are not bad.  Also, Adélie asked my French teacher later in the week if she had scaled the test for me and she told her "no", that she had to recount the points a few times to make sure she had gotten my number right!

The pictures that you see above are the views from either side of the bridge crossing the Rhône. After we crossed to the other side of Lyon, we also saw the Saône, and the place where the two rivers connect.

This week I have one test in every class so please wish me luck!

Also, tomorrow I will have my first encounter with French MacDonald's!

To see how I fare with all of the above, tune in next time!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Clouds and more Firsts

This weekend was a great weekend filled with even more firsts!

Yesterday was the Bonneville "brecante" where many locals sold different things such as clothes, Cd's, old car parts, stamps, candy and much more. That lasted all day and then in the afternoon and evening were competitions at the Skate Park for skaters and break dancers.  Adélie and I showed up right as the breakdancers finished so we missed them!  There was food, hamburgers along with crepes and other grilled foods, and after the prizes were awarded, there were bands that played into the night.

We were late because we had a "répétition" at the "Harmonie" which is the musical group that we are part of.  We have rehearsals every Friday night from eight thirty to ten thirty and Saturday afternoons from four thirty to six thirty.  Friday's rehearsal was definitely tough, but the music is great- we are playing the Muppet Show theme and a selection from Cats, I know it will make Mr.B proud :).   Saturday's rehearsal was tough too and there were a lot of people missing which made it harder for us to play, but we got through it and I think that with a lot of practicing and scale work, (Cameron, there are so many chromatic scale parts in the pieces!) the songs are going to come out great.  The Harmonie is made up of about 40 people ranging in age from ten years old to sixty and in instruments from the euphonium to the picollo.

I am really missing Pirates of the Carribean though, because after Adélie and I went to the Skate Park and met up with a few of her friends, they all came back to the house and we watched Pirates of the Carribean the Curse of the Black Pearl.  I still cannot get the music out of my head!

At the Gymnase at the Skate Park yesterday I had one of my awkwardest moments yet, and all I have to say is thanks Mom and Dad for warning me.  So Adélie and I went into the Gym to go to the bathroom and I look into the stall and all I see is a tiny little hole and a button.  I am totally serious, I would not be crazy enough to lie about something like that, it was a hole  in the ground!! I know that you are probably laughing your butt off right now, but imagine you were in my spot!  I was absolutely terrified, but enough on the awkwardness...

I was in a cloud today!!
Since this weekend was Patrimoine Weekend in Europe, that is the celebration of it's history, there were many attractions and historical sites open to the public that normally are not.  We went to a pottery museum in the mountains about thirty minutes from Bonneville.  There was pottery from the eighteen hundreds to now, and from bowls and plates to cow bells and christening water holders. They were all made from clay!

Later in the afternoon we went to La Roche, a neighboring town of Bonneville, to see an antique car show.  The American car species were not very well represented though, I have to say that I am dissapointed, but there were so many gorgeous European antique cars.  I noticed that all of the American cars that were there were at least two times the size of the European cars.  I am not kidding, there was a Mustang next to a little Triumph convertible, it looked like me standing next to CJ, there was such a distinct difference it made me laugh.  There were a couple Fords, a few Mustangs and three USA army trucks that were pretty cool.

We went with Joelle, the oldest Denizot sister at 25 years old, and we drove to the top of a mountain to eat lunch with her before seeing the pottery.  The altitude of the restaurant was 1,380m high!  The temperature was significantly cooler at the top of the mountain, but it was so worth it, because the view from the top was amazing, you could see ALL of Geneva!  This was on a very cloudy day nonetheless too.  You could look straight out and see Geneva, look to your right and see the city of Annecy far off and look up to your right and you see Mount Blanc in all of her snowy peaked glory.  So, to explain the cloud thing, we were so high up that there were clouds surrounding the mountain-top, where we were.

It was awesome, you could see the cloud moving around you and the trees.  You would look at the trees and see this layer of white that was moving rather quickly to the right.  Since it was a relatively cloudy day at first, when you were climbing the slight hill to get to the viewing area, all you could see of the sky was white, it was almost as if you were lost in the sky.  I was afraid that I would not be able to see the city at all because of the clouds.  For lunch we had a large meal consisting of an appetizer, champignon brochette for me-if you can tell me what that word is in english I will give you a shout out, sorry mom and frenchies you are not allowed to answer; that would be cheating.  Next was the main entree which was a reasonably sized veal chop with gratin dauphinois- thinly sliced potatoes drenched in butter- with an après-entrée- I made that word up- of two kinds of cheese, Thom and Reblochon. The final part of the meal, yes there was more, were three tiny pieces of crème brulée, berry pie and chocolate pie.  They were all amazing, and to think all of this was served at a tiny restaurant at the top of a mountian in the Alps.

Some interesting observations in the past week:
The boys have just as beautiful handwriting as the girls.
The French love chocolate and yogurt- I am talking not just your Yoplait, but real yogurt with an infinite amount of flavors from the traditional to pistachio and caramel. The yogurt gets its own aisle, I'm talking both sides too.
The French also drink their milk/tea from bowls, if you have cereal for breakfast, it's not cereal with milk but milk with cereal and when you finish the cereal you drink the milk from the bowl.
The French are very proud of their cheese, so if you ever come to France...ahem Mom and Dad... get prepared for the onslaught -sorry that makes it sound like a bad thing- of amazing locally make cheeses of hundreds of different varieties.
My favorite cheese so far is a tie between fresh goat cheese and the oldest and driest goat cheese.

I am going to apologize for the absence of pictures this week, I promise that there will be an abundant amount of them for next week's post.

Can't wait until next time!

A Bientot!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More Mountains!

My first week of school went so much more fantastic than I ever could have imagined.  I have met almost all of my teachers, and I introduced myself to more than half of my class.  I think that it is safe to say that I deserve a long nap.  I have been very tired this whole week at school, even though I get nine hours of sleep almost every night.  That phase should pass after a couple of more weeks and more of a set routine.

The climb going up to the house is still unforgiving though, because I am still left breathless and sweating by the time I reach the front door.  The moment I open the door I am greeted not by the wagging tail of Camille, but by the meowing of Minet.  That sound is going to be very hard to get used to.

This weekend was fun though, we went up to Benoit's parents' house in the Juras to get it ready for the winter.  It has a huge garden and so many berries and trees, it was hard to tell what was what.  We went with Natacha and Mélanie, who is another friend of Adélie.  Before we all left in the late morning for the Juras, Anne and I went to the market in the next town over, St. Pierre, to buy all of the goods for that day and for the rest of the week.  We bought some beautiful green beans, local grapes and Reblochon (a specialty of Haute Savoie).  We also bought some loafs of bread and cheese for the fondue that Anne and Benoit made for dinner last night.  I have to say that the four of us girls had a fun time with the garden chores that we were given.  We shook a cherry-plum tree annd picked them up and sorted them all, the good, the hard, and the not-so-pretty that would see a tart or pie in their near future.  We also picked blackberries and got pricked by the pesty little leaves that were found everwhere in that garden; the pricks feel like a less intense bee sting and leave either one or many little red bumps on your skin that go away the next day.  I think that if anyone else saw the four of us, they would think that we had chicken pox on our hands and arms!  We cut off the fresh bloomed flowers because they would do no good if we left them to rot, and we made them into bouquets for the families of Natacha and Mélanie.

I have to say that the two coolest things that we did were climb (mostly) one of the mountains and see a cow farm.  For the mountain, we litterally climbed it and followed a path almost to the top.  By the time we got as far as we did, we all just wanted to rest and appreciate the view which was fantastic. Another reason why we really went no further than we did was because there were cows in our way!  As soon as we got to a flat part in the mountain, we stopped and there were maybe 13 cows staring at us.  To tell the truth, I did not want to go any further because I feared that they would stampede us, but of course they didn't.
Later in the day, we went to see one of Anne and Benoit's friends who owns the cow farm to get some fresh milk.  When I say fresh milk, I mean we litterally got to see him work the milk machine.  There were two sides to the room that we were in with one row on each side that could hold five cows comfortably.  There were little suction tubes for each cow that sucked the milk out and into a piping system that brought the milk into two big jugs.  There is quite a process to be done in the art of milking cows, even if it is using a machine. I am not going to explain the whole process, but if anyone wants me to go into detail, please leave a comment and I will make it its own post.
Even so, we got our fresh milk and ate a deliciously cheesy meal in a 200 year old house made of stone.

Today I experienced my first French get together at a fellow orchestra family's house with the family of Mélanie.  The meal lasted four hours and left me full enough to skip eating for the next week.  There was so much food, I am not even kidding!  Then, to add onto it, I am supposed to eat another dinner tonight!  I will be surprised if I can even stand to look at the food.

Tomorrow I start week two, which will consist of many more firsts that you will only be in the know of if you tune in next week!


Monday, September 6, 2010

My First Week

So here I am, finally living the dream that I have had for the past few years.  All I have to say is that France is way better and more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.  I went to see Paris with AFS and the Eiffel Tower is just plain amazing.  The architecture in Paris is another sight in and of itself; I am not an expert on architecture, but I could tell it was one of a kind and breath-taking.

On to my host my host family, they really are everything that I had hoped for and more.  The parents are very nice and forgiving with some of the stupid things that I have said already, and they are taking very good care of me.  Adélie is so nice and we realized on the way back to the house that we have a very similar taste in music.  She was also very sympathetic to me last night when I was having a tough time realizing that this was really happening.

This afternoon after school, she and I walked home together wich was very nice and a great work-out for my quads.  The Alps are not very forgiving in their steepness, or their beauty for that matter.  I had my first day of school today, and let me tell you that I am so grateful for my host family because they asked one of Adélie's friends, Natacha to show me around and keep an eye on me.  She was very nice and the best thing was that we are in all of the same classes, except for Latin and Math "elective".

In France they have different tracks in the high school for the juniors and seniors, you may pick from L(language), ES(economics) and S(sciences).  I am in the ES track because of my history of sciences and my strong interest in not taking any more of them.  So there are a group of 25 or so students in each class, and they are all together of the main courses in that track.  The only courses that you choose are the languages, and certain specials or electives, I picked math for that.

There is currently a teacher strike going on here, so there were numerous teachers who were absent, and therefore did not hold their class.  My latin teacher was not in, so I did not start classes until 11o'clock.  I also have many gaps in my schedule where I would have taken more languages but they let me take only Latin and English.  We also got one full hour for lunch in either the cantine or if you have permission to leave, then you leave.  There are only two days as of right now that I will have to eat at the cantine, because I have class both the period before and the period after lunch.  To clear up some confusions, I leave school Wednesday at noon, and have no classes on Saturdays.  On all of the other days, I get out at 17h50, which seems very late, but even now is not that bad.

Some very subtle, and not-so-subtle differences I have noticed here I find very interesting.  The first one that people think of are the toilets, and yes they are different.  The flusher is a button either on top of or next to the toilet, and the water flushes from the front, not the back or sides.  Another thing about the toilets is that the toilet itself is almost always seperare from the actual bathroom.  The food is the next big difference, at the cantine at both the hostel and the school, there are a few choices that you get.  There is a starter; like a small salad or tomatoes with basil and mozzerella, or different combinations of veggies with a dressing.  Next is the entree itself which is usually some kind of meat or fish with either veggies or potatoes or something of that sort.  You then have either cheese or dessert, and sometimes both.  Yogurts are also available at almost every meal.  Breakfast is simple, but you mainly get to choose what you want, either cereal with milk, or bread with jam or coffee or tea.  There are really so many options that you just eat what you are in the mood for.
The keyboards are also different and it has taken me forever to write this post because I keep having to look down at my hands.

The landscape is absolutely amazing here, I have taken a while to try to find the perfect words that work for it.  I have found none, but have no fear because I have come very close and with some pictures and a quick visit you will understand my loss for words. The following pictures are of the astonishingly, heart-breakingly, drop-to-the-ground-and-kiss it-ly beautiful view of the Alps from the balcony of my house.