The day I biked up a Hill and got Condoms

So French welcome events are very…interesting. The latest involved biking all over town, praying that I wouldn’t die on the tiny dirt trail with a 6-ft drop-off straight into traffic, looking for tents with questionnaires and prizes.

Before biking ten million miles. Note how blissfully happy we look.

Prizes, like condoms. After answering questions about “le gynocologist,” we received a packet of condoms (below, note the picture on front). The friendly French photographer then insisted we take a picture, proudly holding our prizes. I’m not actually in the picture, however, since I’m doubled over trying to catch my breath from laughing.

I hate to say that it's playing into a stereotype but REALLY?!

We then proceeded to bike up THE LONGEST HILL IN TOURS (with the people in cars on the road shouting “allee, allee!” and laughing) until we got to the ending point where we had the most amazing hot dogs in the world (on baguettes), carrot salad, couscous, potatoes, chips, drinks, and fresh chocolate eclairs, hung out with out new German friends, and listened to the band by as the sun went down.

After. Note how (a) sweaty and (b) happy to be done we are.

Hot dogs in France are amazing. Normally I hate mystery meat, but here? Delicious.

After, more shenanigans ensued in which we met Jimmy Hendrix from LA (alternatively known, 5 minutes later, as Bob from Boston) and his tiny friend D.J. P.

You never know what will happen here: condoms are prizes at University, hot dogs are delicious, and dead musicians come back to life

Can I stay forever?

I’m back!

So no posts for a while as I used up my monthly internet allotment in the first three days of the month BUT I found an awesome pub with free WiFi (an almost unheard of phenomenon here), so more blog posts soon!

Just a preview of the shenanigans to come...

When I Drank Champagne With The Mayor

There was this dress at H&M. It was a black lace over nude silk, mid-length, bell-sleeved, a Jean-Luc Godard heroine kind of dress. I fell in love instantly. The only problem with this dress? They didn’t have my size. I tried one bigger, but no magic. So I left it, but I thought about it obsessively. As my friends can tell you, I talked about it constantly as well. “Maybe I could sew it?” “Maybe I could belt it?” “Maybe we could stop by H&M on our way home? I just want to try it on one more time.” “Maybe I’ll just run into H&M while you guys get coffee.” I stalked this dress. And then one day, I asked Kateyln to go with me one more time, I promise because I was having drinks with the Mayor (or at least in the same room as the Mayor), and I obviously had to wear THE DRESS. So we went, one last time, and there it was. My size. And it was perfect.

Katelyn and I in front of the Hotel de Ville, where we had champagne with the Mayor, sort of.

After a bit of a photo-shoot, we went and had champagne with the mayor (translate: drank champagne in the same room as the mayor, with 100 other people).

The inside, it was incredible.

The dress and I then got kabobs with all the new people we met (the go-to cheapo food of Tours. These had banana sauce and fries on top. YUM.), then went and had beer by the river, and danced a bit at the Loire Bar.

It was magical. Just like my dress.

Getting Lost

So the other day we set out to find the antique market. After about 5 miles of trudging through the city, we discovered that we were hopelessly lost an nowhere near said market (not that we knew where the market was or where we were or the proximity of the two, we were just plain lost.) However, just as we were about to give up and take the next bus to somewhere we recognized, we turned a corner and ran straight into the FREE botanical gardens, complete with petting zoo.

The meanest animal there!

The national bird of France!

My favorite. Check out that beard!

Self timer, ftw.

Important note: this getting lost was not my doing as I was nowhere near the map. Hard to believe, but totally true.

The Cinema and My Iron Hips

View from the cafe, a group of men on the main street in the afternoon enjoying conversation and a beer. The French know how to live, y'all.

I have baby makin’ hips. I know this, I appreciate this (or will, supposedly, someday), I embrace this. What I didn’t know? Not only do my hips not lie, they could be alternatively used as a lethal weapon.

The cool cinema at which I am now a card holding member. 11E for a year of 3E movies PLUS a photo I.D.? I believe I will.

Here’s the story: my friends and I decided to see a French movie last night at the most amazing little French cinema (at which I am now a member, see official card complete with picture below), and we wandered over to see what was playing, etc. After we picked a movie, we headed back to the restaurant area to grab some food and waste some time. Since I am extremely observant (ahem, easily distracted), I wandered through a small parking lot to catch a better glimpse of a courtyard I saw, but as I was running back to catch up, the corner of my hip bone made contact with a (may I say, quite beaten up ALREADY) car, and broke a bit of the tail light off. Once again, MY HIP BROKE THE CAR. May I say, events like this don’t do much for one’s self esteem, especially when one has been consuming her fair share of France’s yummy pastries. There was no one on the street, and I don’t believe the owner would even notice, but still. And, as any good friends would do, mine took every opportunity to remind me of said (mis)adventure. All in the name of “making sure I never do it again.” At least I know now that if someone tries to attack me on the street, I’ll just stick my iron hips on them and they won’t stand a chance.

Speaking of French men and the street, these guys are FORWARD. From the very endearing (“Vous avez tres belle, mademoiselle!”) to the scary (a car full of guys pulling over, a bench of men clucking), the men here are certainly vocal about their feelings!

I was not about to take a picture of the creepy men (encouraging, much?) so instead a picture of a GARGANTUAN dog we saw at the cafe.

However, despite the way I feel about this when trying to walk back at night, in general I love the way that the French love: kissing on the bridge, snuggling on the sidewalk, standing in the middle of the biggest market day in Tours hugging, the bise… It’s catching.

Just like my hips.

So a quick recap from the weekend:

This weekend included the market on Saturday morning (a purchase of a bouquet of dried flowers was completely necessary), many a cafe creme with Jocelyn, lots of picnic-ing (the usual fare includes wine, grapes, cheese, and bread), a trip to the lake and a peek at the sailboats, the BIGGEST market of the year in Tours (they blocked of all of the main roads. I once again had to buy 2 books, a shirt, and some dish towels, not necessarily necissary, but made in France!!), more cafe creme, some delicious glace chocolat, and more laying by the river. It was glorious. Stay tuned for the day in which we take a 3 hour test, have another picnic, become members at a local indie movie theater, and I run into a car. It was…eventful.

And so it begins…

So the stories of how I sat next to a meditating Buddhist (who knew meditating could be so LOUD?), got wine tips from my French seat-mate (who was incredible. Also, if bonzeau 1914 is ever offered to you, take it. Apparently it is amazing. I want some.), waited in the CDG for 8 hours, and walked approx. 30 million miles in one day must wait for a while until I have recovered from said 30 miles. For now, enjoy some pictures taken while waiting en le centre ville pour mes amis. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. Random French phrases will be held to a minimum, je promis.

(the delicious wine from my pre-21st birthday party)

They are all sideways, and I think there is a bit of repetition, but I’m new to this whole actually using technology thing. Better next time, je connaise.

As will my annoying habit.

Becoming French, pt. deux

So, although making Madelines and listening to Carla Bruni play a large role in “becoming French,” these all-important activities pale when compared to the real task I had to accomplish in order to become French: getting my visa.

At first this task seemed quite simple. My two friends going abroad simply mailed papers in at the beginning of the summer and got theirs back (a few months) later. Mais non! For France, I had to fill out some rather confusing online information, then schedule an appointment. The only problem: the only available date for the next several months was a mere week and a half before my flight left. With the approximate wait time for a vise 21 days, I figured I might barely scrape through.

Enter the French consulate (in Atlanta, three house plus one hour time difference=I was forced to wake up at an unhuman wee hour of the morning). After arriving, I wait four hours with my many, many papers. After some time the rather down-to-business official told me, “You are very late. I hope you get this in time.” Well me too, naturally. When asked the probability of my getting said visa on time he replied, in a very French manner with the unknowable “Everything in life is a probability.” So probably like, “I probably could win the lottery?” “I probably could date Hugh Jackman?” “I probably could control the weather?” Or, “I probably could hurl a rotten tomatoe at you right now?”

Long story short(ish), I didn’t get it. Four days left: no visa. Three days left: no visa. Two days left: I decided to go to the consulate, with the full expectation of being shot down (“Mon Dieu, elle est une annoying Americanne), but the wonderful, wonderful French officials had mercy on me (I don’t think being constantly on the edge of blubbering tears hurt either), and made my visa THAT DAY while I traipsed around Atlanta, blithely unaware of any bad in the world.

They handed me my visa, and I then refused to take it out of my hands for the next 48 hours. Attendees of my early 21st birthday dinner? Mom, Dad, Me, and The Visa.

An extremely important part of this story lies in the prayers of almost everyone I saw between two weeks ago and today. It was pretty much the only subject I was capable of conversing on these past weeks (“think this skirt is cute?” “yeah, the blue looks like the blue on my passport WHICH IS AT THE FRENCH CONSULATE”). Seriously, without God none of this would have worked out. I mean, the French were unbelievably nice to me. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.

And so ends the epic tale of How I Got My Visa And Must Now Donate My Firstborn Child to the French Consulate.