Payday loans

Posts Tagged ‘France’

Strasbourg – War Wounds

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Strasbourg

I recently returned from a vacation in Europe, a river cruise down the Rhine from Basel in Switzerland to Amsterdam in Holland. This was a fascinating and enjoyable trip down a great European river. The ship stopped at many historical interesting towns and cities including Strasbourg in the Alsace region of France. This is the seat of the European Council and Commission for Human Rights. We boarded a bus at our mooring, and crossed the small bridge which took us into France and the city. Our guide was Lisette, an outgoing attractive woman probably in her mid-40s, with a son finishing high school. As we crossed the midpoint of the bridge, she announced with great fanfare that we were now in France. “You can immediately see the difference and smell the difference. This is historic France, and you have left Germany behind.”

Strasbourg Cafe 050

 

As we drove into the city she not only pointed out areas of interest and different architectures, but told us about some of the recent history of this old city. In the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, the city was occupied by the Germans, and the region was declared part of Germany. With the end of that war the city and the region of Alsace once again returned to France. The great war of 1914/18 lead to a repeat of the process, and the German influence could be seen in the architecture, place names, and business signs. After the armistice in 1918, the city and the region once again returned to France, until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Shortly after the beginning of that war, the Germans once again marched into Strasbourg and quickly took control of the whole region. However, according to Lisette, the Nazi occupation was brutal and unrelenting. Most of the Jewish population of the city, which at that time accounted for over 60,000 people, fled, were killed, or shipped off to concentration camps. The Nazis insisted that all French names be removed from the city, whether they be businesses, schools, streets or civic buildings. It even became a crime punishable by arrest and deportation to wear the traditional French beret. Lisette was quite emotional, as she told us that the Nazis deported or forcibly enlisted 140,000 young men from Strasbourg who were sent to fight in the East, or became slave labor working in German industry. She told us that her grandfather had been arrested and shipped to Germany as slave labor. He survived but when he returned to Strasbourg he was a physical wreck of a man who never recovered from his traumatic experiences and died at an early age.

Strasbourg was one of the richest medieval cities in Europe. The well preserved old town is enclosed on all sides by a River Lil making the center an island which can be explored easily on foot. The city has a majestic cathedral which towers above the surrounding medieval houses of the former merchants of the city now turned into boutiques and restaurants. The food is excellent, definitely French, but with Dutch and German influences. We enjoyed our Strasbourg visit immensely but I was intrigued as to why Lisette was clearly so anti-German. She responded that the humiliation and suffering of the people of Strasbourg had left deep wounds and even though her mother had not been born until a year after the end of the war, her family could not forget. “These wounds run deep.” she said.

 

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

 

 

 

 

 

Vacation in France (2)

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Avignon

We took the fast train from Paris to Avignon on day 3 and were amazed how much difference a few couple of hundred miles made in temperature: Avignon was in the mid 80s and sunny! We would soon discover that the food and wine were as lovely as the charming narrow streets and ancient city walls and old churches. Mary and Francis enjoyed a bottle or half a bottle of wine over every lunch and dinner. Occasionally I savored a sip for the fun of it, for I had zero tolerance for alcohol. (I boasted to Lisa that I had a couple of glasses on her behalf when she wrote to say she was jealous and missed the good wine in southern France.)

Natural wine cooler/Aix de Provence

We stayed at a hotel in the center of town and once again, walked over town. In addition to the historical palace, church, and city wall, The three dinners we had at local restaurants recommended by the hotel were amazing: the three-course meal left us marvel and satisfied. While Mary enjoyed her fish and shrimp entries; Francis had his duck and steak; and I relished on my favorite foie gras and lamp chop.

Mary and I in Arles

We took the train for two short day trips while staying in Avignon, one to Arles and the other to Aix de Provence. While Arles, with its famous Amphitheatre and aqueduct and the site of the “yellow house” where Vincent van Gogh did many of his paintings, was very charming, I liked Aix de Provence better—the streets more open and pleasant and the atmosphere much livelier. Like in Paris, every street corner had a “café.” At one small square—there were plenty of them in the city, a café was using the water sputtering out of a fountain to chill its wine!

We visited southern France at a great time: while the temperature was in its upper 70s and lower 80s, with plenty of sunshine, it was not the peak of tourist season yet. We enjoyed the lush colors of spring flowers, the history and sceneries each city offered, and the slow pace of life and wonderful food!

I took many pictures during the trip and would love to share a few here. Enjoy!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Vacation in France (1)

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Notre Dame

The weeklong vacation in France passed too quickly!

I’ve been to Paris four or five times before, but never visited southern France. The three of us, Mary, a close friend, my husband Francis, and I walked over to Notre Dame near our hotel the day we arrived, and checked out the Latin Quarter. Whenever we felt thirsty or tired, we sat down at a corner café to relax and gaze at all these smart-looking people passing by in the street. The cafes, or brasseries, seemed to pop up at every street corner, and each of them has a line or two of small tables in the front, with all the chairs facing one direction: toward the street. No matter what time of the day, there are plenty of people sitting these places, chatting, reading, smoking, drinking a cup of coffee. Sitting among them, drinking a bottle of water (me) and sharing a pitcher of wine (Mary and Francis), we let the relaxed feeling wash over us.

Children racing in Luxembourg Garden

The following day, we walked all over Paris—we must have covered 8 or 10 miles. The interesting part, aside from the impressive churches, old statues and buildings, the beautiful Luxembourg garden, the lively Avenue des Champs-Elysees, was the first time experience of using an iPad or iPhone to guide us when we got lost in the maze of Paris streets that spread to all directions at all angles. It felt funny to hold an iPad and watch the small dot indicating our location moving in the right direction or off the high-lighted route, but it sure gave me a sense of comfort and relief that paper map never did. With my sense of direction, even when I stood in front of a large map that showed “You are here” with a red circle, I couldn’t figure out which direction I should turn. Fearful as it was realizing the “big brother” could locate my exact spot no matter where I was on this planet, I was glad to have this modern gadget to find our way whenever we needed it.

Mary and Francis navigating Paris with a map and an iPad

Paris was chilly when we got there, but we were grateful it didn’t rain as forecast. We spent a long time in Luxembourg Garden where tulips of various colors were still in full bloom, people were jogging or playing tennis or walking their dogs, children were playing, and at one corner, a few musicians and singers were giving a performance on a “stage”. A lovely sight every direction we turned.

Our two-day stay in Paris ended with a nice meal each day, accompanied with plenty of wine, which was cheaper than bottled water.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Moving to France

Monday, February 8th, 2010
Paris Exposition: Eiffel Tower, Paris, France,...

Image by Brooklyn Museum via Flickr

 

My daughter who, with her family has been living in Paris for the past 3 ½, years recently sent me the attached, a compilation of observations from friends and ex-pats.  She assures me it is a pretty accurate assessment, which I think is quite an amusing commentary on the French way of life – pluses and minuses.

You know you are living in France…………..

When you give your children ‘snails’ for dinner and they adore them!!

When you kiss “hello” to everyone you meet!!

When you open your windows in the morning to ‘air’ everything!!

When you take off your shoes when you go to someone’s house!!

When you 9 year-old son asks if he can have a snack and comes out of the fridge with cheese and olives

When you see a car parked, facing the wrong way, on a one-way street

When your 4 year old son brings home a recreation of a Matisse

When you make a quick dinner for your daughter and she asks if it’s the ‘premier plat’

When you smile at someone in the street & they don’t smile back

When the boulanger takes an extra 5 minutes to wrap up your pastry selection in a box with a bow and their logo sticker DESPITE there being a long line of customers waiting to be served.

When you can place items in your bag while shopping to be paid for at the register WITHOUT being accused of shoplifting.

When you are asked by the doctor to disrobe and he/she doesn’t give you some sort of cover-up to put on during the examination!

When a man asks you out without being in the slightest bit concerned that you have a husband!

When you visit the butcher, the cheese shop, the wine shop, the bakery, and the fruit & veg market all in a one block radius of your house

When you wouldn’t dare leaving the house in tennis shoes or a sweatshirt

When you see the scarves come out as soon as the temps plummet to 15C/60F

When the waiters leave you alone and don’t refill your glass or ask “how is everything” every 5 minutes

When only close friends call you by your first name

When you walk into a pharmacy that sells lotions, pills and tinctures for” Jambes Lourd” (what the heck is that?)

When you might just see the whole animal in the butcher’s window

When there is a charity to send poor people on vacation

When someone pushes you on the bus/metro a couple of minutes before the stop in order to be the first off, and the offender is at least 90 years old

When there is no shame (or fear) in unemployment

When if you don’t like one doctor you can just pick another and see them without having to go through your insurance provider first

When you can invite people over for just an aperitif

When you can give your dinner guests the stinkiest cheese in the world and they will still congratulate you on the meal!!!

When you walk out of your GYN’s office with your pap smear in your purse to take to the post office to mail to the lab

When you finally get the kids to the park to find it’s been closed

When you jump the queue because you’re pregnant

When you are walking your dog and stop to pick up his poo and one of your kids steps in someone else’s dog’s poo

When your daughter says “oh la la” when she drops something

When you can ride a bike in a skirt and heels

When every time you see the Eiffel Tower sparkling it gives you shivers

When you go to the fruit seller and you are asked whether it’s to be eaten today or tomorrow

When you have to ask 3 or 4 times for the check at a restaurant

When the elevator only fits 2 people

When you go into a shop to buy something, but they refuse to ring you up because it’s 5 min. to closing

When you go to the butchers & you’re told exactly how to cook the meat you’ve bought

When you suddenly become popular and have houseguests all the time

When a man calls to your house to tell you for a fee he will sharpen all your kitchen knives

When the shop assistants offer to gift wrap your purchases, even when it’s not Christmas

When buying a bottle of wine, the wine merchant asks you what you plan to eat with it

When even if you’re first in the queue at the bus stop, that doesn’t mean you’ll be first onto the bus

When you walk into the ladies’ room at work while the cleaning man is there and you both say hello and go on with your business

When you consider slipping quietly out of a party so you don’t have to kiss 25 people goodbye (whom you already kissed hello).

When the best ice cream shop in the city is closed during the entire month of August

When the same shop is open all through winter

When your 6yo corrects your pronunciation coz she can do that ‘r’

When dogs are allowed in restaurants but not in the parks

When you find yourself doing that shoulder shrug combined with the “pfff” sound

When the only employee at the doctor’s office is the doctor! He/she answers the phones, schedules the appointments, weighs/measures/takes blood pressure, gives shots, and spends a minimum of 30 minutes with you and it costs you next-to-nothing

When doctors still make housecalls

When you’re served champagne at a 3-yr-old’s birthday party

When the perfectly coiffed chic woman ahead of you in line wearing high heeled shoes, a tight little skirt and equally tight top on her trim little body, turns around and is older than your grandmother.

When anything above size 36 is considered a Plus size

When coffee at breakfast time is served in a cereal bowl

When there are 8 days in a week, and 15 in a fortnight

When children go to the “canteen” at school and are served a full four course meal, with starter, main course, cheese course and dessert

When you look both ways when crossing a one-way street

When you call your paediatrician with a sick child at 8am, he answers the phone himself, and gives you an appointment for 11am that same morning

When the dustbin-men come 5 times a week

When neither adults nor teenagers get drunk at parties or sports events because it’s “unattractive”

When you see groups of police men/women (usually groups of 3) in uniform kissing each other hello/good-bye on the street

When you can use the shrugging of shoulders to explain numerous things!! And “ça va” for everything else

When men’s swim trunks are forbidden at swimming pools

When bare breasts greet you perkily in a 10ft tall soap ad plastered across the metro station walls.

When the bus driver stops the bus, gets out and lights up a cigarette while all the passengers wait patiently inside

When you can’t recognize English words when French people use them

When the toilet in your local cafe resembles a shower stall with two little stands on it for your feet

When you still find a way to get your undies from M&S/Target, no matter what

When your husband’s company doesn’t make the monthly deposit because the accountant was on vacation

When people talk about how British humour is so wonderful…and then you realise that they mean either Benny Hill or Mr. Bean

When perfume is also for men

When you’re told you can have something “right away: 10 days, two weeks at most”

When you are fatter than everyone else, but back in the UK/US you are the skinniest

When meat and fish are being sold outdoors

When you treat your plumber like a king for fear he will drop you as a client

When the driver of the car ahead of you whom you have just given way to out of courtesy, looks at you as though you’re crazy

 

So, if you are moving to France, be prepared!

 

 Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]