After a fantastic night’s sleep, I was rested and ready for my first full day in France! Because we had a big Shabbat dinner planned at Stephane’s brother’s house, we wanted to take the day to relax and explore the town a little. I really wanted to see where Stephane grew up, and he was more than happy to show me all that there was to see. We couldn’t leave, however, without enjoying a delicious breakfast of French Crepes garnished with some very nice toppings! It was a breakfast I think you would have particularly enjoyed 🙂
After breakfast we got all ready to go, said goodbye to Jacques, took the keys to his car, and went on a little in town adventure. Our first stop was one of their big malls near Stephane’s city, because who doesn’t love to do a little shopping on a quiet afternoon! I should also tell you that the weather has been absolutely gorgeous here since the day we arrived, which, according to Stephane, is rare this time of year, so I think you must be telling the big man upstairs to shine some sun down on us! Once we were inside the mall Stephane insisted I try my first official French croissant and Pain Chocolate, and I certainly was not one to argue with that! The first bite of the buttery, warm, crisp croissant and I was instantly in food heaven! I don’t think I’ve every tasted anything as delicious, and the fact that I was eating it in France made it that much tastier! After the food was finished we frequented some shops, I bought some Mac makeup to replace my almost finished set, saw an AMAZING contraption for making sushi that I was obligated to buy (maybe it will help me cut down on the almost $30 dollars a week I spend ordering sushi out), and then we headed out to see some more of the town.
When we were finished with the mall, Stephane took me to his high school! Luckily it was right before the Easter holiday so classes were still in session, and we were able to go inside, walk the halls, see some of his teachers, and talk with both his principal and vice principal. They all remembered Stephane specifically because for one Mardi Gras he dressed up as Tarzan and that apparently stuck with everyone! It was so amazing seeing where he went to school, and so interesting to see how different high schools in the city look from high schools, like mine, that are situated in suburbs with space. Nonetheless it was so great to see him in his school environment, and so fun to hear him catch up with some of his educators. I may not speak French well but my comprehension is getting very good so I really don’t feel completely left out when he is deep in conversation with people. His principal and vice principal also spoke some English so we all managed! By the end of the trip I even got the approval of his principal, so I still managed to work some charm even though I could hardly communicate with anyone!
After leaving the high school we still had a bit of time left before we needed to start preparing ourselves for Shabbat dinner so we took a drive past Stephane’s college, or middle school as they call it in France, we drove by the elementary school that Stephane’s little brother, Michael, attended, and then it was time to head back home.
We arrived home just in time to quickly shower and get ready for Shabbat dinner. After about 30 minutes it was back in the car and off to Avi’s (Stephane’s older brother) apartment. I must admit I was a bit nervous for this dinner because despite the fact that Jacques and Avi both speak Hebrew, Natalie, Avi’s wife, and their two children (ages 3 and 1.5) only speak French, and I really don’t like when I have no way of communicating with people. I knew that Stephane would be there to translate but it’s so much more fun when you can talk to everyone around.
When we arrived to Avi’s beautiful apartment we had brief introductions, everyone caught up with one another for a little while, and then it was time for dinner. I’m sorry I left my camera at home but trust me that everything was beautiful, from the apartment itself, to the food, to Avi’s adorable children. The meal itself was so delicious, but I had the most fun watching Shai and Linoy play with all the present that we brought them. They really are two of the most adorable children I have ever seen, and Natalie, despite the fact that we can’t really communicate, was one of the most warm, kind, and gracious hostesses.
I will have to say this, though everyone is very impressed that I can at least comprehend some French, it is not like in America or Israel where people will make an effort to speak your language if they know it. French people speak French… THAT IS IT! Though Avi, Jacques, and Stephane speak Hebrew fluently most of the conversations all take place in French, unless there is something specific they want to ask me, or unless there is something important they need to be sure I understand. If I’ve learned anything from this trip so far it is that learning French can no longer be something I do for fun. It is now nothing short of an obligation or I will truly alienate myself from a whole side of my future family; people I very much want to get to know and communicate with. Aside from that, however, dinner was amazing, and the day itself was perfect!
When we arrived back home it was straight to bed for us! The next day was going to be one of our big days exploring Paris proper and I wanted to look my best for the occasion! I’ll tell you all about it soon, but now I have to get ready for the Passover Seder!
I love you more than words can express and miss you even more than that!
Until we meet again <3,