1. After our day trip to Pierrefonds, Sarah and I did some unwinding with Mme Chauchat who exposed us to our first live showing of Nouvelle Star. For those of you who don't already know, Nouvelle Star (or "New Star") is the French version of American Idol. I already had an appreciation for the show because they discovered Thierry Amiel for me years ago. But, still, I had never seen it live. Last Wednesday was the first round after the auditions. It's done a bit differently over here, but I loved it. I never watch American Idol back home, but Nouvelle Star is amazing!!! Here are my two favorites. First we saw Luce. Yes, the song is in French, but you can appreciate her talent all the same. Sarah and I haven't been able to stop singing her rendition and we really want her to be our friend:
Then we saw Benjamin. He's 16 and just like my students of the same age, he is the perfect example of how much difficulty the French have with the 'th' sound in English. But he's adorable and I kind of want him to be my friend too:
2. I went and visited my host family from study abroad. It was nice to see the Coulots and that big old house I loved so much. But I have to confess, the best part was being reunited with Skipper, the dog.
3. A Chauchat guided tour around the Quartier Saint Louis, one of the oldest quartiers in Versailles.
4. Throwing a belated birthday party for the Chauchats' oldest grandsons, Grégoire and Alexi. Sarah and I played Mexican Train with them and it was just a fun way to get to know them. Dinner consisted of American hamburgers and fries, which were so delicious! It was followed by their birthday red velvet cake (made with mix brought over by my mom) since we knew Mme Chauchat had never had one before. Alexi proceeded to quiz us about all the American rappers we knew. His pronunciation of their songs=hilarious! Such a fun night!
5. My failure to resist collection of The Pogues' first 5 albums for 19 euros at FNAC.
6. Renting bikes and riding around Le Grand Canal in Versailles. We were a bit nervous because it's been years since either of us had ridden a bike, but it came back surprisingly fast. We sang "Do-Re-Mi" as we merrily went along through the most beautiful palace grounds in the world. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the water was sparkling, ah, it was bliss! I want a bike now more than anything. It was an afternoon perfectly spent!
7. K&K episode 333. I've listened to this expat podcast called Katia and Kyliemac for about 2 years now. Saturday night was their 333rd episode and they did a live broadcast at a pub in Paris. It was a big celebration and people had flown in from all over the world for the shenanigans. And those who couldn't, like my best friend Ali, called in and left voicemail messages, which were played throughout the night. We got goodie bags and snacked on hors d'œuvres such as Peeps and M&Ms, which was one sweet reunion. And I finally got to meet Katia and Kyliemac, which was awesome! If you listen to the podcast, you'll understand, but you just feel like you know them. So it was a real blast to be there. There were 3 minute discussions of topics such as "cheese: the stinkier the better?" and "Parisians: bastards or survivalists?" It was hilarious! Definitely a lot of expat camaraderie going on.
Paris week was a major success! It was more than we could have hoped for. But it wasn't perfect. There were lowlights too. For example, getting stuck in Paris for 2 hours after K&K because the strike didn't end when it was supposed to and we couldn't get a train back to Versailles until 1 am. I know everything sounds just lovely because I'm on vacation and everything, but I can't tell you the amount of times I've said, "I've had it! I want to go home!" Public transportation being the number one aggravator of such commentary. Also, saying goodbye to Mme Chauchat... never fun. It. Was. Awful. Seriously, this woman is amazing and I don't know what I would have done without her this year.
So yesterday Sarah and I bid farewell to Paris week and made our way to Reims. The entire town is under construction, which is a bummer. But there are some cool things. Like... this morning I found a pain au chocolat et banane (that's chocolate and banana, people, chocolate and banana!) and wandered around the cathedral, which has Chagall stained glass windows. Otherwise the only really cool thing about Reims is the fact that my late grandad marched through it during World War II. In all honesty, we're a bit bored here. But that's ok because tomorrow we're day-tripping it out to Epernay for some champagne tastings!