November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
Le samedi 17 novembre, on a décidé d’aller à l’Opéra Comédie pour assister à un spectacle. Le bâtiment est au centre de la Place de la Comédie, et on le voit presque chaque jour, donc il serait ridicule de ne pas y aller avant la fin du semestre. En plus, ils offrent un tarif jeunesse : le Tutti’ Passe permet aux étudiants d’acheter un billet de €15 valable pour quatre spectacles. A ce prix, assister à quatre spectacles est moins cher d’acheter un billet normal pour un opéra. Les sièges sont ceux qui ne sont pas encore vendus une heure en avance du spectacle, mais ce n’est pas à dire qu’ils sont mauvais. Cela dit, il faudrait qu’on y aille.
A 16h exacte on s’est trouvé devant la billetterie de l’Opéra. Acheter les billets a été un processus facile, mais on n’a pas pu comprendre les numéraux des sièges, donc on ne pouvait pas deviner si on était ensemble. On a attendu sur l’escalier jusqu’au moment qu’ils ont ouvert les portes. Et à 17h, ils nous ont donné l’opportunité de découvrir l’intérieur secret d’un bâtiment magnifique. Avec un plafond peint, un escalier majestueux, et une scène drapée en rouge et en or, l’Opéra lui-même est un œuvre d’art aussi impressionnant que n’importe quel spectacle qui y est présenté.
Et quelle chance est arrivée à Laura et moi ! Par hasard, on a été assigné des sièges dans une loge au premier étage, presque au centre du théâtre ! Nous deux étions toutes seules dans notre loge personnelle pour regarder le spectacle en tout tranquillité. Les autres avaient des bons sièges éparpillés partout dans le théâtre, mais Laura et moi avions les meilleurs.
Et pour parler un peu du spectacle aussi : on a vu un concert de Wagner, Lutoslawski et Schubert, joué par l’Orchestra national Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillion sous la direction du David Afkham. Je n’avais jamais entendu aucun des six œuvres présentés, et je n’ai pas vraiment l’habitude d’aller aux concerts de la musique classique, donc l’expérience était complètement nouvelle et m’a fait un peu somnolente. J’ai préféré les deux derniers œuvres, car ils étaient en majeur et ont inclus des timbales. J’ai aimé aussi regarder le violiste qui à mon avis ressemblait Lucius Malfoy et les enfants dans la loge en face de moi qui s’ennuyaient.
Enfin, l’expérience était géniale, et une que j’ai voulu avoir avant de partir. J’ai pu voir l’intérieur de l’Opéra, un bâtiment qui domine la Place de la Comédie, et quand je l’ai quitté, je me sentais très cultivée. En plus, j’ai encore trois spectacles à voir, et j’espère que je peux assister à un vrai opéra dans le mois prochain.
Mots : 451
September 6, 2012 § 1 Comment
Last week, Mme. Salvaing’s two sons, Vladimir (16) and Donovan (15), settled in at home from their various summer activities. One of the results of this was that the TV in the living room started seeing a lot more activity. This was great, because I really want to watch a bunch of French TV, get hooked on some French shows, and keep watching them when I get back to the States so I can keep practicing my language skills.
Over the weekend, Harry Potter à l’Ecole des Sorciers, dubbed into French, came on after the news. Coincidentally, last week I bought the book in French to practice reading. Perhaps this is a sign that I should change the language of my Pottermore account? I enjoy encountering the stories in French, although the translations of the magical names are a bit odd. The Muggle names are unchanged, but Hogwarts, for instance, becomes Poudlard.
Then, on Monday night, the Castle season premier (of last season) aired, also dubbed into French. I think the boys thought my enthusiasm was a little ridiculous, but I sat on the couch grinning through the entire episode. It was lucky that I’d already seen it in English, though, because I barely understood a word of the discussion about the crime; they all talked too fast, and I only followed the action because I already knew what they were talking about. For the sections that were just character development, however, they spoke more slowly and clearly, so I was able to follow their conversation—and really, why does anyone watch a show like Castle anyway, but to follow the relationship arc?
On another note, one of the funniest moments was when Castle brought Beckett coffee, and all three Salvaings started laughing and commenting on how big it was.
The conclusions I’ve drawn from these forays into the world of French television—a world, by the way, in which Castle airs without commercial interruption—are that the French watch American TV. I hold out hope that I’ll be able to discover a French show, but this also indicates to me that I may be able to find anything I would be watching anyway, in French. I enjoy watching American TV in another language; it’s like I’m rejoining old friends, and finding them unchanged and (almost) equally comprehensible despite the distance they and I have travelled.
On the other hand, I am an incorrigible move talker, but apparently in English only. It’s much harder to make quick comments in French, something that frustrated me more than all the dialogue I didn’t understand.
At Mme. Dumond’s, I expect things to be a little different. I doubt that she watches many American shows, but I may be able to learn other things about French television. I’m going to do my best, though, to continue seeking out Castle in French (even though it’s that annoying bit at the beginning of the last season where the show gets ridiculously serious in a way that shows that include Nathan Fillion dressing up as Mal for Halloween really shouldn’t).
September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
Yesterday, I moved from Claire’s host family to my own, as Mme. DUMOND has just returned from vacation. It was sad to leave Claire, but Mme. DUMOND (in France, surnames are written in all capitals) is a lovely, kind woman who quickly made me feel quite at ease. She is also an excellent cook, which is always a plus, and she tells me that her daughter, Florence, who lives less than five minutes away, loves to make desserts. I think I’ll like these people.
Mme. DUMOND lives on the third floor of an apartment building not far from my first host family. Her apartment is comfortable, warm and homey, full to bursting with knickknacks small and large that she’s collected over the years. She showed me the latest addition to the living and dining room: a two foot tall chicken made of straw and sticks that she purchased while on vacation in Liles and Brussels.
From the little balcony in the kitchen, one can see the sea on a clear day. My room, on the other side of the apartment, is small and cute, with coral wallpaper, a double bed, and glass doors opening onto another balcony equipped with a table and chair. This side faces le centre ville, although I can’t see it from here.
The shower does not have a curtain. As in most French bathrooms, the shower head is on a long hose that in this instance does not have a place to be hung on the wall. I have thus far managed to avoid flooding the bathroom.
I think that living with a host family, une famille d’accueil, is one of the best things about this program. It’s so much nicer than going home to an empty apartment every day. I’m entering an established home and becoming a part of other people’s lives, rather than passing unnoticed through the city. I’m looking forward to getting to know my host mom better and really settling in here—a bit later than everyone else, given that my case was a bit unusual, but that may actually be an advantage. I’ll get to compare two very different host family experiences: Mme. DUMOND, who is retired with two grown children, will be quite a change from Mme. SALVAING, a high school teacher with two teenage boys. Both families are equally French, but at different stages, so I get to experience French culture in several permutations.
And oh, it’s so nice to finally be unpacked.
August 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
Disclaimer: If you have no interest in food, you may find this entry rather dull. As I find food fascinating, I can offer no apology.
On Wednesday morning, I set off for the airport, accompanied by Mongoose and Sam, my carry-on and suitcase, respectively. My three flights were wonderfully uneventful, and at 9:00 on Thursday morning, my bags and I arrived à Montpellier, a beautiful city on the southern coast of France. The wind was good, so the plane flew over the sea before landing, and I had an absolutely gorgeous aerial view of the city.
The first day was long and tiring, as I was taken first to the Dumonds’ apartment, then later to the home of Mme. Salvaing, my temporary host mom until early September. Claire arrived not long after, and we had the much-needed opportunity to rest and unpack. I had my first experience with a French shower… elle est étrange, c’est sûr.
Et puis, le dîner. Mme. Salvaing had a dinner invitation at a friend’s home, and so she, Claire and I piled into her little car at six that evening to drive up to a neighborhood on a hill overlooking the city. The weather, the view, the people, the food… Nothing could have been more perfect. We hung out poolside with three other Francophone families, our minds, dysfunctional from a day of airplanes and little sleep, struggling to produce broken French. Whenever I got tired of trying to understand, I gazed off into the distance and watched the sun set over the foothills, munching on thin, crunchy breadsticks, black olive tapenade, and little circles of sausage. Thankfully, our hosts were kind and understanding, and didn’t mind if we could sometimes barely express our thoughts.
We waited for the sun to set before sitting down to dîner outside at around nine. Pour les enfants, there were sausages, et pour les adultes, there was grilled calamari in a garlic marinade. On the side was a caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) and of course, du pain—thick slices of baguette. It’s true that I requested a kid’s meal. But those who know me well will be shocked to hear that yes, I did try the calamari! Malheureusement, I failed to bring my camera, so if it’s photographic evidence you require, I will be unable to deliver. However, I speak only the truth, incredible though it may seem.
After le plat came a delicious eggplant loaf with tomato sauce. Then for dessert: fresh peaches, une tarte aux noisettes, fait à la maison (a homemade nut tart), et une tarte aux framboises (a raspberry tart). Each was absolutely wonderful.
With four courses, le dîner was certainly not short, and we sat talking long after we had finished eating. By this time, the stars were out in force, so before we left, we turned off all the house lights and spent long minutes gazing at the perfectly clear sky. We did not leave until after 11:30, and then I had a prime opportunity to practice les bisous, the French version of a handshake. In Montpellier, this means three kisses on the cheeks (in other parts of France, it can be fewer or more).
Finally, at 11:45, we returned to la maison, the end of our first day in France. It was remarkably long, but I wouldn’t change it. La nourriture et la société étaient merveilleuses, and it served as a wonderful introduction to French culture. And of course, who could pass up restaurant-quality food, free of charge?