Tag Archives: French

Lyon museum blue curtain

Sj’s Take Away from Lyon

Hmmm . . . what to write?

Number 1.

I really enjoyed my time in Lyon.

Number 2.

It was exactly the right length of time to be there (3 weeks).

Number 3.

I’m still amazed that I can converse in French at all!


The school I attended, Alpadia, is really a great school for folks like me wanting to get some input after learning on their own. The variety of ages and nationalities attending the school made it interesting. Bottom line. We were all there to learn French. Some because they had to (for school or work), but most (it seemed to me) because they wanted to (be there).

And this time around, I really got how spoken French is so very different from written French. I don’t mean the absence of sounds, like the s at the end of many words, but rather that they just don’t say what they write. They leave so many things out. And it seems that there’s an *unofficial way of talking that has nothing to do with what one reads, a spoken vocabulary that a non-native like me really has to search for. (Unlike spoken German which matches what we’re taught in school.)

So . . . my biggest take away is that I have to continue listening to French, spoken French, like in movies. This Harry Potter fan will continue to listen to JK Rowling’s books in French, BUT I’ll make sure to add a heaping dose of actual French conversations.

At times learning a new language seems insurmountable, with two steps forward and three steps back. BUT this gal, moi, has a tenacity that surprises even me.

I will continue.

One step at a time.

Both the forward ones.

And the backward ones.

This includes the next four weeks, which I’ll spend in San Sebastian, Spain attending another small language school (this time for Spanish) while residing with a Spanish family.

Where am I at the moment?

In Germany, not too far from Heidelberg, spending a most wonderfully relaxing week with dear, dear friends.

And . . . believe it or not, speaking in German is actually giving me a most welcome rest from intense mental activity. My girlfriend, who I call a walking dictionary and grammar guide, corrects me when I say something a little wacky. I welcome each correction and celebrate as I also recognize that they’re coming less and less frequently.

Meanwhile, here are some photos I took while in Lyon.


✫ Sj✫

 *Dear Non-native English Speakers,

I’d love to know about some of your experiences in learning English. What are some specific challenges?

Thank you very much in advance for your replies.

Artist Clyv

Parc de la Tête d’Or

A few more things about Lyon . . .

date:  Tue, Feb 17, 2009

subject:  a few more things . . . .
Hi Everyone,
I thought of a few more things of note to pass on your way from that weekend past.
1)  It rained so hard that la Saône was chocolate, like the rivers in Hawaii get when it’s rained a lot. 
That lasted for well over a week. There were HUGE things floating very rapidly downstream (south in this instance, though I must add that la Saône is technically not a fleuve, or is it rivière?, because it doesn’t flow to the sea . . .). Large things like trees and who knows what all else. There WERE parking lots below the road level on the Saône-level, which have yet to open because the water was so high. So maybe this is why I see more canal-type boats on le Rhone rather than on la Saône.
2) For the first time ever I took a pair of scissors to my hair and cut, and I do mean chopped! I took off a good inch all around! I’ve cut my bangs plenty of times but never something so drastic as this!
First of all, I ventured forth and cut my own hair because I noticed that Madame’s hair was considerably shorter one day than it had been the day before. I asked her about it and she said she had cut it herself. If you remember, I got the MOST-LAYERED haircut known to man a few weeks back. Alors, the other length still was too long, so I thought, What the heck? All I cut was the part that hits the shoulder. And here it seems to be the style to have your hair all different lengths (at least to my non-professional eye, Laurie), so now I fit right in!

It was incredible watching the pile of hair on the newspaper grow. (I had laid newspaper on the floor next to the very large mirror in Madame’s chamber.) Needless to say, I did this when she was away visiting her parents.

3) “n’importe quoi” = anything (at all)
4)  I went to another restaurant with the school last week. Only thing is, I was the only student to sign up! I signed up because there were only places for 4 students and this was supposedly/allegedly a restaurant where you had to make a reservation for at least a week in advance. Romy, who is the “head” of the school and all of 31 years of age, said she’d never done this before, but she wanted to go with just one student, moi. Now I don’t think it had anything to do with my magical power of persuasion or interesting personality but rather simply because she was dying to experience this restaurant. And I reckon it was on “company” time . . .
Donc . . . it was super!!
It’s called “l’ourson qui boit.” The thing that drinks is a little bitty bear. I have the card with the cute bear wearing a pink shirt and black pants holding a little green bottle (in the same shape of a wine bottle, I must add!)

The chef is Japonais. The restaurant is in France. It was the coolest combination of the two cuisines!!! I loved it!!! Alors, Michele, I got the wonderful meal I was wanting.
For entrée I had a potage of spinach with 3 large dumpling like things that were the Japonaise version of St. Jacques. There was a wonderfully lemony flavor in the soup.
For my main plat I had the poisson. I don’t know what kind of fish it was but the waitress said it came from the sea. It was also served in a bowl over soupy risotto with a wonderful lemony and mushroomy sauce. On top of the fish was what I swear (sorry Mom, it’s the only word that really fits!) were little bitty pieces of sashimi, fresh, fresh ahi. Wow!
For dessert we decided to order two different dishes and share. She LOVED the creme whatchamacallit with a caramèl sauce . . .  but not the bizarre tiramisu ala Japonaise. So I just had two bites of the pudding thing and gobbled up the other . . . imagine a small, flat round dish like the ones used for crème brulèe (but a bit deeper).  Now imagine a cream like substance covered with little green flecks which were a lot like seaweed. The crème wasn’t very deep. In just the slightest press of the spoon you discovered the “cake” part of the tirimisu. It was deliceux; but I think just a bit too weird for Romy (yes, another Romy!!! She didn’t believe me at first when I told her I had a friend at home named Romey, Romey).
We decided to pass on the café after or apertif (both before and after) since we drank an entire bottle of wine between the two of us. I’ve found that most of the French just have 2 glasses of wine with dinner . . . now what they have before, is another story. Non, not really. But what do I know, I haven’t really hung out with LOTS of French people besides by hôtesse and her friends.
Today is mardi the 17th of fevrier, my last week. The week’s activities are as follows:
mardi (aujourd’hui)  bowling
      yep, you read right! bowling! we leave in 15 minutes.
I might go to a play tonight toute seule . . . or not, I saw a poster today that looked interesting. It’s a one-man-show (it said that in English on the poster so I THINK I’m sure) and it opens tonight. It’s tonight or never if I really have the urge . . . (I didn’t.)
mercredi the 18th is dinner night at Via Toscana. Yep, Italiana. I’m going. There’s a movie Wed. too but I think I’m going to pass because I want to go to the greco-roman musée and it’s then or never (maybe Friday I could but I’d rather not leave it to my last day in Lyon).
jeudi the 19th is an organized visit to the same museum I went to last Thursday night. Remember when I told you about the Vernissage? The opening night? I want to go again.
Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon
Vendredi soir Madame has said that her oldest son of 27 years and his wife and little 9-month old baby girl are going to join us for dinner. Should be very nice! And then hopefully afterwards I’ll meet “the gang” for a sending off. I think that’s when I really find out what they think of me . . . probably the only 48 year old they’ve ever hung out with.
And then samedi I depart for Annecy . . . it feels like the place to go at this point of my life . . . T booked the hotel last night and I’m going to purchase my tickets after bowling . . .
So, for the moment I think I’m all up to date.  Today I sent off a packet to Tones with a few things including the 4MB chip with a LOT of photos . . . maybe he’ll post them, or maybe he won’t.  It might be best to wait till I return and can add captions . . .
So for now mes bons amis, au revoir, bisous et à bientôt,

And the results are in . . .

 Les puces, flea market, where I found that 
cool old iron trivet.

date:  Thu, Feb 12, 2009

subject:  Howdy All!
The results are as follows though no decision has been made . . . the jury is still out on this one!
It seems I haven’t had a free moment this week . . . it’s been fabulous.
Today we have been learning slang . . . after working on grammar, of course!
We even had to compose a story using slang! Lauren, you’d probably gotten a chuckle out of it all.
The teacher couldn’t stop laughing after I read my bit. Seems she loves my accent . . . I might just get a job here being a comedian after all!!!
And now, what you all have written (my replies and/or comments and/or thoughts are in italics):
Go to St. Remy de Provence! It is simply marvelous. We have friends there that have rental places. http://www.mascornud.com/village.html?page=village\
Not sure if they’ll book you for less than a week, but contact them, say you are friends of mine and see if they can make an exception. Also tell them about your Hawaiian home exchange idea!
Or go to St. Tropez, just because.
Cheers, Michele (St. Tropez sounds the most interesting, I’d like to have more time at the other . . .)
Dear Suzanne,
    Is this the French spelling of your name? Where do you go to use the Internet and send your e-mails?  This is interesting that you have 3 free nights. Why don’t you go to some small French town and see how life is in a little place. I would hope that you could find an inn or bed and breakfast there.
Annecy is absolutely beautiful. I don’t think it’s that far from Lyon by train. It is an old town with beautiful buildings with water canals flowing all along the streets.
Hi Susan,
I would suggest that you DON’T go to Avignon. I lived there for 6 months- the people aren’t that friendly and there are weird vibes . . . that’s my take . . . I like Dijon- maybe Montpellier? or Aix-en-Provence (is that too far away?) . . .
It was great getting your update : )  Made me want to go back. We missed you at my mom and Roy’s wedding! (me too! maybe we can have a rendez-vous in France someday!)
Much Aloha from NY,
Avignon, I heard it’s great (interesting coming in right after the one above!). Or Uzes, which is a small town in Provence, that sounds lovely.
And there’s always the Loire Valley castles . . .
Hope you’re having a great trip! It sounds like you are! I’ve loved reading the emails :) John and I just purchased two airplane tickets to France for May, so you’ll have to give us tips on all the places to go!
Take care,
(I’ve meant to write to you and John and tell you that I have some leads for places to stay. The hotel Tony found in Paris was very nice, good price and clean but not too fancy, I liked the location too. I also found a great studio apt near Sacre Coeur that was very inexpensive . . . and then the apts I found through another couple and then subsequently booked are very nice too. They’re in the Latin Quarter. Let me know if you want any leads . . . the Sacre Coeur apt info Tony has at home in the “in” box for his email address.)
Head for the coast!..we loved ST Tropez.
Michael (very interesting that this one showed up twice!)
I would suggest heading to Paris direction early and spending the three days at Disneyland Paris.  :)
Debbie (you think?)
Avignon . . . this is intuitively what called out . . .
MH (did you read what Lauren wrote???)
Aloha Suzanne!
I’ve never been to France, so don’t have any personal suggestions for you, just wanted to wish you safe travels and the happiest of trails — no matter which one(s) you choose. Can’t wait to see what you choose to do as I’m living vicariously through you on this great adventure.
All the best,
Val (merci for your kind thoughts and words!)
Avignon has the famous “Pont”, but I believe Dijon may have one of those marvelous chateau, where they perform son et lumière and I know you would love that … perhaps you could find out for sure at school.
I meant to say that I thought maybe the notre dame you saw in Paris WAS a genuine one … there are, after all dozens, if not hundreds of Notre Dames in France, although we only hear about the one!
It scares me that you go early=morning jogging on your own  – have a wonderful sojourn in Paris and come home safely (I KEEP my eyes wide open and my guardian angels are with me always Romey!! Thanks for your concern.)
Romey XXX
I vote for Guernsey!!!!!
Sorry I haven’t replied to your fascinating correspondence. I can’t believe your adventure is coming to a close so soon. While your life has been filled with daily adventure, we’re still plugging along over here. Amazing difference and what an accomplishment!
Can’t wait to hear more, Lisa (more will come when I get a chance . . . I’m digging being able to talk a wee bit better . . . but so much more to learn!  LOVED the book! I had the most delicious morning Saturday as I DEVOURED the book!  I read till 12:30 pm when I finished it . . . did I write this already?  It’s been sent via the post to my Mom.)
 The setting for my reading fest . . . see Lily on my pants on the “dryer”?
i vote for San Francisco!
liz (me too, too bad I have a one day layover in LA on the way back home and NOT in SF!!)
I suggest you call my friend Kim in Stuttgart. Enjoy! Looking forward to seeing you on your return.   
Aloha,    MA.
(hey MaryAnn, good idea but I want to keep in the French mode. It seems that I dream almost entirely in French now . . . I’m loving it!)
Thanks for all of your input!
Love you all,
Self portrait taken one night coming back from an art gallery excursion — decided to “live it up” and take the streetcar rather than walk, like I usually did.

Big news pour moi (And, this is a LONG one ! )

date:  Fri, Feb 6, 2009

subject:  the end of the 4th week . . . a LONG one!!!!


Greetings to you All from rainy, and I do mean RAINY!, Lyon.
It’s Friday afternoon on the 6th of February and I have now completed 4 weeks à l’école suisse de langues.

Sigh. Wow, where has the time gone?  . . . time to take a pause. My grand café crème décaféiné has just arrived!

Back to the topic at hand–time. In all honesty, it feels like I’ve been here for 3 months or more. My life has settled into a pleasant routine and life on Kaua‘i seems far, far away (yes, I know it really IS far away!):

6 a.m. – Get up on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to go for a 30 minute jog along la Saône.

This I’ve done for 2 weeks now. After diving into the shopping frenzy–who could resist all the SOLDES signs everywhere?–and finding some absolutely fabulous and fun lingerie (yes, lingerie-and again, who could resist buying FRENCH lingerie on SALE in France!!!!) and noticing that my muscle tone was practically non-existent after being in Tennessee for almost 2 months and in France for 2+ weeks, or so, I decided to start an exercise program. Hence the early time to me lève!
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying jogging along la Saône. It’s quiet and dark. I’m alone with the dozen or so poor souls who are waiting at the various bus stops I pass. I get to see the top secret things like the vélo man stocking the stations with red and grey bikes, the road cleaning guys who (I think) are hosing down dog poop, and the dog walkers who loyally treat their canine pals to an early morning stroll. For 4 times now (but who’s counting,) I’ve seen Fido, Emma and Yanda’s younger sister taking a stroll and early morning pee. How that warms the heart of a dog lover like me!

7:10 ish – Shower in the incredible shower along an authentic rock wall with artistically placed adjoining stone.

Though I had to pass on washing my hair this morn. Yesterday as I waited and waited for the water to turn warm, I decided to just wash the “necessary” parts when lo and behold the water turned warm for an instant. I then proceeded to VERY quickly wash my hair. I had just about made it when it turned cold again.
Right about then Madame knocked on the door and said, “Susan, ATTTENTION the heat isn’t working!” 

“I know,” I replied.

Ends up the heating throughout the entire apartment wasn’t working. The repair man was supposed to come by this afternoon, but when I stuck my head in around 3:30 p.m. there was no sign he had arrived. Alors, I might just have greasy hair for the weekend . . . ca va.

7:30 ish – Make tea and prep my lunch.

Oh my goodness!!! did I ever find the most wonderful camembert this week!!! It’s made from sheep milk. Tones, I bought the last one they had early this morn. It went off in the mail around 13h. . . . I’m sure you’re already waiting with bated breath!!!

Fix my muesli . . . though the other morning Madame was out of muesli and j’avais très faim!  So I boiled an egg and then picked up a croissant on the way to school . . I wasn’t about to eat that horrible white bread . . .

8 ish or so – Depart for school.

8:30 ish to 8:50 ish Arrive.

Depends on how I feel that morning, sometimes it’s nice just to wander a bit.

Something pleasant: a beautiful morning in Lyon
Something not so pleasant
9 to 12:30 – Class (with the half hour break, which starts at 10:30)

Today was Marion’s 29th birthday so besides the croissant we were treated to each Friday, we had some gâteau au chocolat that Marion made this morning and a bit of wine she brought. It was all very nice. 
We also didn’t return to class after the break but rather stayed in the petite cafeteria to play a game, loup-gour (not sure if I have that completely right—I didn’t, it’s loup garou or werewolf in French. It’s essentially a game where 3 people are werewolves, 1 is the sorcerer, and the rest are villagers; we’re given cards which determine which part we play; it’s all TOP secret. Alors, BOTH times they voted me DEAD in the first round!!!!  Either they really like me or really hate me. I’m not going to think too hard on that one . . . both times they did not find nary a one werewolf, though BOTH times I guessed 2 of the 3. They thought I was a werewolf because . . . well, I’m not exactly sure why . . . maybe you can figure that one out for me!

12:30 to 13:30 – Lunch break

I chose to eat in the cafeteria (in name only, it’s simply a room for dining or hanging out in; it’s up to you to provide your own lunch) each day this week; though today I spent a good bit of the time sending off a very important package! Seems Jean-Laurent likes camembert too so I shared some with him today. (I very discreetly knocked on the door of the teachers and officer workers’ space, it’s a real no-no I think to bother them, but the times I’ve frapped on the door they haven’t minded (again, I think!) because I had a treat to share.) BTW Tones, Jean-Laurent thought it was a most excellent fromage too!

Lunch has been really fun this week hanging out with the other students. In fact, this week has been my favorite so far. It was the most “steady”. This one woman who had a big heart but was incredibly fragile and was here week numbers 2 and 3 for me, fortunately left on Monday. Without going into any detail, I’ll just say that I was very nice to her, patient, kind, listened to her stories etc. SOME! . . . but I’m very glad she left . . . nuff said. Though Torun is gone and she and I had three really fun evenings together . . .

Moi et Torun

13:30 to 14:15 – Conversation class

Today’s activity was a little “test” regarding what’s proper when you go to a collègue’s house for dinner. (someone who you work with but don’t know real well, not a buddy).

Here’s what I learned: taking your shoes off is considering SHOCKING and a real no-no (okay my Kaua‘i buddies, we’d flunk out right away!); you should arrive 15 minutes after the time you’ve been invited, NEVER early, and not longer than 30 minutes after; NEVER go into the kitchen, another real no-no (it might be a complete mess! and probably is); bring an ODD number of flowers as a gift (as in an odd number, not strange flowers Dan!), and they should be wrapped in pretty paper; don’t start eating until the hostess does . . . I think that was the most of it. So fortunately Marion has saved us all from committing some major faux pas!!!

14:15 à 15h00 – Two days a week I do an extra session with Jean-Laurent on the computer/internet for gratuit. I’ve always gotten something out of these sessions.  Sometimes it’s simply reviewing the basics, as in the present tense verbs.

15h00 – Each Mercredi there is a DVD to watch all together in a class room if you want. 

The first one (L’Auberge espagnole) was GREAT! I definitely recommend that you watch it. It’s about a group of foreign students studying in Madrid; they’re sharing an appartement. The second film was also very good (Odette Toulemonde). It’s about a lady (qui s’appelle Odette) who adores an author, she travels to see him and have her book autographed . . . it’s a very fun story, especially for women. Then we saw (Un balle en plein coeur). It’s a very good but very sad movie about two friends in Sarajevo who have to choose different sides during the war in the 1990’s. Tony and I had already seen this one. And this past Wednesday we saw (Le coeur les hommes). It was okay. It was very difficult to understand and there were nary a subtitle. Believe me, we ALL needed subtitles!

15h00 – Each Thursday there’s an excursion.
I’ve been to the musée about the frères Lumière who are from Lyon. We toured their family home (a beautiful 3, or was it 4?, story home with incredibly high ceilings, and magnificent broad staircase, large rooms . . . I especially liked the “Florida” room, which they called their room for winter. There were all kinds of old film cameras to took out and lots of old movies rolling in each display room. Needless to say, it was very interesting.

One week we walked to the Parc de la Tête d’Or. I’ve been back to this park several times. It’s quite large with wide wandering boulevards and smaller meandering paths through the gardens, animal park, etc. and around the lake.
Stefan, Hugo, moi et Marie

If you want to see the video to match this shot, go to youtube. Search for l’amour Lyon. Bear in mind that this video was a hit with teenage boys.
Another week we went ice skating. I think that was my favorite by far in terms of an activity. Jean-Laurent accompanied about 6 of us. It was loads of fun, though not necessarily for Ricardo (the 26 year old Brazilian who works in advertising) who fell many, many times. Though by the end he was doing very well. 
He actually showed us his bruise the next week at the rip-roaring party that Friday night in the students’ apt. It WAS rather large!!! And this was more than a week later!

 A drawing of how this area of Lyon appeared in 1550
Another week we week to see the Greco-Roman musem but got shut down because of the teachers’ strike. And then yesterday we went to the Museum of Tissues. There was a special exhibition of paper dresses, models made for making designs. They were extraordinary. There must have been at least 50 of them. They filled two large rooms bordered with displays of ancient tapestry (some we saw were from the 3rd century!! VERY old).  All the dresses were very colorful and formal, long gowns to be worn to a fancy ball, I think.
We also saw the standard display in this incredible 4-story home which was built around 1750 for a very wealthy family. They occupied the 3 bottom floors and rented out the top (where their kitchen also was).  It was similar to the Lumière’s home–large chambres, high, high ceilings and a beautiful wide staircase. The design was of a square with the private courtyard in the center.

And then once a week there is an outing (if you want) for a dinner.  I’ve already bored you with the many details of the two restaurants I went to with the group (the first week it was for fondue, and I’ve had fondue en Suisse and really didn’t care for it), so I won’t venture there again. BUT, I will tell out about this past Wednesday evening. A small group of us women (6 to be exact, 4 Suisse (one of Turkish origin and one of Albanian origin), 1 Irish young lady and moi, ages? 19, 19, 19, 35, 19, 48 in that order–I’m really enjoying hanging out with such young people!) decided to find a less expensive restaurant. Two of the four Swiss chose an Italian restaurant. It was perfect. 
Two of us had a pizza (moi-champignon, fromage avec un oef, I loved eating an egg on a pizza! Janine-quatre fromage), 
the others had pasta . . . carbonara and I’m not sure what else.   
Our waiter was an absolutely adorable man of about 60; he kindly took a photo of us . . . with EACH camera! Très adorable.
AND when I talked about the food I forgot to mention a couple of things.

1) Madame prepared a lentil dish one evening with sausages. It was very good. Apparently it’s a native dish where her parents live.

2) Last Friday I joined 3 other ladies for Gambas à GoGo.   
Essentially it’s a heaping mess of all the shrimp you can eat with pommes frites (very good Dan, but I’ve yet to go to kebab place and eat frites . . . I think that’s where they also rock.) 
The restaurant was an Irish Pub the German gal who now lives in Ireland with her Irish husband had chosen. The restaurant portion was in the basement. It was a really cool cave with stone archways with boxing paraphernalia hanging all over the place. We essentially closed the place down. Fortunately there was no school the next day . . .

And then I’ve searched out music . . . I had actually thought today as I was walking to school that today’s subject line would read “la musique” and Char had even put in such a request . . . alors, that will have to wait for a later date.

And another petit sujet is le sculpture . . .

To close I have BIG news to give . . . I’ve been speaking a bit more, well . . . I think I’ve been using a bit more complicated sentence structure AND I did better on the test today . . . . so . . . Marion has invited me to join the more advanced class next week ! ! ! I could sense a great deal of hesitation on her part. She said if it was just conversation, no problem, but she’s worried that they may speak too quickly for me to understand. Alors, I told her, “Je voudrais essayer.” So, try I will!! I think most of you know that I like a challenge now and then . . . and they made it clear that if I’m completely lost, I can always return to Jean-Laurent’s class. So, I shall give it all I’ve got and see where I land. Personally, I think it will do me good to be around people who speak fast (with a teacher in the room, the only catch is that the Swiss can be very hard to understand with their accent). I told Tony last night that the biggest problem I’ve had is understanding the French when they’re together because they talk SO VERY quickly. One-on-one isn’t so bad because they hear right off that I’m an Anglophile, and they then speak more clearly and slowly . . . Alors, je vais voir!

So, now I shall venture forth into the POURING rain!! and work my way back home. On my way to this very chic café (which I had noticed on other promenades) I meandered past some very cool art galleries and shops.  BJ, I got a couple of cards for you . . .
These shoes move . . . or talk, if you will !
These shoes fly . . . more or less !
 And these shoes are a little stuck in a rut . . .
AND the agenda for tonight is BLUES at a club qui s’appelle L’Absinthe. Tony recommends I order an absinthe! 
 They were good; the girl was especially good !
Last night was BACH! And last week was bluegrass! So you see, there’s quite a bit on the agenda for “la musique à Lyon.”

Un bon weekend! Have a blast at the yacht club opening Tones! I look forward to being able to check out some photos next week!

So, for now, au revior mes amies!!!


La cuisine . . . as experienced by moi

date:  Tue, Feb 3, 2009

subject:  la cuisine
Bonjour mes amis!
A few of you have asked about the food . . .. alors, Lyon is known for its food, its (notice Mary Hunter, c’est parfait comme ca) gastronomie.
Where to begin?
Okay, I’ll start at the apartment first.
The French do no eat breakfast.
****I should add a disclaimer right off the bat that this email contains MY views only and are in no way to reflect those of others . . .
Instead of breakfast they smoke cigarettes. They DO drink a lot of café espresso with sugar and maybe they will drink a cup of orange juice. When asked what I normally ate for breakfast, “Muesli,” I replied. Thank goodness I said that because the bread she has for toast is très horrible! It’s the ultimate in white air-bread, even worse if that’s possible. My hostess is very nice but she is a bit of a space cadet at times. Fortunately Teri had given me Anahola granola to give friends. That’s what I had for breakfast for about the first week until she remembered to buy a box of Muesli. Alors, for breakfast I eat a bowl of muesli with yogurt, a banana and for a hot beverage I have a pot of tea (which I also brought along–the tea that is, not the pot–thanks again Marty!) and then I also bought some tea later.
Seems like tout le monde eat sandwiches these days, and they even CALL them sandwiches here. I can imagine many professors of French rolling over in their graves.
At school we have a separate room where we are to hang out and eat lunch (or a snack on the break). There is a microwave oven in there that we are free to use. In the hall next to the bathroom is a machine which dispenses warm beverages for 40 cents (about 60 American cents, I suppose). There are a variety of beverages to choose from: espresso with or without sugar, with or without milk, with or without vanilla, hot chocolate, etcetera. But MOI, I bought a white cup (actually I bought 3, it was a set and it was THE cup I liked the most, the 2 office gals are now happily sipping their beverages in similar cups! Maybe that’s why Marthe let me make a print copy yesterday in the office workers and professeurs’ bureau . . .).  I leave it on top of the microwave and make hot tea when I wish. But of course I do BUY a coffee now and then, this is France after all, and the sweets which are occasionally passed around do taste better with coffee.
Back to lunch.
Today I ate half of a most wonderfully crispy and fresh whole wheat (just a little really, whole wheat that is) baguette which I purchased this morning.  On top I spread some butter (I just bought the 16 little packets of butter yesterday.  I figured life was too short to not enjoy the wonderful French butter!) and then I had 2 different types of hard cheese which I bought last week and have stored in Madame’s fridge.  I also had a hard boiled egg with a little bit of Uncle Mike’s wonderful Kauai-made, guava smoked salt. In addition I crunched on a raw carrot (to clean my teeth, of course). I brought an apple too but I was satisfied, so I stopped. Now I have a snack handy for after class.
Lunch during a weekend bike exploration

I have also gone to a couple of restaurants during the hour lunch break. Once I had a demi-pizza margharite avec une salade.  It was good. Not the VERY best pizza (compared to the place in Sarasota that Tony and I went to twice, but very good). They also served a complementary apéritif . . . I think because it was the new year.  But Tony and I have a saying. I don’t really know why they gave me the apéritif for free, AND I’ll never know.  I went back to the same place because I had a hankering for spaghetti bolognese.  Mistake. It was terrible. One day I went to a café and for 3 euros got a simple jambon sandwich on a baguette. It was very good and the bread was incredibly fresh. The grand café crème was very good too.
Before I got a hang of the buying cheese and bread on my own I bought a sandwich or two at the place called “American Sandwiches.” That’s where most of the guy/male students get their lunch. Needless to say, I decided to get my own supplies.  They’re giving us Americans a bad name!
I did one day buy a petite quiche avec champignons et fromage. It was very good. I heated it in the microwave and the cheese dripped all over the mushrooms. C’était super!
Time for class . . . I’ll continue a bit later.
Okay, I can hear you all groaning, we don’t want to hear about what you eat, what YOU prepare. What about the “French” food?
Okay, la Madame makes a very wholesome dinner every evening. There is usually a meat, a vegetable and a carbohydrate. And lately, there is usually wine which is a good thing. If I want to know what she’s going to prepare for the evening, I just crack open the cabinet where she stores her square glass dishes. 
On top of a plate is either a chicken (frozen and set there to thaw) or a filet mignon de porc (like last night) or some other type of red-colored fleshy stuff. 
Looks like it’s poulet from the South West tonight !

When the plate is empty, I’m left to wonder.
She has made potatoes au gratin, squash au gratin, haricot vert boiled in water and then slathered with oil or butter and garlic, pork cutlets, frozen hamburger meat thawed and then fried in a pan (this usually goes with the green beans), spaghetti bolognese (hers was good, just lots of meat and light on the sauce), plain ole rice (that was with the pork chops), steak (sometimes tough, sometimes not; again, simply fried in a pan), creamed spinach and a couple of hard boiled eggs (this was Saturday night, it was quite good but I think I’d make it with less cream) . . . . and with all of this we sometimes have salad.  The salad is either simply just that, green leafy lettuce, or a mélange of lettuce with corn, tomatoes . . . and I think that’s about the extent of it. Oh, we did have a casserole one evening that was endives covered with cream and fromage and at least 2 times we’ve had a roasted chicken, once simply with garlic and once with lemons. And she made a pot-au-feu once. When I told her it was like my Mom’s pot roast that she bakes in the oven she became offended. It has to be cooked slowly on the stove-top, not in the oven!
But it did taste just like Mom’s pot roast, complete with carrots and potatoes. It was good.
When I write this now, it seems that it might appear that I’m not happy with the food, but au contraire. I’m quite satisfied with it. Granted, it’s a lot more meat than I’m used to eating. The only odd this is that she must cook with a lot of salt because many mornings I awake with puffy eyes. This especially happens after eating out in a restaurant. Unless they cook with a lot of MSG here, that’s another possibility.
And oh, we had saumon one night. Those of you who know me well know I love salmon.
We usually eat anywhere between 8 p.m. at the earliest and 10 p.m. at the latest. Though we have been eating at 8 more regularly, which makes me happy.
Mom asked why so late? It’s their custom to eat between 7 and 9 p.m. (at least that’s what my trusty little guide from the school said). La Madame usually stretches out on the couch between 6 and 7 p.m. to possibly 7:30 and smokes her petit cigarettes (I figured out what she meant when on the day of my arrival she said that she smokes “a little.” She meant a little cigarette. But trust me, she smokes a lot. Perhaps that’s why she’s so thin.)  Around 7:30 she jumps up and says something like, oh the dinner!
But to be very fair to her, she very kindly peeks her head in my room where I am usually studying or reading and asks, “Un verre Susan?”  “Bien sûr,” I reply. “I would love a glass of wine.” Sometimes it’s cider but usually it’s wine.
And also to be fair to la Madame, she has a lot to think about with her parents. Her mother who is 90 years old is blind and I think is suffering some from Alzheimer’s.  Her Dad is a young 77.  Fortunately, he is in good health and can take care of his wife, but this must cause la Madame a good deal of worrying.
Okay, and finally on to the restaurants.
I haven’t eaten out a lot because to be blunt, I’ve paid for dinner at the apt. and will be in Paris with Mom later in the month when we will have to eat out (or cook dinner for ourselves at the fabulous loft studio apt. I found for us).
The St. Jacques (scallops baked in a little dish) I had in Paris was by far the tastiest morsel I’ve imbibed during this trip. A close second was the fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and pesto salad, which my friend from Finland ordered (she left Saturday, she works for an aide company in either Senegal or Kenya . . . she asked if Tony and I would be willing to travel to Senegal to make a video  . . .  Bien sûr!!! I replied.) before we met the others in front of the opera for our night out at the “swanky” restaurant run by the best chef in Lyon.

That meal was “okay.” But it really wasn’t magnifique like we’d been led to believe. I had the salad of meat followed by the fish, which was fried in a pan. It was fine but nothing to write home about (so why AM I writing???)  Nothing like the fabulous poisson I’ve eaten at Roy’s or Sabella’s or Pacific Cafe. To be honest, it felt like a tourist trap.

 Angélica, Dominique et Marie–happy just to be here !

Tony and I were happily able to come back to Lyon 10 months later . . . we dined out at a sister restaurant with Jean-Laurent and a friend. It was the wonderful meal I’d been wanting during my solo trip. But I didn’t see any students dining there. Maybe they indeed did take us to “tourist traps.”

The next week we ate at a typical Lyonnais place that serves their regional cuisine.
It was a much finer restaurant but vegetarian beware! They served tripe and liver and sausage of porc . . . lots of meat.
Presentation is everything . . .
The classic salade Lyonnaise is essentially tiny pieces of bacon with a bit of lettuce and croutons.
Perhaps I exaggerate . . . I enjoyed it the most that evening, and the roasted potatoes; they were very good too. I entertained the idea of simply ordering something I knew I’d like but chose instead to do like the Romans. I ordered the meal with all the typical dishes; I copied my nice teacher Jean-Laurent.

Do I have regrets? No, but I don’t have to try that stuff again. The next restaurant I want to go do is on rue Lantern next to quai de la pecherie and le Rhone. It’s a pizza joint très elegant where they make their pizzas in a wooden fire. I can see Tony drooling already!

 A good time was had by all . . .
So, I think that’s it for the food for the moment. Oh, and the meal I had 2 Saturdays ago. It was very, very tasty and satisfying. To remember that meal go cherchez in that other email . . .
So for now, au revoir mes amis and best wishes for a very pleasant day.
One of the many cheese carts at the open-air markets

A few observations . . .

date:  Mon, Feb 2, 2009

subject:  a few observations . . . .


Bonjour Tous!

I hope you are all well and enjoying the wonderful weather on Kauai, in NYC, Tennessee et other parts unknown!

It’s been a great week here à Lyon.

First of all, I thought I’d start off with some observations:

1)  There is a LOT of dog poop on the roads and sidewalks of Lyon. I will be so bold as to wager that there is a LOT of dog poop on the sidewalks all over France! You really have to pay attention when you walk here. ‘Nuff said.

2)  There are a LOT of dogs en France. They are really sweet. Like the one I petted yesterday when I went to a flea market (les puces) avec Madame. I splurged and spent dix euros (about 13 dollars now, the exchange rate is getting much better!) on an old, rusty trivet. I thought it’d fit right in at our house when we entertain friends . . .

and it does !

3)  There are a lot of manifestions in France. Last week there was a large grève pour l’écoles. Seems Nicholas Skar . . . what’s his name wants to change the system of the schools and the entire population is in an uproar about it. Over 30,000 people marched this past Thursday, ma hôtess included. The schools were closed that day as well as the Greco-Roman musée which we WERE going to visit on Thursday.

the Théâtres Romains de Fourvière 
(window in back is where the museum is)
 Some of the other “kids.” 
Wearing black was definitely “in.” I wasn’t “in.”


We walked into the old city instead and had a drink. Some had orange juice, some hot chocolate, some café; moi, I had a beer.

Angelica & Ricardo

The first Saturday I was here I also witnessed 2 LARGE manifestations in Bellecour–THE largest plaza in Europe the Lyonais say.

Vous êtes ici. 
You are here.

You can read up more on it at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_Bellecour. There was also a smaller one on the adjoining street, rue de la république.

a. smaller one was about the abundance of paper used for making print ads

There was a man covered in paper and with a box torso and mask. There were lots of people tossing around printed ads (magazines, flyers, brochures, etc.). There was even a camera man who looked a LOT like Tony (from the back and side of the camera, that is) and a sound person who looked NOTHING like me.

I enjoyed watching it all. I sent Nancy the little piece of paper THEY were passing out protesting the abundance of such paper things.

b.  a march for the aforementioned school topic

When Madame and a fellow friend told me about the changes N.S. wants to make (over wine of course, it was in the evening on a Friday, I think) they became quite adamant that their school system right now is wonderful, it’s very democratic and EVERYONE can get a good education. According to them, the changes which N.S. wants to make (I think already HAS put into place, but don’t quote me, remember, I’m here to learn the language . . . : ) would/will make the school system more like the one in the U.S. where only the rich really have a chance for a very good education . . . .

Schools are not a business. 
Education is not merchandise!
Before you all get in an uproar and want to jump on me, please remember the saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” I’m just passing on what I observed . . .

c. a protest over the Israeli agression in Palenstine

Boy, did I ever get a few cool shots. It was quite fascinating because each spokesperson was speaking very slowly and clearly (on a raised platform with a PA system) so I could actually understand. It really was interesting until they started chanting “Assasinate Israel!!!” That gave me a real pit in my stomach and it was then time to move on.

Why in the world people the world over can’t just chant “Love your neighbor!”, or “Let’s all be friends!”, or “Come to my house for a cup of tea and some pleasant conversation whenever you have a free moment . . .”    ????

Later in the evening when I was up on the top of the colline where le fourvière is, I could still hear the chanting. It wasn’t until then that I thought to record a little video. That’s when they stopped chanting and talking. Maybe there’s a message there. Exactly that is what does not need to be passed on and shared with others. It just keeps the cycle going . . . just my observations.

That’s Bellecour below where you see the Ferris wheel.

4) Nearly every host here is a hostess, divorced and with a grown child or two.  Either they’re lonely or they need to raise some extra cash quick–or both.

5) This is a correction really, but here goes:

faire DU ski

faire DU vélo (I cheated and corrected it when I posted that letter on my glob.)

faire de la voile, etc . . . I was incorrect last week . . . je suis très, très désolée!!

6) I’m improving at the pace of a snail.  But I AM improving.

Last night la Madame said something to the affect (and with a VERY shocked look on her face, I MUST add!) “Everything you’ve just said was absolutely correct! Each sentence!”

I thought it best then to simply reply with a grunt. No need in spoiling my record, plus . . . that means . . . well, you can figure it out for yourself. But, being the optimist that I am, I choose to reach for the positive. Yahoo! I said a few things correctly! Yahoo!!!!

7) A person doesn’t do well when they’re tired.

Each Friday we have a little test. And I do mean little. It’s nothing serious. It’s for the teacher to have an idea of how we’re doing and for ourselves too to have an idea of whether or not we’re retaining what we do in class. I did just fine on the first two tests.  But this past Saturday I completely (and I do mean completely!) forgot some stuff that’s really very simple. So this little optimist (who when she sees horse poop asks her parents, “Where’s the horse I’m getting for my birthday?”) figures that NOW surely I won’t forget the simple thing I thought before. AND it was after this that I could feel myself improving a bit. I think the old adage of take a few steps forward, a few back, and then even more forward may be true.


8) They don’t always have popcorn at movies here.

I saw Che #1 last week and then Che #2 this past weekend at a large theatre close to the school (on rue grolèe for the inquisitive) where NO popcorn or anything else is sold.  It cost seven euros fifty each time. When I went to see Slumdog Millionaire at the only cinéma which showed the original version (in Indian and a petite peu en l’anglais) with French sous titres; it cost nine euros fifty (almost 2.75 dollars more) and they DID sell popcorn and candy. (This one was on cours Vitton, which is also cours Franklin Roosevelt.) What this signifies, I have no idea. Just passing on a few observations.

On a side note, when I arrived at the cinéma there had just been an accident in the middle of the road, directly in front of the film house. I don’t know what happened but a man and a woman who were riding on the same scooter somehow crashed. The bright orange scooter was on its side. There were fragments of the red brake light scattered to the opposite side of the bike. The man was up walking around. He was wearing black leather with a bright orange pulli underneath (like the one my Dad wore and that I now have). The woman was NOT moving except for a trembling hand and arm. It looked like she too was wearing an orange pulli underneath her black jacket. Her elegantly clad feet (in black leather boots with a very high stiletto heel) did NOT move until the paramedic moved it.

Why do I tell you this in such colorful detail?  So you can SEE her AND him and pray for them both. I couldn’t help but think that she had had some type of injury to the brain . . . again, ’nuff said.

May the wonderful prayer chain begin . . . .


Okay, after that, I’m not quite sure what to write, so I think I’ll stop.

Love to you ALL and thanks for being the kind of friends that I know I can send a prayer request to, and immediately you’re already praying . . .

Merci beaucoup.

until next time,


or Suzanne en France

p.s. a friend at school sent this . . . .

I think you might enjoy watching this video too. ciao

salut Susan,

je crois que tu vas aimer ce video.



The first vélo weekend

 Fred from Brésil

date:  Mon, Jan 26, 2009

subject:  Highlight of the weekend: faire du vélo!
Hi Everyone,
I hear through the grapevine that you are enjoying my emails, alors, I will continue  . . . .
After trying to rent one of the groovy red and industrial silver bikes which can be seen throughout Lyon at many, many stations but NOT succeeding, I decided to approach a bike shop to see if they rented bikes. The very kind lady instructed me to go two doors down where another kind lady searched on the internet for me. She found 2 places in Lyon that rent bikes and she then proceeded to give me fliers with their addresses (one of the shops refurbishes bikes from Holland . . . Tony and I can attest to the fact that approximately 62,584 bikes are pulled from the canals around Amsterdam each year. We actually witnessed a huge machine dredging the canal and pulling out bikes 11 years ago on our retirement trip!)
When I got back to the pad and joined la Madame for a verre (our almost daily routine of sharing a glass of something before dinner, this usually takes place around 7 or 8 or 9 pm), I asked her if she knew anything about these shops. Non, non, she replied. She then proceeded to get on the phone and call the VÉLO office of Lyon and ask if there was a way around having to have a special European credit card (their cards seem to have some special power in this little golden patch underneath the number). Non, non, they told her.
After we sat there a minute she said (as if she had just had the most extraordinary idea ever, which it was after all !), Oh, but of course (in French of course) you can use MY vélo.
Oh wow, really, may I?
I knew she had a vélo because she had told me so; but there was no way that I was going to ask if I could use it (when I asked her if I could please possibly borrow a knife to take to school to cut my cheese–no, no, not like you think!–she said Non; but did offer up the tiniest swiss army knife known to man . . . . but I digress–and to digress even further, I splurged and spent 2 euros today on a knife and spoon for lunch  . . . Alas, I shall return the tiny da kine without ever even trying to slice into a creamy camembert . . . I think my nice new red handled and stainless silver knife with a pretty edelweiss flower at the joint shall do just fine, merci beaucoup!).
Where was I?
Oh, so she offered me her vélo for the weekend! Yahoo! Was I every excited. She gave me the key to the cave in the basement AND the key to the bike lock. This one came with a very stern look about not loosing it since it’s the only one she has. I won’t loose it, I promise; I told her. She was too tired that evening to show me where the bike was (a fellow teacher hurt an ankle and she had to work with 31 rather than 24 6 to 7 year olds 2 days in a row and she was wiped out!) but she promised to later.
As it turned out, we never had the tour since I HAD to leave Friday evening early (8:30 p.m.) for a party and that meant we had to have dinner VERY early (which probably caused her much stress–we usually eat anywhere between 8 and 10 p.m.). Alors, one mention of the party–it was a blast. Imagine going back in time to when you were between 19 and 21 years old and you’re away from home and there’s a party in an apartment for 4 to 8 foreign exchange students.

Need I say more? Michele, I know that you remember what that’s like! (for those of you who want to know what other nationalities were represented at the party . . . Danemark, Argentine, Ireland, Brazil, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Japan, England . . . I think that about covers it.)

So the next morning I managed to get up bright and early and leave the apt. at 10 a.m. The first step was finding the vélo. Right across from “one of the world’s smallest elevators” ® is a black metal door. Open it with la Madame’s bright silver key and you’ve gained admittance into the past.

As soon as you step down one measly step you’ve entered the world of WWII and what it must have been like to hide during an air raid. I don’t know if there were air raids in Lyon, but I’m sure there must have been plenty of hiding. Down the narrow circular staircase and voila! There’s Madame’s blue funky, old vélo.

It was perfect! (for those of you with enquiring minds, there were maybe 5 other bikes down there in a space the size of our guest bedroom and our main bathroom.  What else was down there? A mattress or two (for real!) and several buckets full of something. It’s not a uniform space but rather a narrow chamber that twists around a bit.)

Okay, as you can imagine, it was a bit tricky getting the bike back up the stairs and somehow opening the door. 
But I did without too much trouble . . . . but I will jump forward and tell you that the return that afternoon was a bit like a skit with Laurel & Hardy. I did much better the next day.
Saturday I took a pleasant spin across la Saône into the main part of Lyon, then across le Rhone to ride along its side on the wonderfully wide and diverse bike path. I more or less went to the end (before it branched off and took a turn into the industrial section) taking photos along the way. One highlight was watching one of two dirty-white horses roll in a field.

Seems he had a bit of an itch.

They weren’t tied up but they did have bits in their mouths. As I began to head back, the rain began to fall. It wasn’t that hard and I did have my trusty gortex jacket with me and nice Northface backpack complete with yellow rain cover, so like the girlscout I never was, I was quite prepared. (Thanks again for the great backpack Mom and Dad! I still talk to Dad on occasion and he makes appearances now and then.)

BUT, since it was approaching lunch time, I decided to find a restaurant . . . . and I did find the perfect place. I was having a hankering for a warm meal (after a week of cold sandwiches, albeit with wonderful French cheese). Le Restauant a la Maison de Lucy, or something like that, was perfect. I went for the 13euro50 deal of a main course and dessert with coffee. They served a piece of classically roasted chicken (the thigh and leg) with champignons, a side salad, warm penne pasta and a glob of some wonderfully warm cream something or other. (That’s exactly how the waiter described it when I asked.) Of course this was accompanied with a half bottle of red wine and some tap water. I took my time and enjoyed every bite. I did take a picture of the place setting since it was so beautiful . . . the shot has a nice misty look to it since I dropped the camera on the first day (So sorry Tony! It was really cold and slipped out of my hand!) The camera still works well, it just doesn’t close its nice little cover when I turn it off. 

Hence the mist on the lens when I pulled it out of the backpack, now inside a warm room . . . you get the drift you fellow nerds who know what it’s like to walk into a warm house after being outside in the cold!

Okay, lunch was great. The waiter instructed me to choose a dessert. I stood up and gave the board a quick glance. There was crème brûlée, which I adore, but since I OD’d on them a few years back, I have to approach them quite carefully. Towards the bottom was something or other with chocolate. When the gentle waiter returned, I quickly thought how to say the name of that which I had immediately proceeded to forget. Alors, je vousdrais le dessert avec chocolat, s’il vous plait. Le ???///095§ ? Oh oui, bien sûr!
Guess what I got? The kid’s dessert which was 3 waffle pieces, covered (and I do mean COVERED) in nutella with a large blob of whipped cream on the side. Well, for those of you who have never tasted nutella, imagine a creamy, thick chocolate goo with a hint of hazelnut. Voila! That’s it. Europe’s answer to peanut butter.
I proceeded to eat the whole darn thing. And was it ever good. Sometimes it pays to be the clueless American; you get to eat the kid’s dessert and not be embarrassed!
Which may be why the next day’s bike ride was over 6 hours long; I was trying to work off the nutella!
To close out Saturday, after lunch I found a place to get my haircut. After I carefully told the one guy (seemed like the owner, a man from Peru who looks like a native Peruvian, who speaks Japonais) who washed my hair that I didn’t want more layers, I was sat down with another guy (there were only 2 men working there) who proceeded to give me the MOST layered haircut I’ve ever had. Oh well, Ca va.  I really, really needed a hair cut, and it’s a good 6 weeks until I’ll be home, so it’ll grow out. Though the classically French man sitting next to me did manage to drool. Oh oui, ca va, ca va! I think that guy really wanted (or needed) a date . . .
After the haircut I jumped back on the bike for several laps around the lake at park Tete d’Or. I never did manage to find the head of gold but I did make one old man’s day as he waved at me go past several times. 
I think he was enjoying being out in the rain as much as I was (which was a LOT, as those of you who know me know, I like to ride a bike like a kid . . . and it had been almost 3 months since I’d been on a bike . . . need I say more?).

The next day I awoke to an incredibly clear (for Lyon) day. The sky was actually blue and it didn’t rain at all the entire day; and the pollution was negligible.

Sunday I proceeded again in the same direction, took a quick spin around the lake at Tete d’Or and then set off for parts unknown. This took me to a street faire with lots of cheap junk . . . really, nothing that drew my eyes expect for a pile of romance books in French.
giratoire = roundabout
La Madame had mentioned a lake called Mirabel. All I knew was that it was east of Lyon. I headed East and went as far as a town called Mayzieu. My route took me along a bike path, which follows the Tram #3 through an industrial section,

down main thoroughfares, into the country and along a country road, past a prison (well, they’ve got to have prisons too!), past many schools and recreation areas, past a few high falutin neighborhoods (which honestly have that look of mainland USA), past a campground with thousands of little campers and then the little train station for Mayzieu.

Along the way I had been looking at the maps next to the bus stops and knew to look for rue Victor Hugo. This was my ticket to the other side of a lake called Grand Large (really, that’s its name! kind of like lake big big).
Now I was in the magic of riding along a lake. There were families on bikes, people on the lake rowing, dogs running free not on a leash (one came by to say hey, he was really sweet but stinky like Rocket Girl).
le crayon in the distance

some cool looking communal gardens

I then worked my way back to town and somehow magically back to parc tete d’or where I could grab a bite. It was now 3 p.m. and I was hungry. I went for the incredibly healthy but tasty choice of crêpe au sucre and grande café crème followed by the ubiquitous sandwich jambon.

(Okay, okay, what about the fine French cuisine you ask? It was 3 p.m. already and I just wanted to hang in the park on a bench in the sun. Okay?)

The return took me back down le Rhone

simple pleasures

to the far south side of town where I then crossed back over to the “island” and managed to find a pleasantly quiet road.
One side note–despite the large population of this city (for the accurate amount explore wikipedia s’il vous plait . . . just looked and got this #: 472,305) I managed to find MANY places empty of people. Just what this Kaua‘i girl needed. Not to wander too far though from my purpose for being here, I did listen to a French radio program twice on my iPod, some French dialogue stuff, some French music (Samedi Soir by what’s his name), some Jacque Brels stuff along with Zap Mama . . . the immersion continues.
To backtrack, the highlight of Saturday afternoon was listening to an incredible (and attractive) Brasillian woman play classic guitar.

I found a listing in the journal for a free concert at 5 p.m. at Le Salon de Music on rue Saint George, not far from chez moi. A fellow °student joined me . . . it’s quite a long story but suffice it to say that people are the same everywhere and this student (she) hadn’t been invited to the gathering the night before. Not as a slight I think, but just because the guys didn’t think to invite her. She reminds them of their mothers I found out later. I also found out later that she’s all of 40 years old . . . needless to say, me with my 48 somehow fit in. Okay Mom. Here’s your confirmation that I haven’t yet grown up. (°I invited her to join me . . .)
So, on that note, seems like a good time to close.  It’s 4:36 p.m. and my books (for studying) are calling.
Ciao and bisous mes amis,

What I learned today in school . . .

date:  Thu, Jan 22, 2009

subject:  Today I read all about Edith Piaf dans wikipedia.


Hey Everybody,
Here it is 4:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. in Hawaii) and I find myself alone at an ordi.  I just completed this extra class I’ve taken on for free.  One of my teachers, Jean-Laurent, is studying for his doctorate and has different websites for us to try out.  He observes us (just one other guy and me) and answers our questions.
Last week it was http://www.tv5.org
Click on Accueil if you want to check it out.  Then click on Apprendre le francais.  Then on Quiz.
Another one is http://jeudeloie.free.fr/plateau.htm.  They’re pretty cool for a quick way to learn or review something.
Today it was:  http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaf.  Jean-Laurent had a list of questions to answer, really more for seeing if you understand the content than the specifics.   
As many of you know who saw the French movie about her, she lived a very sad but fascinating life.  AND she could sing, AND write!  Probably the most important thing I learned today was that she wrote her biggest hit, La vie en rose, toute seul, all on her own.
School update: it’s really cool!!!  It’s very practical, the things we learn.  For example, today after being in Jean Laurent’s class from 9 to 12:30 (with a half hour break from 10:30 to 11, and after our lunch break which is from 12:30 to 13:30) I have a 45 minute class avec Marion pour conversation.  Il y a 5 étudiantes là.  The five of us laugh and play while Marion guides us.  Today we discussed an ad about giving blood.  She asked if I was ever involved with community service kind of stuff . . . and I was able to say that “J’ai fait LA pub pour le yacht club et un concert association.”  In contrast to LE pub, which are advertisements.  It just so happened that in our morning class we had learned the difference be la pub et le pub.  Only one other guy and I are in this class (it’s the one for more beginners) and the 3 other students in the conversation class are in the more advanced class.  Ricardo and I exchanged glances that yeah, we just learned LA pub! (He works in marketing and advertising in Sao Paolo, Brésil.  He showed me his picture of his petite-amie, très, très belle!)
Ricardo, Angélica & Hugo . . . the three who speak Portuguese

Some of the other things we have done have been:
play taboo, a really fun game where you have to guess what we’re talking about (yes, it’s all done in French, for real!).  And the trick is that you can’t use words that would help you explain more easily.  For example, for BERLIN, you could not use the word wall.
Another activity was describing for your partner what was missing in a drawing.  The person describing has the complete picture and the other person has a drawing with only a part of it.  Try doing that in English!
So, as you can see, the activities are very practical (how to describe where something is) but just plain fun too.  You should hear us all laugh.  I love it when I manage to pull off a joke in French and they actually understand what I meant to say!  And then of course, there are those times they make a face at you like “Hehh???”
Oh, I just remembered that I wrote that next time I’d tell you about hearing the cool sénégalese music; well, I lied.  Plus tard, another time . . . .
Okay, it’s now 10 till 5 when they close; I’m all alone except for the boss . . . . and I gotta use da kine before I start my pleasant walk home in the rain!  Fortunately, I bought une parapluie last week.
Alors . . . until the next time.
Bisous to you all, mes bonnes amies.
View from my bedroom window one evening

L’école encore

The “kids” in the class this particular week. 
Yup, there are a couple of older kids.
Take two on this particular missive . . .
date:  Mon, Jan 19, 2009

subject:  2 l’école
Aloha All,
I think that was a Freudian slip because Je suis fatiguée . . . . . .
Alors, à plus tarde . . .
(despite my fatigue . . . here’s a bit more . . . )
Oh, and I glanced at the letter I just sent.   I was just going to wrap up with the difference between passé composé & imparfait for my fellow nerd friends (Nancy & Regina, you probably know this already).  PC is for something in the past that happens at a certain time and/or only once.  It’s also used for sequential things.  Imparfait is for things that were on-going in the past AND for describing things from the past  . . . .  Okay, okay, maybe this is too boring of a subjet.
Next time around I’ll tell you about the band I went to hear this past Saturday night . . . . musique sénégalaise.
Au revoir!
Susan encore

The school: Ecole Suisse de Langues aka ESL

date:  Mon, Jan 19, 2009

subject:  l’école
Bonjour mes amis,
Alors, je dois quelque chose à vous dire de l’école. After all, I’ve been here a week now, so I reckon it’s time to talk about the school: ESL, Ecole (Shouldn’t there be an accent over the capital e? Well, I would think so too; but there’s not one at their website; so I’m going with their version.) Suisse de Langues. For those of you who like to play with google map or google earth, the address is 6, Quai Jules Courmont, 69002 Lyon. It is located on le Rhone.  To get here (today I’m using their ordi because I can. Most of the students are gone and there isn’t a line waiting to use da kine.) I walk out the door of the apt. building (after going down the narrow flight of steps of course!), take a right, cross the river Saône which is on the LEFT on any one of the many bridge.

(Lesson of the day:  il y a le pont–regular bridge for cars and pedestrians and la passerelle–foot bridge only. When I asked la Madame if a person is allowed to ride their bike over a passerelle, she said, “Non, mais ouis, mais non.” So, it’s not allowed, but people do it anyway : )

After crossing a bridge I am now in the “main” section of Lyon. The most direct way to the school is to walk down la Saône until I reach rue Grenette, take a left, go till the road on the river (le Rhone) take a right and the school is just a little bit down on the right. I did that for the first few days until I began to feel a little bolder. Now I go any which a way because it’s hard to get lost with so many tall landmarks. First of all there’s le Crayon

(It’s this tall building in the middle of no other tall buildings with a cap on it like a pencil, hence le crayon, which in French is . . . . . you guessed it, a pencil. It’s also over the main train station called Gare-Part Dieu. La Madame told me that there is a cool bar on top of it. Anyone want to come over and check it out with me?)

Secondly, there’s le Fourvière, a beautiful cathedral on the hill on top of the “old” town (also easy to reach from where I’m staying. That’s another cool thing about Madame’s apt., it’s in such a good location.) 

The locals call it an elephant lying on its back–it’s four legs are sticking straight up in the air! It’s a church dedicated to Jesus’ brother, Joseph. When I look on the map it’s official name is Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière.

Not far from the elephant en respos is the tour (or tower) de Lyon. It’s what greets me after I’ve climbed at least a thousand steps. (No, I haven’t counted them, but our teacher made us count them when we descended from another part of the hill. And for those who can’t sleep without knowing the answer, there were 248 on that particular set of steps.) 

The tour really does look like THE tour in Paris. It’s just a LOT smaller, AND you’re not allowed to climb it. It’s a tower for communi-cation; I see lots of satellite dishes on it, that kind of thing.

Okay, so it’s easy to find your way around so long as you can get a sightline with one of the big landmarks. That is unless the pollution is so bad. And let me tell you, it IS bad here. 

The few times I’ve looked at the weather report it was at the WORSE mark on the list! Yep, pour mes amis à Kaua‘i, lucky we live Hawaii!

To get in the school you have to push a button at the main entrance to the building (unless you come early like I have a few times and the workers are still cleaning up). It’s a lot like everywhere else in the world–except Kaua‘i and maybe Tennessee–where there are buildings with lots of offices and such in them. After getting buzzed in, you climb the dark and very broad stairway up to the 2nd floor (or first étage en francais). There is another buzzer there for getting in . . . unless you’re a student like me and they show you a secret buzzer to push for entry.
The school’s in a classic old building with high ceilings. There are peut-être 6 or 7 classrooms, all have pretty French (no, really) doors, complete with glass panels. The classrooms face the road on 2 sides so if you wanted to daydream you could look at some shops on the groundfloor and appartements en haut.
Here’s the routine of the day:
8:30 a.m. The school opens. You can come in and use the ordi, which are in the entry hallway, 3 on one side of the entry door, 2 on the other. 
Dominique from Switzerland

They’re chest high, so you have to stand and step in close sometimes when someone need to pass by. You could also go hang out in the common room at the end of the hallway if you wanted to (or go to your classroom and start studying/working already if you’re a complete nerd! I’ve only done that once, and that was at 8:45, so I don’t think that counts.)
9:00 a.m. School begins. There are essentially two classes. I’m in the more elementary one (of course!). There are only 6 students in our class. Yes, I’m the only Americaine. Here’s the breakdown of the rest: one guy from Brésil who works in advertising, a young man de Suisse who works in construction, a lady from Finland who is essentially an aide worker who will be going to Kenya, a German woman who lives in Ireland with her Irish husband, and a woman from Nigeria who has 2 children who were born in Tampa (elle est très belle!)  Our teacher s’appelle Jean-Laurent.  He is a very handsome young man who is studying to get his doctorate in French (he later decided to nix that plan since he doesn’t need the degree to do what he’s already doing and enjoys) as learned by foreigners (comme moi).  He was born on a tiny island close to Marrakesh called La Reunion.  He is of African decent.  We’re all learning French for different reasons, some like me simplement pour plaisir, some for le travaille.  Those are the ones who need French in their work.
Jean-Laurent is a very good teacher. 
Torun from Finland and Jean-Laurent

He’s incredibly encouraging and positive.  Also, he speaks very clearly; and, as those of you who have ever tried to understand native French speakers know, that is très, très important!  At the start of each day he writes les objectifs on the board.  We generally start each class with some discussion.  What are some of the topics you ask?  I’ll look in my notebook for today’s sujets. (sujets, the plural of sujet, which is . . . yep, you guessed right, simply subject in French . . . so MANY of our English words come from French ! )
1) Le devéloppement durable est-il à la mode chez vous?
No, it’s not a question of how many scoops of ice cream you want, but whether it’s fashionable to have/use self-sustaining products.  Katy, I told them how the biggest hotel on the island is now using solar panels.  Très cool! they replied.
2) Que pensez-vous du salarie des patrons?
Since I’m my own boss, or rather sometimes I am, sometimes Tony is, I just told them the on-going joke that Tony and I have that he hopes I’m embezzling.  They laughed.  But then the discussion moved on to Bill Gates.  I had to say that yes, people like that do make a crazy amount of money; but at least Bill Gates and his wife are incredibly généreux.  Oui, oui, Jean-Laurent nodded.
After our discussion (trust me, we are talking like first or MAYBE second graders!) Jean-Laurent pulls out some xerox copies for our lessons for the week.  There is generally a theme for each week.  Last week it was asking questions, present subjonctif, passé recent (venir de + infinitif), etc.  This week it looks like it will be comparisons (for nouns, adj., les adverbes, etc.).  We go around the table taking turns reading out loud and then we work on the exercises.  Sometimes le prof gives us each different little supplements to do on our own time.  I was quite happy last week Tuesday (my 2nd day) when he gave me a difficult worksheet to take home on the difference between passè composè et imparfait.  Passè composè is really pretty easy, mais imparfait, non!  I was quite happy when I managed to use imparfait once in a REAL conversation with la Madame. (okay, okay, you all know I’m a nerd . . . )  We were talking about my dear husband, that he was playing his gig at Trees Lounge while I was sleeping . . . . that’s. . .

(Oops! I hit SEND by mistake!)