A Typical Week in France

A Typical Week in France

Bonjour, tout le monde!

This blog post is long over-due, but I’ve definitely been profiting from my time here in Bordeaux! I know some people are curious as to exactly how I’m spending my time. Although I can hardly say I have a routine here as each day is different, I’ll try to trace a typical week for you in order to give a better idea of my experience as “the American” living with the Londeix family.

Monday/Lundi : The kids wake up around 7:30am to get to school. Breakfast is usually baguette or sliced bread with butter or jam, and milk (warmed up with cocoa powder) or juice. I start off my mornings with daily readings and studying my French. Aude (the mother) and the two youngest kids, Mayeul and Hortense, are home for lunch (Aude is an elementary school teacher, but she co-teaches and shares her 9-10 year old class with another teacher at a private Catholic school, which is why she only works Thursdays and Fridays). Elementary school children get 90 minutes for lunch and have the choice of staying in the cafeteria or going home, in which each morning at attendance they say “oui” or “non” for the school lunch (at least that’s how it’s done in Aude’s school). We eat at the table together, then the kids go off to read, watch tv, play guitar, study, etc, while Aude and I clean up and have some coffee. The kids head back to school around 1:15pm in which I’m free to go out and explore/run errands/go shopping, etc. Call me crazy, but I still don’t like shopping even if it’s on the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe! I return by 5pm when the kids get home from school so we can tutor before dinner around 7:30pm. Olivier, the father, is often out of town for his PhD work, but when he is home we work on his English prononciation too. They go straight to bed after dinner and I watch a movie in French with French subtitles to practice my listening and vocabulary.

Tuesday/Mardi : The morning starts off the same with my reading, although sometimes I will go for a run at the park or find a site to visit. This week I had a 2-hour tour of the fountains in Bordeaux. It was interesting to learn the history of the water of Bordeaux, and I was happy to be able to comprehend most of it since the tour guide articulated well and spoke slowly. Lunch is together again with Aude and the little ones, and afterward I normally meet up with my friends Clotilde (French), Chanel (Canadian), and sometimes Nerea (Spanish) for a language exchange at a cafe, speaking half the time in French and half the time in English. I come home to tutor, have dinner with the family, and either go to the cinema, watch a French movie at home, or Skype with friends.

Friends

Chanel, Clotilde, Me, Nerea

Wednesday/Mercredi :  Wednesdays are a little different since it’s the recreational day for the students. They have some class in the morning, but we all eat together for lunch, and in the afternoon Clemence, Armand, and Mayeul have tennis, guitar, and music-reading lessons. If I don’t have plans or errands to run, I stay home and study and stay available to tutor around the kids’ activities. Dinner is together at the table as usual.

Thursday/Jeudi : The kids are back at school and Aude teaches Thursdays so the young kids also stay at the cafeteria for lunch. If Olivier is home, we eat lunch together, or else I do my own thing. I’ve had Chanel and Clotilde over for lunch before, or ventured the day with Chanel to shops and museums, or taken the day to work out and study. Like Tuesdays, I often meet with Clotilde and Chanel for a language exchange in the afternoon, then have tutoring and dinner with the family.

Duck!

Trying duck for the first time!

Friday/Vendredi : Similar to Thursdays. One Friday, I shadowed Aude at her school to observe the French school system. Other times I meet up with Chanel and Clotilde in the afternoon. Although it’s the start of the weekend, we tutor and have dinner around 7:30pm or 8pm and the kids go to bed shortly after that.

Saturday/Samedi : Saturdays begin a little later, with breakfast around 9am, and sometimes we will tutor before lunch together. The lunch is more drawn out on Saturdays, and oftentimes I spend longer speaking to Aude (always in French). I find the depth of our conversations fascinating, especially despite the language barrier! Saturday afternoons vary as well, but in the past we’ve gone on a family visit to the Arts Decoratifs museum and each picked out a French pastry for the walk home, with a run in the Parc Bordelais afterward. A couple times I’ve gone to the movies with the kids (we saw Pompeii in 3D and Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu? – a French comedy about a Catholic French family with 4 girls who marry men outside of their parents’ wishes of the traditional French Catholic husband). On Saturdays we normally have an aperitif with the news, then dinner together. Although, on a few special occasions we’ve had dinner in front of the tv with a French movie. Other times we’ve had Olivier’s colleagues over for dinner which lasted until 1am! Or friends over for dessert and champagne or tea while we talked until almost midnight as well. A couple times Olivier and Aude have gone to a friend’s house for dinner at 9pm while the kids and I stay home and watch a movie. (As you can probably tell, it’s quite different for me how late they eat their meals in France! The kids often have sleepovers with friends as well. If we’re not watching a movie, we’re watching The Voice, 9pm-11pm, which is Clemence’s favorite tv show. In fact, besides the news, that’s the only television show I’ve ever seen them watch!

Sunday/Dimanche : On Sundays we normally go to church at Saint Seurin at 11am. Sometimes I go with Clotilde and her boyfriend, Romain, to Notre Dame for the evening mass, which has more students. After Sunday Mass, we often go to Jean-Marie’s house (the grandfather, or Olivier’s father who lives about 5 minutes on foot from us) for a long, relaxing and always very filling lunch. We start with an aperitif, then appetizer, main dish, cheese, dessert, and coffee (which is always accompanied with a little chocolate). The meal easily lasts from 1pm until around 3 or 4pm. Lately the kids have been absorbed in the Wii, and Mayeul received a new Mario Kart game for his 10th birthday. If the kids’ homework is done, we tutor, play Wii or watch a movie on Sunday night. A couple Sunday afternoons we’ve gone to the Musee d’Aquitaine, the museum with regional artifacts, to see the permanent display or special temporary exhibitions like the Aboriginal art. Dinner is normally very small due to the big lunch!

 

Chez Londeix

Chez Londeix

Although I’ve seen the Bordeaux sights and done the obligatory tourist activities (more on that in a different blog post), I’m living as a local rather than traveling as a tourist. I don’t always have tons of pictures to upload because people in Bordeaux don’t have tons of pictures to upload everyday. But this isn’t a bad thing at all, and I’m certainly never bored! Every moment of the day is a learning opportunity. The best way to learn a new culture and a foreign language is not through a tourist’s binoculars and French-English dictionary for a week, it is to live it and speak it with the locals for months.

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