A Travellerspoint blog

Week 1

And the Gypsy's are in town

What a job. If I do ever have kids at least i will be very prepared...

Overall the week was va bit stressful for all. Some Gypsy’s settled for their legal 5 day stint in a town between here and Chalon, and duped one of N & F’s employees into giving him tools to sharpen. What they do is tell someone they will do them a service like that, come back the next day with the tools that they haven’t fixed, then demand something like 1,500 Euro for the ’service.’ The police can’t do a thing because there’s no proof of any wrongdoing and it causes more trouble. If you refuse to pay they imply they will either go to your business at night and do something or follow you home at some point and cause some sort of problems. Your only option is to see how much they ask for and then negotiate a much much lower price. And being a woman helps. So Wednesday Nadine had to do just that. And I had to be extra careful about locking up the house and gates even when inside and not go for walks out of the village away from the houses. Bizarre hey.

Wednesday Amarine was at a friend’s house until I collected her at midday. Nadine went back to work after lunch and I took the kids out walking around Laives.
Afterwards a dog followed us home, and unfortunately for everyone Antonin has very badly wanted a ‘le chien’ for a while, and he quickly became obsessed with this one, repeatedly disobeying my requests to leave the dog outside the gate and come inside and throwing a long, long tantie.
[ A side note: This tantrum was abominable and I cannot understand why they think throwing a tantie will get them what they want. I know kids have short memories and don’t reason like adults yet, but I have watched Nadine discipline them and they KNOW the consequences if they repeatedly disobey their parents or me]

Antonin would have been playing with the dog for over an hour before I really put my foot down and made him come inside, when he attempted to go and play Dofus on the computer (his other obsession) and I had to confiscate the mouse and put up with another round of screaming and crying.
When Nadine and Frederic got home from work both the kids got a severe lecture, and Nadine assured me I had done exactly what she would have, but she would have been harsher on them.
I think the dog incident was an exception, apparently he takes to any dog immediately and the “I want a dog” issue starts all over again.

Thursday was interesting. I dropped the kids at school before 8 but had to hang around Chalon til 10 when I was to accompany Amarine’s class to swimming lessons. As I was looking for a Carrefour supermarket I found en route an outdoor market being setup so pulled over. Next door there was a ‘Salon du Thé’ (coffee shop) which, despite looking and feeling like a truck-stop served not just café or café au lait, but also cappucinos yay. It looked to be run by Italians, but surprisingly the coffee was Fabulous. I decided to kill time there by doing some uni work before checking the market out and heading back for the swimming lesson. Once one of the guys serving noticed my awful language skills he struck up conversation in broken English, and over the following hour took the other seat to talk to me about learning French, ask what I was doing in France and if I had friends here, if I had a boyfriend, if I wanted a boyfriend and what was my number/msn/face book. I was a little taken aback but quite amused, told him ’not right now’ and ’sorry I don’t have a mobile’ (which he believed!). He was definitely not my type and Italian anyhow :) I’m expected back there sometime this week though so I’ll have to decided if it’s a good opportunity to practice French…

Friday everyone was in a better mood, after the morning school run I went to Marie’s apartment as the best Chalon market is Friday mornings and I was hoping to find some fresh raw sheeps milk, or something like that you don’t normally get in Perth, and fruit.
She gave me green tea in a little bowl. Different. I know it can be common to drink coffee from a bowl (like the size of a big soup cup) but didn’t expect tea.
She is about 1 minute’s walk to the main pedestrian shopping area in Chalon, also where the market are held. Loved it, it’s not big but its spread out so when you think there’s only a handful of stalls you turn a corner or go through an arch and there’s some more. We stopped to buy flowers, the amazing soft goats cheese, dried fruit, fish and veges. And into a Boulangerie for the kiddies afternoon tea.
I also happened across a stall selling honey and spice cakes plus some natural skincare, and spoke for quite a while to the woman there, Cecille, in English. She was happy to explain how cosmetics and also food is labelled in france to identify Organic or Sustainable and I bought some soap. This week I’ll be dropping in again to show her my natural sunscreen (she can’t find any in France apparently) and to get some hair stuff.

Friday lunch times everyone meets at Marie and Bernard’s to eat, so Bernard arrived, I collected Amarine at 12 and Nadine, Frederic, and Antonin arrived a bit later as they had been at a parent-teacher meeting for Antonin. Lunch was green salad, fish (fried in some butter and oil), english spinach (local, about $2 per kilo and sold loose not in bunches! - steamed to wilt, then pan heated, with butter), bread (which they don’t put butter on, but often use to soak up meat juices), wine of course an cheese. Another 3 courser but the portion sizes are sensible and it's good eaten slowly. Certainly don’t want to eat until dinner time rolls around late.

For the arvo everyone went back to school/work and Marie and I perused the other market selling clothes (mostly rubbish, made in China and for what it is, expensive) for a couple of hours while gossiping about the gypsys we saw in the market and the unemployed people drinking beer and playing boules in the park until kids pick-up time again.

Yes we manage to gossip with basic French and me guessing a lot of words.

Friday night we all went out for dinner. A rarity from what I can gather. It was only at the local Auberge (guesthouse, the only one in Laives) but it could have been a 5 star restaurant. Menu’s small but diverse, tasty and immaculately presented. I won’t go on, but I chose the seafood boullabaise entrée, fish main and the chocolate cake thing that’s warm and gooey in the middle for dessert. Bernard ordered the frogs legs which I tried (soooo good, but Nadine assured me I should wait until we go to some other better places for frogs and escargot…). Then there was also cheese or fromage frais so I opted for the fromage frais, cos its more like yoghurt. All fantastic and we left with very full stomachs and the kids just about asleep.

This Saturday was the first one in over a year where Nadine and Frederic had not worked so we went to the market in Tournus, about 15 mins drive away. Another cute town, famous for it’s Abbey.
And this is one thing I saw.


That's right, heads, feet and some feathers for decoration. Fresh or what.


This was smaller than the Chalon market but similar quality, mostly local produce. There Nadine shopped up a storm, so now the fridge is packed with vegetables. We also stopped to sample 2 glasses of rose wine from a lady they used to buy their wine from.
Delights were the white asparagus and whole artichokes. I can’t wait to cook the asparagus with Nadine, til now I’ve only had them from a jar.

Posted by Madeline84 09:17 Archived in France

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