Sales are an exciting topic in France for two main reasons: first, clothes aren’t cheap, second, sales and discounted prices are rare. In fact, the French government regulates sales and only allows two six-week-long markdowns a year, one in June and the other in January. But this Saturday was the annual “braderie” (street market) in Nantes—an exception to the rule.
Monthly Archives: March, 2012
I took a long walk to the Île de Versailles, a small island on the River Erdre. The place is modeled after a Japanese garden, and dotted with patches of bamboo, rhododendrons and bonsai trees.
It’s a great place to get a “out of the city” feel, even though it’s tiny and can be crowded on nice days. I love seeing trees in bloom—the landscape was still very winter-y ten days ago in Canada!
I first noticed the many differences between North American bathrooms and French bathrooms a while ago, but I had somehow forgotten about it. It all came back to mind today, when I went for a drink with one of my oldest friends (we’ve known each other since we were six years old!).
Living in Canada means that I’m relatively sheltered from campaign craziness—I didn’t even know all the candidates who had qualified, ten of them in total. But of course, this week I got a crash-course in 2012 presidential elections: it is the main focus in the media and the hottest topic on the street here.
Passage Pommeraye is one of the historic monuments I’m now rediscovering. The mini shopping mall is a passage between two streets, rue de la Fosse (the lower street) and rue de Santeuil (the higher one). It was completed in 1843 and was a novelty at the time. The design is very elaborate and includes renaissance style sculptures along the stairways.
A decade ago, José Bové, the farmer syndicalist, was fighting against junk food (he famously sacked a McDonald’s franchise to make his point) and French would rather have some baguette with stinky cheese than a hamburger. But the more I walk in Nantes, the more I wonder whether the French diet is still a good diet.
French love to rebel against the establishment, and spring is generally the start of “protest season”. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I heard a demonstration was planned this Saturday. But while the protest itself was fairly innocuous, the police force deployed seemed pretty disproportionate.
Everybody speaks French! In Ottawa, I rarely hear “Parisian French”, and if I do, I tend to turn around and glance at whoever talked. Well, I keep on doing that here: whenever I hear French, I turn around. And I really have to stop doing it. This is France.
From Ottawa, I can easily bus to Trudeau Airport in Montreal or Pearson in Toronto and catch a direct flight to Paris. It’s a six- or seven-hour flight, and dozens of airlines serve this route every day. I can be there if needed. At least, I can try to. And this time, I needed to be there.
On Monday afternoon, the phone rang. I picked up and heard two seconds of static, often a telltale sign of telemarketing. I’m not sure why I didn’t hang up the phone. I usually do—we get a lot of telemarketing calls, and I have no patience for sales pitch at 2 p.m.
Most Canadians keep a shovel in the garage, and it’s not to build sandcastles, but to shovel the snow. A single snowstorm can bring ten, twenty, thirty of more centimeters of snow and it can make getting out of the house a challenge.
The transition from employee to freelancer reminded me that, when it comes to getting your first job in Canada, the challenge never ends. I’m now on “contract-hunting mode” and despite my relevant Canadian experience, it feels like starting from scratch again.
Marriage fraud is in the news again, with a recent announcement by Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney that aims at tightening the rules for sponsorships.
The weather has been very strange for the past few days. We had snow, blizzard, very strong winds, warmer temperatures, hail, drifting snow and then cold temperatures. This resulted in dirty snow banks and some slush.
I have been living in Canada for quite some time now and all in all, I think I adapted pretty well. Yet, there are a few cultural facts—habits, customs etc.—that I adopted without being entirely comfortable with.
On one of these cold days (- 25°C with wind-chill), we headed to the Rideau Canal. The “world’s largest skating rink” is one of Ottawa’s most famous landmarks, and with a cleared length of 7.8 kilometres, it’s a huge frozen playground for skating enthusiasts.
When I first came to Canada, I did notice stacks of flyers filling the mailbox and catalogues left periodically at the front door, but I didn’t think much of it. Spontaneously, I’d put all that in the recycle bin. I mean, I hadn’t skimmed through a brochure since I was a six years old impatiently waiting to look at the Galerie Lafayette toys catalogue around Christmas time!