We all have pick-up lines — mine was that I grew up nearby a castle. You know, so that North Americans could fantasize about my “oh-so-French” background. Nah, just kidding. It’s just that Nantes happens to have a castle in the center and since the city is fairly compact, well, downtown is very residential so about 50,000 of us “grew up by a castle”.
Monthly Archives: June, 2010
Contrary to popular belief, French generally don’t just demonstrate for the sake of it. However, if protests have a main focus point, they also embrace a few broader issues or concerns. Case in point, this demonstration was initiated by civil servants’ unions because the government is trying to push for a pension reform to raise the retirement age to 62.
In case you didn’t know it, France is out. Dehors, rien à voir. The country which won the World Cup in 1998 was eliminated very early in this year’s World Cup.
French don’t seem surprised nor particularly angry but rather generally accepting. It doesn’t mean they aren’t complaining though. The loss of the French team, “les bleus” is seen as another symptom of how bad France is doing these days, both politically and economically.
“Justice palace”, this is how French call courthouses. The junior high/ high school I attended for 6 years from age 12 to 18 was located in the center of Nantes, stuck between the main courthouse, the police station and the jail where suspects were held by the police before their trial. The Banque de France was in a nearby street and the back of the building was facing our schoolyard.
It may only be 6:23 (!) to go from Montréal to Paris, but the total trip was closer to 24 hours.
We left Ottawa Saturday afternoon and took the Greyhound to Montréal. The bus was almost empty and we were at the airport around 7 pm. A quick lunch/dinner later, we started queuing for check-in, which took over 1:30. Another line-up for security and we boarded the plane just before midnight.
We are on our way to France and will stay in Europe until July 31 st. I haven’t spent a summer in France since 2003 — at the time, I was coming back from Australia and New-Zealand and I spent the summer studying for my university exams. It was the hottest summer ever in Europe and I spent half of my time camping at the beach with a bunch of friends. Seven years later, I don’t have that many friends left in France but Feng and I should have fun nonetheless — I remember summer in France as a nice season.
It’s not that I didn’t try to keep in touch with French culture. At first, my mind stretched itself to join the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean – it was exhausting. I listened to French talk shows but I grew frustrated because they seemed to have little relevance to my current life. I tried to translate jokes but failed miserably. I threw the odd cultural reference in that no one here got.
The Parliament is definitely the Canadian landmark I get to see the most: I work in its shadow every day. Yet, it still impresses me – I always seem to find new details and new angles.
Parliament Hill is a very busy place in spring: hordes of tourists visit the Parliament, politicians and MPs are wrapping things up for the summer and locals enjoy relaxing on the grass in front of the Center Block.
You won’t find any nutritional information on products in France. I guess it doesn’t matter that much because most people follow a commonsense diet, or at least try to: eat more veggies than Nutella, nibble on bread but go easy on the mayonnaise, enjoy some dessert but a small portion of it. But in North America, a lot of restaurants offer super-fatty dishes.
The second main building I visited as part of the Ottawa 2010 Doors Open event is the Supreme Court. Located on Parliament Hill, the imposing grey building sits in the background, close to the Ottawa River.
Right after going through security, I stepped into the Grand Entrance Hall, with the logo of the Supreme Court, the “S” and the “C”.
Last weekend was “Doors Open” in Ottawa, a yearly event during which a number of places open their doors to the public. Not only admission is free, but you get the chance to peek into a number of interesting places which are not usually open to the general public. Being my usual curious self, I decided to go visit the Ottawa Paramedic Headquarter in Walkley.
I’ve been writing about Canada immigration since I became a permanent resident, in 2005. While I’m by no mean a specialist, I learned a lot when I did my research and I enjoy sharing the knowledge.
And the more I participate in forums and answer various questions from readers, the more I’m convinced some people are just either very mistaken, either very innocent, either simply… stupid.
As a French, I have being taught that bathroom humour is a low form of humour. But I cannot hold it any longer (pun intended) – I’m Canadian now, and if I want to write an article about bathrooms, well so be it.
So, are Canadian and French bathrooms different? You bet they are. And it is definitely part of the funny cultural differences you discover when you travel or live in a foreign country.