Showing posts with label La vie en France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label La vie en France. Show all posts

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lourdes

for non-french speakers: photo captions are in english.

il faisait très beau le weekend dernier. pour profiter le soleil, on a décidé d'aller à Lourdes.

je ne suis pas très catholique mais je trouve les vieux architectures comme les vieilles basiliques et cathédrales vraiment intéressants. et il faut profiter le reste de temps que je suis encore ici dans le sud de la France pour visiter tous les beaux endroits.

en route, dans la voiture, on avait la vue magnifique de la chaine des Pyrénées. ils sont plus magnifiques dans l'hiver avec les glaces partout.


approaching the ice-capped mountains of the Pyrenees

doesn't this just make you want to run around with your arms wide open, singing, "the hills are alive with the sound of music" ? :)

avant d'arriver à la basilique, on a trouvé un restaurant Italian qui est vraiment sympa pour déjeuner.


ham, chorizo, artichoke, dried tomatoes and olives for the entrée at an authentic Italian Pizzeria called Amalfi... makes me want to visit the Amalfi Coast. :)

some creamy vanilla-flavored dessert with nuts

la Basilique du Rosaire est très originale et impréssionante. à droite, on se trouve la grôtte. avant la grotte, il y a quelques robinets pour prendre de l'eau bénite. j'ai achété quelques petits bouteilles pour en prendre et pour en amener à mes vielles grand-mêres catholiques aux Philippines.


the Byzantine-inspired Rosary Basilica

la façade de la basilique est très belle avec les mosaïques partout. ces mosaïques se trouvent aussi partout sur les sols, sur les murs, et sur le dôme à l'interieur.


the entrance to the basilica with words saying, "door of life". it's very original because of the mosaic everywhere.

this basilica is ornamented with mosaic from floor to ceiling.


on avait de la chance quand on a visité parce qu'il n y avait pas trop de monde. c'est pas comme d'habitude. normalement, il y a plein de visiteurs dans ce site tres connu.


the Lourdes Grotto

this magnificent basilica was built on top of the grotto

bottling up some holy H2O for pasalubong to my religious grandparents back in the PI

bon weekend à tous!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Shakespeare and Company

if you are ever in Paris, take the time to visit Shakespeare and Company. It's a really old bookshop along the Seine, right beside the Notre Dame. It was frequented by a lot of famous writers back in the day. If visiting old bookshops is your thing, you wouldn't want to miss this one.

View of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral from a park right beside Shakespeare and Company; couldn't resist taking this pic because it's so beautiful in this golden winter light.

I was able to drop by when I visited Paris for the second time. All the books inside were English books ranging from the classics to the contemporary. But when you go up the old rickety stairs to the premier étage, you are transported back in time as you find yourself surrounded by old, dusty, hard-bound books, complete with cozy nooks that temptingly invite you to sit down and read. These books are not for sale though.

The entrance to the bookshop; outside, there are plenty of books on sale

It was not an easy task finding a book to buy as the ones that I was looking for were not available. Luckily, my husband found an Ernest Hemingway book for me, which was sitting right on the cashier counter. The one he found was written in French. I think it was the only book in french that they had for sale. But since it was written by an American author, I of course opted to get the English version. This one was obscurely tucked away for some reason, and they needed the stepladder to retrieve it.


i super love the packaging.

Despite having read a lot of the classics back in high school, I have never really had the occasion to read anything from Ernest Hemingway. For one, I had already supersaturated myself with all the Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters' novels before I made my way up to the likes of Ernest Hemingway. And by that time, I couldn't take in any more of cheesy drama since I was forewarned that Hemingway had the propensity for this.


The fancy book cover featuring Hemingway himself posing in front of Shakespeare and Co
 

When you buy a book, they ask if you'd want to get it stamped. why wouldn't I? :)

The book I bought was called A Moveable Feast. It is a personal diary of Hemingway, recounting his experiences back in the days when he was living in Paris as a struggling young writer. So far, I have read a couple of chapters, and I still find it interesting. There was even a chapter about Shakespeare and Company, back when it was still a library kept by Sylvia Beach. Somehow, reading this book makes me feel like i'm revisiting Paris for the third time. No regrets about buying this book for a meager price of 12 euros.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Top Chef

it's the season for Top Chef again. and so also starts the highest high of all drama on French reality TV.

the host and chef judges of the show

everybody knows that France is best known for having the best food in the world. when you say best, first of all, it means the food is fresh, well-grown, and healthy. then, it should also be beautifully presented. lastly, and of course, most importantly, it should taste great.

but to be able to really comprehend the french standard for the "best" food, you have to actually live for a while in France to absorb the culture and the ways of the people here.  and if you have lived here long enough, you will understand that the best food is a product of art, science, mathematics, sweat and blood, and all that drama... and you get to see all of this if you watch Top Chef.

you would actually think that being a woman, and coming from a country with all the sappiest, cheesiest, corniest soap opera in the world, i would be able to completely relate when i watch this TV show with my husband. but to be honest, i have never really been the cheesy type. and on the contrary, the overabundance of maudlin entertainment in the Philippines is one of the reasons that drove me out of the country.

plenty of times in the show, they go on and on about a particular dish as if it's some type of hallucinogenic drug. that's when it gets a bit too much for me. and it doesn't really help that i have never tried any sort of hallucinogenic drug before. the closest would be the anesthesia that i got when i had my c-section. and that was not really a pleasant, albeit, awe-inspiring experience at all.


Papaye-chocolat-orange en trompe l'oeil de carottes rapées (this dish is called a trompe l'oeil, which means to fool the eye. it may seem like grated carrots to you, but it's really grated papaya with chocolate and orange inside.







i must admit though, i get awe-struck despite myself, when i see how much dedication, enthusiasm, hard work and all the effort in the world they muster to be able to achieve perfection in each dish. ça c'est vraiment impressionant. and it definitely makes all the unnecessary drama a lot more bearable and even forgivable.



Friday, January 4, 2013

Foie gras for the new year

My husband cooked up a special new year's eve meal with foie gras.

the chef at work

foie gras poêlé


As you know, duck is one of the major produce in the south of France, and foie gras de canard (duck foie gras) is a specialty. There is also foie gras from the goose but the duck one is more common.



foie gras poêlé with some risotto paired with dry white wine


Foie gras usually goes well with sweet wine, but we paired it with some dry white wine from the region famous for truffles. I liked this wine very much. According to some wine expert i know, you'll know if a wine is really good if it passes through the throat really smoothly and when all the flavors linger in your taste buds even after you've swallowed it.

Personally, I like any wine that is smooth on the throat and is not too bitter or too old. Old wine tends to have these sediments that gather at the bottom of the glass, which i really don't like.



melts in your mouth, like M&M's :)

And you know foie gras is really good and really fresh if it just melts in your mouth like butter. I like it like this, but not in huge servings.

And since he knows these are my favorites, we had this for dessert:


strawberry tart


The next day, we still had some leftover foie gras from last night. we didn't want to waste it, so we had it for lunch again.


foie gras poêlé again with some beets, mache and rocket salad

bet you wanna have a bite! :)


This time with some salad on the side.

And we had some dessert too.


a box of chocolates with special holiday packaging



I just love these Christmasy packaging on chocolates during the holidays.

Bonne annee!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Au Marché de Noël

If you visit the Place du Capitole de Toulouse during this time of the year, you will find yourself surrounded by various delicacies and produce of Southern France and also from the rest of the world.

You have the famous nougats and candied fruit stands

These candied fruits are oozing with sugary sweetness... gives me toothache just by looking at them

Nougats are extra-soft and chewy here in France, but also extra-expensive

Some tea to go with the sweets


You wouldn't believe how crazy they are about tea in these parts... good for me!

Various spices from abroad


Spices, mostly of African origin

Some Himalayan and pink rock salts

Some well-loved local snacks


Aligot and Tartiflette stand -- these snacks are made from potatoes and cheese -- both of which are staple food here in France

And hot wine to beat the cold.


I should try this

There was also entertainment for the kids.


Stage show for kids

And for the not-so-young ones.


You can throw pie on this guy's face for a Euro

This year, we went during the day, but last year we went during the evening, and it looked like this:


Le Marché de noël 2011 par nuit

Bonne fête et joyeux noël, tout le monde!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wine Dégustation

last Saturday, it was my first time to attend a wine dégustation (wine tasting) here in France.

some finger food to go with the wine

The wine comes from a friend's friend's wine produce from Bordeaux. This is a famous region in the south of France where wine of prime quality comes from. it was a good experience, even made better when shared with friends.

the name of the wine is usually the family name of the owner

you know it's a very good wine when it doesn't have any advertisement at all at the back of the bottle, like this one. it only has the label in front.

Hubby and I bought a box of six, with a mix of their produce from 2010 and 2011. For sure, winter will be a lot less dreary and a lot less of a misery if you have the company of a good wine at hand.

For wine lovers, click here for further info.

* this article also appeared on the afpmp web site.

Monday, November 5, 2012

La Toussaint

To commemorate the day of the dead, hubby and I visited his dead relatives at the cemetery in Millau.

We brought flowers.

My beau-père offering flowers for his grandparents
And stood quietly in front of the grave for a few moments.

They only give chrysanthemums to the dead, apparently

 I told my father-in-law that All Saints Day here is so solemn and quiet.  In the Philippines, ASD is like a picnic/party in the cemetery.  And so he says their way of celebrating ASD is a lot less expensive.

the eerie quiet and the mountains -- like a scene from an Edgar Allan Poe story/poem
I agree.

Le destin a fait son chemin mais il n'a jamais separé nos coeurs
Destiny has parted our paths but we have never separated our hearts

Expensive or not, what really counts in the end is whether or not we've managed in our busy schedule, to sincerely lend some of our precious time to dispense warm thoughts for those loved ones who have long departed.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Titre de séjour

Ten thousand papers and many moons later, I finally got mytitre de séjour. For those who do not know, this is a card that entitles you to live and work for a certain period in France.

Before I started living here in France, I processed everything that I needed to be able to stay here for a long time with my husband back in Singapore. I got a visa from the embassy which is valid for a year's stay. And upon my arrival here, I needed to undergo a medical exam and several not-so-useful seminars regarding the country's history, social integration, and blah blah blah, to be able to get a stamp on my passport that says I have completed all the necessary requirements to be able to stay here for a year.

And now that this visa expired, I had to undergo another set of tiresome procedures to be able to get that titre de séjour that will allow me to stay in this country for yet another year, detailed as follows:

1. First and foremost, you have to call this OFII office to ask them what you have to do for the renewal. It’s not always the same all the time, from what I gather. After several attempts at calling, my husband finally had the luck to be answered by a human at the other end of the line, and he found out that I'd have to wait for a letter from them stating that I have met all the requirements to stay here for a year, the requirements being those seminars and medical exam that I took upon arrival.

2. Upon receiving the letter in step 1, you have to go to the prefecture of your region to get the list of requirements for the renewal. You cannot just simply ask this information over the phone or download the document containing the list on the internet, etc. because they like to make you queue for two hours just to get that all-important list. They will schedule an appointment for you to submit all the requirements in the so-called list. By now, you already know that everything in this country works only with appointments.

3. You submit the list on the day of your appointment. Note that this appointment is not the exact time that you will be served. They will make you wait at least two hours again, like the last time when you queued for the list, so it's no use to go there earlier than the time of your appointment. On this appointment, they will give you a piece of paper with your picture on it called récépissé de titre de séjour. It’s a paper saying that your titre de séjour is in progress. It will be valid for two months.

4. After a month, you will receive a letter that your titre de séjour is now ready for claiming at the prefecture. Thank god, during this time, there is no need for an appointment. You just go there and take a queue number.

5. You go to the prefecture to claim your titre de séjour and have to pay 106 euros of timbres fiscaux (tax stamps). This timbre fiscaux is something you buy outside of the prefecture. You can usually get them at places called Tabac Presse, a small convenience store like 7-11. I went to the prefecture on a very rainy day, so there were very few people in the queue, so that this time, I only waited an hour to finally get it.

The maddening crowd at the prefecture the first time I went there to get the list of requirements for the titre de séjour

And then again, you may or may not have to repeat all of these steps for the renewal of the titre de séjour next year. And you have to note that this card is not even what they call a residence card. To be able to get this one, you'll have to stay for god knows how many number of years in this country first, enough to accumulate heaps or mounds of thousands of papers that they will require of you. Franchement, it's not very environment-friendly.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Captive

Captive's poster on the door of a very inconspicuous
art cinema called, Utopia right next to Galeries Lafayette

i hate to admit it but the first time i've seen a Brillante Mendoza movie, called Serbis, i just didn't like it.  perhaps it's because lately i've come to prefer watching stupid comedy movies.  i had enough of the serious ones that usually lure you into believing there is something more to it than what it is.  only to find out in the end that it's just another piece of pretentious bullshit.

as for his Cannes film festival winner, Kinatay (Butchered), i seem to feel a kind of aversion towards the title.  it calls to mind traumatic scenes from my childhood like seeing our neighbor bash a dog on the head to kill it and to later eat it.  they even gave some of the cooked dog meat to me without me knowing at first that it was a dog.  so that i had already eaten some of it beforehand.  it also calls to mind that not-so-favorite scene in the Lord of the Flies with a pig's head at the end of a spear with flies hovering.  and of course, my Lola, mercilessly slitting the throats of a hundred live chickens per hour, the day before a town feast.  so i doubt if i will ever get myself to see this movie.

it's not that i never watch violent movies.  i mean i totally loved Kill Bill, and Taxi Driver is one of my favorite movies of all time.  but somehow, when the words are in Filipino, like kinatay, it just sounds a thousand times more bloody and gory to me.

anyways, about Captive, i managed to promote the movie to the Filipino Community (AFPMP) here in Toulouse.  and one of the french members managed to actually find a cinema (Utopia) that would show the movie here.  the cinema only featured art films.  and i was relieved that they do not dub the movies in french, like most theaters here usually do.  although, i had to resort to reading the french subtitles from time to time when the characters were speaking in Visayan dialect.

first of all, i loved the theater.  it was really old of course.  and it seats only a few people.  i was quite surprised to see a lot of people actually watching it.  and the night before, i even saw one TV show (Le Grand Journal sur Canal plus) doing a short movie review about it.  and they actually raved about it! :)

like all the reviews say, it was quite repetitive. and some say they feel as if there's no message or there's something lacking.

as for me, i liked it.  not raving about it.  but i just liked it.  it's kinda ironic that the movie title is Captive.  as for me, i found it quite a liberating experience to watch this movie.  very few movies actually let you think for yourself what to make of what you watch or experience.  this one does.  and it's total freedom from the usual boring captivity of a dull and predictable movie that already tells you everything you would see, or want to know about just from the title itself.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Le Match Amical de Rugby

Since my husband is on a three-week holiday, we are visiting his parents for a few days. My father in-law took the opportunity to get us some rugby tickets for the Match amical between Mont de Marsan and Dax.

We did not expect it to be so crazy crowded since it was not a serious match. But we thought wrong.


Kids amid the crazy rugby crowd

Lolo wearing a T-shirt with print promoting Occitania

It was a really small stadium. And it was bursting at the seams with the heavy crowd. This stadium is actually even much smaller than the stadium in front of our apartment in Toulouse. Now, this stadium in front of our apartment is not the famous Stade E. Wallon where the world-famous Stade Toulousain rugby players who come from all over the world to practice.


Mont de Marsan stealing the ball from Dax

Rugby is a big sport in the South of France and in the Basque Region. It is not as famous as European Football (soccer, in the American lingo). But I most definitely prefer it over football because rugby players make the football players look like sissy little girls running around the field.


This is what is known as the scrum, where rugby players bash their heads against each other... crazy...


You end up with eerie-looking ears like this if you've been doing the scrum for years

We almost watched the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year, my husband being a fan of rugby like most french southerners. But we purchased the tickets far, far ahead in advance, and by the time the start of the games arrived, we have already gotten married and moved to France.


No, this hairstyle is not a result of doing the scrum for years :D

And so this was my first time to see a live rugby match up-close. The first time I saw it on the internet, I thought it was so violent. And then after some time, I began to think it was quite funny and entertaining. All these big burly guys strangling and beating each other up in the field for a teeny-tiny ball. It's not at all uncommon for the players to get all bloody and heavily injured. This is why I say they make the football players look like sissy little girls in the field.


C'est un bordel des parties du corps humain !

This game kinda reminds me of all the ancient wars in European history.  All that blood and gore.  And I guess they miss it. And rugby is all they have left of it now.