Thursday, 28 March 2013

Leaving France, Beginning of February

Leaving France, Beginning of February

My last few weeks in France went by in a daze. We had a couple of snow days, due to the snow paralysing the Laval transport network (I knew it couldn't just be the UK that fell to pieces when it snowed!) and Mariant and I finally got to go to St Michel's Mont on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon.... only to get food poisoning from the seafood we ate the next day. That was not my definition of fun.

I met my replacement, Charlotte, on the Monday of the last week, and as our boss was away, we spend a nice day bonding about France, work and making-cookies-in-bowls. And then of course eating them. But the real highlight of the week was Thursday. After spending the early evening on my knees cleaning my studio floor in order to get the all important deposit back, I headed round to Valentine's to have some last drinks with friends. What I got was I full-blown Goodbye party, with posters everywhere, balloons with anecdotes of time in France together and a treasure hunt, which led to some beautiful pictures and a lovely goodbye present. It was an absolutely amazing evening, so thank you so much to everyone who came (or rather, merci beaucoup mes amis, je vous aime tellement et vous me manque deja!) especially to my lovely puces!

After a whirlwind week at home, seeing the Bristol crew for some inventive cocktails and being treated on Valentine's Day by Izzy, it was time once again to argue with my suitcase and weight allowances before heading off to Russia!

Things I'm going to miss about France

1. Their attitude to food and meals
I love the fact that in France it's perfectly normal to spend 2-3 hours at table, not eating but talking and enjoying the company of the people you are with. It's a really nice social event and I think we could definitely benefit from it the UK, where the goal seems to be to eat as quickly, talk to no one and move on to the next thing on the to-do list.

2. Apero and Gouter
In France drinking wine at lunch, mid-way through the afternoon, basically whenever you fancy, is not being an alcoholic, it is being civilised. Ditto for eating pastries mid-afternoon. What is there not to love?

3.Their Wine
Good and cheap. The first time I go to Sainsbury's to buy wine when I get back to the UK, I fully expect to spend at least 5 minutes ranting at how much a bottle of indifferent red costs compared to the price of a good red in France.

The Thing I'm not going to miss

French Administration.
When you spend three months trying to sort out your accomodation, you expect some from of acknowledgement when the local foyer decides to give you a room. Nothing exceptional, just an email. I got nothing, which led to one and a half months of worrying that I'd be living in a cardboard box until I rang two weeks before I was due to arrive and was told that not only did I have the room, but I was already paying for it. Following experiences with French admin did not get any better.

But overall, I'm going to miss France a lot. I'll be back. That's a promise, not a threat.

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