Every Day in France is the Best Day EVER
The more LadyM tells us about her study abroad vacation in France, the more we want to build a machine that will allow us to switch places with her and STEAL HER LIFE.—Sparkitors
I had the best day ever—because, for the first time in 3 months, I got to ride a horse! This is something that I'm good at—better at than my exchange family. They're better at hiking and they're better at math, and they're a helluva lot better at speaking French. But, while they are reasonable horsemen due to once-a-week riding lessons, there's no way that people who do it for fun are quite at the same place as somebody who has 6 beasties and rides every day.
We got to the stable and the coach asked about my riding level. Fossette was quick to reply that I ride "très, très bien ." At first, I thought "Awww, how sweet!" And then I thought "Uh-oh." Sure enough, the coach took me to my horse and said, "Be careful. He's very hot." I said, "Excellent," but my sarcasm doesn't translate well. And that is how I ended up navigating the mountain cliffs on a fiery thoroughbred. Never fear; I didn't fall off and break my neck. We had a wonderful time. My horse (who is nicknamed Mon Fou or "My Crazy") started off by testing me. After a couple of threatening head tosses and an attempted take-off, I told him in very clear terms what behaviours would be acceptable. We reached an understanding, and proceeded to have a jolly good series of him trying stunts and me reminding him who's boss. It was so foggy that we couldn't see anything, but I didn't care. I got the mountain view yesterday... and I WAS ON A HORSE!
Better yet, the torrential downpour didn't start until after we finished the trails. If that's not a bonus, I don't know what is. Still, I managed to fully saturate myself doing the barn chores while the less dedicated (read: much smarter) riders hid inside from the rain. Clearly we are in a place where you can wear a tank top and get a sunburn one day, and freeze the next, because the rain quickly turned to snow (seriously, if I wanted that I could have stayed in Canada) and I caught a chill. So much that when I took a hot shower to warm up I was shaking so hard that I sliced my leg open with a razor. *sigh* But you can't win them all. One more complaint... I miss my saddle! I have a wonderful saddle; I worked every day all summer to pay for half of it. This one was at least 20 years old and probably wasn't great quality to begin with. I am going to be sore tomorrow.
Before bed, I decided that it was time for some catharsis, so I watched the saddest episodes of my favourite TV shows and bawled my eyes out. This meant super puffy eyes the next morning, right in time to watch the Royal Wedding. It says something when even the self-professed anti-monarchist French are closely following and supporting this relationship. I won't go into too many details, because you've all seen it, and I wouldn't be surprised if, by the time this is published, a Sparkler who was there has blogged the event (if not, get on it). Being in France meant that I could watch it in real time, and the one hour time difference meant that I got to sleep in more without missing anything. I was as swept up in the event as anybody else (except for Fossette, who left to play Sims as soon as she saw Kate's dress), and definitely got a little sentimental during the vows. Minor grievance: every time they did something in English, they dubbed over it was a French translation. Harumph. In any case, French or English, I propose a cyber toast to the happy future of the newlyweds.
Too soon, it was time to leave Alpe D'Huez. We were off to Annecy to visit family (remember Céréal et al?). Annecy is a candidate city for the 2018 Olympics, and I really hope that it wins so that I can say that I've been there. Anyway, I've had the song Edelweiss running through my head all week, so while in the car I thought it would be wise to whip out the iPod and actually listen to it. Bad idea. A few bars in, it struck me what a sad song it is. And then the tears came. I had to rip off the headphone to curtail full on sobbing. They were like "Ca va, Megann?" and I replied "Yes... it's a really sad song!" Add this to the list of songs that make me cry (it joins Butterfly Kisses, Christmas Shoes and I'm Already There —Message from Home). It would appear that I have some emotional issues to work out. A second musical challenge arose when Somebody to Love came on the radio. Fossette asked me if it was Justin Beiber. I very gently explained that she should be careful about who she says that to, because it might get her a punch in the face.
Annecy itself is gorgeous. It's an old fashioned, cobblestoned-type city, nestled in the mountain, at the side of a [cold] lake. Picturesque canals throughout gave it the name "Little Venice." And all of this water is very, very clean. Not quite Turks and Caicos clear, but the bottom is still visible and loverly.
As I mentioned, we're staying with Fossette's cousins... kind of. The kids are going to their dad's house so that we can have their room. Because all three of them (2 girls and a boy) share the same room. I couldn't do it. I only see my sister at meal times, and we're already at each other's throats. I admire their ability to survive at close range. And also their close relationship with the 3 minute shower. And their vegetarianism. Whatever is the opposite of vegetarian is what I am. Hopefully I make it through the weekend without my meat.
Although small, it's a great little apartment. The mom's boyfriend is an [really attractive German] artist, so it's beautifully decorated, and full of his paintings (all really attractive naked women). I'd love living in a place like this (although not with 4 other people). Céréal agrees; when not in school, she's always at her boyfriend's house. The one-bedroom-three-kids thing impedes their romance. She did grace us with her presence, though; we walked around the town, ate pizza, and watched movies, and it was a distinctly North American evening. Either she is feuding with the boyfriend, or I feel honoured.
The second day, Céréal either made up with the boyfriend or figured that her familial obligations were filled, because she hopped the train to visit. Those of us without romantic rendezvous went hiking (I'm still alive, so it's a good sign) and on a boat tour of the lake. It's a gorgeous region, but I mostly enjoyed watching the swans. Good-looking birds, but extremely stupid. I got to bond with the younger cousins, who have a new favourite game called "Let's Quiz Megann on Noun-Article Gender Agreements and See How Many Times She Gets it Wrong." I hate this game with a passion. You'd think that, statistically, I'd have to be right occasionally. No such luck.
Our brief visit to Annecy has concluded; next stop, Paris!
Music: This is funky. I like it. Dit Moi Que L'Amour by Marc Lavoine
This is like the anthem of an English major. You know, if they were actually a French major. Les Mots by Hangar.
Is LadyM living the life of your dreams right now? Yeah, ours too.
Related post: My French Adventure