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Boy Do I Have A Lot of Homework!

Okay, so I had another day off this week from work. This past Thursday was Armistice Day in France, an acknowledgement that World War I was officially over with the treaty signed at the famous Versailles palace outside of Paris.  The war that was to end all wars, supposedly.  I did find it interesting that France is really the only country in Europe still holding it as a public holiday.  Europe has had several aneurysms in its lengthy history; Word War I being one of the most impactful and most bloody.  Armistice Day is definitely a chapter of history for England, Germany, Austria and others as much as it is part of France’s history.  Even Armistice Day was celebrated in the States but after World War II, we changed to an all-encompassing Veteran’s Day acknowledging all military support.  Yet the European parliament was open for business on Thursday.  Of course France’s presentation of the day is minimal but it was a nice touch to see tiny French flags on all the city buses spreading a notion of solidarity.

Salon du Palais Gourmand

Salon du Palais Gourmand

So how does one express solidarity en français? Well let us over stuff a goose for a true gastronomic delight.  I went to the opening day of the Salon du Palais Gourmand.  It was pure sensory overload.  I really have to say there is nothing like it in the States.  It is an expo on nothing but food!  There are two huge tents that are filled with the finest vineyards, butchers and cheese makers.  Everything was made in France with a handful of vendors representing Switzerland and Italy.  There is no middle man, as you buy directly from the farmer; you can tell by looking at their rough hands as they gave out free samples to anyone walking by.  You found wines here that cannot be found at local French supermarchés.  Of course you are paying for the quality of the products.  Typically you only spend between €2 and €4 for wine in France; good wine.  Here you saw prices more in the range over €10, €25 and even getting closer to €50.  But when the French found a quality wine agreeable with their palette, they bought it in bulk.  All around you folks were buying things by the crate.  The entry fee was reasonable (€8) and then another Euro for a wine glass to use to taste the wine before purchasing.  Of course there was plenty of scandalous foie gras to be bought; either from a goose or a duck.  I have to be honest, foie gras is fois gras to me.  I really do not get excited about it nor get repulsed by it.

I really was overwhelmed by it all and easily could have received a big bill by the end of the day.   But being single, it would have been hard to consume all that sausage, cheese and chocolate.  (One work colleague admitted during his first time he was so overwhelmed he came out with €300 worth of stuff.)  I did manage to came out with some delightful cookies that were so fresh and light.  You could write this event off as France’s version of a Farmer’s market but that wouldn’t do it justice.  Being that this event only occurs in November, the quality and authenticity presented are something to be admired.  In any case, I will have to study up in this next year the different regions of France from a wine perspective and comprehend the good vintages.  Then I will be able to navigate through the salon with confidence next year.  It is so rough to be a proper Frenchman.

They Can't Kick Me Out Now!

They Can't Kick Me Out Now!

Also this weekend was my last class on France in order to fully obtain my status as a resident of France (formation de la vie en France).  I learned all that it takes to live in this country.  There were some points that were helpful to me such as a full explanation for the health system here and how the reimbursement process works.  Other points didn’t apply to my situation so I struggled to keep awake when the presenter went on about how to find work in France (I have that) and how to enroll your children into French schools (I have none).  In any case, I had to stick it out till the end and sign my name on the roster and accept my official certificate.  They have no reason to kick me out now.

Other quick snippets:

I received an attestation from the l’Assurance Maladie, the universal heath coverage of the state.  So I officially have been assigned a social security number but this number is temporary until my permanent one arrives.  At least I have a number to give my doctor or anyone else for giving me medical care so that they can bill the state and not me directly.  It is a big relief to have that number and acknowledgement from the government that I exist.

The retirement age change that was the focus of recent strikes is officially law.  Sarkozy this week signed the bill making it French law.  Unions are still upset and not about to forget about this change.  They claim they will strike again when other labor bills are introduced in the spirit of rejecting this particular law.  Many politicians on the left are making it clear they will repel this law once they get back into power in 2012, the next presidential election in France.

I also updated my blog’s web site a bit now that I am hitting the 6 month mark soon.  In particular you will see a listing of web sites that I use frequently as resources.   I have referenced them several times in my blog and if you hold similar interest in French life, I encourage you to check them out.

Categories: Everyday Life
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