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Friday, April 29, 2011

My birthday

I spent my birthday with my family in Boulder.
First, a hike in the hills with my son Eric.

And later, dinner with my sons Philippe and Eric, daughter-in-law Rachel, and Charlie. Eric's girlfriend, Jocelyn, is taking the picture.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On the way to Boulder

I'm on my way to Colorado to spend two weeks with family. I'm taking my computer - of course - and I'll be posting updates during my trip. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Frédéric's birthday

Frédéric Dubourg is Francis and Régine's son. He is the one responsible for growing the oysters consumed at the Cabane à Huîtres. His birthday was April 23rd and I was invited to his birthday party for family and a few friends at the Cabane on Easter Sunday. You may remember that I met Frédéric when I visited the Arcachon oyster beds last August. Here is a picture of Frédéric at the helm of his boat.

The birthday lunch was incredible. We had two dozen oysters before the foie gras, cheese and birthday cakes. And way too many glasses of wine and champagne. Here are a few photos from the party:

Here's Frédéric, with his mother Régine (standing), and his children Theo and Emma.

Frédéric with girlfriend Marie

Here's Claude, a family friend, with Francis.

Oh yeah, Patrice came with me to the birthday party. We've spent quite a bit of time together this week.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fontainebleau forest

We had a lovely walk in the Fontainebleau forest yesterday. The forest is huge - over 100 square miles, and is crisscrossed by hundreds of trails. We started our walk in an area called the Gorges d'Apremont which is known for its rock climbing.

Patrice was wearing his souvenir shirt and hat from a trip to the U.S. a couple of years ago.

We also stopped by the chateau to have a look at the gardens, although we didn't visit the inside.

After Fontainebleau, Patrice cooked dinner at his place.

Friday, April 22, 2011


The weather has been absolutely gorgeous lately - perfect for a walk in the woods. Patrice has proposed a walk in the forest of Fontainebleau this afternoon. I'm leaving shortly and will post photos when I return. Here's a preview of the site, but I don't think we'll be visiting the chateau.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A change of pace

There was a message waiting for me when I returned from Grenoble: "I'd like to meet you."

I've maintained a subscription on a French internet dating site but hadn't ever met anyone from the site. I've been too busy with other activities. It's time consuming to go through the profiles, and I haven't felt particularly lonely lately. But for some reason, this message came through . . .

Just a cup of coffee. That's the rule for the first meeting. So we picked a place halfway between my place and his place. But rather than a cup of coffee, we had a beer instead - a delicious Belgian beer served in a distinctive glass.

I guess you could say we hit it off, because after a beer (or two) at 4pm, we quickly decided to have dinner together. What to have for dinner? How about oysters? Sure, but the Cabane is closed on Tuesday, so we decided to head to the north side of Paris to a well-known seafood restaurant. How to get there? On Patrice's motor scooter! Aack. I've never been on a motor scooter before. Can you believe it? I'm just a little bit scared. No, maybe a lot scared! But Patrice has an extra helmet and an extra jacket and he assures me that he'll drive safely.

It's too early for dinner, so we decide to take a walk in the touristy area near Sacre Coeur.

As we talk, we are both surprised at the number of interests we have in common. And remember that list? I'm surprised at the number of characteristics that he fulfills: He is single, speaks excellent English, loves to travel, and knows how to cook. hmmmm.
So anyway, after a good seafood dinner, he took me home on the scooter.

And then? A goodnight kiss in front of my building. And plans for dinner tomorrow. . .

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday in St. Nizier

I had great fun spending the weekend with Odette, Jean-Marc, Flo, and their four teenage children. It was good for my French, too.

Discussion was wide ranging - especially since Flo decided to study law after retiring from a career as an engineer. She's almost finished with her studies and will take final exams in October. Here's a picture of Jean-Marc and Flo. They will celebrate their 20th anniversary with a big party at the end of August.

In addition to law and politics, I learned a thing or two about math. Who knew that you could use sines and cosines to help cut the dessert cake into equal portions? It's common knowledge in the Duvergier/Lefebvre household.

Of course there were lessons in cuisine and foreign travel. Witness this ham that came from Spain. (It was delicious!)

From Sarah: perspectives of an almost 16 year-old French girl.

The door to Sarah's bedroom

And from the youngest, Merlin: How to read a Manga (Japanese style comic book) - from back to front and right to left.

Oh, plus a few lessons in guitar, too.

Yvan was this year's student driver. But he got us up the mountain to St. Nizier safely.

Sunday morning we drove up to St. Nizier, a half hour above Grenoble, for lunch. The weather was wonderful and we had our aperitif outside. That's Jean-Marc with Simon, Merlin, and Yvan.

After lunch, we had coffee outside and then went for a walk in the woods.
Here's Yvan

Simon and Jean-Marc

Jean-Marc and Odette walking in the woods.

Saturday in Grenoble - part 2

Saturday afternoon we explored the town of Grenoble. Here are Jean-Marc, Flo, and Odette in the Caserne des Bonnes - formerly a military base that has been redeveloped with apartments and shops and parks.

It looked like this originally:

Afterwards, we took the aerial tramway (or whatever you call this thing) to the Bastille which overlooks the town.

The view of the surrounding mountains is great from the top.

Saturday in Grenoble

Saturday morning began with a visit to the market with Jean-Marc. He does all of the cooking for the family, and he takes great care in the selection of fresh products. While he was selecting a salmon for our Sunday lunch,

I was intrigued by these interesting looking sea snails.

We sampled several cheeses before settling on a couple.

Then Jean-Marc bought some olives

while I enjoyed the paintings on the walls

Our visit coincided with a music festival in Grenoble. This group of Senegalese musicians played in a program called Kedougou.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday afternoon at the Cabane

I love introducing friends to the Cabane a Huitres.
Friday afternoon my Words and Images class met here for lunch. The oysters, foie gras, cheese, dessert, and several glasses of wine were enjoyed by all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekend in the country

I'm on my way to Grenoble for the weekend to visit with Odette's son Jean Marc and his family. I was there almost exactly a year ago with Odette. You can see last year's post here.

But first, lunch at the Cabane a Huitres with members of my photography class!

Stay tuned for new stories and pictures.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Art in Paris

What a privilege to live in Paris with access to some of the world's greatest art treasures, along with a constantly evolving selection of temporary exhibitions. You can see something different and extraordinary every day of the year.

Last week when Régine was in town, we decided to go to the Van Dongen exhibit at the Modern Art Museum. (Francis prefers to stay home and watch rugby on TV, so Régine likes having a museum buddy when she comes to Paris.)

Kees Van Dongen was a Dutch artist who lived in Paris in the early 20th century. The exhibit focused on his paintings in the Fauvist style. He was good friends with Picasso and this is a painting of Picasso's companion Fernande:

Here are a couple of other representative images from the exhibit:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another side of the Eiffel Tower

This week I stopped by the Eiffel Tower to pick up some souvenirs for Sophie to take back to California. I often see the guys hustling tourists who are standing in line to visit the tower. The vendors, most of whom are from Africa, are a skittish bunch; often looking over their shoulders, ready to grab their goods and take off if the police come by to hassle them. It's not exactly legal to sell goods without a permit, but they are always there and usually tolerated.

I decided to try and interview a few of them. Some were quite reluctant. This guy, from Senegal, let me take his picture, but later declined to talk further.

Then Housseman came along. He was a lot friendlier, and agreed to talk after I bought a handful of Eiffel Tower keychains. Here he is finishing up a sale to some Russian tourists.

"I'm just trying to make a living," he explained. "I send money home to my family in Senegal, but it isn't easy to find work here in Paris. And it's an expensive city. I'm here every day and I do pretty well because I speak eight languages," he continued, "but some of the new guys are timid and they may earn only a couple of euros per day."

Oh, these military guys don't like to be interviewed either. They don't hassle the souvenir vendors; they're too busy patrolling with their automatic weapons. They're on the lookout for terrorists.

But don't worry, Paris is a safe city and the people are friendly. Let me know if you want me to bring you a souvenir Eiffel Tower - I know where to buy them ;-)