Monthly Archives: May 2011

Car boot sales

By |2011-05-28T12:00:11+01:00May 28th, 2011|Life in France|

In Britain they're known as 'car-boot sales', in the US as 'garage sales', but in France as vide greniers (literally: emtpy-attics).  In all cases the formula is pretty much the same - people gather somwhere to sell all the junk they don't want for a knock-down price. These are not to be confused with brocantes (antiques markets) or marchés aux puces (flea markets) where the majority of stall holders are professionals, or indeed a bourse (exchange / swap event) usually committed to a single commodity such as books or bikes. Today there's a vide-grenier in the La Krutenau quartier of Strasbourg and tomorrow there's a fairly large one going on in Mutzig - a large village to the west of the city. What's nice about attending a vide-grenier hereabouts is that it is often a good excuse to have a wander around some of the lesser known villages/quartiers of Alsace, and enjoy the festival atmosphere that the presence of a vide-grenier often brings with it. There's always ice-cream, beer and tartes-flambées to be had; and in some of the larger [...]

Tous les Soleils

By |2017-01-06T11:16:35+01:00May 20th, 2011|Life in France|

I am very slowly closing in on 'integrating' into French society.  It has taken five years to get to a point where I no longer feel awkward in a French speaking environment (and am finally 'DELF' qualified!); although I am still unsure as how to greet certain people I have no hang-ups about kissing the unshaven men who are fellow thespians (and French); and while my immediate social circuit is primarily made up of English-speaking parents from school, my wider network is almost entirely French-speaking. To cap it all I enjoyed a watershed moment at the cinema a few weeks ago, watching my first French film without subtitles (or pause button): Tous les Soleils. A choice heavily influenced by the film's setting, Strasbourg, and not by the fact that I actually knew someone in it ... which I only learnt as the titles started to roll! It is an immensely enjoyable film, brilliantly cast and directed, funny, tragic, moving, and if you are familiar with the city it offers the opportunity to do a bit of location spotting. See [...]

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