Le Sud de la France

 About a month ago my friend and I headed down to the South of France to visit my sister-in-law Charlotte and her lovely family in Hyerés les Palmiers. I must say, life in the South of France is definitely one to envy. Lots of sunshine, beach time, savory foods and delicious tropezienne desserts. I tried anchovies for the first time and LOVED it. It was so nice to get out of the city for a couple of days & enjoy a little of what the south has to offer. Can't wait to go back in June with P!

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Tropezienne dessert!! YUMMM

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The beautiful countryside between St. Tropez & Hyerés
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 HYERÉS LES PALMIERS

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bisous!!

Jessi

Merry Frenchmas!

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P's family lives in Strasbourg, so it was only fitting that we spend our first French Christmas there. I've been here many times before, usually around Christmas or in the middle of the summer. P had to work on Christmas Eve so I headed Strasbourg a day early to spend time with his family. I about missed my train, it was quite the adventure I tell you. More adventure than I care to have at 5:45 am. I was happy to arrive early and meet my little niece Grace.

Not only is Strasbourg one of the two European capitals, it's widely famous in France for being the capital of Christmas and for their Marché de Noël [Christmas Markets]. I really can't even explain how mesmerizing and fun these markets are. There are around 17 throughout the city all pretty much offering the same things. There you'll find lots of vin chaud [hot wine], breztel, ornaments, chocolates, beignets, wooden toys, christmas decor galore, cakes... goodness the list goes on and on. It's a Christmasphile's dream. I can't wait to take my parents one day since my dad LOVES Christmas :)

In the town center plaza is where you'll find the city's Christmas tree (see above). This year it was assembled incorrectly and leans to the left. It was given the nickname "leaning tree of pisa".

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Pierre's dad makes vin chaud every year and it's SO good. Below are some of the basic ingredients: Cinnamon, anise, ginger, pure cane sugar, orange and of course wine. There are other ingredients not shown, they're family secrets ;)

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Charlotte, Micka & I hit up the Museum of Modern Art on Christmas Eve. Got to see some Rodin, Picasso and other treasures.

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Cute tiny finger food pasteries

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We started off Christmas Eve dinner with an aperitif. I always love these because you get your snack on (and a lil buzz) before dinner time. Aperitif was light because our meal was heavy. Aperitif consisted of the following: Christmas Picon cinnamon beer, smoked salmon, boudin blanche and small flavored cheeses. Dinner: yummy tasty delicious foie gras [duck liver] on spiced bread, seafood & avocado salad, Chapon stuffed with farce and sweet potato fries. Lawd!! For those of you who don't know Chapon is a rooster and farce is stuffing. Our farce was a mixture of bread, foie gras, veal, potato etc. SO good. For dessert we had a lovely Buche de Noel made by P!

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On Christmas day I was able to Facetime with my family in the States who were in Chicago spending the holiday with my brother. They got to meet Pierre's family for the first time! We're so lucky to live in a day and age where we can see our loved ones on Christmas even though an ocean separates us! love love love.

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Geez, Christmas was just so great this year. I'm so thankful to P's family, who made me feel like apart of the family. I know my parents are thankful for that as well. First Christmas in France = a success!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas as well!

bisous,

Jessi

My First Month in Paris

wheel Well, it's official, as of yesterday I have been in France for a month and I have survived! You best believe I'll be celebrating avec beaucoup de vin ce soir [that's french for: with a lot of wine tonight] <-- not a bad phrase to know!

Moving to France (or any foreign country) is NOT easy. Not only is french a freaking beautiful mess of a confusing language, but it's also difficult being away from friends/ family. Also, those who know me personally know I'm a bit of a work-a-holic. For the past 4 years my life & schedule has been structured with grad school and the start of my career right afterwards. Being jobless, I find myself not knowing what to do with my time. But best believe, fun projects are brewing in my mind ;)

At the beginning of this week P and I signed the lease for an apartment, which we were SO blessed to score! It was only the second apartment we looked at too! I had heard from a lot of people that it's either really easy or really hard to find a place in Paris. I imagine it would've been 100 times more difficult had I been looking alone. In Paris, you must make 3 times your rent in your monthly paycheck. For two people that's easy to do. But I'm not currently working right now, so like I said, we got lucky!

Whilst here I've made some observations of everyday life.

2 Observations + 1 Fear Overcome

Observation 1 - Room Temp Milk: If you ever find yourself in a french grocery store,  you will notice that the milk and eggs aren't refrigerated. You will find them on a shelf just like you find the canned peas on a shelf. As the daughter of a food scientist, I'm not sure how long it's going to take me to get over this. But my darling mother has assured me that all is well and I will live. So nothing to worry about! Supposedly, because the milk is less processed than what I'm used to in the U.S. it doesn't need to be refrigerated (I think... don't quote me on that).

Observation 2 - Crutches Everywhere: I'm not completely sure what's going on here, but I've been noticing a lot of women with crutches. Most of the time they carry a single crutch. What's strange about this is that I only ever see women with these and not men. I blame the cobblestone streets. Walking on those things in heels is just asking for a twisted ankle. Yet, we all do it anyways cause we gotta be cute :) Also, I've witnessed a lot of people tripping up stairs. I too have tripped up stairs and many times on flat ground and I'm not usually a clumsy person. So yeah, not sure what that's about, but just tread carefully when you're here.

Fear Overcome - Tiny Elevator: I have overcome the fear of the Tiny Elevator at the apt we've been staying at. Not only is this thing tiny, but it makes weird banging noises when you're in it and makes sudden jolts. A friend visiting from SF compared the inside to that of a microwave, whereas I compared it to the foil of a burrito and we were the filling. This elevator fits 1 person - comfortably, 2 people - kind of uncomfortably, 3 people - we're definitely all up in each others personal space and I'm uncomfortable about it & 4 people - impossible as the max is 3 people. Ladies and gents, I give you the tiny elevator...

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This month has been a whirlwind. I've been learning lots about myself, my beau, food, patience, language, this country and my country. Until next time!

bisous,

Jessi