Category Archives: French Culture

Kentucky Fried Chicken in France

By   November 8, 2009

It’s Sunday and we have no food in the apartment because it’s Sunday and no stores are open. Ok, some stores are open in the morning on Sundays, but they are so crowded that I hyperventilate just thinking about it.

A KFC opened in Chambéry a few months ago and I was actually curious to see what it would be like (though I haven’t eaten at KFC in the US since I was in high school…) and David wanted to try it too since he’s never had it. KFC hopes to open 200 restaurants in France by 2012 and according to their awful flash-heavy website that takes 2 minutes to load, there are currently 93 restaurants open.

So I got some Crispy Tenders (the menu is mostly in English, of course). My first impression of a Frenchified KFC is: where are the mashed potatoes & gravy?!

Yes, they sell pieces of chicken in a bucket with Col. Sanders’ face on it but that’s about where the similarities end. The sides available with the meals are a salad, fries or a little corn on the cob that no one knows how to “make” and so they won’t even give it to you, but instead substitute fries without your knowledge.  The sauces available for the chicken are barbecue, sweet & sour or curry. The desserts are the standard ones you find at French McDonald’s and Quick: fondant au chocolat, tiramisu, tartes, etc.

No mashed potatoes, no gravy, no biscuits, no mac & cheese, no beans, no rice, no apple pie or parfaits.  I figured these things wouldn’t be served in France, but I still had a tiny bit of hope. And now I’m actually craving the mashed potato bowl – mashed potatoes with corn, chicken, gravy and cheddar cheese on top. It’s seriously no surprise to me that French people would not want to eat that, but now I do! And I can’t have it. ::sigh::

I suppose what bothered me most was the fries. I am so sick of French people complaining that Americans are so fat and Americans eat french fries at every meal, blah blah blah. I very rarely ate fries in the US and I have never had so many fries forced on me as I do in France. I can’t even eat fries anymore because of it. I used to just to be nice, but now I don’t care. You can do more to potatoes than just frying them, ya know, like boiling and mashing them!

One good thing is that it seems to be much cheaper than other fast food places in France. Compared to US prices, it’s still ridiculously expensive for not-so-great food.

And their Hot Wings? Not so hot.  France and spices don’t get along.

At least in December, some stores are allowed to be open on Sundays for Christmas shopping so we won’t have to resort to fast food. The law passed earlier this year allowing stores to open on Sundays for the entire year is only for Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille and Lille. Those of us in the boondocks get nothing because the law is supposed to be intended for tourists in tourist-heavy areas only because French people couldn’t possibly want to shop on Sundays!

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942

By   November 3, 2009

A little history lesson thanks to David’s grandma who didn’t throw these French newspapers away (that we just discovered in the storage space this weekend!)

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942 Conditions of the WWI peace treaties were decided in May 1919. (Women’s suffrage is just a teaser. That wouldn’t actually happen until 1944.)

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942 The Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919.

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942 Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain and Daladier gathered in Munich in September 1938. Hitler “accepted” to delay mobilizing troops.

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942 The Munich Agreement was signed on September 30, 1938 and everyone proclaimed “PEACE!”

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942 A Historic Night. Enthusiasm in Munich. And much sadness and betrayal in Czechoslovakia, who was not even invited to the conference.

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942 270,000 refugees of the Spanish Civil War came to France in February of 1939. (The actual number was closer to 500,000.)

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942 German troops invaded Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg (as well as northern France) on May 10, 1940 which marked the beginning of the Western Offensive, also known as the Battle of France.

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942 Italy declared war on France and England on June 10, 1940.  France signed an armistice with Germany 12 days later and the Vichy Regime was formed on July 10.

French Newspapers from 1919 and 1938-1942 Vichy France, run by Phillipe Pétain and Pierre Laval, urged Frenchmen to go to work in Germany in June 1942 for “the freedom of prisoners” and for “OUR COUNTRY!”

Réaffirmer la fierté d’être français

By   October 27, 2009

Eric Besson, France’s Minister of Immigration, said in an interview yesterday that he wants French people to be  proud of their country and their nationality. He wants young people to sing La Marseillaise at least once per year and he wants adults to take civic instruction classes. He’s going to conduct a two month national debate on what it means to be French today and will present his findings in January. This is part of Sarkozy’s plan to bring back “La Douce France” and to increase patriotism and nationalism because he also believes that the French are not patriotic enough.

Sarkozy always seems to bring up these questions of national identity before elections though, so some people think it’s just a ploy to get more votes for the conservative UMP party from the Front National (racist/anti-immigration party) supporters.  La Douce France usually refers to the early part of the 20th century when the majority of French people lived in the countryside, and before France had a large immigrant population (especially of Muslims) and before globalization added English words to the French language. But modern France is nothing like that.  Three times as many people live in cities than in the countryside in the 21st century. There are more than 5 million Muslims (more than any other Western European country). And French has definitely borrowed a lot of English words. How many “French” words end in -ing nowadays?

I see nothing wrong with patriotism as long as its sincere and it’s not a disguise for racism or intolerance. You can love your country and be proud of your nationality and/or government. I don’t necessarily like when people take it to the extreme though and plaster their houses or cars or clothes with flags. And I especially do not like when people define nationalities based on their racist ideals (i.e. all Americans must be white Christians who speak English as a native language).

But I also see nothing wrong with a lack of a patriotism. It’s fine to not love your country, especially the one to which you belong by birth, because you never had a choice regarding your nationality. Just because you were born in a certain place doesn’t mean you have to love it. If I had had a choice, I would have loved to have been born with two nationalities. But I wasn’t. And now I’m working towards gaining French citizenship by naturalization, but does that make me any less patriotic concerning France? I have equal feelings for the US and France (though I suppose it leans a little more toward France at the moment because of health care…) and I really can’t picture myself ever choosing one over the other.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing more French flags flown (especially on July 14) and hearing La Marseillaise at more than just football matches. I’m just afraid that the UMP is starting this “debate” for ulterior motives because they’ve been getting harsher on immigration (evacuating Calais and sending war refugees back to Afghanistan) and Muslim garments (the burka “runs counter to national values”).  Or perhaps I’m just letting my personal feelings for Sarkozy and his huge ego and Besson and his selfish crassness cloud my judgment.  Nevertheless, I am a liberal through and through and slightly for socialism in certain cases, which is not a bad thing even if American conservatives compare it to Nazi Germany (because they really are that stupid. Talking about you, Glenn Beck.)

Luckily Besson doesn’t have power to change rules on gaining nationality through naturalization, or I might really have to sing La Marseillaise to a fonctionnaire to prove my worth. That’s Brice Hortefeux’s job (Minister of Interior) and considering that he’s just as loyal to Sarkozy – he’s even godfather to one of his sons – and just as prone to making possibly racist remarks against immigrants, I’m a little worried. Or perhaps I’m just annoyed with Western politicians in general because they’re all rich white guys with questionable values and morals?


♫  Allons enfants de la Patrie ! Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie, l’étendard sanglant est levé,
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes mugir ces féroces soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !
Aux armes, citoyens, formez vos bataillons, marchons, marchons !
Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons !

(Just practicing!)

Emphasizing Oral Skills in Language Education

By   October 17, 2009

For once I agree with Sarkozy on something. He recently announced an “emergency” plan for changing the way languages are taught in France. He recognizes that the French system currently emphasizes too much grammar and memorization when basic communication skills such as listening and speaking should be the focus of language education. Even though most French students learn two foreign languages from the 6th grade on, by the time they finish high school, they still cannot actually speak the language. Another recent report indicates that 41% of adults in France report speaking no foreign languages, which ranks France as the 6th worst country for adults speaking another language (behind Greece, Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, and Hungary, which reports a whopping 78% of adults who only speak Hungarian).

After observing and “assisting” two years of middle & high school English classes in France, I can definitely say the teachers did not care so much for teaching listening skills or even exposing the students to authentic language which is absolutely necessary to improve pronunciation and spoken fluency. Of course, with 30-36 students in each class that only meets a few hours a week, it’s a nearly impossible to have every student practice talking. But that’s what homework is for. This leads into questions of motivation and autonomous learning, which are often very different for each student – especially French students who must take two foreign languages even if they don’t want to.

Some schools have been experimenting with using more audio resources for teaching English. I came across some reportages on using mp3 players outside of class to listen to an audio file in English and then the student records his or her reaction to it, or tries to write down the transcription, or answers comprehension questions, etc. The schools provide the mp3 players (since not all teenagers have one already), and this way more expensive language labs or even computers are not actually necessary.

Since my university most likely won’t spend money on mp3 players (because they won’t spend money on new computers…), I prefer to have my classes in the one computer room we have on campus even though the computers are from the late 90’s and we’re stuck using the 60-second-maximum Windows recorder. I’ve been asking for administrator privileges so I can install Audacity, but no luck so far. In my special English class for exchange students, I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time preparing interactive lessons using audio and video files so that the students can listen to English as much as possible. Our program does include many language labs that are audio-based as well, but the lecture courses remain writing and grammar-based and the grades for these lecture courses count more than for the labs, which seems a bit backwards to me.

But should all students be forced to learn English? My university doesn’t even offer a degree in a single foreign language. Students must learn English and another language. It’s English/Spanish, English/Italian or English/German and nothing else. Sarkozy was mostly referring to English when he announced the new plan because of its status as a global language vital to international business and also because he’s still upset about France’s ranking of 69 out of 109 on the TOEFL test. But some French people would prefer to learn other languages in order get jobs, such as German. The region of Alsace has launched a new campaign to get people interested in learning German because there are several jobs in the area that go unfilled because they cannot find enough French-German bilinguals to hire.  (The official site is here.)  German is actually the most widely-spoken language in Europe. There are 100 million people (or about 1 out of every 5 people in the EU) who speak it as their native language as compared to around 75 million for English.

PACS is 10 years old

By   October 11, 2009

PACSing was created in France in late 1999, originally as an alternative to gay marriage, but straight couples are also allowed to get PACSed. In 2000, there were 22,108 PACS. In 2008, the number had risen to 144,716. However, less than 6% of the PACS in 2008 were gay couples. The majority of PACS are actually straight couples who intend to eventually get married, or who get PACSed for the tax benefits. These statistics are probably unwelcome to the anti-PACS crusaders who claim it deteriorates the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. Too bad the divorce rate is still much higher (about 50%) than the de-PACSing rate (about 15%).

Recently couples have been celebrating their PACS in their town halls. PACSing is actually done at the tribunal, but couples nowadays in certain cities can also go to the mairie to have another ceremony that resembles a marriage ceremony. (Remember in France all marriage ceremonies must be done at the town hall. Church weddings are not legally binding because separation of church and state actually exists here.)

I have yet to come across statistics on how many PACS partners are foreigners though. I’m interested in knowing how many foreigners get PACSed just for the right to live in France legally (provided their préfecture actually gives them a carte de séjour). It’s not exactly law, but usually non-EU citizens who are PACSed to a French citizen or even another EU citizen can get a visitor residency card for a year, and then after that, they will have the right to live and work in France like any EU citizen.

David and I have been PACSed since March 2007 and I now have the right to live and work in France thanks to being PACSed. I still have to renew my residency card every year, and I have to wait longer to apply for citizenship (5 years instead of the 4 required if you’re married to a French citizen); but it’s worth it to not be separated from David just because we were born in different countries.

So happy 10 years PACS! Here’s to hoping that all countries someday allow civil unions AND marriage to ALL people.

Year Four Begins…

By   September 28, 2009

I completely missed my 3 year anniversary of living in France! In some ways, it seems longer than 3 years. In other ways, not so much. Year four brings a new apartment and city to discover, the same job but new students to teach, and another year closer to officially becoming French.

I feel like I’ve been slowly acquiescing to France’s lifestyle and feeling slightly less annoyed by the things I wish I could change. I still refuse to eat lunch at 12 sharp and I do wish stores were open on Sundays, but eh, what are ya gonna do? It’s funny now to see how frustrated people are when they first arrive in France and realize they have no control over anything. I just laughed at the never-ending schedule changes at work this year (too many students, not enough classes), yet I know the new lecteurs are freaking out and feeling stressed because they still don’t even know when they have to work and it’s the 2nd week of the semester. But I don’t care. It’s not the end of the world if something goes wrong, especially when it’s not your fault.

I don’t want to take my je-m’en-foutisme to the extreme, but sometimes you gotta have it to survive, or at least, to not have a heart attack due to stress. I could have pulled my hair out upon arriving at work and finding that only 11 of the computers worked and the internet was down, meaning we couldn’t use Dialang to do the placement tests. But I didn’t. Luckily only 11 students showed up for each class, so we started with a different vocabulary test that doesn’t require the internet, and the network was fixed in time to finish up with what I wanted to do. Things all worked out in the end.

Zee French Appartement

By   September 12, 2009

Even though we moved into this apartment back in May, we are still not finished acquiring all the furniture we want/need. The last piece of the puzzle is a clic-clac for the living room. We do have a small couch, but it’s too uncomfortable and impossible to sleep on.  We were supposed to receive the clic-clac today but when we called Conforama asking why it still hadn’t been delivered hours after they said it would be, they told us it was not in stock yet and to call back on Monday. ::sigh:: Well thanks for making us waste the day waiting around for an imaginary delivery truck.

Our apartment is 51 square meters (about 550 square feet), with two balconies and storage space in the basement. I really wanted a two-bedroom apartment but we were pressed for time and we didn’t even know how much money David would be making, so we decided to budget the same as for our last apartment. So we are paying the same amount for rent, but overall it should be slightly cheaper since the heating here is collectif instead of electric. Plus we are much closer to downtown – only about 5 blocks from the train station – and there is parking in the underground garage, except we have yet to get our garage since the owner is a tad senile and constantly forgets to bring the right keys to the agency. We’ve been waiting 4 months so I am starting to lose a little hope for the garage…

I had planned on posting pictures of the “finished” apartment, complete with clic-clac, but thanks to Conforama you’ll just have to imagine this clic-clac in place of the green couch.

Salon: That’s my bookshelf full of language books. David’s bookshelf is on the opposite wall. (There are, of course, more bookshelves in the hallway and bedroom.) We’ve also got a little armchair that you can just see the edge of.

On the opposite side of the room, my desk is next to the radiator and windows. I didn’t take a picture of David’s desk (to the left, next to the filing cabinet) because it is way too messy. And yes, that is Château Frontenac in Quebec City on my desktop.

Cuisine: Kitchens in Europe are mostly “bring your own” deals, so usually the only thing that is included is the sink. You must bring your own stove, fridge, and even cupboards. There will most likely only be one or two electrical outlets as well.

If you’re starting to wonder why the walls are all bare, and why I have a painting sitting on the table instead of hanging up – we are not allowed to make any holes in any walls because the apartment was just repainted a month before we moved in. For some reason they also painted over the wallpaper, and put wallpaper on all the ceilings, which are also painted over. Yeah, I don’t understand why either…

Salle de bains: Our bathroom is unlike most French bathrooms because the toilet is in the actual bathroom and not in a little room by itself. Luckily our last apartment was like this too, because the thought of a “toilet room” with no sink to wash your hands disgusts me. The shower (which already had the showerhead attached to the wall!) is to the left. The washing machine is a bit big, and barely fits in the bathroom, so the toilet is a bit cramped in the corner. We don’t have a drying machine, but just a drying rack that I put on the balcony.

Balcons: The front balcony runs the length of the living room and bedroom. Luckily Canaille cannot fit through the bars, unlike the back balcony. He used to walk along the little ledge over to the neighbor’s balcony, but their balcony is closed off with glass doors, so he had to back up in order to return to our balcony which nearly gave me a heart attack every time. We are 3 stories up above a concrete parking lot, so that’s why there is now a green grillage on the kitchen balcony in the photo above.

I love love love having balconies. Being able to sit outside and have this view is probably the main reason why:

Chambre: Our bedroom also has the same big doors that open onto the front balcony. The closet is really deep, but it’s all shelves so I have to hang clothes in the hallway closet. I was pleasantly surprised that there actually was a closet in the bedroom since most of bedrooms I’ve seen here have nothing. (Bring your own closet is also common.)

I don’t care if my map of France totally clashes with the awesome purple walls and yellow trim and black dresser. I also have maps of the US and the UK on other doors. Tape on doors, unlike holes in walls, was not expressly forbidden on the lease, so take that propriétaire!

So there’s our French apartment in Chambéry for those of you (hi mom) who were interested. Once we get the stupid clic-clac we can finally have guests stay with us, as long as they don’t mind this furball sleeping on their legs:

We are already looking for a house to rent out in the countryside, but even if we found one in our price range (not likely), we wouldn’t be moving until I’m finished working at the university in the spring. That also means David would have to drive to work everyday and I don’t know if my car is all that reliable. In any case, his office is moving in a few months so he won’t be able to walk to work any longer anyway which was the main reason why we wanted this apartment in the first place.

Ready for my Rentrée

By   September 10, 2009

School starts in 11 days and I’m so excited! I love my job and being on vacation for nearly 5 months was getting a little old. I can’t wait to get back in the computer room and audio labs and play with the technology teach students English. Everything will be so much easier this year since I know what to expect and I’ll have a lot of the same students because I teach first and second year classes.

Plus there’s a new American lectrice in the literature-based/future teachers language department that I’ll probably be sharing labs with. (I teach in the business/international relations-oriented language department.) My schedule for the semester is almost finalized. I have six pronunciation labs, four translation labs, three vocabulary classes, and one class of “soutien” for the exchange students from the Aosta Valley in Italy. I love these students. They are so motivated! They’re studying their 3rd (English) and 4th (Spanish or German) languages and their English is usually quite good already.

Luckily I start at 1:30pm everyday Monday-Thursday, except for Wednesdays when I have one lab at 9am. It really sticks out on my schedule. I guess I can always run home and go back to bed afterwards during my 3.5 hour break. And there’s really no way around it. I’ve already looked over all of the schedules hoping to find any other hour to put it in, but no luck. At my university, and a lot of French universities I think, the schedules are made for the students so they don’t actually get a choice when their classes are. When you sign up (and I do mean sign up, not apply, because anyone with a high school diploma can go to a public university in France) to do a program, you basically choose your “major” right then and you take classes with the same people every semester. There are no electives or general education requirements, and with our program, you must start in the fall because the winter semester is just a continuation of the fall semester.

It’s going to be so nice being less than 10 minutes from campus instead of 50. I will save so much money on gas and tolls. And I might actually use my office this year! I already cleaned out my closet to make sure my work clothes still fit. I’m so geeky for school that I even bought a pencil case for my whiteboard markers. I always giggled a little when I saw my high school and university students set out their pencil cases on their desks because to me, pencil cases are for 5 year-olds. But in France, every student and teacher has one no matter what age they are. So when in France…

New friend, French wedding and football match

By   September 7, 2009

I met up with the lovely Cynthia on Friday and chatted with her for a few hours about being an American expat in Chambéry. It’s always nice to talk to someone who is going through the exact same thing and has the same thoughts about our old and new countries. Check out her blog for great photos and videos of this region and other parts of France. She’s been here for a little over a year and has already seen much more of the Alps than I have. I am trying to wander around Chambéry more and take pictures of everything since I’ve been planning on making a photo album of my new city for about 3 months now.

Hôtel de Ville in Chambéry

Then I went to my first French wedding on Saturday. Because separation of church and state actually exists here, the only legal marriage takes place at the town hall (mairie) and then a church or outside ceremony elsewhere can follow the actual wedding. We arrived a little late and there were a ton of people so we couldn’t actually get inside the mairie to see the ceremony. The couple did choose to do a church ceremony as well (officiated by a deacon though, not a priest) and luckily the church was right next door to the mairie so we didn’t have to go far.

There were no ushers to seat people – everyone simply found their own seat. The groom and his mother and then the bride and her father walked down the aisle, and everyone stood for both of them, not just for the bride. There were no bridesmaids or groomsmen or flowergirls, but there were two witnesses (témoins – there must be at least two) who didn’t walk down the aisle but sat in the front row. I couldn’t hear anything the deacon was saying because his microphone wasn’t working well and because most of the guests were chatting among themselves while a ton of kids were running up and down the aisle. I was surprised at how informal it all seemed to be compared to the many, many (too many) American weddings I’ve been to. And another interesting difference is that it’s perfectly fine for female guests to wear white. That’s still a big faux pas at American weddings, right?

The ceremony was so incredibly long. At least an hour. The bride and groom had chairs so they could sit for the entire thing. There was a girl singing, people reading poetry, grandma giving a speech, the vows, exchanging of the rings, etc. At one point the witnesses were brought up to the altar and then guests could go up there and take pictures. At the end of the ceremony, the bride and groom stayed at the altar and all the guests went outside. There was no receiving line – everyone just stood around and waited for the couple to walk out so they could throw rice and blow bubbles and take a few pictures.

Félicitations Sébastian et Cindy !

After the church ceremony was the vin d’honneur, which I guess is like wine & cheese hour/cocktails/toast before the actual reception/dinner. Usually everyone is invited to the vin d’honneur and then only family & close friends are invited to the dinner. We had to leave right after the church ceremony and didn’t make it to the vin d’honneur (it’s a long story) but I am glad I was finally able to see a French wedding after 3 years of being here. Most of David’s friends who got married just chose to do the simple mairie wedding and only invited their family, or they just don’t get married since having kids without being married is not stigmatized in France. In fact, I think all of his friends who have kids got married after the kids were born and some of them did it just for the lower income tax.

Saturday night we watched the France vs. Romania football match/soccer game, which unfortunately ended in a tie and means that France’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup next year are slim. The World Cup isn’t until June/July 2010 but they are already starting the qualifying matches. I still don’t really understand why the entire world minus North America is crazy about soccer, but then again I don’t understand why North America hates it so much. It’s a million times more exciting than baseball or golf. It’s not as violent as hockey or (American) football. Is it because the scores are always really low? Do Americans prefer sports with high scores so it’s easier to gamble? Someone please clue me in as to why Americans hate soccer so much!

At least my cat is not American. He watched the entire game without falling asleep and then started whining when it was over. (Though that may have been due to his empty food bowl instead of France not winning…)

Allez les Bleus !!

David had to go back to work today, but I still have two more weeks before I start again. He was telling me at lunch that if he moved up to the next catégorie (B) at his job and became an Inspecteur, there would be a one year training period in Montpellier followed by a minimum of two years in Paris before he could be assigned to another city in France. The only way to get out of going to Paris is to request a position in the DOM-TOMs, but it’s not guaranteed. So yeah, I don’t really know how I feel about potentially living in Paris in a few years. Honestly, I’d choose the DOM-TOMs!

La Rentrée is coming! La Rentrée is coming!

By   August 30, 2009

It’s the last weekend of summer here in France. Kids go back to school this Wednesday and I couldn’t be happier. Hopefully there will be fewer loud scooters on the street after midnight. And I can go shopping without being surrounded by a bazillion annoying, bratty kids. La rentrée means more than just back to school though – it also means back to work since so many French people take long vacations in July & August (none of this 2 week crap here!) so maybe, just maybe I will finally have my new carte de séjour before my récépissé expires. But I doubt it.

Luckily university starts later, so I still have 3 weeks of vacation before I go back to work. I’m wondering how the hysteria surrounding swine flu is going to affect classes though. Personally I don’t think it’s any worse or any more dangerous than other sicknesses you can get from the general public, but I’m going to be bringing in disinfectant to the computer labs everyday. I  hate thinking about how dirty keyboards are. They harbor more bacteria and germs than toilets because at least toilets get cleaned!

I am ready to go back to work and I’m almost ready for fall. I love the warmth and sunshine of summer, but it’s not as fun when you live in the city. And I feel like I’ve been so unproductive this summer. It was usually too hot for me to sit at the computer and work on my website so I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I wanted to. Plus I was gone a lot, traveling with friends and going to my sister’s wedding. But summer is for vacation, right? I’m hoping when the weather gets colder and I don’t want to go outside, I’ll get focused on my site again.

David still has this week off (and another 3 weeks to take off before the end of the year…) so we’re going to explore the Parc des Bauges and perhaps head over to Albertville to see the Olympic Hall and its medieval cité. I still need to take more pictures of Chambéry too, and go hiking in the Charmettes, where Jean-Jacques Rousseau spent his summers.

Happy rentrée to those going back to work tomorrow! Et bon courage !