64 articles France

Observations about French culture, language, and the author’s daily encounters with the galling Gallics.

Transforming Vivid

S is working on a scrapbook of our year abroad. She is good at them – the last one she made, of our 2008 Fringe tour, perfectly evoked the chaotic, grimy glory of the tour itself. She’d probably make more than one book per decade if we weren’t so busy having scrapbook-worthy experiences. I helped…

Transforming Weltschmerz

The phrase “crisis of faith” may not exactly inspire action movie music, but it deserves at least one stirring montage: the conflicted believer on his knees, struggling to pray; the drone of a priest’s sermon barely heard as tears slide down the doubter’s cheeks; maybe a visit to the grave of a loved one, or…

Five Things I Won’t Miss About France (And Five Things I Will)

Won’t Miss: Cigarettes and Perfume Having imported the former from the Americas, and having claimed supremacy over the latter, the French smoke cigarettes and wear perfume like they’re both going out of style – which they absolutely are. I am not particularly scent-sensitive, but I’ve still had many a promenade disrupted by walking unawares into…

Transforming Escape

Escape. I’m in a Death-Star-black reclining chair, surrounded by sharp objects, medical paraphernalia, and images of flowers and skulls. A multicoloured giantess is leaning over my naked torso, pressing her clattering needle gun against my flesh to inject me repeatedly with ink. I came here – to a half-sunken city of forbidden pleasures – entirely…

Transforming Therapy

I have never shied away from therapy. Psychology ought to be universally available and free from stigma. While therapy requires patience, I’ve always found it valuable in helping me to make decisions, and cultivate habits, that benefit me and mine. But it also bears remembering that, like all other branches of medicine, psychology comes with…

Transforming Homeschooling

In preparation for the final exam, let’s review: our nuclear family took flight to France for a sabbatical that was meant to last ten months – September to June, the same length as one year of public schooling.  The school calendar shaped a lot of our plans: French students get four two-week holidays, spread out…

Transforming Estaminets

As our time abroad comes to be measured in weeks instead of months, our planning becomes precious; we feel we must choose wisely if we are to snatch up a few final, essential experiences. For who knows when we will be back this way? Sometimes this involves seeking out enriching cultural events, like this week’s…

Transforming Quadrupel

Tonight, it’s Le Capsule, a 50-brilliant-beers-on-tap bar, the sort which I’ll never find back home. S gave me the evening off because I keep having miniature panic attacks, and I really ought to be soul-searching, trying to divine the root cause of my anxiety. Instead, I’m getting blitzed on Le Trappe Quadrupel, a beer so…