Archive for June, 2011

Experience #6: Ride the Carousel at Place d’Horloge
June 6, 2011

During our first tour of Avignon back in March, Place d’Horloge and the carousel in the center were some of the first things we saw. Nearly every day I walked past that carousel and today, with only a few days remaining in Avignon, I decided to ride it.

The carousel was rather empty when I arrived and I was the only person waiting in line. After purchasing my ticket for 2 euros, I waited for an opportunity to hop on. As I was the only one waiting, I didn’t think the operator would stop the whole thing just so I could get on, so I decided to just go for it. Bad idea. In one of the least graceful moments of my life, I tripped my way onto the platform, bruising my shins and my pride on the way.

Also, did I mention I was alone? It’s a good thing I have a high tolerance for shame.

Anyways, once I was upright and had picked out a horse, the carousel stopped. It would appear that that was my opportunity to get on. To hide my embarrassment, I studied my ticket which was actually rather adorable.

I figured “Hey, this is cute, and I paid 2 euros,” so I tucked my ticket into my purse. But oh, not so fast. Out of nowhere, some stumpy middle aged man comes up to me and demands the ticket back. Silly me for thinking that 2 euros would get me more than a few turns on the merry-go-round.

The carousel finally started after a few agonizing, stationary minutes. The music was not what I expected, however. Instead of classic carnival organ music, it was remixed with something I assume is akin to French Top 40. Très bizarre. And then, there I was, a twenty-one year old girl, spinning around in circles on the back of a ceramic horse, the only person on the carousel save for a few babies on the other side. Not exactly the way I remember the carousel rides of my youth, but it was nice just the same. How often can one say that they’ve ridden a carousel in France? And, hey, at least I made a friend.

I named him Claude.

Overall, not a terrible use of 2 euros. I would suggest bringing a friend, however.

Experience #5: Watch a French television show
June 6, 2011

Watching tv isn’t exactly an assignment for me. In fact, it’s one of my favorite pastimes, preferably accompanied by my bed and some ice cream. Tonight, however, I watched a French tv show with my host family, and comprehending the story was a little more difficult than I’m used to.

The news is always on in this house, but tonight we watched something a bit different. L’Amour est dans le Pré aka Love is in the Field. Oh yes, we’re talking French reality tv. The basic concept of the show is this: a single farmer is presented with different women from the city and chooses one to love forever. On his farm. As my host dad would say, “C’est énorme!”

The show opens with James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” as we are introduced to the eligible bachelor of the evening, Pascal. He is a chubby, mustachioed, flannel-clad guy, much different than the contestants seen on dating shows in the states. But Pascal, with his receding hairline, ruddy cheeks and complete tactlessness soon won me over.

Pascal, just another farmer in search of a wife.

When I say tactless, though, I mean it. Homeboy has no sense of manners or chivalry. Over the course of the dates we had the pleasure of sitting in on, Pascal marched ahead of his date, didn’t hold open the door to the restaurant and even piled into his car without opening the door for his lady, leaving her dumbstruck and staring on the sidewalk. Hilarious. Scenes such as these were interspersed with Pascal’s conversations with the host, who was about ten years younger and ten times prettier than anyone else on the show. She would point out where he went wrong and how he could have done things differently while Pascal chortled through his mustache.

After numerous failed attempts at finding a spouse, Pascal seems to hit it off with one of the women. They even go on a weekend getaway to England. They enjoy a romantic dinner for two, some sort of plane tour of England (or something, I don’t know, there was a plane involved) and are put up in a posh hotel suite. But things take a turn for the worst when we find the potential wife enjoying room service breakfast alone in the hotel room as Pascal enjoys a solo coffee elsewhere. Looks like he is unlucky in love yet again.

This heartbreaking scene is followed by an interview with the scorned woman. It takes place in a field (of course) where there are convenient opportunities for her to stop, pick a flower and play “à la folie, pas du tout” (he loves me, he loves me not) as she agonizes over what went wrong. It would seem that in this case, love is not in the field.

But they don’t want to leave us on a sad note, so after Pascal’s story we catch up with a contestant from last season, Agnes. She is in a relationship with a man that she (presumably) met during her time on the farm of love. The two are quite happy together and, how convenient! They get engaged while the cameras are rolling. All the best to the happy farmer and her hubby.

I’m not normally a reality television kind of girl, but I was intrigued by this show. If anything, it taught me that every country has its crazies.

A Letter to June
June 2, 2011

Dear June,

Oh hey, what’s up? I’m going to try to keep this casual and light, otherwise I may get a little angry and do something rash. And we wouldn’t want that now, would we?

So here’s the sitch: I really was not looking forward to your arrival. Because, you see June, you are the last month that appears on my calendar before I leave France. With your arrival comes the need to take finals, pack and say goodbye to my host family. All things I can do without for awhile.

I know what you’re thinking. “But Hannah, we’ve gotten along so well before this! You spend a few weeks in Athens then you go home and work at the always-interesting BVFAC and the summer is still young and sweet and beautiful. How could you be mad about that?” And here’s my response to that: BECAUSE YOU’RE STUPID.

No hard feelings,

Hannah (who refuses to leave France unless forcibly placed on a plane)