Friday, December 31, 2010

Winter Gardens

To celebrate the last day of 2010, the dogs and I decided to take a walk along the river. We made the loop uphill past the mairie, then down to Jean's to check her mail. We crossed the D662 to the farmers' access road and walked upstream along the Lot. The river makes a big turn here, and there are places where it is deep and green and calm, the white cliffs of the causse reflecting in it like an Impressionist painting. Lucie decided to go for a swim and paddled out from the bank until I called her back. I think she would have attempted to swim across, but I couldn't risk her getting caught in the swift current mid-river. I love this walk because it goes past the farmer's winter garden. Lots of villagers keep winter potagers; I can smell the lettuce and the 'green' fragrance when I walk past them This farmer grows leeks, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, and spinach in his garden. It looked like the broccoli was done and some leeks had just been harvested. Someone is having tasty leek and potato soup tonight, I'll bet!
I've always wanted to keep a winter garden, but usually by the time summer is over, I'm pretty much 'gardened' out. Do you have a winter garden? What do you grow?

Not only did the dogs get a run (and Lucie, a swim!), but the temperature was mild enough that I  got to peel off a layer of fleece Life is so much better when I don't have to bundle up like Nanook of the North!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Lucie loves everything about being a French dog except....THE LEASH. I've tried to convince her that red is her color, but she's not buying it. She's never lived anywhere that she's had to be on a leash. At home I just let her out the back door, and she roams to her heart's content. She explores the creek, wanders through the farmers' fields, and chases rabbits in our yard. Oh sure, she has to be on the leash when she goes to the vet, but hey, she always gets a treat there, and all the girls coo over her and tell her she's adorable. But here in the village, she walks on the leash. For a doggie not trained in leash-walking, she does pretty well. It does cramp her style, though; she pulls and yearns to sniff every blade of grass, every potential rabbit trail, every poubelle. And Dali and I really don't walk quite fast enough for her quick little legs. But...she walks on the leash. Not because she's bad, but rather because she's insatiably curious. Every neighbor's jardin is fair game and every front porch entices with something delectable. While Lucie and I both think she's adorable, I'm not convinced that the villagers would think so if I let her explore their yards and chase their cats. I'm sure they all wince when we walk by even with Lucie and Dal  leashed as we set off a chorus of barking dogs wherever we go.

Here's the other reason that she has to walk on the leash. Many of my village neighbors keep assorted livestock: rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, horses, and even donkeys. This fellow lives right behind Jean's house. So besides flowers gardens, vegetable plots,  other dogs and cats, it's entirely possible that Lucie could get into big trouble with these guys. (Although I'm sure she would only chase a goose once; she'd learn her lesson quickly when one reared up, wings spread and pecked her!) I can see the headlines now: American Dog Deported! Attacks French Chickens!

So, my doggie walks on her leash. I take her and Dali down to the river once a day where she can run as much as she wants. She keeps saying, though, that it's just not the same as being able to roam on her own and enjoy all those enticing village scents. After all, how bad can a doggie be that sits with her little legs crossed so prettily? We're not going to find out, Miss Lucie. It's THE LEASH for you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Hoopla That I Love

I ranted yesteday about Christmas hoopla and how I didn't miss it at all this Christmas. Well, here's part of the hoopla that I DID miss. Becky said Christmas morning was a bit chaotic. While Marley isn't quite old enough to sustain the excitement though the gift opening, Parker was wild about opening presents. He managed to open not only all of his, but everyone else's as well!

Monday, December 27, 2010

View From My Window: Christmas Hoopla

Christmas is over and while it's still officially the season until Epiphany, I feel I've experienced the holiday and can make a reasonable assessment of what Christmas is like in France. And of course, I have an opinion! I think what really solidified that opinion is an email from a friend that I opened just this morning. She told me all about the various Christmas activites with family and at church that she's been busy with and then added that she and her brother had made a 'tour of lights' around one of the swanky Denver neighborhoods. 'The displays were wonderful,' she said, 'so bright and colorful. One yard had 50-60 trees all strung with tiny lights.'  I couldn't help contrasting that neighborhood which I know was brilliantly decorated for Christmas with what I've seen here in Cadrieu and the surrounding area. If you've checked out some of my Christmas blog entries, you already know this: Christmas is very low-key in France. I"ve shared via email with some of my friends that decorations are really minimal. Oh, a few people go all out; Christiane and I saw a house in Grealou that was covered with lights. But as she said, only a very few people do that here. Mostly what you see around the village are Santas climbing into windows and swinging on the porches, maybe one string of lights, and some cut trees set outside festooned with tinsel garland and shiny bows, no lights. Part of the reason for this is the high cost of electricity in France; people are very careful with it. Part of the reason is that Christmas isn't about the glitz and glamor here; it's a holiday that centers around family and the table. Gift-giving is modest. Even the stores in Figeac last week weren't begging shoppers to come in and spend a fortune of that perfect gift for their loved one. I know the fact that I don't have a television here at the Chatette prevented me from being deluged with media hype for gift buying, home decorating and endless Christmas carols, but even knowing that, I'd say Christmas here is quiet and modest.

And this is the view from my window: in my opinion this is as Christmas should be! Not a frantic swirl of activities, not spending money that you don't have for gifts that people could actually buy for themselves if they even want them, not trying to reproduce a by-gone era of traditions that no longer make sense. I think the French have it right. Christmas is about spending quality time with friends being convivial...there's that word 'conviviality' again! about spending time with family for a hearty meal, and if you're religious, about celebrating the birth of Christ. I didn't miss the hoopla of Christmas at all. Christmas in France was a refreshing reminder that December can be just another month to enjoy drinks with friends, dinner with family, and a nice chat around a roaring fire.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Unexpected Pleasures: M. Winkelmann & Silent Night

This is M. Winkelmann, Laury's baby grand piano. He has his own room at the Chatette. Actually I think Laury has determined that this room used to be a separate house before the Chatette was restored., so I guess you could say M. Winkelmann has his own house. I took this photo last fall when I visited. Laury plays beautifully, and it was a joy to listen to her serenade the night with 'Moon River.' However, this fall as she prepared to leave for her work assignment, we closed up M. Winkelmann and covered him with a heavy quilt. I've since hung blankets to keep as much warmth as possible in the living area of the downstairs and to keep as much woodsmoke and fine ash as possible away from M. This past week has been mild enough, though, to open the back door and let this room have a bit of fresh air. I've partially opened the piano and have been playing Christmas carols.... until my hands and fingers get so cold I have to stop! I come nowhere near Laury's level of expertise, but I can get through an easy version of 'Silent Night' with minimal wrong notes. And it gives me great joy to play the familiar hymns and songs of the season! Being able to play M. Winkelmann this winter is definitely an unexpected pleasure!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Local News

Cadrieu has a newspaper! Well, kind of...what it has is the twice-a-year newsletter that Christiane puts together and distributes by hand to everyone in the village. The December edition of 'Cadrieu Contact' is hot off the press. It's mostly items of interest from the mairie. For example, there is a write-up about the Telethon complete with the final amount collected (after expenses) of 1918 euros, up 98 euros from last year's event. There are also announcements about local government activities including the cost of educating Cadrieu's children and the work being done on the municipal building and the road to Grealou. There is something about doing a survey of the accessibility of public buildings, i.e. the mairie, the church, the salle des fetes. There's even a reminder to put your trash bags inside the proper receptacle and not leave them on the ground which lures dogs and cats to investigate!

Here's the article that caught my eye, though. I even got out my Larousse to make sure I translated it correctly. It says:

"Greetings...the municipal council is pleased to invite you on Saturday January 8th at 6pm to the Salle des Fetes in respect of the tradition to greet you and share with you a moment of conviviality."

When's the last time your local government folks invited you over to greet you and be convivial?? Maybe for their last fundraiser for their upcoming campaign! and don't you just love that word convivial? I think it sums up the beauty of French life perfectly!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Le Kaki

When I was growing up in southern California, we used to eat some pretty amazing things. Things that since I've left my home state have become almost luxury items. Things like fresh figs and boysenberries and kumquats and...persimmons! When I saw a box of these babies (which the French call 'le kaki') at the Cajarc market on Saturday, my childhood called, and I knew I had to have one. For 1 euro, it was a bargain in my book. You know about les kakis, right? You can't eat them until they've suffered through a hard frost...they are 'way too astringent before then. If you read the Wikipedia entry, you'll see that there are artificial ways to sweeten them up, but I prefer the natural, 'freeze 'em till they're sweet' way. I told Christiane I couldn't even remember when I last tasted a persimmon. Even if I could, it would so many years ago that I'd be embarrassed to disclose it!

Now, however, I can share my last was last night and it couldn't have been sweeter!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In Honor...

of the 95th anniversary of the birth of Edith Piaf....No, I regret nothing! Could be my motto. How does that big sound come out of such a frail, slim body? Enjoy...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Market

Christiane and I went into Cajarc this afternoon to the market. It's held every Saturday afternoon, but this week, it's's the annual Christmas Market! So, besides the usual selection of fruits, veggies, wine, meats, cheese and bread, there is a special tent set up for Christmas arts and crafts, food for sale and hot spiced wine to buy. The square was packed with people. Kids were lined up to pet the nanny goat and her kid and to hold a rabbit in the 'petting' tent. Actually, the rabbits were free to a good home...clever way to get rid of them, huh? My guess is that no matter whose kids take them home, they'll end up as Sunday dinner next spring.

What drew me and a lot of others, though, was the Banda de Cajarc. Their oom-pa-pa music was like a magnet; they were having so much fun! Not playing what you'd consider traditional Christmas music by any means, but drawing a crowd just the same. Everyone was swaying and tapping toes to the music. I couldn't resist a video snip to share with you. The French do love their music...of all kinds!

Drinking vin chaud, meeting and greeting, kiss-kiss-kissing, and feeling the beat of that big ol' drum...what better way to enjoy a Christmas-y Saturday afternoon--French style!

I really want to be that girl banging on the big ol' drum!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Weather Watching

I've been a 'weather watcher' ever since the first time I lived in the Midwest in the early 80's. When you live someplace where people's livelihoods depend on whether a crop gets rain at the right time or is flattened by hail, weather becomes an important topic! When I was growing up in southern California, though, weather was a virtual 'non-topic.' It was always a variation of sunny and clear...sunny with a chance of rain, morning clouds followed by a sunny and clear afternoon, sunny today with late afternoon fog rolling in, etc. etc. Weather is on my radar ( no pun intended!) again. As in...I'm baffled by it here in southwest France! Shortly after our unexpected snowfall last month, this area experienced a mini-heat wave. It got up to 65 degrees one afternoon, and I opened both doors and the one window that isn't shuttered against the winter cold in an attempt to warm up the house a bit. The swing in temperatures caused everything inside to be coated with a thin sheen of condensation. Next day...temps were back into the low 40's for highs. Yesterday I walked to the bus stop in spitting snow. The gray sky lowered almost to the ground and all the village houses looked like they were enveloped in a thin fog. Smoke curled from all the chimneys, and I was glad to sit inside the bus kiosk out of the wind. By the time I returned home from Figeac, a light snow dusted everything. I walked briskly to the Chatette and was very glad to get inside, stir up the fire, and fill my tummy with hot, homemade leek and potato soup! The very fine, light snow continued the rest of the afternoon. So...this morning when I got up to let the dogs out for their first pit stop, I was totally surprised by....pouring rain! The temperatures have again bounced up by 20 degrees. Yesterday's 20's are today's 40's. And the rain continues. I don't get it; is this normal winter weather here? I guess I'll have to ask the resident weather guru, Jean-Paul.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

1000 and Counting Down

According to Wikipedia there are over 1000 varieties of  French cheese! Do you think it's possible to sample them all during my stay here?? I'm doing my best. I've decided I should taste as many as possible while I have the opportunity. Cheese is incredibly inexpensive here and even small markets have more varieties than you can imagine. My time in Provence sold me on goat cheese and the tiny cabecous from the Lot area are superb. I've also become a huge fan of brebis, cheese from sheep's milk. I're looking at that plate of cheese and saying to yourself..."they all look alike to me." Yes, they do even in the close up, but they all taste different. I've been bringing home one or two pieces each time I shop. The Carrefour in Figeac puts smaller hunks on sale at reduced prices..usually between 2-3 euros a piece. The size is just right for one; I can have a few slices and it doesn't get moldy before I finish the piece. I cut a couple of pieces, grab a bit of bread and pour a glass of wine. It's a perfect meal in itself. I always taste with a sip of wine...something about the alcohol and the tannins in the wine really makes the cheese flavor 'pop.' It mellows the really pungent ones and lifts subtle flavors out of the milder varieties.
Starting at the top and working clockwise: Tome Catalan, Mont des Lacaune, Morbier Terier au lait cru, St. Nectaire en laituer, Cantal jeune.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Look Up in the Sky...It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's....

the parapenters! Parapente is French for paraglider. There is a club in Cajarc that makes regular use of the wind currents of the Lot valley. They launch from the top of the causse directly across the river from Cadrieu. These guys...there were three of them...were up and gliding when I left the house this afternoon to walk the dogs. It looks like a glorious day, doesn't it? And it was a nice afternoon, but the temperature on the terrace was 19 degrees this morning and even in the clear afternoon sun, there is heavy frost left on the grass in shady spots. It's got to be cold up there! When I arrived back at the Chatette 45 minutes later, they were still up there gliding, circling, and dipping into the wind. I often wonder when I see the 'wings' riding the currents over the river if they ever miss their landing zone and end up in the water. That would be a rude way to end a magical ride over the valley!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Party Girl

Mon dieu! I've become a party girl! Anyone reading this who knows me personally will realize just how amazing that statement is. I am not known for having an active social life; I am not the life of the party nor do I even get very excited about invitations. That has changed. (Well, I'm still not the life of the party! How can you be when you don't understand the language?) But, I am being more social here than I ever have been at home. It seems like every week someone invites me for dinner. When I first got here, everyone was having Laury for a 'bon voyage' dinner as she prepared to leave for her work assignment, and I was invited along. Now, I'm just being invited. And I'm having a great time! Last night it was dinner at Josiane and Patrick's. Champagne is always the drink of choice before dinner. I've decided to collect the tops. I think a whole Christmas tree decorated with champagne tops would be stunning! The main plat last night was what Josi called 'potee.' It's a typically French dish of pork and vegetables. Last night's potee had three kinds of pork...two different sausages and big hunks of pork hocks cooked slowly for hours with white beans, carrots, and cabbage from Josi's garden. Served with a pungent horseradish moutade, it just melted in my mouth. Hunks of bread and red wine completed the main course. Dessert was a dense, dark chocolate cake and tarte tatin with a thin, flakey crust decorated by Patrick with a squirt of whipped cream. Of course, I had to try a sliver of each! While some sipped after dinner coffee, Josi brought out a big jar of homemade plums soaked in something, perhaps? Mais, bien sur**...I'll try one! a plum and a spoonful of its eau de vie in a glass...the perfect way to end a meal!

And what did we talk about as dinner ended? The next party, of course! New Year's Eve, a catered bash for many at Josi and Patrick's. We picked the menu, selected  the amuse-bouches, and sorted out the alcohol...champagne, of course, wine, vodka, whiskey. My guess is there will be another dinner before year's end, though. Look out world! Here comes the party girl.

**frequently used French phrase...'but, of course' must be said with 'French attitude' to be most effective.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Chateau

This is what I know about was built in the late 13th century and was probably a Templar stronghold. There are many of these stragetically placed Templar fortifcations along the Lot. The  family that owned it were lords in this part of the valley.The ruin you see on the left was part of the Chateau that was burned during the French Revolution when even minor nobles felt the wrath of the people. It's never been restored. During World War II the 2nd SS Division of German army occupied the area. Village lore has it that Nazi soldiers (always Nazi soldiers, never German soldiers!) were billeted here. The Chateau is most recently owned by the children of a woman who purchased it with the intention of restoration. She died before accomplishing that. Her adult children inherited  it and come periodically to stay. They've had neither the time or financial resources to do much other than keep it from falling apart.
Insignia carved in stone above the Chateau gates. In the middle you see the Dome of the Rock Church in Jersualem, a frequent Templar symbol.

Looking up at the Chateau from the river side.

 In the brillance of a crisp fall day, the Chateau looks majestic, but somewhat foreboding. In the short winter days, it just looks kind of sad. One good thing about winter, though, is as the leaves fall, more of the Chateau comes into view.
I would just love to walk up that stairway and into the big front door! Who knows...I may get the chance. Whether I do or not, my mission this winter is to uncover more of the Chateau's history. I'll let you know what I find out.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beauty in Winter

All the pretty leaves of fall are gone. Those that remain are dry and brown. Brilliant blue fall skies have given away to clouds and rain. Still the dogs and I find beauty on our morning walks around the village....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What is My Goal?

Michel asked me a very thought-provoking question at dinner Saturday evening; one that no one has asked me before. "Evelyne," he said, "what is your goal, your purpose for spending these months in France?" I laughingly replied that I didn't have any goal or purpose in mind, but then went on to elaborate further. After all, I didn't want to seem like a complete nitwit who just packed up and came to France without a reason. Or worse yet, one who came to find a man!  But even with Jacky translating, I'm not sure I got my thoughts across. The question has continued to niggle in the back of my mind. I spent too many years putting together goals, purposes, SWOT's, and business plans for various bosses not to feel a bit compelled to come up with a goal, a mission, a vision....

But, I really don't have a goal, a mission or a vision! That said, this is intentional on my part. I wanted to come to this experience without any pre-conceived expectations or items to check off my 'goal to-do list.' I wanted to be entirely open to whatever the experience brought to my doorstep. And I've tried very hard not to judge any of my experiences as good or bad. In my opinion, though, travel to other places, even places in your own country, opens up opportunities and possibilities that never would be opened up otherwise. And living in an 'other place' only expands on those possibilities. I love the way that living out of my comfort zone challenges me; it makes me alert and requires me to respond to life in ways that are new. It keeps my mind open and agile. I take nothing for granted, but appreciate everything that I can understand and even those things that I can't. I love the way my mind is stretched by living with the 'other,' the people who are different than me, who speak another language and who live life in a different way. While I'll never 'be' French, my time here has already provided me the opportunity to 'live' French. And I love how these months in France have already enriched my life with new friends, new experiences, new customs, new words, new things to laugh about. It's more than just viewing new tourist attractions; it's seeing life through the eyes of another culture and that makes my own culture deeper and richer. Jacky has traveled the world; I think he 'got' what I was saying Saturday night. I'm not sure that Michel 'got' it in translation. I'm not sure a lot of people would understand who haven't taken the leap of faith and stepped beyond the familiar boundaries of their lives. Maybe it's not something everyone needs to 'get.' In my opinion, though, it's very important for me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Telethon 2010

The doors opened at 4:30pm and when I arrived just shortly after that time, there was already a crowd. It was sort of like a church bake sale with the pastis and the big loaves of bread baked today in several wood-fired stone ovens around the village being the main events. There were also some young girls set up to sell handmade necklaces and bracelets along with painted jars that hold votive candles.

Christiane did her best 'happy dance' trying to convince me or someone to buy one of Andre's cute little 
Much as I would have loved to have one, I instead bought one of his Aveyron baskets...much easier to bring home!
So, I 'contributed' 32,50 euros to a great cause and brought home a taste of the Lot. Bread, half a pastis, 4 merveilles (fried flat bread with a hint of lemon flavor, dusted with sugar) 6 canelle bordelais and a pretty Aveyron basket. I've tasted them all, and they are all yummy. I'm always impressed that French desserts are never overly sweet, just sweet enough to be melty mellow with a hot cup of coffee. The bread is spectacular. It has a hard, very crunchy crust, but the inside is soft with a light, moist crumb. So good warmed a bit with a dab of butter and a drizzle of Aveyron saffron honey
The official tally for the evening: 2,400+ euros!

A good evening! Made even more special with dinner at Christiane's afterward. Nine of us feasted on sanglier, potatoes, fois gras, salad, champagne and wine. Lively conversation, lots of laughing, some naughty Frenchness that I missed entirely (I do need to learn this language better!), and kissing, kissing, kissing, Kissing hello, kissing goodbye. Two kisses, three kisses, good night kisses from Jean-Paul ( a first, I've 'arrived!) and of course, the usual 4 kisses from Patrick who takes advantage of the kissing thing as much as possible! a bientot!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Making the Pastis: Step 2

When I arrived at the Salle des Fetes at 9:30am, hands had already been busy preparing for our workday. Each table covered with a flour-dusted cloth held one of our dough balls from last night. A few had already been stretched and pulled; others were waiting for expert hands to begin the process. The fan you see at the back of the room is one of many brought in to assist the dough drying process.
I put together a slide show of the pastis making process. It's amazing to see the dough stretch thinner and thinner under the expert hands of the village women. They were gracious enough to let me try all the steps, and I can tell you that pulling and stretching the dough is not easy. I was probably best at trimming the dough and staying out of the way. Evelyne shared that this pastry is a regional specialty. I can tell by the way these women worked together that they have done this many, many times.
While some women were busy in the hall stretching, pulling, layering and sprinkling, others were busy in the kitchen peeling and chopping the apples and pears for the pastis, melting butter and putting together and kneading even more dough. By the end of the day, there will be 30 beautiful pastis ready for the Telethon event tomorrow afternoon. I feel very fortunate to have been able to have this experience with the women of Cadrieu. Never once did anyone make me feel as if I shouldn't be part of their work. In fact, they were all very good at finding work for me to do! No idle hands allowed here! I can hardly wait to have a taste of this yummy pastry.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making the Pastis: Step 1

'Telethon 2010' takes place this weekend in France. As it does in the United States, the telethon raises money for research and treament of muscular dystrophy and other genetic neuromuscular diseases. France doesn't have Jerry Lewis, but what it does have is hundreds of little villages all over the country that pitch in and help raise money. Grealou, up on the causse, is hosting a dinner. Cajarc puts on card-playing and petanque tournaments. My village, Cadrieu, sells pastis and bread baked in old stone ovens. This evening we began the pastis making. By the way, this pastis is a pastry filled with sweetened fruit.
First, we gathered our ingredients: flour,a pinch of salt, eggs,a slurp of water and a soupcon of oil.

Then we measured and mixed....
We kneaded and kneaded and...
kneaded some more! At least 15 minutes worth of kneading. These 6 women (and me) worked like a well-oiled one kept track of the time, but they all knew just when to stop and 'sack' the dough! Even tho I understood very little of the lively conversation, measuring, mixing and kneading are part of  the universal language of cooks. I know we laughed, we gossiped, and we flung flour everywhere! Auguste stopped in with two bottles of home-made marc. Hopefully, I'll get a taste of that at Saturday's Telethon event.
We made 14 packages of dough in an hour. Tomorrow we'll make more for a total of 30. And then the hard work begins. The dough will be worked and stretched and pulled until it's thin enough to read through. It will be spread with sweetened fruit, and folded over, then layered again and again until there are multiple layers of pastry and fruit. The final product will be sold at Saturday's fete along with loaves of bread.

At the end of our evening together, I was sworn to secrecy about exact amounts of the ingredients and the process for making the pastis They laughingly told me they don't want the United States copying their fundraising idea. I told them no one in the States would work this hard to fundraise!.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Playing Beauty Parlor

I'll bet every woman out there can remember back when she was a little girl playing beauty parlor with her friends. Having absolutely no talent and having hair down to my waist, I was usually the customer rather than the stylist. Today I got to play beauty parlor with my friend, Christiane. As usual, I was the customer! Since it's been well over two months since I've had a haircut, I was pretty desperate. Christiane called the local stylist, Sandrine, who actually comes to your home for your appointment! She made us both appointments. Today, Christiane got her highlights, and I got my haircut. I had to record the event. As I told both women, having your hair done in your home is not common in the States. They said it is very common here in France, and they were gracious enough to let me take photos as souvenirs of my day.
Sandrine brought all her own equipment. Christiane supplied coffee and Jean-Paul, who kept us entertained with his running commentary on the weather, making fires, baking potatoes, how I'll need a hat now to keep my ears warm, etc. etc.

While Christiane's color was 'working,' Sandrine shampooed me.

I had her cut it very short, and I'm very pleased with the result. Think Jamie Lee Curtis with a fat face and no Activa yogurt in her hand!

Jean-Paul made himself useful and helped Sandrine load up...

I got a great haircut. It cost me 26 euros (about 35 USD). I didn't have to find a ride or take the bus into town. And I got to spend the morning with nice people. Another successful French experience!

As I walked home, tho, I had to agree with ears were cold and I definitely needed a hat!