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A peek at Pornic

When we left for Brittany, in the train, I told Frédéric that we must go to La Trinitaine at some point during the weekend we were there. I was flexible for any activities that he could think of, but I absolutely could not come back without my favourite goodies from the shop – nougats tendres au caramel au beurre salé. It has been many moons since I finished the packet that I bought in Guérande and the hankering was getting stronger. Unfortunately for me, La Trinitaine is not available in Paris. (Ok, I could have ordered online but we were going to be in the region anyway, you know…)

This search also gave us a good excuse to visit yet another town within the vicinity of F’s hometown. Instead of revisiting Guérande, we decided to head to Pornic for a little walk-about. The weather was less co-operative in comparison to the previous day when we were out for the long walk at the Côte Sauvage. The sun and the rain battled to trump one another. As a result, most of the photos I took were less than brilliant, but here are some anyway ;)

(Hover over the images for captions)

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PACSed!

We’ve jumped hoops, performed tricks and cartwheels. And then we were PACSed ;)

It has been a stressful few weeks, in no small part due to paperwork concerns. It’s not just about run-of-the-mill effort in gathering the necessary documents, it’s the little things that we did not know we needed and only told within limited time frame, related to me, the foreigner! Documentation to be sent from abroad is bound to take time. How’s that for additional anxiety? In a way, this is our first tough exercise in proving that we are committed and want what we want. (Poor F had to do a lot of running around on my behalf. Luckily, he was on holidays before starting his new job.)

I thought I’d write this little info-post which hopefully would be helpful to someone intending to get PACSed. Particularly for Malaysian-French couple. Mind, this is based on our experience and what we’ve been asked to provide. The information is currently up-to-date but I won’t know when changes would be made in future. Could perhaps keep an eye out on the Service Public page on PACS?

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Each day in France, by numbers

If there’s any aspect of speaking French that scares me the most, it’s the numbers. Even scientific French snags a lesser spot on the scale of scariness. Smaller numbers, sure, no problem. Deciphering the numbers higher between 69 and 100 on their own, I’ve managed them quite well (I hope).

However, throw in the hundreds (cents), thousands (milles), millions (millions) and billions (milliards) altogether, I simply cannot interpret the numbers quickly enough. Especially when it comes along the line of “deux cent soixante treize millions six cent quatre-vingt onze mille deux cent trente deux” which if you try to break it down word by word, it’s “two hundred sixty thirteen million six hundred four-twenty two thousand two hundred thirty two”. Number-speak, it’s 273,691,232.

Spot the connection yet? Someone should really have came up with better way to say 70, 80 and 90 in French centuries ago which is not sixty-and-ten, four-(times)-twenty, and four-twenty-and-ten respectively. It’s not only I who had this problem, am I right Jo?

Nonetheless, given that I’m trying to stay put in this country for a while, I best get used to listening to the rattlings of numbers one after another. I don’t yet know how long this is going to take me to the point where I can accurately capture each figure in the first go, so practice practice practice, which is how this video comes in handy.

What is happening in 24 hours in France, day in, day out? An infographic video with clear narrative, but with continuous numerical information being fed throughout. Practice material! If you wish to attempt this exercise yourself, stop reading now. It’s time to play-and-pause the video a gazillion times (it felt like that to me) when I stubbornly tried to work all the numbers out until I finally decided I’ve saturated my effort for the day – and asked Frédéric to check it for me. Overall verdict, good effort but could do better with long numbers.

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Côte Sauvage: from Le Pouliguen to Batz-sur-Mer

Weather in Brittany is supposedly similar to the Irish’s, mostly rain-related, but I find a rather dissimilar point between them – in Ireland, we often get drizzle all day long whereas in Brittany, rain and sunny spell alternate in bursts. This trip round, I’ve been lucky. It rained when we were in cars etc, and it shined when we were out for walks. Long walks even.

One of the afternoons, Nico joined us for a walk at the Côte Sauvage. We trekked along the coastal cliff/path from Le Pouliguen to Batz-sur-Mer, and it took just a little over 2 hours in each directions after factoring in photo breaks as well as pauses to watch the surfers taming the waves that crashed in seemingly haphazardly.

Here are some photos from the day, and I love the last few on sunset. So dramatic, for something quite fleeting. ;)

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Winter must: hot chocolate (and pastry)

The relatively early arrival of wintry weather means I’ve been out on a hunt for hot chocolate. Following a number of recommendations plus some random taste-testing, I came to the conclusion that great hot chocolate at a bargain is an urban legend. A great cuppa doesn’t come at €3-5. Instead, be prepared to dole out somewhere along €6-8.

The price is steep? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely!

Remember, we’re paying for the quality of the ingredients in every mug of chocolat chaud. I personally love hot chocolates that are thick and creamy – just the perfect remedy on a cold, cold day. However, a few visitors whom I brought around town recently found them too strong for what they are normally used to. Fret not, there are some less viscous but equally rich in taste hot chocolate available.

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Un copain, mon copain

This afternoon, during a family meal chez ma belle famille, the conversation turned towards plans for Christmas break and I regretfully informed everyone that I will not be joining them this year for the celebration. Instead I will be Ireland-bound to visit my family and friends. (Oh yes, I can’t wait to see my niece!)

MIL: Mais oui, c’est bien de voir ta famille, tes amis et, Frédéric dit, ton ancien directeur de thèse aussi?
Me: Mon directeur de thèse? Euuuh non, pas tout à fait. On va peut-être se croisser une soirée…
Boy: C’est pas le directeur de thèse, mais le mec qui s’est occupé de ta thèse, comment il s’appelle? On l’a vu cet été.
Me: Ah, Dave? Mais lui, il est mon copain, pas qu’un collègue.
Boy: Ton copain?
Me: Oui. Non! Un copain! Il est un copain!
BIL: Et nous, on vous laisse de se discuter un peu, hahaha…

Hillarity all round and teases coming my way, I was going red from blushing (it may have been the wine too). With an incorrect use of just one word – one! – I have declared to the family that I have a boyfriend elsewhere, oops.

In French, to denote possession, and specifically something/someone that “belongs” to me, the determiners/adjectives are mon for masculine, singular; ma for feminine, singular; and mes for plural.

A friend is given by un ami (masculine) or une amie (feminine), or informally as un copain (masculine) or une copine (feminine). It is therefore not a far leap in logic (at least to this Anglophone brain) to casually claim “my friend” as mon copain or ma copine.

Nope. It appears such connection is flawed.

In fact, these terms are pretty much exclusively reserved to refer to “my boyfriend” or “my girlfriend”. Forget the French beginner’s class lesson where they are, respectively, mon petit ami and ma petite amie. Cute as these may sound, they are obsolete from day-to-day use. As for referring to my friend, if I opt to use the words copain/copine, he/she will forever just be un copain/une copine (“a friend”).

I wonder though what happens when I refer to them in plural, as in “my friends”. Can I use mes copains or would it be misconstrued as having multiple boyfriends? ;)


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