Another week has past of the first part of my sunny year abroad in Toulon, and I’ve come to some realisations about the French life in general:
1. They can’t park for shit. I have seen numerous cars parked across crossing, on pavements, crushing bollards – is this why they all have small cars?
2. The UK is definitely making it’s mark across the channel – EVERYBODY seems to be obsessed with the Union Jack!
3. French people are actually very friendly – I’ve been taken under the wing of my housemates and their group of friends, as well as several teachers at the school, with many invites of dinner at their houses, even an invite to the Opéra from my mentor teacher!
4. The French style of education is very different…but that’s a whole post in itself.
5. Those pesky moustiques just can’t get enough of my blood, despite numerous citronella perfumes, candles and creams…they like to wait until I’ve got into bed, then they start buzzing around my room!
6. Prostitutes are everywhere…FACT OF THE DAY: Just 20 years ago Toulon used to be called ‘Little Chicago’ due to the large number of prostitutes and bars that it provided for the sailors (Toulon has a huge naval base)…
7. The stereotype that the French eat way too much bread and cheese is so true, but daym do they know good food!
8. France is contributing majorly to the deforestation in the world: no one recycles in the Var département, and they have SO MUCH PAPERWORK!
9. I will not be able to cope with Sheffield winters, ever again…
Anyway back onto the blow-by-blow account of my week! As I said in my last post, my housemates returned, so I finally had some company! We spent Saturday deep-cleaning the apartment and buying supplies (this is when I discovered the French (classier) equivalent of Poundland – C’est deux euros) before we went out for a drink at an Irish bar in town with my colocs and their friend (NB reading other people’s blogs, an Irish bar seems to be a sure thang across Europe). It was on our way home that I discovered: a) that the French like to leave stuff in the street, i.e. a huge pumpkin (which we dutifully dragged home); b)the French equivalent of the Devonshire Chippy – an all-night patisserie that sold pains au chocolat bigger than my head; and the prostitute population of Toulon.
The weather on Sunday wasn’t as sunny (but still sweating hot!) so five of us headed down to the beach for a picnic and some sunbathing. This is when I discovered that old French ladies like to get naked on the beach (and don’t put suncream on their nipples!?). I saw more breasts that afternoon than I ever have in my entire life! I also realised that I desperately needed a tan if I wanted to blend in…
Monday was the start of my second week of observation at the school. Even though I was just sitting at the back of classes and occasionally helping, it was so tiring! [I think this is the tiredness I had been warned of, the kind that brings on the ‘French Headache’]. Monday evening we all went out to a restaurant in one of the squares in Le Mourillon. Julia’s boyfriend drove us in his gorgeous Audi, and somehow a bird managed to crap on me through the window!! Oh well, it’s all good luck… Anyway, the restaurant. It was the kind of place with just 10 amazing dishes on the menu, where you can sit in the square. I had the most amazing duck in fig sauce, followed by my new favourite dessert: moelleux de chocolat.
The only downside to eating out in France is that it seems to be more expensive in general, however this is balanced out by the (so far) deliciousness of the food, and the cheap wine!
The rest of the week hasn’t been as exciting, just planning lessons for my first week of teaching, although I did manage to get a bus pass without doing much paperwork (surprisingly) and I also just managed to open a bank account (hence my comment on the bureaucracy); now for filling in the huge CAF form (housing benefits, for those not in France)!
I’ve also met a teacher’s daughter who is going to help me run the after-school English club. She got me to try pastis a liquor from the south of France, however, to my English tastebuds it was simply sambuca with water in it and I could not stomach it (too many bad memories!), but hey, I tried it!
Anyway, I’m off to Lyon for the weekend now, so sorry for the length, and rambling, again!
Ps. The colour of the sky here at the moment: jealous?