Autumn in France

It seems like suddenly in one weeks time, all the leaves had turned into their autumn colours. Yellow, orange, red… Since yesterday it is cloudy and every time I want to go for photos, it starts to rain, but I got some. The temperature is now around 15 degrees on the warmer days.
Danie left for Lisbon today for a meeting this week. I think he will have some last summer days down there.


…and that means leaves to rake…

 …and fun…


Ballet shoes and games in Paris.

The ballet teacher said that Franci will be in the class that start dancing with ‘pointes’ this year. For her… the best thing ever. At the last class of the term we received the letter of what to buy and where. The address of the shop: Rue de la Paix, Paris.

For Jaco and Pieter it was ‘Paris Games Week’, all about the latest computer games in the large exhibition center at Porte de Versailles.

They were really happy to be there! Its just cameras that make them look so unhappy. : ) People were looking at us while I took the photograph… embarrasing! : )

Pieter has put some photos of the games week on facebook. We left them there and off we went to find ‘Repetto’. Situated almost next to the Opera in Paris, among shops that we will probably never enter. Even at Repetto there is a guard at the door and only a certain amount of people are allowed in the shop at the same time. : )

Cartier, Channel…

…and Repetto

Franci was also really happy about her new dancing shoes, : ) but she had a cold and by the end of the day, not feeling well at all.

Now she can’t wait for the first ballet lesson after the holiday…

Lycée in Enghien-les-Bains

After two weeks of school, we have two weeks of holiday! All because we’ve waited so long for the académique française to tell us in which schools they should go. It was two busy weeks with first driving a lot and then sorting out trains and tickets, but we had some fun.

I’m maybe writing this for myself, but I thought that some things happened that we must remember and laugh about in a year’s time. So, here is Jaco end Pieter’s ‘report’ of their first two weeks in high school in Enghien-les-Bains, Paris.

Enghien-les-Bains is a suburb in Northern Paris, 14 km from Paris center, and by car it takes me 25 mins. to the school, but that is when there is no traffic. In early morning traffic, which lasts up to 10am it will take you an hour. This suburb is known for a lake, a spa (naturel hot water spring) and a casino. The school is also on the lake and beautiful big houses around the school, for which I am sure you will need more than a million or two to buy.


The one unfortunate thing is that the station close to us is on the RER A train line and their school is on another train line, so I have to take them to Pontoise station, about 15 minutes away.

The first Monday I took them to school, 12h30, drove back and as I stop at home Pieter phoned to say that the french teacher never arrived and they can go home! Yes, just turned around and drove back. They said it was their meet and greet of the students day.
Tuesday, they started at 10am and after french and maths I fetched them at 17h30. By now they have met a lot of friends and were really enjoying school.
Wednesday morning we left at 6h50 to be at the station at 7h12 for the train. Danie went with them and they first bought the wrong tickets, then had to ask and eventually missed the train, so I had to take them to school, traffic and all. Wednesdays all schools close at 12h30 and for now they don’t have any classes on Thursdays.
Friday morning we were ready and on time for the train at 7h12. When they came at school there were nobody in their maths class, after asking at the office they realized that they have alternating week schedules and this was the week they actually don’t have maths and could have gone to school at 10am!

The second week started with Monday from 9am to 16h30. All went well and they went by train. Monday evening they came home complaining that they had so much french homework and work they haven’t even done in class! They started immediately, did not go to gymnastics and gave up after ten to go to bed. Well, Tuesday morning the teacher started explaining the work that they have now done! Then they realized nobody else did the ‘homework’ and that it was actually not homework, she just said that that was what they will do at the next classes! The teacher only speak french… they must have misunderstood her.
After this late night and ‘unnecessary’ hard work, Tuesday started. Their longest day from 8am to 17h30. And again they arrived at school for the first sports period and found nobody there, only to hear that they were supposed to go to a different venue for sport… and waited at school for two hours for the next period.
Wednesday was short again and Thursday off. Friday had maths and history and then the holiday started.

In the meantime winter arrived here by us. When I dropped them off at 7am Friday morning the temperature was 0,5 degrees. Luckily the trains and buses are nice and warm.

I am sure we will be more organised and ready for the next term, which is also only six weeks till the two weeks holiday over Christmas.

I have to say that apart from getting up at six some days, they are really enjoying school. They are part of the ‘french-learning’ group and like their new friends from any country you can think of and with names that they have never heard of. : )

lycee Gustave Monod…
The two houses is where the offices are and the classrooms are in three long blocks, one is the grey roof on the right. 

The casino on the right and the school is on the opposite side.

Eurodisney done, now ready for school

Last Friday two things happened. We had lovely summer weather and thought that we should go to Eurodisney before the kids start with school. It’s not holiday season now and if you can go in the week, it is not so busy. I found tickets through FNAC for 27 euro, and not the full price of 60 euro! So, bought the tickets for Monday. An hour later the mail came and there were Jaco and Pieter’s letters to tell us which school they must attend. They could not start on Monday, we had tickets!
But, actually, it was no problem. We phoned the school and they said that someone will phone us on Wednesday. No hurry for them.

In the end it was arranged that we had to be at the school on Wednesday, 12h30. The school is in Enghien-les-Bains, a northern suburb of Paris. A very nice area. Lycee Gustave Monod, a highschool for the last three years of school. They will be in ‘seconde‘, equivalent to South-African grade 10. The school has a program for kids who can’t speak french. We met the lady in charge of the program. Very friendly. As we walked on the school ground she introduced them to some of their classmates. A real international group! Everyone is from a different country. Brasilia, Sri-Lanka, Argentina, China, Mexico, Russia and so you can go on.
They will have 13 hours of french lesson a week and join the normal classes for sport, maths and english as well. As their french improve, they will join the other classes. For now they only have to be at the school when they have class. They start on Monday from 12h30 to 4h30. I think the four months holiday was long enough and they are quite excited to start tomorrow.

Mandi and Franci’s letters came on Friday. They will be in Collège Moulin a Vent (middle school), just around the corner from us. Franci in ‘Sixième‘ (gr 6) and Mandi in ‘Troisième‘ (gr.9). I will phone the school tomorrow, but they will probably tell me to wait till later in the week.

Luckily, we could still enjoy a wonderful day at Eurodisney on Monday. There weren’t that many people. Still a lot, but no long queues  at the rides. It is so big that you can’t do everything in one day, we will have to save and go again. : )





Walt Disney Studios

A medieval day in Provins

27 September was the R&D department’s yearly outing. That is where Danie works. : )
A team-building day, or get to know everyone day, or maybe they’ve worked hard enough to enjoy a day of fun. : ) Whatever one should call it, it was a lovely day for everyone to relax, organised by Diane, who has put in a LOT of effort… from the printed programs to having nice eats with the first coffee at the station and everything else.

We all met at Gare l’est in Paris and went by train from there to a small town called Provins. A little village that dates back to the middle-ages. You can still see buildings and the city walls from the 12th century, when the city was one of the largest trade cities in Europe. We started off with a guided tour in french, luckily we had enough people to translate for us. : )

La Tour César

…then a lovely lunch at Le Petit Ecu

The afternoon finished with a medieval show with horses, knights, ‘bad guys’ and of course sword fighting. With the knights chasing away the ‘bad guys’ and rescuing the pretty ladies. : ) All excellently done by the inhabitants of the area.

life in medieval times…

Brocante in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine

1 October 2011

On 23 September it was the official beginning of autumn, but the weather seems like summer has finally arrived. This whole week we had sunshine and warm summer days.

Last Sunday we drove to Conflans to see what a ‘brocante‘ is like. The last time we went to one, it started raining as we got there. Well, ‘brocante’ is really only french for ‘garage-sale’ or maybe ‘car-boot sale’. : )  They do sometimes call it an antique brocante which I think will be better and just that: antiques for sale. This one was for people who need to get rid of some unnecessary things. I was thinking that I would feel embarrassed to stand there selling my old clothes and toys. But… still nice to walk around there. They close the road and again a festive atmosphere.

…and now to admit that I actually bought something at this ‘garage-sale’! Noline gave me the DVD of Les Misérables as a goodbye gift. A really beautiful musical. I’ve watched it a few times since we’re here. I found the Les Misérables books by Victor Hugo at one table. Volumes 1 to 4, will have to find volume 5… The 1931 edition. All 4 for 8 euros! …when my french will be good enough to read it, I don’t know… but maybe its a reason to learn faster.

Conflans-Saint-Honorine is one of our neighboring villlages, south from us and a bit closer to Paris. It is situated where the Oise river, that runs through Cergy, joins the Seine, coming from Paris. A pretty town overlooking the Seine with all the houseboats anchored there. Also something that is new to us, as well as seeing large freight ships pass by on the river.