A drive on Christmas day.

Christmas is almost long forgotten, but so much happens around Christmas that you don’t find time to share it all. Christmas day was so cold and windy that we thought its better to go for a drive. Stopping, looking quickly, hurrying the ones taking photographs so we can get in the warm car again. : )

A first stop in Cergy at the Axe Majeur… An impressive place. Urban landscaping they call it. 

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Then off to Auvers sur Oise where Vincent van Gogh lived for a while (and died).

Marleen greeting Santa Claus… opposite the Auberge Ravine where van Gogh hired a room.

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Then off to see his grave and the church made famous by van Gogh.

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we had to warm up again… for that you need coffee and a crêpe…

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Lastly the beautiful town Pontoise. Remembering the cold early mornings I dropped Jaco and Pieter off at Pontoise station.

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and then back home to the fireplace and a nice Christmas dinner.

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An afrikaans Christmas in Paris

We were privileged to have my family here with us for Christmas. We didn’t have a white Christmas, but we also didn’t swim like we used to in Cape Town. : )

we baked…

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we cooked… (Theresa, this is really true, Danie made potjie. : )

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and we ate..

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played boardgames…

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and just look at the adults… : ) 

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of course we opened gifts… from France, Germany and South Africa…

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and just like that Christmas is over and a new year has begun.

Christmas day in Paris

We thought that on Christmas day everyone stays at home, and we will have Paris for ourselves. : ) Maybe they do, but there are enough tourists to fill the streets. Traffic was quiet, so we went by car and parked around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe. We had sunshine and a mild day at 10 degrees. Nice to walk around in Paris. We walked to the Eiffel Tower and strolled through the Christmas Market. For the winter period there is an Ice rink at the Eiffel Tower, but too many people and too long qeues.

We tried the ice rink at the ‘Hotel de Ville’ also, but there were even more people. As it is dark at 5pm already, we could appreciate the Christmas lights.

and decided to go on the big wheel at the bottom of the ChampsÉlysées. A christmas treat!

 

Christmas eve

We had a lovely family Christmas. Everything inside this year, and no swimming with temperatures of about 5 degrees, but nice and cosy inside the house. I bought extra surprise gifts this year to make up for having no family around. I ordered something for Jaco on the internet and was still holding thumbs for it to come on Saturday. I know the postman deliver the parcels at home, because I’ve received some for the neighbor when he is at work. Just before twelve he still wasn’t here, so I opened the postbox with the hope that perhaps there is a slip to say I must fetch it at the ‘La Poste’, but to my surprise there is the box in our ‘locked’ postbox. Still need to figure this out, I assume the postman has a key to open all boxes as they all look the same. Well, all the gifts were here and we were ready for Christmas eve.

We played our new World edition monopoly, the one with credit cards. ‘Vorder tot by Roeland straat, as jy by begin verbygaan, vorder R200 in : ) only now it is 2 million rand : ) and Paris and Cape Town are part of the green cards.   …you can see who won!

…leg of lamb for dinner… no foie gras! Maybe next year.

Small differences

The christmas lights along the streets are on. Very pretty, but mostly white and blue. No red father christmas, red nose reindeer, green christmas tree or angels! Only patterns in white and maybe some blue added, well this is what it looks like here in our town. It is pretty, but different. One evening I will be brave and put on my scarf, jacket, etc. and take some photographs.

We bought our christmas tree just before 1 December. It was new for us to see the whole ‘christmas tree selling’ thing. So many trees and they are geared for ‘packing’ your tree. The shops are filled with so many decorations to choose from, but our french tree stands here with all our old decorations, collected over the years…  no new french ornaments. : )

…homemade, LinkLadies craft evenings, Edgemead Market, one from Germany, etc…

As the lights are different, there are other things in France that are not the same as what we’re used to. Little things, for example: Q20 is called WD40, but it works the same! : )
One big difference that took me a while to realise and cost me a few euros was the fact that airtime expires. Yes, Use By… really. : ) When we came here I just bought 5 euros airtime for everyone and then a few days later we were out of airtime and knew we did not phone that much, but its finished! The kids thought that Mixt is really expensive in France, because that is all they used their phones for.
It does say on the recharge card that you buy at the shop: ‘valable 10 jours.’ Well, I knew that ‘jours’ are days and the ‘valable‘ sounded a bit like valid, but how could that be, so I just ignored those words. Probably for two months I kept on buying 5 euros every ten days till I had to admit that perhaps airtime really has a use by date! The end of this story is that all the kids now have contracts which actually works out cheaper with some youth specials. I still buy the ‘use by’ airtime for me, only now I buy some that can last for three months.

And something else: All children (and adults) write on ‘graph’ paper. All the exercise books for school are either big or small blocks, no lines, really! Danie realized this in his first week at work. He went to get a writing block from the stationary cupboard and could only find ‘graph paper’. So he asked the assistant if they don’t have ‘cheaper’ blocks, he just want to write on it. : ) She could not understand what he meant. That was a long debate till Danie realized that this is normal scribble paper. Even the cursive writing is a bit different. The letters are more curly. But the girls are already used to this and have changed their handwriting to curly french letters. Mandi finds it rather funny that the big boys in her class also write with these curly letters.

‘Grands carreaux, Petits carreaux’