Paris with the girls.

It’s nice to visit Paris with different people… because they take you to different places. We had two young visitors this week. I have to mention that they both speak four languages, so we had an afrikaans day in Paris, and I knew I had them to save me if my french lets me down. : ) We could also be ready for any english, dutch or german!

Annelien found the cat restaurant in Rue Michel le Comte. A place for all cat lovers.  She had to make a reservation as the place is so popular.

Djenko, Rosa, Idylle, Habby, Saha, Berlioz, Lovely, Pepite, Marguerite, Oréo, Pattenrond and Khalessi are the cats that will greet you there. You can have your cake while enjoying the cats’ company.

Annelien, Franci and Marike at  Le café des chats…

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the cats…

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photo’s without flash… that’s the rule…

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of course we took pictures of our cake too…

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This little café is just around the corner from the Centre Pompidou, and it’s always interesting to walk around there.

street artists…

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“Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish” ~ Charlie Chaplin

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Then our boat trip on the Seine. Seeing Paris from a different angle…

passing under all the bridges…

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Notre Dame…

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and of course…

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an end to a lovely day…  with a Croque Monsieur…

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La Parisienne

Yes, I also surprised myself : ) As Danie says:  “If you told me two years ago you are going to run 6,7km, I would say you are crazy! And that in Paris! Impossible!” And here we are… in Paris… and I did it!

My running started in April this year. That was when I decided that I need to get some exercise. On the first day, I’ve put on my running shoes, or maybe I should call them walking shoes then, and went for a walk. In the middle of this walk I tried to run a bit and it was probably less than 100m and I had no breath left. Feeling good that I did something, I returned home, just to see on the clock that I have been out for exactly 10 minutes. : ) Still, it was the beginning.

I carried on like that for the next few days, trying to go a bit further each day, till I decided that I should maybe go see how one starts running. I found ‘Couch to 5k’ and ran with ‘Laura’ telling me when to run and when to walk… and after nine weeks I could run, without walking, a full 5k!

Of course you then feel as if you can tackle anything. The next thing to do was of course to enter an official run. For me this was ‘La Parisienne’. And what an experience that was…

On Saturday we had to visit  le village to fetch my race number. The theme for this year’s week-end was Japanese.

arriving at a very wet and muddy village…

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for number 30583 you must line up here…

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have the T-shirt, must still run the race…

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entertaining going on for the week-end, in front of the beautiful  École Militaire

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all ready, only hoping for better weather for Sunday…

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Sunday started early to catch the train in to Paris. From Versailles you saw ladies with running gear and their white la Parisienne bags over the shoulder. The metro was full with ladies and their supporters.

Arriving an hour before the race starts, to see the bridge already full…

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all you can do is join them and wait your turn…

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Off they go. Every 6 minutes another group left. I waited till group 7…

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everybody having fun… some supporting a friend who can’t run…

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As it was a ladies race, you saw lots of dads and the little ones with banners:
‘Allez Maman!’ Looking to see their mom among the 30000 runners : )
Another nice banner I saw: ‘Run like a devil, my angel’ : )

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Bands all along the way for extra support. Your name on the race number made it possible for complete strangers to go:
Allez Cecily! Bravo, nice!’

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and then it is all over… off to lunch with my own supporter and official photographer : )

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I have to admit that In the first few minutes of the race, running on cobble stones, little bit uphill and lots of ladies passing me… I thought that I am actually crazy : ) but… then I got into it and… finished! Placed: 14 990 out of 28 798 who finished.  : ) Not too bad for someone who started running at almost 50 : )
Afterwards… I am thinking… I am definitely there again next year!! Who’s joining me!?

On y va!! Cape Town!!

After two years we are on our way to see family and friends in Cape Town! We will be there DV tomorrow! The kids have lists of things to eat, things to buy, and places to go. Linkway, Cross Trainers, Revolve, ACS-gymnastics, E-sports-tumbling, tennis, milkshakes, Steers Burgers, Wimpy coffee, family braais… We will see how we fit it all in. : )

For the next three weeks we will trade la Tour Eiffel for Table Mountain!

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We have been in Beynes for a year and in France for two years. Actually two months more, to be precise, but I just haven’t got to writing this post. You get busier, which means that live is turning back to normal.

School closed in June for the nice, two and a half month, summer holiday. Two years ago the children arrived with a french vocabulary of ‘Bonjour, comment ça va?’ They had to go straight into french public schools and now they can proudly add french as their third language.

The beginning of this year was a bit difficult again as they were now part of the normal classes. No more help from a special french teacher. At the end of the first term the boys were still a bit under class average and some teachers thought that maybe we should look for an English school.
We thought: ‘You don’t work this hard and get this far, and then give up.’ As always the boys just carried on, didn’t get discouraged, made friends, had fun, worked hard and finished the year well above class average. We are really, really proud.
They will be in Terminal when school starts in September. The final school year. In the next months the decisions for university will be made. What and where, we will see.

The girls did so well, that I can’t really say much about them. They are now just two ‘french’ girls in a french school, who get very good marks. : ) For Mandi its off to Lycée for grade 10 and she will be in the same school as the boys.

Everyone is still very much involved in sport. Franci doing gymnastics. Jaco with tennis and karate. Pieter and Mandi at tumbling. In September we will see what the next year brings.

The rest of us still do the same thing. Danie works at work and then works at home : ) I see that everyone eats and have clean clothes and…  walk around in Paris. : ) The two of us can’t really add french as our third language yet. I do get along and can organize what needs to be done. Mistakes do happen sometimes though…

For the first teacher’s meeting this year, we received letters which I had to return with a choice between: J’assiste and J’assiste pas. So, of course I said that I can’t assist, not with my bad french. At the meeting Franci’s teacher skipped her name every time she had to hand out something, so after a while I told her that we are actually there, and I couldn’t understand why she looked so puzzled. Ok, now I also know that assiste actually means attend. : ) So we learn.

Jaco and Pieter are busy with driving lessons. In french and on the wrong side of the road of course. : ) I can already see how I am going to send them around soon. : )

For now we will leave la Tour Eiffel with her friends…

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…to enjoy family and friends and September we will be ready to start the third school year in France.

à bientot Paris, and…

à demain for everyone in Cape Town!

Trouville sur mer

Our first ‘day at the beach‘ in France… after two years. This time to celebrate a 49th birthday in lovely, warm, summer weather.

The closest beach to us is about a two hour drive north-west. We headed to Honfleur where the Seine flows into the ocean. A beautiful old town, but not really a beach to enjoy.

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Then along the coast to Trouville. A lovely beach where the sun was shining and the water was nice. So there we stayed for the day.

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The beautiful buildings along the coast and Le Havre across the bay.

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We rented one of these for the day.

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Fun, fun, fun…

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and if you get bored: lire a la mer – read at the sea.

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After all the fun, a short drive to see the cliffs at Etretat.

beach91looking down from the cliffs on the pretty village…

beach101And of course after always having winter birthdays, this has already been my third summer birthday : )

Roland Garros

This was where we celebrated Danie’s 50th birthday : )

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I was too late to buy tickets for the main courts, so we had tickets to the grounds and all the other courts where they hosted the less important games. On 5 June they played the quarter finals on the two main courts, and the legends trophy on the other courts.

Djokovic was playing on this court.

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and we could hear the people cheering for Nadal on this court.

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The big screens on the outside are for the unlucky ones that could only hear the excitement  : )  but…

we had so much fun watching the legends do their thing. I actually think they had more fun than us. They were entertaining the crowds, making jokes and showing their skills.

We saw Martina Navratilova playing in a game against Sanchez and Fernandez. My knowledge of tennis isn’t that good, but even I can remember these women.

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The ‘joy’ and magic of clay courts…

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feeling proud South African when we were watching this lady from South Africa…

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rolandgarros91South-Africa was there : ) Big green balls passed on to win some prizes from Perrier…

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Goran Ivanisevic… the big entertainer of the day. : )

rolandgarros111“maybe I should get my partner something to stand on when serving… to get the ball over the net” : )

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Henri LeConte, Pat Cash… also having fun : )

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The stars having enough fun to just do the work themselves
…and just to show that they can still play tennis… serving at 200km/h.

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and then they decided that the referee gets a red card and should leave the court : ) and Bahrami came back with Yannick Noah. For a short while he played referee, exactly 30 years after he won the french open at Roland Garros.

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…a fun day, spend at a special place, for a special birthday of a special person… : )

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Tumbling in Toulouse

Pieter competed at the French national championships in Toulouse end of May. Of course I wanted to see the competition and as a bonus could see Toulouse. As Pieter has just turned 18 he now qualify as senior, which means tough competition, but he still ended 9th out of 17  big strong guys!  This competition hosted tumbling, trampoline and acrobatic gymnastics.

Palais des Sports in Toulouse.

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The tumbler…

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and the wonderful, friendly coach…

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and then discovering Toulouse…

I was wondering about these excited, noisy people at the station on Saturday morning. Only when I saw it on the news that evening I  realized that they were on their way to Paris to watch the Toulouse rugby club play in the finals at the Stade the France. Sunday morning it looked the same at the station when they all returned and were even more excited because Toulouse are now the new club rugby champions!

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many cathedrals and churches…

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the beautiful red, brick buildings…

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the river…

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gargoyles from the 1100’s, now on display…

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Mother’s day in neon lights.

Sunday was mother’s day in France. A bit confusing as it is not the same as in South Africa where our mother’s live. : ) My choice for the day was to be in Paris. I’m sure you would have thought the same. : )

Lunch in the Tuileries gardens.

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then walking across the Place de la Concorde and up the Champs-Élysées…

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One could hire a lamborghini for 20 minutes and it would cost you 89 euros, but that we didn’t do. : )

At the Grand Palais there was a queue again to enter the Dynamo exhibition, but it was worth the wait. This exhibition is all about lights, optical illusions, mirrors and more. The mist blowing from the fountain is the first installation that you see in this ‘different’ exhibition.

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Flashing lights so bright that you have to move on before you get a headache. Mirrors that turn and make you take photographs of yourself. : )

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lights, lights and lights…

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colours, colours and colours…

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shadows, shadows and shadows…

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some makes you smile…

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and Felice Varini’s orange circles on the pillars of the Grand Palais.

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A fun exhibition for the whole family. : )

Spring Time!

We do have nice weather lately. I can’t compare it with South Africa, but for France we really have nice days. I haven’t put on a warm coat for the last few weeks. That’s my measure for nicer weather and lots of sunshine and temperatures above 10 degrees. Wonderful spring days. : )

Spring was really late this year. That the locals told me. There is an old tradition in France that you give someone a small bunch of Les Muguets (lily of the valley) on the first of May to wish them good luck and happiness for the season to come. On 1 May you see people selling les Muguets everywhere along the streets. This year they all came from florists as they were not flowering in the gardens yet.

I received my first little bouquet this year from Pascal, the mother of Mandi’s friend, Camille.

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As the warmer weather started, all the plants suddenly woke up. We didn’t get a nice garden with this house, although we have lots of space that can become garden. : ) So the warmer weather also got us going to get it ready for being outside in the summer.

For now we have the lilacs that are flowering…

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…our apple tree is full of blossoms and don’t miss our dandelion field. : )

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The biggest joy of these spring days are my tulips!

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…and of course its canola time!

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Switzerland!

It’s already a month ago that we were in Switzerland and spring is (supposed to be) here, so I shouldn’t be writing about winter anymore. But then we still had a little snow yesterday on a (supposed to be) lovely spring day, so writing about winter might still be ok. : )

Switzerland is such a clean country… compared to France. The train stations are so clean, you don’t even have to hold your breathe to avoid strange smells. : )
Really, as beautiful as Paris is you need to watch your step. You should never trust water on sidewalks. You have to step over it, as you can not be sure what it is… and Paris has many fancy little dogs with owners that does not clean after them. Ok… it’s not that bad, the beautiful makes up for that. Just watch your step. : ) Then I could write a paragraph about public toilets in France… but I won’t do that. : )
Well, public toilets in Switzerland had us completely surprised. Not even one wet drop on the floor and no strange smells at all.
So maybe if you are someone who need to decide between moving to Switzerland or rather to France, you can add two things in favour of Switzerland. Clean public toilets… and everyone can speak English! That made life easy. Ok, that was just by the way. Now you also know. : )

I have seen Switzerland in summer before, and everyone knows how pretty that is, but Switzerland in winter is just as pretty. We stayed in Interlaken. Which I thought would not be good for the skiing, but it is situated in the Jungfrau region and everything there is geared for skiing. The ski bus stopped in front of the hotel or you can just walk the 10 minutes to the station and take the train to the ski village.

Interlaken, with a view on the Jungfrau.
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The ski village, Grindelwald.
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As the boys have done snowboarding before they had to coach the girls. Day one was spent to rent the equipment and for ‘lessons’ on the ski school slopes.

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The nice thing of safe public transport is that we could let the children go do their snowboarding and we could do some sightseeing.

A visit to the pretty little village, Wengen, high up in the mountains. There are no cars in Wengen, you can only reach it by train.

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The old city of Bern.

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A visit to the Paul Klee museum in Bern. The largest collection of Paul Klee’s works. Well, if you know Paul Klee’s work you will surely understand why Danie thought the amount we paid to enter this museum was maybe not worth it. : )

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We had to visit Luzern, just for a photograph on that pretty wooden bridge.

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After days filled with sunshine, it started snowing on this trip to Luzern.

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Back in Interlaken…

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…and then the now ‘pro’ snowboarders had to greet Switzerland and the slopes.

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and hopefully soon we will have coffee in Switzerland again : )

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Bonjour, ça va?

Oui, trés bien, merci : ) We need people in our lives, we need someone to say hello, how are you? We need to feel you belong somewhere.
It’s nice when I sit in the art class and we hear someone knocking on the window. It’s Nathalie, walking her class of little ones to the bus, waving at me and I can see her lips forming ça va?
I’m happy when the girls have sleepovers and you see friends having fun together, laughing, and being loud. : )
Or when I pick the boys up at school and drive back with five kids in the car. Happy sounds of friends laughing, making jokes, waving at other friends walking to the station. It doesn’t even matter that I only understand half of their french jokes. : )

Just before the holiday I spent an afternoon in Paris. It started with an exhibition by Mathurin Méheut, a versatile french artist, who did everything, from sketcing, illustrations, paintings, ceramics, etchings and more. This exhibition was held in one of those buildings that you never even notice, because you are too busy looking at the Eiffel Tower. Yes, in one of those blocks where you stand to have the best photo opportunity in front of the Eiffel Tower.

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…just there where you would stand to admire the Eiffel Tower.

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…walking around typical Paris streets.

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…seeing the Eiffel Tower pop out every now and then.cava31

I landed in a nice pedestrian road where people were selling fruit, flowers or coffee and nice french pastries.
…with kids playing on giant eclairs.

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Its hard to choose where you will have your morning coffee…

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Walking and looking and taking photographs, up to Les Invalides.

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A lovely day spent in Paris…but you know what were the three highlights of this day? As I left the house to do a few things before going in to Paris, I saw my friend Roger. The retired man that lives in Rue du Pont Barrat. He’s always friendly and looking for someone to talk to. So, he crossed the road, just to ask me ça va, and greet me with kisses on the cheeks, like the french do. And I could say trés bien, merci, et toi? We talked a bit… and it doesn’t matter that I didn’t understand every word he said. : )
Standing in the queue in G20, our little supermarket, I saw a lady that I only met once at someone else, but she came to me and after the kisses, asked me ça va? …trés bien, merci.
Then, as I walked to Franci’s school, someone stopped next to me and rolled down the window. A mom of one of Franci’s friends, whom I’ve also only met once at a girl’s birthday party. Just to ask me...ça va?

Three people made the effort to ask me, ça va? …and I could reply:
  trés bien, merci!