A Travellerspoint blog

When the living is eaaaassssssyyyyyy.....

sunny 23 °C

Ah Perigueux in summer is very cool. Has totally come alive, all these little cafes and ice-cream places have opened up and every inch of pavement/every "place" has suddenly been filled with tables belong to restaurants I'd hardly even noticed existed. Just left Cafe de la Place at 10.30pm and there are still lots of people sat outside eating and drinking.

AND there is a new mega swimming complex place opening on Thursday...WOOO!

Considering this was kinda the first proper day back to stuff I was not that motivated. School was ok, kids slightly crazy from all the breaks, but then I had a really bad headache and general lack of energy all afternoon so was not productive beyond getting this culture box thing all ready to send to English correspondant school.

Off to bed now as I have a meeting with bank manager at 9am tomorrow followed by two undoubtedly raunchy dates with the library and the laverie. joy. Have realised my second essay has to be in kinda way sooner that I'd thought, and, well, my clothes are dirty. If I am feeling unfulfilled after that I MAY go for a swim.

Oh but first just have to mention that because of Molly having ALL her teachers strike on Thursday/the general lack of work in the last 4 weeks, we worked out tonight that she has been paid about 250EUR a day this month!!! ha ha haaaaa! Education Nationale people...ha ha haaaaa!!!

Posted by LHsugarsugar 13:53 Archived in France Comments (0)

May 1968

-17 °C

This month commemarates 40 years since the "May 1968" turning point in the history of France and the country is full of it. The student protests and general strikes of this month are seen to have led to the eventual collapse of De Gaulle's government, and to the liberal, equal France of today away from the religious, patriotic and authoritarian traditions of the past.

Leading up to this point there had been months of unrest in Universitys, notably the University of Paris at Nanterre and the Sorbonne, with mass meetings of students unhappy about the class discrimination in French society and political bureaucracy. Things reached a head in early May as the police closed these two institutions and were met with several days of, increasingly violent, protests from 1000s of students and lecturers. Hundreds of young people were arrested and the police were accused of being physically heavy-handed, which gained the students the support of the population as a whole. On May 13th a general strike was started which escalated over the coming weeks and eventually involved ten million French workers, about two-thirds of the workforce. Problems also started between the workers and the Unions who tried to channel the general feelings of revolution and discontempt into more specific requests for better pay.

The protests escalted to gatherings of 100, 000s of people, the government offered an average 10% pay-rise but still the situation worsened with the students now chanting "Adieu De Gaulle". De Gaulle went into hiding, assured he had the support of the military and at the end of May announced the dissolution of the government with elections to be held on the 23rd June. With this, and with the French public under the threat of the declaration of a national emergency, things gradually returned to normal and De Gaulle triumphed in the elections, retaining power until he resigned in April 1969!

Posted by LHsugarsugar 00:44 Archived in France Comments (0)

High society

A couple of recent articles about the Legion d'honneur/ordres des chevaliers

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/europe/the-big-question-how-does-the-french-honours-system-work-and-why-has-kylie-been-decorated-822752.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/11/fashion/11chevalier.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&ref=fashion

Posted by LHsugarsugar 00:42 Archived in France Comments (0)

Perpignan and Collioure

24 °C

Firstly, Joyeux Fetes-des-Mamans!

Got back from latest little trip away at 5ish this evening...welcomed home by a pile of bills to be paid and, hilariously, my social security card (6 weeks before I leave!), but had a really great time. The weather wasn't that great, warm but generally overcast/rainy with moments of sunshine (mostly whilst travelling) and some thunder and MEGArain today! Travelling companions were fantastic. Perpignan was a nice little town, with a lively centre...but pretty standard French ville really. However yesterday we caught a train a little way up the coast to Collioure (just a couple of kilometres from the Spanish coast) which was picture-perfect, interesting and bustly and a wonderful day was had!

Molly and I got the train on Thursday via Toulouse and met Helen there. Was lovely to see Toulouse in better weather than the freezing cold day I was last there. We chilled out in the Capitole square and bought new sunglasses from the market (left mine in Ox...as it was I wouldn't need them this weekend!!!). We then went to the biggest Romanesque cathedral in the world (Saint-Sernin), was totally beautiful. From here onto a Jacobian church (home to St Thomas Aquinas) which was very interesting...particularly because there was an exposition there about learning etc in the Arab world...they totally beat us to EVERYTHING. Enjoyed it...something I know totally nothing about and had a little "moment" when I was like, "woah I am in France, enjoying and getting a lot out of this exposition in French"...I dunno, just a "this is cool" moment. We headed back to the station to find our train was delayed (by an hour and a half in the end I think...) but we made the most of it and got Quick's version of a Mcflurry. When we did get on the train it made up quite a lot of time and we met Helen in time to get kebabs for dinner and have a wander around the town centre which sports some nice restaurants/cafes and up-market boutiques, as well as the oldest cemetry in Europe (errr I think that was it....).

Our hostel was really nice and we got an 8-be dormitory to ourselves the whole week, as well as plenty of cereal, bread and "you're speaking English" stares from the Frenchies at breakfast time!

On Friday we headed straight to the "Palais des Rois de Majorca" (yeah the kingdom of Majorca used to stretch this far!!!) and then hit up the market where Helen got some new sandals (I was sorted with my magazine freebies...). We wandered through a really interesting, "real" area of town...Perpignan is known as being very multi-cultural, with, in particular, a large number of North African inhabitants and this are certainly reflected that. Sadly it also seemed really kinda poor...well, whatever it made Perigueux seem soooo "white" and, I dunno, kinda sanitized. We looked around the vielle ville for a bit, popped into Galeries Lafeyette and paid a visit to the Office du Tourisme but the weather had got really kinda bad by this time and moral was dropping, so....WE WENT TO THE BEACH!!! The rain stopped by the time we got there so we hung out on the beach for a bit, dunked our toes in the sea and had an ice-cream. Oh, the ice-cream wasn't as easy as it sounds. So...we get to this little place and there is one of those cabinet freezers...a lady comes out and we say "bonjour" and she opens the freezer for us, I take out a solero and as soon as I get it in my fingers I realise that it's obviously melted and re-frozen as it feels all funny and misshapen, so I put it back. SUDDENLY, and out of nowhere, this French guy appears "Non, non...on ne touche pas...." blah blah blah like flipping TOTAL OVER-REACTION. He just goes on and on, and totally just keeps talking over me when I try telling him WHY I'd put it back in. So we say ok fine we'll go elsewhere and Molly gave him an awesome sarcastic "Au revoir Monsieur" as we left to the sweet sound of him moaning to his friends about us.

We found another ice-cream place though, with a lovely French lady, and later had a good Italian meal with a free pitcher of wine from a nice waiter who took a shine to the "signorinas".

Intresting Fact of the Day: Salvador Dali once said that the station at Perpignan was the "centre of the world"!!!

Saturday, we got the train to Collioure. As I said, gorgeous place. Check out facebook for photos. We stopped off for a coffee on arrival and then went exploring the cute little cove...harbour, pebble beach, lighthouse, castle, little crafty shops, beachside cafes which filled-up when the weather for better later in the day. In some ways it reminded me of Cornwall/ Brittany, only it was on the Mediterranean, with the pretty pink and peach houses and laid-back atmosphere. It is also home to the Fauvism and we saw some cool stuff by Matisse etc in the exact places it was painted. After lunch we headed on a little journey up a hill, was a gorgeous little walk (sooo good to be in the countryside, smelt amazing with the occassional drift of sea-air and the constant scent of the spring flowers). We went first through a little collection of cacti up to a windmill, then further up through the terraced Banyul vineyards to the fort, and the final leg of the journey (after my free sandals decided to give up on me...) was through an olive grove. Beautiful. We finished off the day people watching on the beach, headed back to the hostel, laid our heads on the pillows and ended up napping and waking up at 9pm to go and get pizza for dinner.

Today there was a hilarious, if kinda annoying, event to brighten up the boredom of the journey home. So yesterday we all got our tickets home from the machine (as always). Me and Molly to Perigueux and Helen to Bergerac. Our only option given was an 8am train to Narbonne (40 minutes) with an hour wait before boarding a second train to Brive, so, we got that. Helen was sold a ticket for 8.40am. We didn't question it, wanting to finish up in different places. Molly and I got up early, got our train, did the journey, did the wait and got a good half hour onto the second train. Guard checked our tickets and said "why didn't you get this train from Perpignan?". We realised the machine was very dumb and that the train we were on had come from Perpignan in the first place!!! i.e. we'd basically done a 2hour detour for nothing!!!

BUT, even worse, about half an hour later we realise...WE'RE ON HELEN'S TRAIN! We find her...and laugh.

Posted by LHsugarsugar 10:41 Archived in France Comments (0)

Hmmm....

Every time I get excited about travelling I get brought right back down to Earth with a bump when I look at a map of France, see how damned big it is, and how very very little of it I've seen...

I have to come back.

Posted by LHsugarsugar 07:58 Archived in France Comments (0)

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