Goodbye France

It’s been more than a month since I last wrote a post about my travels. After my last post I did indeed head north to a cooler climate, all the way to Calvados to help Nick and Sue.My first task was helping show two young future race horses at a national show in Haras du Pin. I helped groom the horses, run around and find out what we had to do and then take some photos.
Once the excitement was over with the horses I spent three weeks with Nick and Sue, eating very well and helping out with all kinds of things, from feeding and walking dogs, to herding sheep, preparing the raspberry patch, stacking wood, building fences, cleaning the house when it was too wet outside and a few more things with the horses for good measure.

Haras du Pin


In my spare time I read more books, did more yoga, walked and talked as well as tried to write two presentations for the upcoming conference. I also watched some of the first TV I’ve watched in almost a year (and decided it was still bad)!

I also met some of Nick and Sue’s friends at dinner parties, fashion shows and at the local Tabac on a Friday night. The percentage of expats in the north of France is high. At the end of three and a half weeks I was very sad to be leaving but I had a whole week in Paris to look forward to. 

Galleries Lafayette, Paris

Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris


A week in Paris was a perfect way to say goodbye to France. I stayed with Emma (thanks!) and did my last sightseeing and visiting. It really was a great week, here is some of the stuff we/I got up to: visited the Opera Garnier, Gallerie Lafayette department store, watched The All Blacks playing Australia at Café Oz (go the AB’s!), went out to the Comptoir General (a bar with an African general store feel near Canal St Martin), wandered the streets of the 6th with Emma, Jardin des Plantes, the Grande Mosquée de Paris (mint tea and middle Eastern treats), saw a partly naked man sunbathing in the Jardin du Luxembourg, got throughly creeped out at the Catacombes, visited the Cité de L’Architecture et du Patrimoine, said goodbye to Naomi over some beer, visited CF for one last day trip, where I finally climbed to the roof of the cathedral and ran some errands.

Clermont-Ferrand


For my last pastry in France, I got a raspberry and almond croissant, must have been about 1000 calories, going out with a bang!

More next post,

Amanda xx

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A hot and quiet three weeks

I finally made it to Paris after my extended stay in London. We were slightly delayed coming through the Chunnel as more migrants had managed to get inside the the tunnel the night before. I was so glad to be back in France! I helped a woman navigate the metro and then headed to my hostel.
In the next two days I went to the Louvre (twice, since I have my teacher card and it’s free, why not?), the Orangerie and saw Naomi an assistant doing an internship in Paris.

View from one of the Louvre galleries, Paris


I then spent two weeks at a homestay near Guéret. I helped with the garden, the horses, the dogs and keeping the grandma entertained. Also having a look around the area, relaxing, walking, yoga, and sorting out much life admin for the next destinations!

Guéret


I also made a couple of trips into Clermont-Ferrand to pick up mail from the school, my payslip, say goodbye to the office staff and to see my doctor and pharmacist. I also had to put fix a problem with my phone plan, go to the post office, sort out stuff for my insurance claim and send many emails for a conference I’m heading to in Budapest in September. Thanks Jon and Jenna for having me to stay. Not many people are left in the city, it’s summer and it’s pretty hot so most people are heading for the seaside or north to Normandy, just like I’m about to. 

Clermont-Ferrand


More news next time,

Amanda xx

A week of lasts

The last (slightly more than a) week has been a bit of a crazy one! After arriving back into France on my flight into Paris Beauvais I met my parents at their hotel. We had heaps to talk about as we hadn’t spoken for two weeks (we spoke once a week for the last 8 months) and my parents had spent a week of that travelling London and in Paris while I’d been off in the Balkans.

The next day we headed back to Clermont-Ferrand on the train for a couple of days of relaxation and seeing where I live. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best so we couldn’t go up Puy de Dôme or to Parc Montjuzet. Instead we visited L’Aventure Michelin, a museum about the history of Michelin which is based and founded in Clermont-Ferrand, then we ate at my favourite crêperie, 1513 (named for the year it was built). I also took my parents to the supermarket, the laundromat and to lunch at the cafeteria at school, all interesting experiences for them (they were impressed with all the different courses at the cafeteria – salad, main, bread & cheese and dessert).

Unfortunately for me, Mum and Dad then headed off to Portugal and Spain while I had to finish my last week of teaching. My last week was very light, six hours of classes mostly with me chatting with the students about whatever they liked, also had to supervise a test and help some students record advertisements for fake products they came up with.

Outside of class there was many reasons to celebrate, a week of lasts! The last Tuesday coffee (these became a weekly regular), the last students pub night, the last day of work (which was celebrated with the last visit to Jardin Lecoq and a couple of pints), the last trip to the gym, last visit to the laundromat, last assistants party (including a fun game which was a mixture of taboo and charades, all in French of course). There was also the last annoying French public holiday (NO public transport for the day), there are some things I really won’t miss about France.

For the rest of my time I was doing paper work and running around trying to sort out my leaving, picking up prescriptions, visiting the insurance people, bank, post office, etc. 

On Saturday ASM (the local rugby team), played Toulon in the final of the champions cup. The game was played in London since it was an international competition but in Place Jaude they put up a huge screen and what seemed like the whole town came to watch (estimates suggest there was around 50,000 people there). Everyone was wearing yellow and blue, with flags, horns, smoke bombs and beer in hand. We stood for six hours in the revelry but unfortunately Toulon won the match. Despite this the party continued into the night. The best weekend to be in Clermont-Ferrand and a great send off for me!

Thanks to all the cool people I met during my time in Clermont-Ferrand, I’ve had a great time and am more than a little sad to be leaving. Good luck to everyone!

So where am I off to now? I have about eight weeks travelling around Europe mostly with my parents before I’m heading back to France (but more on that part later). This week I’m making a quick trip to London via Paris before heading to the south of France for a little R&R and to meet up with my parents.

Until next time,

Amanda xx

A mid week getaway and other tales

So where did I go on my adventure a couple of weeks ago? I left you all hanging on that one! I headed off to Toulouse for 3/4 days. Booked a covoiturage and an Air B&B and away I went.

Covoiturage is a car sharing system where you pay for spare seats in a private car. You book and pay for your trip in advance on a website an give the driver a text/call to arrange pickup (normally in a convenient location like a train station or bus stop). After a successful trip you give the driver a code and they get paid. You leave reviews so other travellers know about the driver, are they on time, do they drive like a maniac, that kind of thing.

I stayed in a room in an apartment I found on Air B&B. Victor and Cecile are Spanish and I had a great time. Toulouse itself is wonderful (my new favourite French city) and I profited from travelling mid-week with free entry to two museums, one of which was the Cité L’Espace which was supposed to cost 18€, score!

Since Toulouse I have been getting up to all the usual, a little work, socialising with friends and one very sad farewell to one of the assistants heading back to the UK, see you soon Dom! I was also invited to one of the teachers houses for dinner and she made a kind of pie with potatoes and cream which is a specialty of the region she’s from, Allier, to the north of Clermont-Ferrand. 

I’m currently writing this from Croatia. We have another two week break before I have my last week of work, and I’m in the Balkans! I’ll write all about it in my next post.

Amanda xx

Snow and inside activities

On Sunday night Ed Sheeran played a concert in regional France for the first time and he came to Clermont-Ferrand! A bunch of assistants went and it was a great concert! All for the bargain price of 30€. Laura another kiwi assistant came too since she was visiting for the weekend. The rest of the weekend was spent showing Laura around and going out with friends, celebrating birthdays and eating lots of crêpes.

The city also has more tourists in it than usual (usually it’s none), because the International short film festival is on. I have been to a couple of sessions and a date to a movie last week too.

The weather has meant it’s a great time of year for inside activities. We’ve had snow almost constantly for the last week or so but it wasn’t until last night that it properly settled and it’s a beautiful white wonderland outside (as I’m writing this I can hear the school kids having a snowball fight).

Lastly for this update I went to Lyon on Wednesday of last week to do some sightseeing. The last time I was there was for the Fête des Lumières, which meant the city was full of people and it wasn’t possible to see all the sights I wanted to. So a day visit to see some things was necessary. I really enjoyed the Musée de Lumières about the Lumière brothers and the creation of films. I also visited the Musée des Beaux Arts which I had almost to myself!

This weekend I am off on holiday again as the teachers in my region get another two week holiday. My first stop is Germany to stay with a friend for the weekend.

Until next time,

Amanda xx

A French city (finally) and stepping in dog poop

I arrived in Clermont-Ferrand on Sunday night and was picked up from the train station by Olivier, the teacher looking after me at my school. My accommodation is at the school which means it is super convenient and cheap.

On Monday I had a wander around the city on the way to meet up with some other assistants for some pizza. The city is really two towns; Clermont and Montferrand and there are two distinct town centres. My school is in Montferrand which makes it a bit of a journey into the heart of the city which is in Clermont but there is a tram which is really efficient and I will also have the loan of a bike. On this first walk around the city I did it, that thing so many people talk about and recognise about France… I stepped in some dog poop. It really is everywhere and sometimes there is no escaping it.

My school is great, lots of students but the teachers are really friendly and nice. They have given me Fridays off so that I can have a long weekend and do some travelling. I start classes proper on Monday. On Wednesday we had the induction day which was exhausting as it was all in French and trying to understand how complicated things work in a language you are not fluent in is not easy.

Yesterday I got my French bank account so I can now start getting everything organised like a French mobile number, my social security forms (more paper work) etc.

Amanda xx