Jeudi 22 janvier 4 22 /01 /Jan 17:42
             I'm on the move. Four weeks after arriving home, it was high time to begin traveling around again. So many places to go, so many people to see, and a hectic schedule. Not helped by the fact that I have no car, that intercity buses don't exist in France and that train is way too expensive here.

              So, on Sunday afternoon, I took a ride with my brother to go to his home in Nantes, some 300km away. It's considered to be the former capital of my region in its historical definition (because nowadays Nantes is not even in Brittany - damn French department borders !) and I had never been there.

              After one day buzzing around in the appartment, doing nothing and everything, I went out on Tuesday. Nantes, here I come !!

View from the castle, with the St Pierre cathedral in the background

             The town center is really nice, a little historic-looking with some cobblestones streets and Haussmannian buildings. Bakeries at every corner, passers-by walking everywhere but not really rushing. I didn't look too closely at people, it's considered rude in here... People walk looking at their foot, seemingly lost in their thoughts. Smile to them and they're lost : what does she want, do I know her ? But it's fun and I used it a lot to put a little sunlight in the cold day :)

Passers-by, unconscious of the others around them

Reading under the stare of Anne de Bretagne

Even in winter, those cobblestone streets still manage to keep a summer feeling, with people walking, taking their time and coffee shop with students chatting the time away on the terraces

A typical French city with these Haussmannian buildings

Another particularity : all the roofs at the same level

            I think France is one of the only countries where people built castles wherever they felt like it. Thus every sizeable town hides a castle. Even my 4,500-habitant village :) But Nantes' one is a little more important in History than my own little castle. It was home of the Dukes of Brittany, as well as a defense against first the French (bloody French...) and then, after the annexation, against the Protestants during the Religion Wars. So... wanna visit the castle who host Anne de Bretagne, the one who sold to the French ?

Roof view

All around the surrounding wall, a small path lead you around the moat while telling you about some structural elements of the building, such as the coat of arms or different additions by the successive owners

Here, for example, the darker part is a reconstruction. The walls from the Middle Age are on the left side, where the builders alternated between blocks of granite and lines of slate. In 1800, the wooden floor of the tower gave way and fell on the ammunition room : everything exploded and the collapse of the tower killed 60 ppl.

And on the walls... sentinels !
I am fascinated by gargoyles - or waterspout for the not-funny name

The bony one

The crazy dog

A little more devil-like

But as soon as you enter the courtyard, the fortress feeling gives way to a warmer and welcoming promenade, where you could almost imagine nobles taking a stroll

With the huge well next to the main residence

Cold day, week day... I managed to get the castle almost for me alone

On the Dukes' roofs

              My hand got really cold when taking all these pictures but the Sun decided to show up a little and that was the time when I left the castle to wander in town. Totally aimless walk, with the only direction being the one of home, some 40-minute away. Got back just in time for Obama's inauguration. Perfect timing :)

              Yesterday evening, I got a lift to Rennes, one-hour away, the official current main city of Brittany. The town itself is nice, the houses are impressive, but I like the atmosphere of it less. I'm staying at my friend Thibault's place until Saturday afternoon, when I will go to Paris. France tour !! :)
Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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Lundi 12 janvier 1 12 /01 /Jan 20:29
            I finished work on Saturday evening. My mother owns a shop in which she sells organic products (food, cosmetics, drinks, teas) and fair trade items, as well as plants and aromatherapy medicines. I love her shop. It's all in wood so the atmosphere is really warm and people also feel it. I know I'm not the only one to love this shop :)
             My mother works with a friend, Isabelle. In France, we have 5 weeks of paid holidays, so Isa took one week on December 30th. And then we are supposed to work only 35 hours a week. If we work more, we have to get it back. For example, if you work 42 hours a week, you have 7 hours too much, so you can have a day off when you want. Isa had a lot of hours too much, so she took another week of holidays.
             For Isa, that made 2 weeks at home, to rest and get better.
             For me, it made 2 weeks of job and, so, money in my bank account.
             For my mother, it made 2 weeks where she could really see me, instead of having me only for meals.
             Win-win-win situation :)

Doesn't she look happy? ;)

             We work 5 days a week, with days off on Sunday and Monday. Schedule is 9am - 12.30pm and then 2pm - 7pm, though we start at 8am on Tuesdays and Fridays because there is food coming to the shop and we have to put it on the shelves. I got to rest on Thursday mornings, so that I would have a approximately 35-hour week.

             I love working there too, because people are usually interesting people. They are French people who believe in the importance of nature, in saving the planet and that usually comes with an awareness that you don't always find with other French people. They were mostly respectful and patients, people easy to joke with and easy-smilers :)
The counter with my mother pretending to work on the phone. We have baskets (under the postcards) that people can use to do the shopping. And all the boxes at the back are teas :) The entrance door is just left of the cards. Lots of essential oils and cosmetics on the counter and a lot of mess behind it...

From the door... Other shopping baskets and food, food, food.
It's horrible to work with so much food everywhere...

From the other end of the same row. Behind me are the fridge and wines...

Here they are...
The fridge was pretty empty that day. Usually, it's so packed that I don't know where to put things...
On both side of the fridge are 4 shelves. Two on the right for fresh fruits and two on the left for veggies

From the door again. Looking at some other postcards, CDs, cosmetics and stuff

From the tea boxes corner... Cosmetics, corner of the counter and such...
On the wall running on my left are all the alimentary complements and natural medicines.

Behind the cosmetics column, clothers and the "playground for children". We put my former toys and books, and children love to go and play there when their parents are doing the grocery (it's a big relief for parents too)
ps : Free Tibet!

The "bulk stuff". Help yourself with rice, quinoa, lens, sugar, dried fruits and nuts
You could see the back of this shelf on the former pic

Some of the fair trade products, from Africa, South America and Asia
I loved most of them and people bought a lot of them for Christmas presents

            So this was my world for 2 weeks. Call it "Le Jardin de la Terre", which means The Garden of the Earth.
            I really enjoyed doing it, joking with regular customers and reading interesting stuff on how to make our life healthier and safer with natural ways. I liked working with my mother even if we got on each other's nerves sometimes. But I'm also happy it's over.

             Now I'll be able to go around see my friends at last! We used to get back home at 7.30pm and then prepare dinner, eat, it was already 8.30 or 9pm. And then I was usually too weary to do anything. I didn't even want to think about taking her car and drive the 30min to go to Brest and - maybe - see friends.

            This time is over :) Tomorrow I'm going to Brest, see my most formal friend (the President of my former university) around a cup of coffee (or a glass of beer - still haven't decided) but then we'll have some student partying in the week. I miss my university so much !!!
Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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Vendredi 9 janvier 5 09 /01 /Jan 21:42
           This afternoon, my mother sent me to the "déchèterie" (which is a kind of 'waste collection site') to sort out the paper from the metal and glass into different boxes. I love doing that........ Anyway, the collection site is outside of the village so I had to take the small back ways to get there.

         This is a Celtic cross, at a site where resistance fighters have been killed by the Germans during the second World War. Trees are bare, all the leaves fell down in November and everything look bleak now. It's still very cold (-4° this morning and 4° this afternoon) but we haven't seen snow at all... Never mind...

            You can see Christian crosses a little everywhere around Brittany. We were pagan before and the republic made a lot of efforts to christianize us. They succeeded and Brittany is now the last really Christian region in France.

             Off the main road, you have tons of dirt tracks going in huge lands, mainly farms. A lot of rocks where you had walls before. Dead leaves everywhere... Winter landscape...
Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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Lundi 5 janvier 1 05 /01 /Jan 20:23
           But obviously, I live next to the sea (means the air is warmer and a little salty) so there is no chance of it yet. Fo your information, dear friends, salty water freezes with more difficulties, that's why we put salt on the roads in winter.
            I don't know why, though, but it's really cold this year. Usually, in my region, it's about 7°C in the morning and 11°C in the afternoon. Right now it's about 0°C in the morning and 5°C in the afternoon. What's happenning ?? In any ways, I feel cold but I'm happy to see it. I'm really hoping for snow :)

Frozen water in the pond (Yes, we have a pong in the garden - picture later)

In the waterfall, the mist froze around the plants and formed an ice shield on every stem

A flower for you :)
Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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Lundi 5 janvier 1 05 /01 /Jan 20:07
           And so the time came to "undress" the Christmas tree...

              My mother had waited for me to decorate it so we put the garlands and the balls on the 24th, just a few hours before the Big Dinner.  It's not so important anymore for me to do it, but I hadn't decorated a Christmas tree in 3 years so it was nice being with my mum and brother to do it once more. Always thinking maybe it's the last time I decorate it with them...

              We kept it as long as we could but it's really hot (according to French standards) in the living room so the tree got dry quite fast and we had to take it down today... Good bye Christmas tree, hope you'll have a nice life in the Christmas Tree Paradise !
              I can't believe how many trees are cut every year for Christmas !
Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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Samedi 3 janvier 6 03 /01 /Jan 20:12
           I know I'm in France but you have these things I can't get rid of...

- I still can't eat with my left hand, even Christmas chocolate

- I'm always looking for the dustbin to throw toilet paper (but never find it, as we don't need it in France)

- I always want to go in the car on the wrong side (if I'm passenger, i want to go to the right)

- When I drive, I have to watch out a lot when at an intersection, because I feel like driving on the left side is the good way to do it...

- I always look to the wrong side first when I cross a street

- Every time my legs are crossed and my foot is pointed at someone, I feel bad and put my leg down again

- I still expect to see sunshine at 7.30am (sun rises at 9am...)

- I sometimes bow / wai to people to say hello or goodbye

- I still say "mai ruu" or "arai na ?" from times to times

- I still prefer to eat rice with a spoon rather than with a fork

           And you have things that I really miss...

- Being able to eat outside on the pavement exactly when and where I want

- Having food served in 5min

- Finding 7-11 everywhere to be able to buy a drink

- Being able to walk or ride bicycles / motorbikes without freezing to death

- Being able to take off my shoes in the house without feeling my feet freezing

- Being in tee-shirt and sandals

- Watching DVDs for really cheap 2 weeks after they went out in the movie theaters

- Buying hot fresh milk in the street when going back home before sleep

- Hearing temple gongs at 6pm - and monks chanting...

- Being able to meditate with friends two evenings a week

- Not being afraid to walk alone in the streets after sunset

- Not being able to understand 99% of the people around me. Understanding everyone creates a saturation in my brain - too much information...

Ah, the joys of being in France :)
Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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Vendredi 2 janvier 5 02 /01 /Jan 13:33
             I don't know what happens in Asia for New Year's Eve but over here, it's always pretty much the same. Friends gather and eat (or drink) their way to midnight, they cheer, kiss and keep on "partying". The older you are, the more you eat a beautiful and (really) long diner. My mother began eating around 9.30pm and was still eating when the new year knocked at the door...

              On the other hand, the younger you are, the more you drink. As I crashed in Brittany kind of out-of-touch with many friends, I wanted to spend the night with my best friend. The thing is, he was invited with friends of him (that I know but don't consider as friends of mine) to someone's place. He didn't know the host but knew that the party would just be about drinking.

              Best friends being best friends, I decided to stiffle my reluctance and go with him. After my job, I took the bus to Brest and joined Thibault at one his friends' home. We were supposed to eat there and then go to Nicolas' (the unknown guy who loves to drink). Eating was pizza and crackers. Yeah, they are French but they are young and could not care less : no beautiful and delicious French food...
            At Nicolas', I resisted for about 2 hours. It was just not fun. The people had their own jokes that I didn't find funny and the atmosphere was not merry at all. I just didn't belong.

            So I called Thomas, one of my best friends (and, as it happens, my ex-boyfriend) and check if he was partying at home. He was, with another friend, 3 other guys from university and about 25ppl that I didn't know. I just knew it would be better. My best friend, Thibault, really wanted to come too but had to stay at the other place so I went alone.
           And I was right... It was priceless... One of my best partys :)

           Actually, the fact that it was New Year's Eve did not really matter for me, I just wanted to spend time with friends I hadn't seen in a very long time. I arrived 10min before midnight and got caught by the "we are young, we are crazy, we love each other" atmosphere at once.

           Maybe it was because one of the university guy (that I almost never spoke to) jumped in my arms as soon as he saw me. Just too happy to see me, as it seems... All modesty put aside, I was quite happy of that :)

          Once Séb let go of me, Fabien jumped in and kept a grip on me for about 10min, preventing me from jumping into the arms of Arnaud. When Thomas finally got rid of some other friends, I jumped into his arms too, spilling some unidentified drink in the kitchen. I could not care less. I love them !

Me, Thomas (Tom), Arnaud and Seb

                Nothing extraordinary about the party in itself. I was just delighted to see Fabien and Tom again, I discovered Arnaud and Seb for real, plus met some other guys that I had heard of but never really met. And you had all the friends invited by Tom's sister, who were 2 years younger than us and helped a lot to create the festive atmosphere.

Heeeeeeeyy, Macarena !

                I spent at least one hour in the stairs with the guys (yes, I'm always friend with guys, so what ?), danced Salsa with Fabien and a kind of balley dance with an unknown guy, jumped in friends' arms again and again and got all the hugs and cuddles I had missed in the last 16 months...

The VIP corner on the stairs :)
From up to bottom : Sylvain, Corentin (a.k.a Jar Jar Bin, for me) and Arnaud

Plus Sébastien, one of the craziest guy of the evening...
What's really fun is : my brother's name is Sébastien. And this guy has a sister whose name is Gaelle. So we are kind of brother and sister by name association :)

But even Séb can fall asleep... He was the first one to doze off, at about 4.30am

Jar Jar Bin, Victo (another one from university, yeeaah) and Arnaud, watching weird pics of themselves
And no, Jar Jar wasn't drinking alcohol. It's Perrier ;)

Fabien with the wistletoe
You don't know wistletoe ? For real ? It's New Year's Eve most famous plant. We tie it somewhere and people have to kiss under it to bring good luck. Supposed to be romantic and everything also. I don't know who put this one but it was pretty low... Didn't see anyone kissing under it anyway :)

              I went to bed at around 6am, long after most young unknown people had left the house, while the last small bunch of friends went upstairs at 7am. Got the chance to sleep 4 hours before getting up to help cleaning Tom's house. Part and parcel of parties at home...

              It was damn cold yesterday morning, as it was both cold and humid. But we still have frost in the morning. Proof is here, on the roofs in the center of my village :
Yes, it is white on the roof, believe me... :)
Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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Jeudi 1 janvier 4 01 /01 /Jan 20:45

            On the frozen windshield yesterday morning, in front of my mother's shop. I just got the impulse and I had no dictionary to check whether I was writing something correct or not. Whatever... I wish you all a very happy New Year. May it be 2009, 2552 or 1430... Good health (go away, bloody flu), friendship and love, happiness and everything that you wish for ! :)

            I had an awesome time yesterday night, much better than expecter, and I just love my friends... Why life can't always be like yesterday night, full of laughs, hugs, love, understanding, confidence, reunions... It was just so great... :) I love you all!

Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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Lundi 29 décembre 1 29 /12 /Déc 10:12
         Well, here, the first lights appear around 8.45am so "early" morning is not exactly the same than in Thailand. Not only so because of the belated sunrise but also because of the cold. In the morning, when the sun rise, the dew freezes on the ground. Right now, it's 10.15am, the temperature is -2°C, with the windchill being at -6°C... I ran outside with my slippers, with only my sweater on, to took some macro pictures. Yeah, still discovering my cameras :)

The iced small boat on a green sea :)

Christmas feeling

Ice and grass, grass and ice, white and green - interbeings :)

Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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Dimanche 28 décembre 7 28 /12 /Déc 22:57
(I'm not going to begin that blog with rants and complaints. Am I ?)

- I saw my brother !! Last time I saw him was 3 days, 1 year and 4 months ago. The time before that was before August 2007. Needless to say : I missed him a lot. And he hasn't even changed... Physically, I mean...

- I met the bf of my mother for the first time. I still can't believe that she began dating him the day after I took the plane. Since then, they have been living together and my whole family knew him... except me.

- So I now have a new dog too, who came with the boyfriend...

- But the best is having Guizmo, my cat, back into my arms. He got so fat, I can't believe it !!

- I have 3 times more clothes in my wardrobe than in Thailand (so what, yes, I'm a girl, I have tons of clothes... ^^). And I didn't remember most of them so it's really fun wearing them again like it's the first time.

- The weather is cold and dry. In the morning, the dew freezes and creates a white icy sheet on everything. It's just so beautiful... And the feeling, when you leave the warmth of the house to dive into the icy cold, is just so indefinable but exhilarating in the same time. You just feel alive.

- Going back home and finding a fire in the stove is just priceless.

- I can cook everything I want. No rice every meal (I do like rice but give me a break ^^). I 've been splurging on veggies and hot soups since I'm back.

- And I could eat a tartiflette (for the non-French, here's the recipe... You can't miss that !)

- I can rent books at the library instead of buying them.

- And I can rent DVDs for one week instead of 24 hours.

- It's really fun meeting people in the street who recognize you from when you were a child

- I can check that my French is not so bad, as I was afraid it would be

- More than anything, I can go to the beach and look at the ocean for hours (but due to the wind, I did that only once until now)

- I can smile and wonders at so many things that I used to take for granted when I was living in France for real

- I can find the money funny-looking

- I can buy real bread and eat galettes de Bretagne

- I can enjoy opening new eyes on everything and taking pictures to illustrate it

- People are happy to see me (even if they don't always believe it)

- For the first time in oh-so-many-years (5-6 yrs ?), I've been lucky enough to eat lunch with my father and my brother but not my father's girlfriend. I've been asking that for years and I finally got it :)

- My grandmothers actually stopped complaining that I was away (well, now they rant about me going back...)

- I'm going to see my best friend tomorrow.

- And celebrate new years eve with people that I haven't seen in 2 years and a half !

- I can send sms to friends and get an answer (they never dared answer when i was in Asia. Afraid it would be too expensive, pfff)

- My cat sleeps with me (yes, the bed was too big for me alone, I needed company and, well, my cat was the only one there ^^)

In short, it's : my brother, my cat, the cold, the sea, the kitchen :)

Par Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ? - Publié dans : France - The tourist eye
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  • Gaelle, Aisyah, Socheata... what else ?
  • On the wings of wind
  • Femme
  • 23/04/1985
  • A small trip in Asia, following the winds, from the South to the North, looking for myself and for the others


* 30th Dec : start job at my mother's shop

* 31th Dec : New Year's Eve in Brest

* January : going to Rennes, Nantes, Angers, Paris see friends and family. How ? Hitch-hike ?

* 19th Feb : plane back to BKK


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