Adventure 7: A French Christmas

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Salut tlm! I know March is a bit late to be posting about Christmas, but… Here we go!

Although of course I wanted to go home for Christmas, I wasn’t able to do so – it was just too expensive. It was really sad to be away from my family during the holiday, but thankfully I had a few French families who were willing to take me in.

Right before Christmas, though, I had another visitor! Breanna came up from Laval to visit me and see Rouen and my town. Apparently we didn’t take any pictures of the two of us (none that I have, at least), but here are some from our exploring of Rouen!

 

 

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A wintry Rouen. I love this cathedral.
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Inside the Joan of Arc memorial church
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Also inside that church

 

 

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We found this little memorial beside the tower where Joan of Arc was imprisoned – ashes of concentration camp victims are buried here.
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The sign beside it
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And on the other side
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Some yummy pasta we had in a resto in Pont-Audemer
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And the delicious apple strudel thing we had after
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A blue-sky, crisp winter day in Pont-Audemer

As Breanna was spending Christmas with a family she knows in Caen, Delphine took both her and I to Caen on Christmas Eve. We dropped Breanna off with the family and had a lovely cup of tea, then explored the city for a while. I had never been to Caen before, so she showed me around.

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In Caen
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The cathedral from the ramparts of the chateau in Caen!

After exploring the Christmas market, some shops, the chateau, and a cathedral, we headed to Delphine’s father’s house for Christmas Eve dinner.

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He was so sweet. He was 11 years old when Caen was liberated in WWII, and he told me all about his memories of the time. It was so interesting to hear about! He’s written a little memoir of his experiences during the war, and he gave me a copy of it for Christmas. So cool.

 

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Our Christmas Eve dinner in the making
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Appetizers
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The finished product!

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Some little dessert treats!
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And the traditional French dessert at Christmas – the buche de Noel, or Yule log! 

 

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We pulled out their little Christmas tree and decorated it, it was so much fun! And they were so kind to put me a few presents underneath 🙂

I spent the night there, and then on Christmas morning took a train from Caen to Rouen, where I spent the rest of Christmas Day with Anne-Sophie and her family! Anne-Sophie is one of the teachers I work with at the lycée.

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The daughters, Katie and Nina, playing with their Christmas presents!

Anne-Sophie, her husband, and their daughters were there, along with both sets of grandparents. They were lovely and so welcoming! I played a princess card game with Katie and Nina; it can be difficult to understand game instructions when explained by any children – when explained by two children in rapid-fire French, it’s even harder! But I caught on after a while, and we had a great time.

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The table ready and waiting! Sorry for the sideways picture.
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I had a personalized name tag written by Katie, which was very exciting. Also some of our little appetizer bites in the background there.

 

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Sweet girls ready for dinner!
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Seafood – this is called Coquille St Jacques, and it’s mainly made of mushrooms and scallops. There’s also various other seafood in there. 
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Meat course
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Along with some cute potato star things with different pureed vegetables on top
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Of course, the cheese course!
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And then finally we had an ice cream buche de Noel!

I say “finally,” but this meal was French, so of course it’s not over till everyone’s had some coffee or tea. I’d brought some mini Reese’s cups that Mom sent me, and we had those with our after-dinner café et thé. All in all, we spent a little over five hours from setting of the table to finishing up coffee and tea. Later that evening, the set of grandparents who live near Pont-Audemer were kind enough to drop me back at home. I skyped my family for a while and called it a night!

Even though I can’t quite get behind the foie gras and escargots that everyone loves to eat here during the holidays, my French Christmas was a great success! I had a beautiful holiday with friends and their families here, and I’m so thankful for every one of them.

Well, this post only covers the first half of Christmas break. During the second half, I jetted off to Dublin – but that’s for another post, coming soon! Thanks so much to all the friends who’ve sent me mail, and as always, thanks for reading!

À bientôt xx

Kalee

 

 

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