Excuse My French, Part 7


So, naturally, our exams were inevitably followed by our exam results. After a few fails and a few actually quite pleasant surprises, and one minor dispute over proper English with my translation teacher, the outcome was not all bad. It was not great though. We breathed a long sigh of relief, but only before realising that our second lot of exams start next week…

But c’est la vie. Let us not dwell on such insignificant things, because it’s nearly Christmas and French cities that are all sparkly with Christmas lights and festivals are quite lovely, and it makes you forget that you are miserably failing university.

The remnants of Autumn in Provence are so pretty. Orange leaves float about in the wind and you can even stamp on the crunchy ones if you make sure beforehand that they aren’t sitting on a pile of dog shit. Because, yes, this is a real issue. One thing that I haven’t mentioned so far during my time here is the small dog population. By this, I mean a very large population of very small dogs, and owners that LOVE to proudly decorate the pavements with their dog’s excrement. An everyday walk becomes a fun dog spotting contest, but equally a mission of survival as you dodge the shit on the floor. It’s made more frustrating by the fact that the frequent bins actually provide bags as well, but here the owners laugh in the face of hygiene and common decency. Half our lives are spent looking at the ground rather than at the pretty cities, lest we step in something we’ll regret. It is one of the most serious threats on France’s streets. So by all means, jump in the crunchy autumn leaves, but do so at your own risk.

It’s starting to feel a bit wintery and Christmassy here, although it’s still about 15 degrees most days. We spent last weekend in Montpellier, a beautiful place that made me feel a slight twang of jealousy when strolling through a big(ish) city for the first time in ages. The shopping centre was lit up for Christmas, and I am overjoyed that the French go mad for Christmas like we do back home. I was also delighted to find out that warm chestnuts are a thing here, and that they are sold in the street. The only thing missing from my life at the moment is a Christmas tree, but I have a Christmas orchid (which is dead) as a pathetic substitute.

Our time in France is running out fast. It feels like I’ve only been here a couple of months, but the time has actually flown by more than I could ever have expected. After this weekend we have a weekend in Lyon for the Fête des Lumières and then after that it’s home time. This also means that the hunt for accommodation starts all over again, this time for Geneva, and I really need to get a wiggle on…

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