Bend It

M had a friend over for dinner on Friday night. Mr French had just flown back from Atlanta and after a week of Michelin star dining interspersed with popcorn dinners, I was looking forward to a quiet meal at home.

Not being in the mood to cook, I defrosted some of my infamous pesto and sent M out to the market for some angel hair pasta and a baguette. Which is a little idiosyncrasy I will never understand. How can anyone eat bread with pasta? Pasta is just bread in another form. The need alludes me and kind of revolts me, but in my rather Euro household it is a necessity, with the masses threatening a revolution of their own if I offer nothing but cake.

We sat down to a cosy meal, talking about our new cat, the vote for gay marriage (pro) and who we hoped would win the Superbowl (Niners). Mr French shared some news that he’d heard over radio when driving home, news that had M jumping in her seat, applauding with joy. The friend started to hyper-ventilate, her face turning red, her eyes and mouth opening into large O’s as she fanned herself. Her body went stiff, her back curved and I prepared to perform the Heimlich before remembering that this was angel hair pasta. The girl couldn’t possibly be choking.

It would seem the news that our neighbor, Depardieu, had sold his 40€ million mansion to M and Mme Beckham had the girls looking like dead gold fish in their bowl; rigid, their bodies arced and unable to breath. They’re not even soccer fans! He’s 37 years old!

I had visions of hysterical teens in every corner. I imagined having to tiptoe over the bodies of prostrate young girls as I made my way to the corner café, and catching fainting young souls in my arms as they heard the news at the bakery. I looked up through the pandemonium in our dining room and glanced at an all too amused Mr French.

It may not be April, but this was definitely a poisson*. The Beckhams did not buy, Depardieu did not sell and all will be well with the world. Mr French was quite pleased with himself and his little joke, M knows him and was not over-shocked, but I’m afraid that our guest will never trust him again.

Even worse she might, because these girls are in a bilingual school. A bilingual school that has doubled its security since the holidays. In the past the girls have had classmates with names like Sarkozy and His Honorable Highness…, so we just assumed the child of a VIP from Mali had enrolled. Can’t wait until Mr French tells them its a Beckham!

*poisson d’avril is an April fish, the French version of April Fool’s.

the sunset…

E left for University this morning. In a few days I may be immensely sad, but for right now, I am just incredibly proud of her and excited as she starts out on a great new adventure. Before she headed out, I concocted an evil plot to wrench her from her friends and ensure some quality family time, I kidnapped her this last weekend and took her to Deauville with the family; me, Mr French, M and La Fashionista.

E and I took the train. Two hours from the Gare St Lazare to Trouville-Deauville and then a 2 minute walk to our hotel. I love European train travel!

After a long walk along the beach, we headed to Dupont for their famous hot chocolate, but it was closed, so we opted for cocktails at Le Drakkar. Our faces fell when we saw the cocktail menu. It was a very sad little list. But the two girls next to us were drinking something that looked light, refreshing and absolutely delicious, which brought us to DISCOVERY #1 / Pamplemousse Rosé; a glass of rosé with creme de pamplemousse*, basically a summer kir, served with ice cubes and grapefruit wedges. La Fashionista let us know that it was THE drink of the summer and I totally get it, it was absolutely YUM! Nothing serious, but exactly the right flavours for the moment.


The next morning was bright and beautiful. The nearly mandatory Normandy fog had stayed at bay. We were thrilled, enjoying a great run that became something of an adventure when I insisted the tide was going out and encouraged Mr French to follow me to the cove at the end of the beach. 3 minutes later he shouted for my attention and pointed to the break-water we had just passed. 3 meters of the beach had disappeared under the waves, and by the time we ran the 3 minutes back, a full 6 meters had been engulfed. We

had to climb the break-water back, but with each step I took, the beach got further and further away. Half way across, I was totally stuck, my only option to jump into the waist deep water and wade to shore.

Which made for a somewhat soggy moment as I savoured an orange pressé by the sea. For lunch we took the little Bac to Les Vapeurs in Trouville and I spent the entire, mercifully short ride making stupid jokes about forcing E to take the Bac again, which earned me plenty of adolescent eye rolls.

Their patience with my sense of non-humour was rewarded much later that afternoon by DISCOVERY #2, a sunset stroll along the beach on horse back. The Pony Club de Deauville  organises these rides on weekends, tide permitting. The tide permitted and it was the highlight of out weekend.

Dinner that night was DISCOVERY #3 / L’Essentiel. My trusted Lefooding app had nothing for Deauville, yet everytime I did a google search for suggestions, this name came out at the top of the list. Standing in the hotel lobby earlier in the day, I had just said the word and the receptionist had gone into spouts of ecstasy. She knew her food, because the food was FANTASTIC French-Thai fusion. Lots of explosive, fresh flavours very high quality ingredients, like Wagyu beef. So good, I’d go back tomorrow and kind of wish there was something this tongue tingling exciting in Paris.

This weekend was a dream, with perfect weather, fantastic food and family. The perfect goodbye as E heads off into the sunset…

Pony Club de Deauville / 02 31 98 56 24 /

L’Essentiel / 29 rue Mirabeau, Deauville / 02 3187 22 11

*pamplemousse = grapefruit

Les ados…

French Jr moved in this week. Its a temporary arrangement as he changes flats, which is something of a shock to the system for all of us. He’s sleeping on the couch, in the living room, just 1.5 meters from my desk, which explains why it is currently 10am and I am still holed up in my bed, computer propped on my knees, trying to sort the sheets of paper from the linen sheets.

It can’t be easy for him, especially when Mr French and I head into the kitchen for our breakfast, turning on lights and clanging around pots before the sun has yet risen. And it is somewhat surreal for my two girls who have never really lived with a boy before. Two teenaged girls who must now share a bathroom with a boy. A hip 22 year old boy.

Day 1 – I go into their bathroom and find not one, not two, but THREE pairs of thong underwear that somehow never found their way into the laundry bin.

“Girls” I shout, “come put your panties away.”
“Relax, its not like anyone is going to see them!”
“Oh yeah, and Jr? You don’t mind Jr seeing your itsy bitsy, teeny weenies?”

3 nanoseconds later the bathroom is spotless, the panties gone, zit creams hidden and sanitary items put in their proper drawers, instead of left in a box on the floor. I can see that I am going to enjoy this.

Day 2 – Mr French has a business dinner and I’m headed out to test Le Grand Pan (excellent btw) with a girl friend. The three kids have dinner together. Later that night, after yelling at the girls for not having taken care of their dinner dishes, I ask them how the evening had gone.
“Horrid,” replied one or the other. “We couldn’t watch a show, or, like, do anything. We just had to sit there and talk. So annoying” Films during mealtime are forbidden, as is singing at the table or dancing on the chairs, but they seem to forget this at every meal so dinner is often a chorus of “No singing at the table”. I’m considering giving the new situation an FB Like.

Last night – We book the tickets to visit E in Chicago this October. M is thrilled and starts packing immediately. There is a moment of total panic when she realizes her leather jacket is missing. I have two younger sisters, lived in University dorms and M is my second daughter. I don’t exactly go into panic mode over missing accessories, unless they are my own. A few phone calls later and she remembers it had been lent to T who accidentally left it at E’s, so E brought it home and it is now at N’s.

I’ve had enough, so I head up the hall into the living room where Jr is deeply invested in his social media. M comes tearing after me. “Moooooooomm, it’s  CA-Ta-strophe!!! We’re going to have to get me some new bras in the US, haven’t you noticed, look my boobs have grown.”

The next sound in the house was a short, dry “Oh” followed by the scurry of mortified footsteps heading back down the hall. Je suis mdr.*

* I am mort de rire (dying with laughter)

On the road

Hossegor is about 7 hours from Paris. We do this ride every summer, swarming in a southerly direction at almost the exact same moment as 1/3 of the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern France. Every family has their secrets for beating the traffic. Some leave a day early, some fly, others take the train. Mr French likes to leave at an un-godly hour, so we get up at 4am and head through the city to the Périph, direction Orléans. Then we start to debate if it is better to take the A6a or A6b. I always opt for the a and it is always the better option, but we have the discussion anyway. This is particularly lively when we are driving separate cars and our kids have to answer our cellphones, acting as go betweens. Its a real highlight for them, and I’m thrilled that we’re creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Then we reach the A10 and it is a straight shot to Bordeaux. I know that we’re really on our way when we see the Fleches des Cathédrals

This is meant to be a vacation, so we try to keep it pleasant, by stopping somewhere for the night along the way. One year we stayed at Dax where there are thermal springs serving the 90+ crowd, creating even more memories that our kids will cherish almost as much as fielding our phone calls.

Last year we headed out on the 14th of July and Bastille Day in Bordeaux, watching the fireworks from the rooftop of our very charming hotel, for memories that will help our kids forgive us for the phones calls and evenings in sleepy towns for the infirm.

Along the road we spot hot air balloons above what were once royal hunting grounds in the Loire. Then sunflower fields start speeding past. Finally, we reach the Condom vineyards of Armagnac (the really is the name of the town… Condom. A great source of childish delight for some). Before we know it (or not soon enough, depending on the mood in the car and the traffic along the way) we are crossing the Gironde river and on the Bordeaux ring road.

Just south of Bordeaux we spot the maritime pines trees of the Landes region, and we have arrived, let the memories roll!!!

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