We woke up the next day, basically all hung over and tired, and were off to the town of Miramas to celebrate with father’s side of the family. I was aprehensive, because I figured that things couldn’t go more smoothly than the previous evening, and of course I was right. Angès was late getting up, Cédric was the last in the shower, and thus we were sort of late but not really. After about an hour and a half crammed in the car, we arrived to the gorgeous clearly upper-bourgeosie house, which we only saw the anti-room (for guests). It was awkward with this family as they weren’t very social, and I wasn’t spoken to at all. I basically looked at my food and ate, and it lasted five hours at the table. It was truly, a lovely-food nightmare. Lucky for me I was placed between Thérèse, Cédric (my saviour), and across from Madelaine, the Corsican girlfriend of one of the aunts. She spoke to me, butchy, and wouldn’t stop talking about their voyage to Corsica, and it wasn’t awkward because we were both ned additions to the family, and so it was an easy way to connect.

Alcohol was pouring, sadly, in this family, and Angès resisted having fights with aunts and uncles (more difficult than you can imagine). How did she manage? By basically falling alseep! So this is what we ate, and it was devine, but my God was I bloated and felt like I was going to be sick. People kept telling me that I’m not obliged to eat, but my God people, of course I’m obliged to eat what’s put in front of me, otherwise it’s just plain rude damnit!

Apéritif : Feuilletés, brochette de pruneau au lard
Entrée 1 : Fois gras
Entrée 2 : saumon fumé
Entrée 3 : vol-au-vent
Plat : chapon farci accompagné de fagots de haricots verts, endives à la crème
: salade
: fromage
Desserts : îles flottantes, bûches aux fruits, fruits frais, fruits secs, pompe à l’huile, chocolats, biscuits secs.
Café + digestif.

Just thinking about the food makes my stomach turn. We piled back into the car, after members of the family were slightly drunk, and awkward, and went back to our little village. I fell asleep, and heard some things in my sleep that made me sad, but apparently it was amusing because Angès and Cédric thought my head was going to fall off from swaying so much. Note to self: try not to touch people, ever. The day ended with a little mental breakdown before going to sleep, and picking Chris up the next morning.

Cadolive

The magical day has arrived, the day when everything is happy and all of Europe celebrates (more or less). Although there are many non Christian families in Europe, I even saw some foreign people at the stores. Yes that’s right, on the night where Santa comes, Cédric still needed to do some shopping. I couldn’t help but laugh at him, but we descended into Marseille and to the Fnac (great place), and I was correct (surprise surprise). He was thinking that it would be a mad house, and how stupid he was for leaving everything to the last moment (correct), but there was hardly anyone there. The people were kind and gentle, and we managed to get there and back within the hour.

We found a book, some DVDs, and good-looking people on whom we could focus our attention. Apparently I stare, but not more than French people. My staring seems to linger a little bit more, or is put into little blotches, or glances as I like to call them. Cédric commented on this, and I rebutted that I’m not the only one and that Mediterranean people are more invasive than I. We laughed and went into a natural store where I think I could set up camp and live in. It had those awesome UV lights for people that have season depression, I thought to buy one but then saw that it would put me down about 300€ so I thought I better think of taking a monthly plan in order to make my life more functional.

CadoliveCadolive

After arriving back home and preparing for dinner that Martine was getting ready for her side of the family, I got dressed and prepared to be awkward all night with the family. Here is what we ate, whilst we discussed, laughed, and had a lot of wine and food:

Apéritif : Toasts de saumon fumé + feuilletés
Entrée 1 : Foie gras et oignons confis
Entrée 2 : crevettes flambées au pastis
Plat : filet de bœuf, sauce Madère, accompagné de fonds d’artichauts et petits pois + pommes dauphines.
Fromages :
Desserts : Charlotte aux marrons, bûche au café, fruits frais, fruits secs, pompe à l’huile, chocolats, biscuits secs.
Café + digestif.

Needless to say, after the four or five hours there I was a little bit tired, and drunk. The glass you see above you was filled many times, and even Cédric was making fun of me; totally not fair. Not fair at all. So what, it’s the holidays, and the wine is good? Is that a punishment to have a little? Santa visited the little ones, and I straggled off to bed once we cleaned up a little bit. It was well into the night, and the shame was that we had to get up the next morning to visit the other side the family; holy geepers! Merry Christmas too all!

Cadolive

For the umpteenth time since I’ve arrived, the sun is nice and golden in the morning. It brings warmth into my room even though the windows are closed and everyone here is freezing. Luckily for me I’m used to the cold weather, so it’s not a problem for me and it’s basically paradise. I’ve slept in again, which is no surprise considering how tired I am (despite not actually realising it until I’m on vacation). We ate, and prepared our things for the day. Cédric decided that it would be worth the visit to go into the french version of a fjörd, and do a little tour of the towns.

La CiotatLa Ciotat

We had our lunch, and relaxed a little bit and off we were to explore the wide Provençal region! We started by driving to La Ciotat, which is a nice little coastal village where people are nice and there are palm trees. I shit you not, there are palm trees, I took photos to prove it to myself when I’m old and rippled (in other words in about two years). We walked along the boardwalk, and it seemed that we arrived on a really interesting day because once we went walking down the main strip we encountered, low and behold, a little concert band parade. Seriously, there were people dressed up as snow men and other miscellaneous characters with a little band singing, dancing, and moving along. I have a video which I may or may not post in order to prove the craziness that French people contain. I was very amused, it was so awesome it made me nearly cry from laughter.

La CiotatCassis

We climbed the mountain, in car of course. Lord knows that it would probably kill Cédric, and probably me also, but we stopped along the way to see the beautiful mountain views, listen to the people from Aquitaine struggle to speak French, and then the fat German tourists that flooded the mountain that led down to the chic village of Cassis. After getting sort of lost in trying to get into the pathetic (yet cute) attempt at a French Fjörd, we managed to steal parking from an ugly wannabe person that was at the port. It’s a small town with a casino and is not too shabby. We went along the boardwalk, and as I wondered as to whether or not I’d ever have enough money to live in a nice place like this, we stared at the posh people trying to flaunt their riches to us. I just stared at them back, and this caused them to be embarrassed and run away. I managed to get back to the car without being molested, at least not by strangers.

Our next destination was Aubagne, which is a little village where Cédric and Agnès were born! It’s where they lived when they were children before they went to Cadolive. We parked outside Céd’s old house, and went into the lighted city discussing whether or not it would be better to be dating a farmer, butcher, or baker. I choose baker, or farmer. Why you say? It’s all about soft hands. A butcher uses knifes all day and scars leave marks which aren’t smooth. If one burns their hands using an oven, the new skin is often softer than normal skin, and a farmer just has to get up early so it’s not really much loss for me. Bref, we went into the main part of town where I was shown an cinema, which was very small. I also was told that this is the place that Cédric would meet his former girlfriend(s), and spend the time. I thought it charming, considering the circumstances.

The town was glistening with lights, a day before the big ‘eve, and we got cold so we went into this little museum of a famous Provençal writer, who’s name eludes me at this present time. Note to self, look up name of the well known author from Aubagne. This is a place, that Cédric assured me, where his mother took him every weekend to spend time and to look at the little figurine area in the middle which depicts the town as it was and how it’s evolved. We got cold again, and while I was playing with childrens toys (photo attached), and trying to be the size of the miniscule sapin de Noël. We went back to the car talking about things that I dare not recount to the rest of the world.

We came back into the house, the family greeted me and tried to warm me up despite the fact that I wasn’t cold, and the final preparation meal before Christmas was upon us. I was warned by Martine of the gravity of the Christmas situation, and so she (maybe unknowingly) had been training me for about a week. It was a nice meal with Angès and her boyfriend Hubert, who was visiting that day because he worked on Christmas. Apparently he does some lifting, and he wouldn’t stop staring at me. Jean-François assured me that it was because he’s of a different social class and thus is curious and feels too awkward to talk to me. Turns out he has a super thick Provençal-Spanish accent which makes comprehension nearly impossible, but then again its the same with Angès, whom I can understand parfois.

Saint Baume

Day two in the south, and already I’ve been coerced into being crazy French. After the evening at Dominque and Fabrice, we were going to meet them and another family friend to go hiking in the mountains. Mother, Father, Agnès, Cédric and I departed for Sainte-Baume, where we ate a little meal and then we went up into the mountains in search of holly. It’s a tradition that they have been doing since they were kids, so I was happy to take part. It had snowed in the mountains, so after illegally crossing into private property and nearly getting lost (at least in my opinion) we succeeded in finding very minimal amounts of holly. I never saw the real stuff before so it’s quite exciting. I was a “killer” with Mathieu (different one), and Cédric. The others sat around in the rocks and found some herbs and such.

Saint BaumeSaint Baume

We met for another little meal, with tea, cookies, and wine and such. Lots of photos were taking, we had a good laugh, and then decided to head back into the town. The decent was quite left-right and apparently often brings people to be sick. I am fine, as the only thing that goes poorly is boats for me. We had a beautiful sunset, and despite everyone complaining it was freezing cold, I rested without a jacket the entire day (as it was around 10-15°C). The sunset was beautiful, and it made me smile. A lot of little stories were shared, and despite being crammed into a little Renault car, we managed to get back home. I visited Angès’ flat which is right next door, and then we went in for dinner and tea. As usual we are well fed, and then I watched a monument in French culture, Les Bronzés font du ski, which was on TV, being a Sunday night and having tons of shit to watch on! I scattered off to bed, again quite tired from the day outside in the wilderness.

The holidays have arrived, and I’ve found a few moments to recap what has been going on. I will try to be as detailed as possible, as to best facilitate the greatness of my blog, but it may not come out as ordered as I’d hope. On Friday before the vacation, we were called back into work from the strike to teach the struggling students one day of classes. I worked for eight hours, had one of my classes compacted into another. I showed How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas to better celebrate the holiday season and to entice conversation.

I quickly departed from school to Sarah’s house for a holiday gathering of her, her boyfriend Mathieu, Natalie, and Anne-Céline. We drank a lot of champagne (to make up for missing our normal Friday-outing), and then we embarked on our evening out dancing. We went to a few places trying to avoid the crowds of younger people, in our state but alas we ended up going to a nice little place, danced for a few hours and then went home. I seemed to have indigestion problems from champagne, and thus I had to relieve myself in several different forms in the streets of Caen. I’m amazed that I could bring myself to do it, but wow. Enough of that.

I returned home at approximately 03.30, with needing to wake up at 04.30 to get ready and catch my train at 06.08. I had to walk to the train station, since busses are still out of running, but at that hour nothing works anyways, so I took off. I got sort of lost, and in a panic, so I went into a hotel and asked for a taxi, the guy was really nice and convinced me that the train station was closer and I could get there in 5 minutes. Turns out he was right, and I was just panicking. I avoided the masses at the train station, and was approached by 2 homeless men, and 2 flaming homosexuals that seemed to want a threesome. I quickly took my spot in my First Class seat, and off to Paris I went.

Indigestion killed me during the train ride, and I felt a little drunk still and running on nearly no energy. I arrived at Paris-St-Lazare at the scheduled time, and it gave me 1.5 hours to get from Paris-St-Lazare to Paris-Gare de Lyon. Efficiently planned, I sauntered my way from the train (amongst all the Parisians that were waiting for their track numbers – it’s funny, it looked like a creepy movie!), and down into the metro. My suitcase (which was my only one I had) gave my arms massive pains as it weighed more than me, thanks to gifts I was bringing. I got on the number 14, purple line towards Olympiades, and I got off at Gare de Lyon. I stood around for about an hour, waiting for a track number, and then got to my duplex train, first class (which was full), got my laptop out and started watching Grey’s Anatomy until I arrived to Lyon. The woman sitting across from me was having a panic attack, and was crying and flailing around, I was quite irritated, because clearly people were in First class that wouldn’t normally be there.

I arrived at Lyon-Part-Dieu, and found Cédric amongst the many people, and we departed for the Marseille region. We caught up along the way, and talked about random stuff. It was pleasant to see him again, since it’s been nearly two years since I’ve been to Saint-Étienne and Lyon with him and Chris. He was shocked that I wouldn’t eat anything, but I assured him that I was fasting so that I didn’t gain any mass amounts of weight between then, and the New Year. I’m looking to not be a lonely-son-of-a-bitch, after all. He seems to find it funny, I find it a serious issue among other things.

We got to the village near Marseille, Cadolive, where his family lives and I met the family and placed my things where the should have gone. We chilled for awhile in the village, got some bread, and the weeks events were outlined to me. As per tradition, the family goes into the mountains to do some illegal holly picking, so I had to dress warmly (ha! says the Provençal people). We ate a lovely soup, visited some of Cédric’s childhood friends, and then we came home and chilled before going to bed.