The next few days were spent walking around Marseille, eating wonderful food, and visiting friends and family. It was a nice break from jumping all over the place. We visited Thérèse in her comfy apartment which clearly I will never be able to afford, and walked around Marseille and some small little areas. We went to God-mother’s house for lunch one day, and it turned out to be quite the lovely day. It was a heavy pasta lunch, topped off with talking about inappropriate topics such as sex lives, and playing techno music at their wedding. No jokes!

We came home again and relaxed some more, always being in such lovely company, and on the eve of our return back to Saint-Étienne, Frederique and Fabrice, friends of course, had wanted to go to karaoke. So we went out, Angès joined us. The name of the bar was the Coco bongo or something along those lines, on the boardwalk of Marseille. We listened to some people sing, butcher English, French and Italian songs, and then Angès decided to sing “Like a Virgin” by Madonna. Dear Lord Help Us. I know the words, I don’t know the tune. Angès knows the tune, but doesn’t speak any English. It proved quite the experience as we struggled through. We arrived quite late into the night after doing several rounds to pick Agnès up, but we arrived home, I packed up most of my things knowing that we were leaving the next day.

The final day was everyone getting packed up and finding some godly way to get all of our stuff into Cédric’s little car. We managed, magically. We were on the home stretch back to Marseille, and things were getting quite chilly. We stopped and changed drivers and managed to get into Saint Étienne at about dinner time. There waiting were a group of girls from Cédric’s Aïkido club, which were all having a stage there and he’d lent them his apartment. He’s moved since last time, bought his new apartment which is lovely and in a nice quiet area of the city. It need major decoration help, which I’m sure will come with time. The girls prepared some dinner and I awkwardly got on with Sylvaine, Cloë, and Madelaine.

Saint Étienne

We got my bed ready, and I fixed Cédric’s computer or him. Take special note of the fact that I was 1) proposed to tri-marry, 2) proposed to become resident IT-guy, and 3) proposed to move right in when available. I won’t hold them to this, but the prospect could result in future happiness on my part. I watched some X-men films before going to bed, and with Cédric’s stuffed animals cuddled close, I managed to get some sleep. Why did I get the stuffies? Because I’m horribly lonely of course!

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.

MarseilleMarseille

The Monday sun rose upon our faces, through the volets into my room. The sun has not stopped shining since I arrived, and the weather from the south makes me so content, the idea of returning to the dark and gloomy Normandy makes me die a little bit inside. Cédric had a knee-specialist appointment in the 8e of Marseille, so Agnès showed me around a little bit of the city. After going around the coast, all of a sudden, she thought of something that she could show me, which turned out to be wonderful. What was it that she decided on? To cross the city to the other side, and take me to La Baie des Seignes, which is affectionately called Monkey Bay, in English translation. It is a the coast on the south side, which is a bunch of old ruins and islands off the coast. From there we climbed to the top, saw the massive amounts of pollution that were there, and then Cédric called to tell us that he had finished (already). We went back into the city to pick him us, he showed us his grand-mother’s old house, and then we returned to the village, not before running some errands in town to get some Christmas gifts.

Angès had to develop some photos, buy some presents, and Cédric needed to do some stuff as well. The Auchan was packed with crazy Marseillais people searching for gifts at the last minute, and surprisingly there were full shelves and such the entire time! I grabbed some cards and face cream before we checked out. It’s apparently really funny that I buy face cream to prevent wrinkles and discolouring. Cédric mocks me every moment that he can about it, and the only explanation that I can offer to him is that I’m not so gifted in the looks department, so anything to help me look more normal than I am is necessary. We aren’t all as blessed as him to be so gifted with both intelligence and good looks.

So we grabbed Daddy a nice watch on the way out too, and a toothbrush, which seems to be the only thing that I had forgotten in my huge baggage. We returned back to get some bread, after getting a lecture about never leaving stuff in the car because it’s Marseille (moreso Aubagne) and people there go around looking into cars to steal stuff. My only response to this was that I have nothing of value, so if they want to take my scarf then they are more than welcome to because it would just be justified in the way that I’m treated by the world.

I’m currently on Christmas Holidays since Friday. I’m in the south of France, département 13, also known as the area of Marseille. I’m spending it with the family of a friend of mine that I visited a few years ago, and since I’m taking copious amounts of photos and I’m being very touristic I may be a bit delayed in posting the magical events that happen to my life.

To summarise at the current time I’d say the following things: It’s sunny, it’s warm, it’s hospitable, it’s mountainous, and I love it! Only a few more days until Christmas! Oh la vie en provence!!

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.