Sunday, July 03, 2005

Les Grandes Vacances -- School is Out

French school officially ended for the kids last week. It was the start of les grandes vacances, the big vacation. The kids were so happy to be done with school -- pretty much like every other school age child. I was sad because it was the week of goodbyes.

I knew I was in trouble when I almost broke down in tears saying goodbye to the school secretary. When you got in trouble in school, you weren't sent to the principal, you were sent to the secretary. She was tough, firm, but had a kind heart. She had such pearls through the years! For instance, "this school is not a day care where you bring your child in when you feel like it." That was when my son wasn't feeling well in the morning and I brought him in during the lunch hour when he was feeling better. Another favorite... "if I can get in on time, surely you can too." It's not that she didn't have a point on most issues, it was always the delivery.

After school ended on Wednesday, our school (and our sister school in the neighborhood) offered an outing for the children on Thursday. Most of the boys from the class attended the outing called Forest Jump. Apparently, you go to this forest place not too far outside of Paris and the instructors put safety harnesses on you and then hook you to a pulley and you glide down on a rope from one tree to another. It's apparently a lot of fun according to my son.

Around 7pm on Thursday I drove over to the pick up spot about 5 miles away from my home. It was raining and traffic was backed up, but I got there on time. All the parents were waiting on a busy street for the bus to arrive. Once it arrived, the parents walked briskly to the bus door and kids started walking off. After this woman and I were waiting for 5 minutes or so, she starts a conversation with me.....

Her: Do we need to give the instructor our name to release our children from the bus?
Me: I'm not sure.
Her: I just didn't want to be like the French and push ahead to get my child.
Me: I can understand that. I hate the French cutting in thing.
Her: How long have you lived here?
Me: Five years and I haven't gotten used to it. How about you?
Her: 13 years!
Me: I guess some things you never get used to.

The rain stopped, but the traffic was still bad on the way back home. I had to drive around the Arc de Triomphe and it was very congested. I think I spent about 7 minutes inside the traffic circle in stop and go traffic just to get around 200 degrees of the circle. Since I had my ever ready camera next to me, I took a picture when I was stopped for a while. I can count 6 lanes of traffic on the left side of me and there were probably at least 6 lanes on the other side of me too. It's just the craziest traffic circle!

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:23 PM



Auntie M you have written of your bravery/boldness in entries past - but I think driving around the Arc de Triomphe is a darn good example bravery/boldness in Paris! Terry in SF

# posted by Anonymous : 4:37 AM  

I was thinking the exact same thing as "Anonymous" -- I've been here for 17 years, and have "done" the Arc de Triomphe roundabout only twice !! I will go way out of my way to avoid that one...

# posted by Magillicuddy : 11:28 AM  

Wow! The ├ętoile is one of the many reasons I don't want to drive in Paris! I ditto what Terry in SF wrote!

# posted by Oz : 3:01 PM  

The very first day we arrived in France, on the way from the airport, the taxi drove us around, or rather into "le cercle de l'Etoile". My four children, age 7 to 16 at the time, hit the floor. I stoically stayed on my seat but, had I been an ostrich, I would have buried my head under.

Auntie M. we are going to miss your 'journal' as much as you are going to miss France.


Frania W.

# posted by Frania W. : 9:54 PM  

Terry, You just drive around the AdeT slowly and make sure you down hit someone on your right side (who has the right of way). It's not that bad, but during rush hour with inclement weather there are better places to be.
M, 17 years and you've only done it twice! I read in one of those French culture books -- Polly Platt's I think -- that she avoided the Etoile and I thought then that when we got a car I wouldn't do the same thing.
Oz, The Paris driving rules do seem a bit crazy at times.
Frania, Thank you. My first experience with the Etoile was when I was 12 or so and my father went around it. I think he used every swear word going around!

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 9:21 AM  

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