Saturday, June 9, 2012


Found out how honey is made, and watched some bees do their thing.

Honey is separated from wax honeycombs with a centrifuge, i thought that was cool.

Also we got to taste many types of honey. I liked the Miel de Lavande and de Montagne the best, but most of them were really good. Also we tasted pure pollen, which apparently is a legit product that they sell in a jar, but i thought it was a bit nasty.


...are way more common over here than they are in the US. You see more roundabouts than STOP signs (which say "STOP" here, btw. It's a french word too, but i kinda expected "Arrêtez."

I'm wondering WHY they are more common here and i'm not coming up with anything. ???

Friday, June 8, 2012

Group Génépi tasting

Tasted all kinds of Génépi and other liquors produced by this small local distillery this morning.

Started with the hardest (40%), worke our way down to the wine-like stuff (15%). Naturally the tastes were itsy bitsy (~3 mL). My favs: Green Génépi (much less dry than the white), and Violette, a ?lavender-based? drink.

Lots of stuff in Provence is Lavender- flavored. I ate some lavender jam the other day, and you can get lavender ice cream.

Small group outdoors explorin'

Bad weather, so the scheduled hike got canceled.

Most people went to downtown Barcelo, but Hailey and I chose to go automobile-tour the Col de Cayolle, so Bernard took us, and the weather was surprisingly okay. A bit cloudy tho.

(a "col" is the saddle point between 2 mountains that you have to go over if you want to cross them easily.)

Magnificent scenery; took lots of great pics (not posted here).

Touched snow

Saw lots of marmottes, and a hare.


In case of emergency, don't count on ice. I jammed my finger and couldn't find ice anywhere. Brefly considered asking an American to mail me some. My friend has joked that ice is impossible to get in Europe, and i think that might be true.

Wound up making my own ice by soaking a papertowel and putting that in the freezer. Works.

Boulangerie visit

At 11:30 pm we visited a boulangerie (bakery) atelier (~workshop) and watched a guy mix some ingredients in a giant mixer. The dough smelled really good and when you poke it, it's like a cross b/t a temperpedic and waterbed mattress. Twas cool

Music Jam with a Cover Band

Laurent, the schoolteacher im working with, is in a band and plays a mean violin/fiddle. He invited Mary and I to play with them last night, and we went after dinner.

Mary printed some random chords for Jambalaya, What a Wonderful World, You are my Sunshine, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow + What a Wonderful World (by IZ). The chords for the Armstrong version were too tough to play on the spot, so after playing it once (which wasn't bad actually), we stuck to the IZ version, although the tempo change in the middle gave us some serious trouble. We also had to try a key change for the singers (Mary and the recorder player, who knew a bit of English).

Apparently the musicians knew of Louis Armstrong b/c there's some song that goes "Armstrong je ne suis pas noir..." 🎤🎶🎵 They san it for a bit.

This one guy plays harmonica really well. Also there were people on bass, accordian, drums, recorder, and guitar, and Laurent on violin. We played in a room at the school.

We played some French songs I had never heard of, like Mardi Gras or Les Maranguoins, which has a part where they make weird frog noises. They were surprised i had never heard Mardi Gras before. I posted a pic of the lyrics here; anyone recognize it?

More École Primaire

The public primary school classes are pretty hectic; a bunch of classes are mixed for some reason. The teacher said something about how they put 2 grade levels in the same classroom bc if you don't, the kids cut up too much. Also there is some class mixing bc it's near the end of the school year.

On the subject of hecticness: the kids never walk in straight lines; theyre kinda herded like sheep, but theyre generally well behaved.

At recess the kids play "football" (soccer), and they're pretty good.

The kids read aloud some leaflet/booklets (feuilles de chou) about butterflies and wolves. Did you know that butterflies migrate across the Mediterranian every year?

We taught the kids to sing You Are My Sunshine. I went for a song that has specific ties to LA, but is classic enough for all Americans to know it (my next idea is What a Wonderful World). The teacher even recognized the melody. Because the classes were all jumbled up, we had to reteach it like 4 times, since there was always some kids who werent there the time before. I translated the song for the kids. I mistakenly translated "cried" as "crié," but that means "yelled," and luckily the teacher corrected me, bc for some reason he knew that.

The kids' pronunciation was much better than i expected; you'll never get American kids to sing French that well.

I played guitar and Mary sang.

Some kids write with fountain pens, which i found weird.

Rectangular prisms are called "parellelopipeds carrées," which surprised me since parellelopiped is a word i didnt learn till Calc 2 at LSU.

I helped the kids count the faces, edges, and corner-points (faces, angles, et sommets) of 3D shapes, and I helped with some arithmetic word problems. When they carry numbers from one column to the next (in addition, multiplication), they usually do it in their head, making it tough to check.

Then they did some kind of French excercise, which was so easy they didn't need our help.

The teacher decided to take advantage of our presence by having us present LA again, this time using internet images. Showed them alligators, nutria, magnolias, bullfrogs (the teacher specifically asked for this), swamps, cypresses, New Orleans, street signs written in French, Mardi Gras and Katrina. I got a little nervous googling Mardi Gras, and even the wikipedia page had some risqué pics, so i dropped that like a bad habit.

The kids liked gators and Katrina the most. Kids basically just like destructive things. Also big things, like the bullfrog.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I wonder how "country" these are

This is a fairly popular European candy brand; I wonder if "country" in the western sense is a word French people are familiar with, or if that's just the cross-lingual creativity of some candy marketer.

Temperatures/Weather in Barcelo

During the day it's always comfortably cool: 55-70 degrees Farenheit. In the evening and early morning a light jacket is almost always needed.

It rains on some afternoons.

Much better than Louisiana summer weather. Also the air is drier here; chapstick comes in handy.

The town does get real cold in the winter though (snow, skiing...). Couldnt deal w that.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Yet another camera dump

More photos from my camera:

The mold used to make chardons:

Making macarons:

Nozzles drying at the patisserie:

Spooky graveyard entrance: translation: "Always remember that we were where you are, and that you will be where we are one day."


We watched this lady paint/gloss some pottery. She doesn't form the shapes herself, she buys the bowls from a place that presses them with a machine. In her store she also has some pottery spun by a friend of hers that she went to pottery school with. 

The first floor (or basement? it's built on a slope) of the hydraulic wood saw building. This is the paddlewheel, pushed by high-pressure water, driving that belt, and the cam and saw are out of the picture, to the left.

At the Maison du Bois, a wooden bird sculpture. Was made during the annual Wood Festival (Fete du Bois).


Box in the Aix church asking for indulgences. "pour obtenir une bonne mort" means "for obtaining a good death/afterlife"

Greco-Roman ruins:

Another camera dump

Another quick photo upload:

At the Luxembourg Garden:

Notre Dame:


On a cruise

Francois Holland's campaign poster. Obama-styled, and with a slogan saying something that roughly translates to: "a nuisance to Catholics." Apparently this is a winning campaign strategy over here?

Sacre Coeur


Pate', and that's salmon across the table

Sumarian (or something) column topper in the Louvre. Apparently this giant palace had like a hundred of these, at the tops of all these columns in this giant room. Pretty impressive:


Gordes, again:

Louisiana songs??

Anybody know any good Louisiana songs to teach to a class of French kids?

Our current idea is "You are my Sunshine." Anything more Louisiana-ey? Also the melody/chords/words have to be easy to learn.

The teacher seemed to be looking for something more bluesy/cajuny, but I like "You are my Sunshine" b/c it's so classic that any American they meet down the line will know it.



The teacher brought us to his under-construction house and showe us the construction method, known as Colombage. It's the style you see in Dutch, English, German, Belgian, and some northern French houses, in which all of the support comes from a few thick wooden beams, which uually form X's and can be sern from the outside. His particular house used corner-triangles instead of X's, and because of Barcelonette's building style ordinances, the woo is not visible from the outside, only the inside.

All the insulation (which is important; they get snow here) comes from this cannabis-based material. They have bricks of it which can be cut with a chainsaw, and the roof contains it in straw form. The bricks don't support anything; they're like the drywall of an American house. Note that the building has no skeleton/frame; just those few support beams, and filler bricks. Very resistant to earthquakes, since the cannabis blocks are kinda light and mushy.

Très cool!

École Primaire

Because the Bouticycle is relatively boring and the high school and middle school both haven't returned Bernard's calls, I moved onto the public primary school, along with Mary. My decision to go there was literally last-minute.

It was pretty hectic, since one teacher (maitress [i think they even call the male teachers this]) was sick and not there. As soon as we got there, the teacher started telling the students that we were going to give a presentation on Louisiana. WHAT? So with no preparation whatsoever, and in a second language, and to a group of 10-year-olds with short attention spans, i gave what was probably the worst presentation i've ever given.

I tried, though. I mentioned the Mississippi River, the fact that we have marshes instead of beaches, along with many different birds and fish, and put a magnet on our map location. I We told them some LA city names, and they liked Baton Rouge, since it's in French. I explained that the land used to belong to France but was bought from Napolean, therefore LA still has a somewhat French heritage. Also we explained that France helped the US in its Revolution because it disliked Britain. I also told them Tabasco sauce is made in my hometown. They're familiar with it.

I helped with math classwork and half of their French classwork (the part about identifying noun/verb/adjectives). The prepositional phrase stuff got a little complicated; they have lots of classifications.

Their arithmetic is slightly difft from ours; they use different notation for carrying numbers from column to column; somehow they add a 1 to the bottom row or something. A few other things threw me off: their 1's have very large serifs and thus look like upside down v's. Even the teacher does this. Also they use a whole column for the comma (which they use just as we use decimal points), and they draw them big, so they look like 1's.

I also played guitar for one of their Italian songs. They sing in Italian as a way of learning the language. The teacher had a lyric page with chords on it, but the chords were like: Re, Mi, Sim, Dom. I was very confused. Apparently these correspond to notes like do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do, with suffixes for minor, etc. He said this is not a common notation here but that's how it was on the internet. He gave me the page with the normal ABCDEFG chords on it and I struggled to keep up w the singing kids, since I never knew what part of the song they were on (words were in italian).

With the kids we also watched a video on safe pedestrian practices. I learned a bit of vocabulary, and the video was very easy to understand because the actors spoke very clearly an with easy words, since it's a video for kids. We also had a booklet to read from, with a little glossary in the back!

PS: the kids have like 2-3 hours for lunch, during which time they can either go to the cantine or back to their houses. The teacher said there have been numerous attempts to move to te "Anglo-Saxon" model where kids all eat at school, and he thinks the new president (F Holland) will finally push it towards a reality.


Since our stage at the chocolaterie was so cash, some girls jacked it and we got stuck w the Bouticycle, a bike shop. It's a play on the words boutique and bicycle.

We put together a bike, which wasn't hard since in the box it was alteady mostly together.

We didn't talk to the workers that much; there wasn't much to talk about. But i made an effort, and talked about the standard boring stuff: what i'm studying, how many years i have left, what i'm gonna do for a job (he guessed that i would be a teacher), is this our first time in France, do we like it, etc.

I learned the words for brakes, gears, handlebars, pedals, and screwdriver.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Greco-Roman ruins Glanum were pretty interesting, although most of the stones were missing b/c long ago they reused them to construct a nearby city.

Most of the stuff was either a government building or dedicated to some gods. There was a shrine to Hercules with some blocks with writing still in tact. Bernard said that when the Catholic Church took over, they renamed one of the temples to be a shrine to some patron saint.

The girls weren't too interested in all this stuff, but I thought it was cool to try to imagine the city using only its 1ft-tall wall ruins as reference.

St Remy

We stopped in St Remy and they just literally opened the door and said be back here in an hour.

We spli up and I walked around with Taylor, but there wasnt much to see. I had an ice cream. Someone had mentioned Nostradamus's birthplace so we decided to check that out. Getting directions was difficult, mainly because the route itself was difficult. At one point you have to cross some plaza and hit the right road. The people we were asking eventually gave up trying to tell us and just led us there. It was the most boring thing i'd ever srrn. Literally just an apartment building with a sign on it about Nostradamus. Not even an intersting one, either.


Had a Café Crème at the Café des Deux Garçons. I accidently asked for a café au lait and the guy looked at me like i was crazy. Apparently that is a breakfast coffee served in a bowl. Who knew

Cezanne's workshop was pretty boring: a single room containing some things that he painted still lives of. Idk how they can charge an entry fee for that.

Flunch was where we ate lunch: basically like Picadilly. Except more confusing, because half of the things are prepared in advance and the other half are made-to-order, some food you need a ticket for and some food you don't. And instead of everything being on one bar, they're scattered in various bars.

Lots of fountains, and religious statues on the corners of buildings so that lepers and other diseased people could pray without going to church, where the healthy people were.

Also, in the church I saw a box asking for indulgences. I wonder if they still pick up money from it.

Laundry problems

Tried to do a load of laundry with Taylor and Tera.

This washing machine panel looked like some alien spacecraft. Some of the dials didnt even have units on them; just "800 1600 2400 3200." We think it might mean revolutions per hour?

Figuring out washing machies is hard enough in English. Designers need to make more of them like they have them at my apartment: two easy-to-use dials and a single button. No complicated stuff.

We wound up just quitting bc we're not sure if we have the right to use those machines more than once a week (although one use per week for a group of 13 is a bit rare). We'll ask about it tomorrow.

Book Spines

Im not sure if im crazy, but i think the writing on book spines here is upside-down from the way ive seen it in the US.

Avett Brothers

At dinner, all the girls freaked out upon finding out Tera's first boyfriend was an Avett brother. One of them thought she must've misunderstood the world "copain."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Who puts the bread on the table

At dinner you can tell who's French and who's American, b/c Americans all put their bread on their plate, while the French put it straight on the table.