Les vacances d’hiver: deuxième partie

Following mon retour à Colmar, I spent le week-end planning lessons on Red Nose Day (si quelqu’un fancies trying to find one of the red noses with the snorkel face pour moi, feel more than free to), women’s rights and the development of medicine. Not entirely sûre how qualified I am to educate les enfants français on that last one, but I’ll give it a shot. Also, much to my surprise the holy grail of l’administration française arrived: la carte vitale. This is, to put it nicely, nothing short of un cauchemar to obtain; I’ve got all my doigts crossed that its arrival means I’ll (finalement) be refunded for that doctor’s visit. My trip to la laverie involved une conversation with a Yugoslavian girl who, après informing me that she had just got engaged, promptly asked me “Tu es marié? Tu as des enfants?”. Oh mon dieu, bien sûr I don’t! J’ai seulement vingt ans…

Moving onto more exciting nouvelles: la semaine dernière, I learnt to ski. Well, maybe ‘slide-down-a-slope-with-little-grace-but-not-looking-like-a-total-fool’ would be plus accurate, but it’s progress. Après taking le train to Wihr-au-val, where I met Laurence and her family, we drove to the slopes at Schnepfenried. There was significantly less neige than en janvier, but still enough pour faire du ski.

photo 4


Tout d’abord, I was taught how to walk sideways up the slopes en portant les skis, parce qu’il n’y avait pas a lift.


slowly does it

Then, her husband spent quelques heures teaching me the basics, all en français. I rather lost count of combien de fois I heard the phrase “chasse-neige!”. Possibly because mes mouvements n’étaient pas vraiment coordonnés, so for un peu (read: beaucoup) de temps I had some issues controlling la vitesse.



Cependant, given my acute fear of heights/going down a hill trop vite with peu de control, I’ll count it as un succès since I came out of it en vie. By la fin, I had even managed to (vaguely) master les virages without falling over.

photo 2


Pour a mere €12, it was great value! Ensuite, on a mangé quelque chose, before returning home…at which point mes jambes refused to work, and the rest of la journée was spent doing not much.

Le lendemain, Laurence (L., not G.) and I successfully applied to steward at Glastonbury with Oxfam, roll on l’été! To anyone sitting on la clôture about whether or not to do it: do it, you won’t regret it! For plus d’informations: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/stewarding

The following jour, grace à YouTube, I learnt how to assemble a futon in time for l’arrivée of my cousin Catherine and her friend Sierra. Après leaving their suitcases chez moi, it was time for a tour of la ville starting with the number one priorité: la nourriture. After a fuel stop à Bagelstein, we spent time wandering around Colmar avant de prendre un chocolat chaud in a café. We saw ‘American Sniper’ (la deuxième fois pour moi, but it was still so good) au cinéma, in English, before spending the rest of la soirée chez moi.

Après a stop à la boulangerie for breakfast (un croissant chocolat-banane pour moi, what will I do when they’re not dans ma vie in seven weeks’ time?) we took le train to Strasbourg, which, pour la première fois, was sunny toute la journée! After wandering around Place Kléber and seeing some other essential sites touristiques, it was time for un chocolat viennois. Strangely, la chantilly came in a little bowl on the side for you to add to your drink comme vous voulez. Next, we went up la tour de la cathédrale; the views from en haut in the sun were incroyables – you could see all the way across to the Black Forest en Allemagne.


“Strasbourg” and “sunny” don’t often go in the same sentence together


le côté nord


le côté sud (with the Vosges in the background, the Black Forest was to the left)


Catherine, Sierra et moi.

We had un sandwich for lunch in the sun in Place Kléber, before hunting down a giant macaroon (au chocolat pour moi) for dessert. We spent l’après-midi au parc de l’orangerie, before passing the European Parliament and catching un tram back into le centre-ville. We even managed a quick FaceTime to ma tante et mon oncle, result! A trip to the crêperie was sur les cards for the evening; the crêpe pommes with added chantilly was délicieuse.


trop tasty

On Friday, after another breakfast trip to la boulangerie (un escargot aux raisins this time pour moi), dropping Catherine and Sierra à la gare and finding my seemingly lost pour eternity phone under the ever-growing pile of leaflets sur mon bureau it was time for mon train à Genève! Both trains were à l’heure and I arrived in Geneva just avant 16:00. After some time dans le soleil by le lac, it was time for an evening of babysitting which involved making brownies (and getting egg partout), crêpes (slight erreur with the proportions of ingredients) and carrot cake (merci BBC for a super recette!).

After a late-ish night, we were up assez tôt in the morning. First stop: Mt Salève. Located just over la frontière suisse-française, we went up by cable car and got une belvédère fantastique of Geneva.


View from Mt Salève


Mt Salève

There was still un peu de neige, so we walked up to the Buddhist temple, passing an incredible viewpoint of the Alps with Mont Blanc somewhere way in the distance.


Mont Blanc way behind us!


Near the Buddhist temple

After un chocolat chaud in the sun, with some of the brownie, we made our way back into town pour chercher quelque chose à manger. A trip to le supermarché later and we were sitting au bord du lac with our pique-nique.


Jet d’Eau


Jet d’Eau


More Jet d’Eau


Au bord du lac


I was a little addicted to taking photos by this point…

We took a boat across le lac avant d’aller à CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire). The museum is complètement gratuit, with lots of interesting things to read; la seule piece of information that I have retained is that the LHC is in a tunnel with a 27km circumference.


“The Globe of Science and Innovation”, CERN.


CERN, Univers de particules

We then spent the rest of l’après-midi by the lake, complete with another boat trip (pourquoi pas, since boats are covered by a public transport day pass) and a viewing of the real-time flower clock before heading back for fajitas.


Real-time flower clock!


Le coucher du soleil


More Jet d’Eau…


La fin de la journée

Cette soirée-là (on that note, check out la version française of ‘Oh, What a Night’, called ‘Ces soirées là’) we even made it to un bar, aptly named ‘Au bout d’la rue’.

Le dimanche was devoted to packing in toutes les choses touristiques that we didn’t do on Saturday. Premièrement, we saw the Palais des Nations, aka. the United Nations (UN) building, with beaucoup de flags outside.


Nations Unies/ United Nations


Essential touristy photo

Opposite it was the “Broken Chair” sculpture – complete with plein de gens posing as though they were holding up la chaise. Ensuite, we walked to the jardin botanique, which was absolument enormous. Il y avait beaucoup de sun so we made the unanimous decision that it was complètement fine to have an ice cream; une boule orange sanguine was a very good choix. There were also plusieurs greenhouses, complete with an array of cacti, banana/papaya/mango trees and pineapples. To top it off, il y avait aussi a duck pond (featuring les canards mandarin, as seen in Dijon), deer, sheep and goats. Le déjeuner involved another trip to un supermarché, an unfortunate bird-related incident and a nice view of le Jet d’Eau. Pendant l’après-midi we wandered around the Old Town, which included seeing: lots of cannons with quelques mosaics behind them, l’hôtel de ville, la cathédrale Saint-Pierre and le parc – including the Reformation Wall. La vue depuis la cathédrale Saint-Pierre was worth tous les steps to the top!


La vue depuis la cathédrale Saint-Pierre


La cathédrale Saint-Pierre

The last heure or so was spent by le lac, avant d’aller à la gare for me to catch my train. Malheureusement, the train connections were a little merde, so I had une heure et demi to entertain myself at Basel station making the entire journey 4 hours 47 minutes, but it was totally worth it! A huge merci to Olivia for a great tour of Geneva!

Maintenant les vacances are over, and it’s back to le monde du travail…of 12 hours a week, je blague!

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