In the run up to holidays, we've had some fun outings which have been a nice addition.
Tuesday night we were invited to Helene, Christophe and girls' house for paella and Elena got to have a sleep over with Estelle. Really nice time hanging out in a house, conversing in French (though more taxing in the evening) and spending family time together. As Christophe had spent 3 years working on the base in Salon de Provence, he was a willing resource to list all the places we should see for our upcoming week (Marco has 2, just not to tour).
Wednesday night was a surprise outing as Marco texted us in the afternoon to invite us to join his school chums in their after school soccer game. As the weather was so nice that day, the outdoors beckoned so we joined. The girls and I definitely couldn't keep up with a bunch of serious twenty-somethings but Marco held his own and they were kind to let us stand in.
Thursday was a make good for the previous week - we invited Thomas, our Thursday evening tutor charge and Elena's classmate, and his mom Laurence for lemon chicken tagine. Again, lovely to have a social evening to visit together. Funny part was that we both picked up special desserts to share - mine were cupcakes from the local shop (very North American) and hers were stunning treats from Maison Pillon, Toulouse's version of Laduree or Fauchon. Nous avons manger bien.
Friday arrived with much excitement - both the last day of school before vacation and the arrival in the evening of Denise for her weekend visit. The sun shone brightly and we made it through the day however there was an unmistakable drop in temperature so when I arrived at the Metro stop to await Dee's navette, it was damn cold.
Saturday morning kept up Dee's running schedule in preparation for her Paris marathon run so I joined on a bike (oh, you know there's no running for me). Brisk in both temperature and pace, we did well and gave the canal a good run for our money.
In the afternoon, we picked up the rental car to head north one hour (or longer, after the first wrong turn leaving the train station, I made several more before we finally got sorted and enroute) to visit Cahors, the home of Malbec and other grand sites. The weather continued to work against us with bits of blowing snow and sharp winds - I know, no sympathy for the minutes of winter but really, it's not supposed to be like this here in the south of France and we'd just lived through a week of sunny double digits.
We parked, marked out the route straight to the famous 14th century bridge and sited a patisserie to reinforce us on our walk. All for naught - it was seriously windy cold. Bridge viewed quickly and photos snapped in haste for proof, we hightailed it back to the old centre of town for a warm up. Decision over hot chocolate was to cut our losses and head back to Toulouse for dinner - which was a solid move and a lovely local spot.
The following morning was made to stay inside - snow on the roofs and blowing snow became the deterrant to venture out again for "the big run" - sorry, Dee! We bided our time inside until a version of sun tried to peek through the clouds. We took this as our time to move out and head to the market to stock up for stew. With a cerf (deer) bourgnion on the simmer, we were out to find an exhibit of a local Toulousian photographer, Germaine Chamel, from the 30s on and ahead of her time.
Again the path was not direct - we zigged when we should have zagged - and this is why God created iphones. Back on track, we found the exhibition hall - along with many other Toulousians who also did not want to miss the last day of the exhibit.
Very glad we persevered as her photographs were numerous, varied and beautiful - from rugby matches to gypsys from fashion models to politicians and holidays with her family. Lighting was so amazing and she had such an eye - well worth our efforts to get there and fight the crowds.
Rounding up, a yummy if not quickly put together dinner capped our weekend and it was back to the navette stop to get Dee off to the airport (if only Easyjet could have been as efficient!).
So on to holidays and last night, we had what was arguably one of the most fun of our time here yet. We hosted "Canadian Night" at our apartment for Marco's school chums.
As we couldn't possibly cover the gammet of what Canada means in a culinary sense, we chose things we remember as being clearly from our childhood. So I trotted out lasagna for Marco's family - one with pork and one with fried eggplant to cover a veggie option, if needed - and cabbage rolls from mine. Dessert topped with nanaimo bars and banana bread. The girls did fantastic decorations with snowflakes, maple leaves and moose heads posted on the walls. They also attempted to freeze some maple syrup drops to have treats for all - didn't work so they just passed around shots of sirop d'erable as a digestif.
The gang of almost 20 was such a fun group - all younger but really amicable and they've all developed a fun sense of togetherness over their six months. It was a bit bitter sweet too as this is their last week at the school in Toulouse. Next week, it's off to Salon de Provence for two weeks to finish the coursework and then stages (interships) start so some classmates will leave Toulouse.
Highlight for me, other than everyone having a lovely time here together, was when Marco's friend pulled out his accordian - yes, you heard that right (and he's in his early 30s) and started playing. SO FUN! I held back from leaping up to polka - Marco did not - he and his "mec" Arnault were on the dancefloor to entertain. It was a good moment.
We'll finish out the week in Toulouse and then on Saturday, we're off to Salon de Provence for the week - Marco in courses during the day and the girls and I will find our own Provence adventures.
A la prochaine,