Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding Home in France

As I step into the boulangerie, the baker flashes me a smile of recognition. There aren't many other Americans waltzing in every morning and mangling the pronunciation of everything in sight.

With my baguette under my arm and a pastry in hand, I stuff the change into my pocket and walk down the street to the farmer’s market.

Moving to Grenoble wasn’t a conscious decision. One day passed and then another and suddenly seven months have swept past me and I'm still here, slinging a basket over my arm and parading from shop to shop in preparation for dinner.

 I brush the flaky bits of pastry from my jacket and swallow the last bite of my chausson aux pommes before pulling out my shopping list.

 Tomates, courgettes, champignons. I load them all into my basket.

The cashier, engulfed in a Gore-Tex jacket, stamps her feet to keep warm as she weighs my stack of misshapen tomatoes.

C'est tout?

Directing my gaze to the rounds of cheese behind her I purchase 200 grams of comté because it's easy to say.

Later as I’m slicing tomatoes and dancing to Serge Gainsbourg, my friends burst into the kitchen, twirling around and theatrically singing along. I smile.

My France is not the Eiffel Tower or the walls of Avignon. It’s the baker grinning as I mispronounce yet another French word, my friends rifling through my cupboards to find the wine glasses, 200 grams of my favorite cheese carefully wrapped in paper. A litany of small beautiful moments that create a familiar space: home. 


Michelle (Confessed Travelholic) said...

Grenoble looks lovely! I have a friend there who I'm planning on visiting when I'm in France. I heard they have really good skiing there!

Paige said...

:) Go, cheese girl, go!

Nikki said...

Michelle, Grenoble is lovely. I think people often take one glance at it and label it as being a bit industrial and well...ugly, but I disagree. Sure it's not Paris or Marseille, but the city does have its charms and the mountains here are spectacular. The skiing is fantastic. Especially the backcountry skiing. The hiking is really great in the summer too. So is the mountain biking. It's really an outdoor lover's paradise.

Paige, hehe. Today's post is for you ;)

lara dunston said...

Thanks so much for entering our contest - I really enjoyed this post!

Apologies for not leaving a note before now - I did get here to take a read, along with the other judges, but it's been a frantic month being our last weeks of our Grantourismo trip, so I forgot to leave a message. I've just realised that I've done that with a few entries this month :(

The entries were all so good this month, so thanks for contributing such a high quality post. At last - at long last - we've announced the winners of our January HomeAway Holiday-Rentals Grantourismo Travel Blogging competition. Details here:

Thanks again for your entry. We're announcing the February contest details a bit later today - the final contest is going to be a very easy one! Please spread the word :)

hunkate said...

love this!
only been through Grenoble on a gray day in Dec '04 (heading to Alpe d'Huez) when i was studying in Nice, but i'd give any city in la France a shot - gotta beat Pittsburgh!

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