Oh, the places you should go….

So, If you haven’t noticed, I have neglected this blog. But hey, I have been having a good time, so blogging wasn’t really on my mind. My time being an au pair is almost over and I am “kind of” ready to come home. I will miss France, but I also miss home. I miss things like ice, target, and Mexican food. To name a few off the top of my head. And of course my family. Especially the little ones, they change too fast when I’m gone. I have instilled a sense of wanderlust in¬†my oldest nephew, so my work is done. We are going to Iceland. I don’t know when, but I will figure it out. My sister and bother in law will have to deal. ūüôā

Leaving France will be hard because even though I have seen a lot, there is still so much I want to see. Being here, everything is just so accessible. I can take a train for 70 euros to ANOTHER COUNTRY for the weekend. Trains are big and comfortable, not like planes.¬†You¬†don’t have to weigh your bags, and the only time¬†I had to go through customs was when I went to the UK because of stupid brexit.

I had a conversation with a French person about Americans traveling in Europe. She said she met some Americans on vacation. They were here for 17 days and were going to each place for 1-2 days. They told her that they were “doing Europe” and she found that so bizarre. I had to explain how flights are expensive, etc. When Europeans “do America”¬†most of them¬†skip the middle. If someone tells me they have been to the US the places are usually California, New York, or Miami. Also, French people have basically all of August off, so they can spend 3-4 weeks in another country if they can afford it.

I have been so lucky to get to do this. I have gotten to go to so many places. I haven’t written anything for months. Since Barcelona I have been to so many great places. Brussels, Lyon, Avignon, London, Amsterdam, Giverny, Etretat, La Salle de Alps to name the main ones. Some were just¬†day trips from Paris, and most were weekend trips¬†where I only stayed one night. Now I know where I want to¬†visit again, and where I don’t.¬†I really loved all of the places I have been, but I have some favorites so far. And,¬†that is what I am going to tell you.

These are the place I think you should go, and why. First off, Normandy if one of my favorite regions in France. I have been there on two¬†day trips and one overnight with travel companies that are run out of Paris. YEP and We Discover Paris, they are good for day trips.¬†If you are coming to Paris, go to Normandy if you have time. I would take three days if possible. A¬†day trip to see Monet’s gardens at Giverny would be amazing if you have time. It’s surreal to go there, and so beautiful.

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Second, Aix-en- Provence, France. This can Include Lyon and¬†Avignon which are nearby. Seriously, if I get married… It would be in a lavender field in Provence. Looking over one of these amazing villages. I¬†had never¬†seen such a breathtaking site until I went to Provence. The lavender doesn’t bloom¬†until early July, so I missed out on that, but I will go back. A road trip through Provence in early July is added to my bucket list.

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Third, London. I loved London. I definitely want to go back. London was very cool. Everyone I met was so nice. I think it also felt more like home because I went to the Plaquemine Lock restaurant and was treated like an old friend. They are so nice there. If you go to London, stop by. I saw¬†the musical An American in Paris. I know, It’s a little clich√©. But, I didn’t want to see Aladdin or The Book of Mormon. There are only so many choices when your on a budget and have a specific date. I am so glad I got to see it. It was absolutely amazing!

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Brussels and Amsterdam are two places I am glad I went but I do not feel a need to return. Brussels was beautiful, but if I go back to Belgium I would like to see Antwerp and Bruges. Amsterdam was cool, but it was so crowded. Most cities that are “touristy” towns have lots of places that you can go to get away from the crowds. Amsterdam is very small so it is a little harder to do that. I¬†did love riding a bike around¬†Amsterdam for two days, though. But, I have never been so tired after a trip.¬†And don’t get me wrong, Amsterdam is beautiful! I spoke to a guy who said that Rotterdam is a lot better. I would love to go back to the Netherlands and explore other areas. So if you go to Amsterdam, make sure and go to Rotterdam, too. I missed out. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And finally, Skiing in the French Alps. This was so beautiful. If you love skiing and want a challenge, go skiing in France. The slopes are much steeper and thinner. You cannot ski on your own, ever. The trails are not marked like in the US. Everyone needs a guide and goes in groups with an instructor, no matter the level. I saw experienced skiers fall down mountains. There were multiple people walking around with slings on. I skied 3/6 days because of bruises on my body from falling. They are intense. Although,¬†the ski passes are cheaper. If I ever ski again it will be in America where trails are wider and there are always fires inside the lodge. Who am I kidding, I’ll probably never ski again. I’m traumatized.

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FIN.

Please like and share… if you like it! Of course¬†ūüôā Love, Jo

 

 

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Tomber sept fois, se reveler huit

P2041177.JPGFall seven times, stand up eight is one of my favorite quotes. It became literal last week when I was in the French Alps skiing. When I say that I fell, I mean that I fell down a mountain. I fell while trying to go up the mountain, also. If you ever go skiing in France I would say if you are not an expert skier to start in a beginner class.¬†Even if they tell you¬†not to.¬†The levels are Green, Blue, Red. I told the lady who placed me in a class that I hadn’t skied in 10 years. She put me in a level that was way too advanced.

On the first day I was on a “dark blue” which means that it is a harder blue, closer to a red. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA Turkish lady in my group injured her knee the first day and was out for the week. I saw countless people with injuries throughout the week.¬†The skiing is¬†just on another level there. I was looking forward to skiing like in Colorado. Where you can go off on your own and have some peaceful alone time. In France, that is only for skiers who know the trails well. They are not marked like in the US. My host dad joked and said that I couldn’t do that because I might end up in Italy. -I think it was a joke.

Overall, I am a pretty good skier. ¬†I can do a dark blue and survive. But, once I bruised my whole body the first day, my level of skiing went from high to low.¬†And now I¬† can’t even do Pilates on a mat and it has been 2 weeks since that first day. The biggest lesson I have learned from this I that skiing is not like a bike. As much as all of the French people want to repeat that to you. If you haven’t been in years, start¬†as a¬†beginner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe best part of the stay was just walking around the town. I walked up and down the mountain. I like walking and taking pictures, and this was the only way I could do it. With the group ski lessons, you can never stop to take pictures. The whole week we were skiing constantly in a group. Every single day you are in a group skiing. Mainly I think because it is hard to get around the mountains without a guide. I think it is more fun when you can go with your family and have a little more freedom.

I do want to go skiing again. Preferably somewhere¬†with my own¬†family. ūüôā And now I have all of the clothes to do it. FYI if you need to buy ski clothes and you are going to ski in Europe, buy everything here. It is so much cheaper than the US. Skiing is cheaper too, but once you add in the flight it becomes about the same P2041226.JPGprice or more expensive.

La Salle de Alps was one of the most beautiful places I have been in my life. The pictures I have included do not do it justice. If you are an avid skier and want a new experience, I would highly recommend it! Another place on my bucket list checked off. Now, What’s next?

 

 

Yes, I am a blog slacker.

I am not good at keeping up with this blog. Mainly because I have been¬†busy these last¬†two weeks. Also because I have been sick and it sucks. Being sick when you live in a foreign country is horrible. Thank God one of my host dads is a doctor, because all of the medicines here are totally different. The best thing I did when packing was bring my “favorite” medicines from the US. It’s getting better everyday, until I go to Paris and walk 3-7 miles and climb¬†15-19 flights of stairs. ūüôā That’s my average according to my iPhone.

Anyways…

I visited the Catacombs about two weeks ago. It is very interesting because you are right in the middle of Paris and then you just walk down some stairs, and bam here are the bones of¬†6 million people?¬†¬†It wasn’t really on my list of things to see, but some girls were going to see it, and I didn’t have anything to do. I would say if you are coming to Paris for 2-3 days put it low on your list. But if you have time¬†it’s cool to see. If you go be prepared to walk a lot and go up and down a lot of stairs.

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I also visited La Marais to go shopping and ended up walking to Notre Dame. This was a really nice day. I went to some vintage shops and looked at ton of clothes. The resale shops in Paris are good quality and packed with clothes. The problem for me is that some of them do not have places to try things on. When I was done looking and I didn’t want to carry anything for the rest of the day I saw that Notre Dame was close by. Meaning that I could see it so I figured I would walk there. The walk is BEAUTIFUL… here are some pictures.

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This past weekend I went to Nuit Blanche, which is a really cool event in Paris where places stay open late and they have special art installations and parties. I unfortunately was still feeling crappy so I didn’t stay out all night. I did, however, go to the Mus√©e du Luxembourg¬†when it would normally be closed.¬†I was there from about 10:30-12:30 pm looking at the Fantin-Latour exhibit. The flowers that he painted are so realistic. The painting of the lilies is my favorite.¬†Also, if you want to know what the guy looks like, he painted himself almost¬†every year. Maybe a¬†narcissist? IDK. I took the VERY LAST train back and FaceTimed¬†Al at 2 am.

I also started school last week.¬†My¬†professors name is¬†Anne. I told my host dad¬†C that I had professor ANN and he did¬†not understand me because I did not pronounce it AHN.:) In class everything is in French. Even when she gives us new vocabulary it is in French. Sometimes I can understand when the describes a French word with other French words, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Thankfully, all of the other girls are at the same level. The activities that we do in class are good. When I know I did 90% right and the 10% I’m not sure of, she will ask me to answer the 10% out loud. I think it is my face. I probably look so nervous when she gets to the 10%. Damn you ANN.

That’s about it for now.

Bonne Journée

Just call me Gigi!

I have been slacking on the blog lately. I really do need to do this more often so I can keep track of my time in France. The past two weeks have mostly been settling in and getting to know family and the kids  that I will be caring for. The kids(J&C) are finally getting used to me. They cannot say Jolie, so they call me Gigi.

I haven’t done many touristy things yet because I was busy, but this week I am going to try to do a lot. I want to go back to the Eiffel tower and take some time for pictures.

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I have found that I have already learned a lot about French culture in my two weeks living in France. I think I will be very comfortable here. I will feel much better once I start school, though. I need to study more French so I can speak a little better!

Some things I have learned so far:

French stereotypes: some are true, and some are not.

1.French people are dirty: not true for the most part. However, you do come across some B.O. on the metro. I know some Americans cannot get over the fact that women here do not shave their armpits. I was next to a woman on the metro who was holding onto the pole right next to me, and I could clearly see her armpit hair. She was clean and nicely dressed. I find its mostly men that stink. The family that I live with shower their kids twice a day. So, it depends on the person, not the nationality.

2.The¬†French don’t eat a lot:¬†The reason why Parisian women are skinny is because they walk everywhere. There is a book about how French women eat and it says they eat small portions of good food. Well, I thought maybe that was true because I live with two men(I’ll call them¬†F&C)¬†as my host family and they eat a lot. However, we went to lunch today and F’s mother ate an appetizer, entr√©e, and dessert. It was not small servings. She is a skinny Parisian woman. Every time I have gone to Paris I walk 5-6 miles. My family here is always telling me I do not eat enough. After dinner they eat cheese and then after cheese they eat cake. It’s a nice change from Americans who find not eating and being on a diet a good thing. Clean eating is the key.

3. French people are rude: This just depends on the person I guess. Most people I have come across have been very nice. I have gone to cafes and they spoke English with me. One waiter asked me if I would rather French or English, because he could tell I knew some of both. However, I smile way too much for Parisians. I am learning not to smile at random people¬†on the street. It’s weird to do it here and¬†you get unwelcome advances from¬†French men.¬†This is city for women with¬†resting bitch face. Come here and you will fit in.

I have noticed a lot of other things while I have been here. French people like to eat very clean and the government invests a lot of money studying what goes into your food. Everything they eat is organic, just look for anything marked BIO in the French market. This is organic products. We eat fresh bread. The meat that the family gets is from the open market. The people who they buy it from say to eat it within 4 days, because there are no preservatives. I have had two different types of French Boudin. It is similar to Boudin from Louisiana, but they have different stuffing. One had apples in it and  was one of my favorite meals so far. As much as they like healthy food, they also love Pringles. Before lunch today, we had Champagne. The snacks with Champagne was mixed nuts and Pringles.

We should adopt the tradition of having Champagne before lunch on Sunday. It was very enjoyable for me. ūüôā I am learning a lot about wine. I tried a Porto, which is a Portuguese wine that is 19% concentrated. I had another wine from a region in Burgundy this week. There are¬†so many regions in Burgundy, though. I forgot the name of this wine. Fun French wine fact:¬†It is illegal in France to add sugar to the wine. The wine is only sweet because of the grape.

I also know why French people do not like dogs. There is dog crap everywhere.¬†When you walk¬†everywhere¬†and you have to be aware and lookout to make sure you do not step in it, I get it. I was walking behind a Parisian woman and her dog on Thursday observing this. She let her dog pee on a trashcan, then the dog peed on someone’s car. I get it now. I understand that there is no grass, and its not like you can bring your dog to Luxembourg Gardens to go to the bathroom. I love dogs and I couldn’t imagine people not liking them, but it all makes sense now.

Tomorrow, I¬†am meeting some au pairs for coffee. It will be a lot of us there and I think a few are going to my school. We are meeting at a caf√© called Caf√© Kitsune. It is in Le Palais Royal, which is near The Louvre. There are some Shops on Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre that I want to visit. I need a backpack for school. My school is in a very¬†upscale neighborhood, so¬†I could not get a backpack near¬†there. To give you an idea, I walk past Lonchamp and Hermes on the way to school, and Chanel is down the street. It’s a nice walk for me.

I was asked if it is as beautiful in person. Yes, it is. I haven’t even seen a lot of Paris yet. My favorite place so far is Basilique du Sacr√©-CŇďur de Montmartre. The view of the whole city from Sacr√©-CŇďur¬†is¬†breathtaking.¬†The musicians¬†on the corners¬†in Montmartre are quintessentially Parisian.¬†The streets are small and a little confusing. This is the first place I had to ask where the metro was. I love it there.

I will try and write more often so I do not have to write a novel next time.

à plus tard

Jolie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving the great state of Louisiana…

In 11 days I will be leaving for Paris, France. It is official, I have my visa and a one way¬†plane ticket. I have been seeing a ton of posts about comments on the floods that say, “Why would you stay there?”My response to these¬†people¬†is that¬†it’s all about the people around us. They don’t get it. Please don’t get angry at the people who live in places that just haven’t experienced southern hospitality. They don’t understand that neighbor helps neighbor. Our friends are family, and we try to¬†treat everyone with kindness.

I am going to miss Louisiana, and it is even harder to leave now.When things like this happen in Louisiana, it makes me love my state even more. I see people doing things for others and not wanting for themselves. I see friends helping clean out houses and tearing down walls. I have friends who have flown down from other states to help other friends of mine. All I see is love, kindness, and respect. I am amazed at the people of Louisiana.

The one thing I have also noticed is that friends whose houses have flooded never stopped caring about those around them. Their lives have been turned upside down, and they still are making sure those around them are helped.We¬†put others first, and that is¬†why I love¬†this state and the people so much.¬†I had one friend message me on Facebook (while his house flooded) to say he couldn’t make it to my house that day for a going away party. He did have the wrong day, but he messaged me and told me that even though there was 4 feet of water in his home.¬†Another friend of mine had about a foot¬†of water¬†in her house. As soon as I found out I asked if I could help. Her first response to me was, “No, no. You have to pack.” The fact that these people around me care so much makes me wish I had more ways to help. C’mon Powerball…ugh¬†I have to buy tickets for that to work.

In closing, all I want to say is I have some amazing friends and family. You all make me sad to leave Louisiana. Yet, you are the ones who push and encourage me to go. This State is strong and resilient. I am glad to call Louisiana home.

 

Love is all you need.
Photo Credit: Dustin Clouatre

 

Love is all you need,

Jolie

And so it begins…

I finally made it to the French Consulate in Houston to apply for my visa today. I should get the visa in 5-15 days according to the French man behind the glass. He said, “Your name is Jolie Hebert?” obviously it was to clarify for visa purposes. However, the facial expression that was added was not necessary.

I am one step closer to officially being an Au pair in Paris. It is a long process and there is a lot of paperwork included to get to the final visa appointment. But, once I got to Houston the meeting took about 15 minutes. Comical, to say the least.

The worst part was the waiting. Waiting for the French government to approve my papers and send my au pair¬†contract. Luckily my family hired an agency to help me with the paperwork. I am going to do a blog post later that¬†explains the process better.¬†FOR EXAMPLE: There is a form called an OFII. Basically, you just have to bring a copy to the Consulate and get it stamped. That’s it.¬†It is to be filled out in France. This information was nowhere to be found on the consulate website or on any blog I have read.

There is so much lost in translation. Thankfully, I am done with this part. The next step is packing. You never truly realize how much stuff you have until you have to pack it into two suitcases and one carry on. Needless to say, many clothing donations have been made.

I encourage everyone who reads this to please leave any packing tips in the comments! I will need them! More updates soon!

 

 

Tomber sept fois, se reveler huit.

To say lot has happened since my last post is an understatement.

I sent all of my papers to France. Translated, originals, copies, etc. I decided I may need to be a translator. When I paid $33/ page to translate documents, I decided that might be a good job. Who knows what the future holds?

All of my information is in France being processed. So, seeing as I don’t have a criminal record, I think I should be accepted. Waiting for the papers to get back to me is excruciating.

I have an appointment set at the Consulat g√©n√©ral de France √† Houston on July 29th. I’m praying that all of the papers that I need get back to Louisiana in time for me to go to Houston and apply for my visa.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of horrible things that happened in the last 30 days. To name a few: Dallas, Nice, and finally Baton Rouge. People are resilient, and we come together in bad times. The quote in the title is one of my favorites that reminds me of this.

“tomber sept fois, se relever huit”(Fall seven times, Stand up eight)-Phillipe Labro

A lot of people have been asking me if I am still moving. Some have told¬†me I shouldn’t go.¬†After everything happened in Nice,¬†my grandmother told me that she didn’t think it was a good time for me to be going to France.

I understand the concern and I am lucky I have so many people who care about me.

However, I am still going. And here’s why.

I will not let these horrible people change the course of my life and happiness. If you are thinking of changing any plans out of fear, DO NOT do it.

Now, lets all be happy and live our dreams! Whether it is traveling the world, having a family, owning a home, or skydiving. Seriously though, “small” dreams are important, too!

Go do it and avoid ALL the people who bring you down.

LOVE,

Jolie

drems

 

 

 

Au Paris?

 

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First off… If you’re wOndering why it’s jolie in¬†wAnderland. It’s a play on words. Wanderlust has taken over my life. Get it? ūüôā

I have been dreaming of becoming an au pair in France for a while. It’s been a long time coming. Planning, saving money, and ultimately having enough courage to just go for it. I have been thinking about how I came to this point in my life. The past few years have been hard for me. Thankfully, my family and friends are amazing. I got through it because I have great people in my life. Especially my parents.¬†¬†Somehow, I think I am a¬†better person now. Who said “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” Kelly Clarkson? just kidding. Good song, though.

At that time,¬† I had a lot of rough days. Dreaming of traveling helped me get away from all that was going on. It was my happy place. I am finally in a great place, and ready to go. When I thought about how I came to the decision to¬†be an au pair, I had reservations. I needed to make sure it was the right decision. Is this really what I want? I have thought about this for months.¬†I am definitely ready. I still dream of living in France and traveling around Europe daily. I don’t use it to get away or to be happy. This is what I REALLY want.

I have found a family that I hope I will end up with. They are lovely. I told them about my Epilepsy and the could not have been more understanding. I already find them to be so sweet and welcoming from across the world.

I am starting all of the paperwork for my visa. Crossing my fingers and toes that everything works out. I am making lists of things to do. FYI…I don’t normally do that. I normally just go with it. Let the anxiety begin. Deep breathing begins now. Woosah.

I figured I should write a blog and I wanted to start early. I want to keep track of the process from start to finish. >Find Family >Get a Visa >Packing>Moving>Live in Paris>Travel>Etc. I want to share my experiences before and after I move.

The best is yet to come.

“Ours is a divine journey; therefore, this journey has neither a beginning nor an end… This journey has a goal, but it does not stop at any goal, for it has come to realize that today’s goal is only the starting point of tomorrow’s journey.”-Sri Chinmoy