18 October 2010

Grèves & Gastronomie

France is on the verge of imploding, or at the very least that how it seems to me at present. Aside from constant terrorism threats resulting in evacuation of popular areas in the city, the French are currently infuriated at the proposed amendments to the laws concerning national retirement age.  The French president, M. Sarkozy, has proposed changing the retirement age in France from 60 to 62, and the French people are not pleased.  Strikes (grèves, in French) are occurring all over the country, in various sectors.  High schoolers, college students, and of course those approaching retirement age have been turning out in the streets en masse, attempting to change Sarkozy's mind.  Not only does this mean that I keep running into demonstrations at the most inconvenient times, but the reverberations of the strike are being felt on many levels.  Students are blockading their high schools and universities, the metro here in Paris has been running inconsistently, national train services have been interrupted, and major oil refineries are closed.  Oil refineries is the biggest bummer, currently, as my planned vacation beginning on Saturday is dependent upon the planes at Charles de Gaulle having enough fuel to fly... I'm glad to experience this part of French culture, bien sur, but if the strike means that I won't be able to go home to Ireland on Saturday afternoon as planned, I am going to be a very unhappy camper.

Huge demonstration at the Place de la Bastille...  Reminiscent of the techno parade!

Grèves aside, this coming week is my last week of classes at BU, which means I have final exams on Friday.  It's incredible to think that the halfway point is already upon me, but more than being incredible it's really pretty scary.  I feel like I need to kick my derrière into high gear, so I don't fly home with any "I wish I'd done..." thoughts floating through my head!

Adorable French kids racing around a mini track beneath the Eiffel Tower.
Aren't the leaves pretty?
The other evening I left my apartment after having spent the whole day in its cozy confines, surrounded by tissues and vitamin C pills, and I walked north towards the Belleville neighborhood.  I was keen to do a bit of discovering, as time is slipping so quickly away.  Belleville was interesting-  it had a totally different vibe from the rest of the city.  After finding an awesome gift that I plan to send to  my sister Sinéad, I was feeling pretty happy with myself.  On top of the satisfaction of happening upon the perfect present, I was lucky enough to pick up a piping hot baguette  from my boulangerie on the way home -- and, just because I was feeling just a bit sorry for my sneezy self, a tartelette aux framboises.  It was more delicious than I could ever have imagined.  At times like this I feel particularly convinced that the best parts about life in Paris are the small things-  hot baguettes and perfectly sweet desserts not excluded.

This blurry iPhone photo doesn't begin to serve justice to this deliciousness.
I spent the past weekend in Rouen, a city in Normandy.  It was a glorious change of pace from Paris, it felt like a small town though it's really fairly sizeable.   The best part was experiencing a food festival that lasted the duration of my visit-  Streets overflowing with vendors willing to give free samples of traditional cuisine from Normandy.  Lots of seafood, honey, cheese, jam and foie gras... (I'd be lying if I said I didn't sneak a bite or two of foie gras... Shh!)  It was really an awesome time to be in Rouen.  The city was chilly, but we bravely tromped through several intense rain storms yesterday and we faced harsh winds all day today, visiting the famous Cathedral and the spot where Jeanne d'Arc was burned at the stake.  The spot, by the way, is a huge pile of dirt with a tiny commemorative sign.  Bizarrely understated.

Pain des épices, jam, honey.

Inside of the old abbey in Rouen

Andouillette sausage cooked in cider with onions.
I've been trying my hardest to fight off an approaching cold.  Aside from the general woes this brings, I've been struggling with the difficulties of blowing my nose with its new piercing!  Not the best timing for a cold.  On top of the approaching sickness, I've been sleeping horrendously.  My sleep pattern has been frequently interrupted since I've been here; I'll attribute it to a combination of my silly decisions to stay out far too late and the still unfamiliar noises of Paris at night.  (Read: Michael Jackson's greatest hits randomly floating through the air on a Thursday night)  It's nothing too concerning, it's more just an irritation.  I think there is nothing worse than lying awake at 4 in the morning feeling utterly convinced you will never sleep again!
Though I will be sad to leave Paris this coming Saturday, I'm looking forward to some vacation time.  I'll be in Ireland, Spain, and England.  Lots of family and friend time, which I think I'll be needing especially after this upcoming week at school.  Two months from tomorrow, I will be meeting my family at Philadelphia airport, for what will probably be a very tearful reunion.  I'm looking forward to the day, as I miss them each intensely, but I'm sad to see my time slip so quickly.  I can tell already that this is one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  Halfway over already?  That hardly seems fair!  But ne vous inquiétez pas, chéris.  I plan to make the most of it. xo


  1. Nice blog entry today Niamh - the photos came out nicely as well.

  2. Lovely post Niamh - hope the cough is leaving as well as the cold, and hope your travel plans will not be hampered as I know the family are looking forward to seeing you.


  3. there should not be a tag for your blog entitled "Anxiety"! quel horreur!!
    i can't believe your countdown is at 2 months already... how time flies. i hope you're ready for a serious bear hug.
    love you and miss you <3