Wednesday, May 19, 2010

French School & Lunch!

In a matter of two weeks we've gone from being 'on holiday' and feeling unsettled to really living here. How do we humans acclimate so readily to our surroundings? Things that feel huge before you've done them end up being little medals of courage you can tuck inside your heart after you've succeeded. And sometimes, most of the time, success is measured in the tiniest of ways.

Our first weekend in the new house was the same as for anyone who's just moved. Boxes, boxes everywhere, mattresses on the floor, fishing around for something essential that you know you put in that one perfect place you knew you'd remember but somehow have utterly forgotten. 

I love to watch the kids in a new environment. How they run around inspecting everything. Where does this door lead? What's under here? What are the boundaries of my new space? We have an upstairs terrace with three sets of French doors (yes, they really are) leading onto it. They create two circles between inside and outside when flung open. The Baby couldn't stop spinning. He just kept circling in and out in giggly awe of his new playground. 

Tops on the 'to do' list was school. This was one of my biggest fears coming here. In Ireland I would worry endlessly about how it would be for the kids and if we were awful to do it to them. Being here, I feel like it would be silly to put them anywhere other than French public school. Their ages are perfect for learning a new language and as I am continually reminded--we live in France and they speak French here! 

{Can you see the fear in our eyes?}
Here are the most important and interesting parts of French school, at least to my children. 

First, there is no school on Wednesdays. It is reserved for extra-curricular activities, social clubs, and family time.

Second, one word—dejuener. As most of you know, food is big with my kids and France has opened up incredible new ways of eating to them. On school days they get two hours for lunch. You can either leave them to eat at the cafeteria or you can bring them home. The cafeteria was a major draw for the girlie. After eating cold brown bag lunches of salami and crackers every day in Ireland she was intrigued by the idea of eating lunch at school. And the lunch isn't your typical pizza, sausages, and nuggets either. 

This was the menu on their first day:

        Choux chinois et mais 
        Poulet roti et frîtes
        Mousse au chocolat 

This was no ordinary school lunch. Ma Fille was incredibly impressed. First of all, you don't go through a cafeteria line to collect your food. You find a seat and are then served your lunch. 

First the starter. On this day it was Chinese cabbage and corn in 'a lovely dressing'.This was cleared away and the main course was brought. Is this a restaurant or a school cafeteria? 

The roast chicken wasn't slices of chicken either; there was an entire little poussin for each child. 

Did you get that? An entire small chicken served up whole with French fries on a plate for each child.

You could raise your hand to have them help you cut it which made this experience even more wonderful.

Then came the cheese course which they have every day. Did you know there are more than 100 officially certified cheeses in France? Ma Fille said it was delicious and creamy and we have to buy some at the store.

But the piece de resistance was dessert. Little pots of chocolate mousse described thusly: 'you know those chocolate bars with the bubbles inside? Well, mommy it was like that. The chocolate pudding had bubbles inside!!!!' 

She was 100% won over by the lunch and there's been no looking back. Lamb, boeuf bourguignon, cordon bleu…all on the menu. No joke. I wish I could eat there every day too. No wonder the French love their food.
They are trained from a young age how to eat and to respect the experience of the meal. 

The Middlest came home for lunch that first week and got the extra attention he needed. We had our lunch and took a little rest, making sky drawings with our fingers and recharging his love battery to get him through the day. This week he's had extra French lessons after lunch so he's feeling even happier. He's even scheduled to have a play with his new friend Mateo. 

Today is Wednesday so they're here with me and we're going to the beach. It's a lovely way to break up the week. Can you imagine sitting in a classroom listening to nothing but French all day long? I'm sure their brains are exhausted from all that neuron action. It's a much needed and well deserved break for mes enfants

So many little medals to tuck away, so many little victories.




  1. and on top of that you spent today on the beach - what a hard life ...

  2. I know. I keep pinching myself. Can I post your lunch menu link?


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