Chez Chevrier

Sleep, school, study, eat, sleep – repeat cycle. With that being said, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home and hanging out with the french family. So, thanks to my hermit status, I thought this was the perfect time to give you a tour of the typical french home. And to kill two birds with one stone, let’s have a little french lesson.

First things first, the word chez means “at the home of”. All over France you hear people saying chez this, chez that and it basically means at someone’s home. For example:
Chez moi – my home (could mean the actual residence, city or country where I live)
Chez toi/vous – your home
Chez dentist – the dentist’s home (meaning his place of business)
Chez Chevrier – the Chevrier’s (as in my in-laws) home

You get the point.  I present to you, Chez Chevrier:

My room is the top window on the right.

Doors (les portes)/Windows (les fenêtres)/Basement (le sous-sol)/Garage (le garage). I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone come in the front door. Friends and family arrive at the windows to say hello. In fact, there are a few doors that one might even call a window. I say this because most of the doors and windows open the same way and there are no screens.  What I dislike most about the doors here is that you must have a key to leave. This is my mom speaking, “What if there’s a fire?”.  And in America, that would be a predicament, but here, you could just go out the window/door.  I almost always enter in the basement, which is also the garage. An interesting aspect of the french basement is that most of them have a wine cellar (une cave). Also, check out the cute, little washer and dryer.

Window/Door

Baby Washer & Dryer

Wine Cellar

Living Room

Living Room (Le salon). Really, this room could be burned to the ground and french life would not be affected. The only time you ever use this room is when you have company. Now, I know what you American’s are thinking, because I think it all the time…”Don’t you watch TV here?” Not really.

Kitchen

Kitchen (La cuisine). This is where the action happens in France! All food is eaten here. Rarely is there an exception. Also, this is where Jean-Paul watches TV at night. I thought this might be something done only at chez Chevrier, but after visiting other homes, I’ve confirmed the TV in the kitchen is a french thing. Another interesting part of the kitchen is the fridge (le frigidaire), which is to the left of the microwave and looks like a cupboard built into the wall. Note, there is no freezer (that’s in the basement). Oh, and there is no such thing as a garbage disposal in France, which explains why Fabien never uses ours. (:

Bathroom

The confusing shower

Toilet Room

The Bathroom (la salle de bains). Normally, in Europe, the bathroom consists of the shower (la douche, seriously), a bath tub (la baignoire) and a sink (le lavabo). Before we address the obvious missing link, let’s talk about the shower/bath combo. Notice how the shower doesn’t have a hanger for the shower head? This is something I will never understand and will never get used to in Europe. These types of bath/showers are all over France and become the frequent topic of conversation among the Americans at school. None of us know how to use it properly and we’ve all agreed that it’s not very comforting. I am fortunate because at chez moi there is another shower with a hanging head. Why, Europe? Why? Okay, I’m finished. Let’s talk about why the toilet isn’t here.

The toilet (la toilette). Contrary to popular American belief, most french homes do not have a bidet. In fact, I have only see one of these since arriving and it was at an older person’s home next to a regular toilet. Now, here’s something I like about European bathrooms- the toilet is its own separate room, as it should be. This separate room concept gives you great privacy and avoids the predicament of someone (most likely a husband) trying to use the toilet when your taking a relaxing bath. No thanks! Also, most of the toilets here have a 2 flush option. For “things” requiring more flush, push “#2” and for those requiring less, push “#1”.  The one bad point about this concept is that there is typically no direct sink to wash your hands post utilization.

The Bedroom (la chambre). Things here are pretty status quo. One of my favorite things about french homes (and apartments) is that nearly all the windows and doors have shutters (les volets) which make for wonderful sleep-ins on the weekend (gros do-do).

Nougat - Scout - Panpan

The Cat (le chat). No french family is complete without a cat or at least that’s what I explained to Jean-Paul after my brother-in-law moved taking his two cats with him. After a few days of Corinne and I begging and making sad faces, Jean-Paul agreed we could get a kitten. So, I present to you, the kitten (le chaton). His previous owners called him Nougat, but we have been toying with changing his name to Scout (the name of a friends cat who he resembles) or Panpan (the name of Thumper in the french version of Bambi because of the way he sits). Feel free to chime in with your preference of name.

So, I hope you enjoyed the tour of a typical french home. Speaking of home, I am headed to chez moi (the US) tomorrow for 2 weeks of vacation and I am soooooooooo ready. When I return to France in March, I’m looking forward to visiting London, Provence, Marseilles, Rome, Florence and potentially a few other cities. Until then, au revoir! 

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“Home”: Smyrna, Tennessee

Over the past few years, I’ve uncovered a hidden passion in my life – TRAVEL (hence, the travel blog). I love seeing new places, experiencing cultures, adding stamps to my passport and continuously topping the previous trips excitement with the next. However, I also love coming home. Ernest Hemingway said, “There’s something about coming home that reminds you of what you have.” Agree.

Websters defines home as “a place where one lives” which might be one of the most the most limiting and disappointing definitions I’ve ever read. This would mean my response to someone asking me, “Where is your home?” would be “Smryna, Tennessee”. While Fabien & I are here together, this place hardly feels like “home” to either of us, but let me tell you a little bit about this town where we are living.

    • Smyrna is home to approximately 40,000 residents and a 5.2 million square

      Our neighborhood with Nissan in the distance. Looks like we might be the only household without a big truck.

      foot Nissan plant, which produces over 500,000 vehicles per year.

    • On the town corners you will find just about every American chain and because of the large community of foreigners, there are also many independently owned mexican and asian restaurants.
    • Our local watering hole is called (blush) “Willie’s Wet Spot” and, like all small towns, has a super friendly bartender who already knows most of my life story.
    • We are a 5 minute walk to the Stone’s River, which is quite beautiful and dumps

      Stone's River Dam

      into Piercy Priest Lake in Nashville.

    • Downtown Nashville is 30 minutes north and provides anything and everything in the way of entertainment (but nearly no bookstores….grrr).
    • It’s approximately once a day that I get a “Where y’all from?”, which only makes Fabien smile since it’s normally a question he has to answer by himself.
    • Just outside our subdivision are some beautiful country roads. We were really looking forward to biking them, that is until Fabien and his friend were recently chased by 4 dogs.
    •  The downtown is almost cute and consists of establishments called “Country Bride”, “Pop’s Bar” and “Breakin’ Bread-Home Cookin'”.
    • Smyrna’s most famous resident is a confederate war hero named, Sam Davis.

      The cotton fields at the Sam Davis home.

      His home, along with the Stone’s River National Battlefield are local relics. I know it’s a more a matter of southern pride than celebrating the civil war, but I’m not a fan of what this celebration represents. And this Yankee would like to remind y’all who won that war and I think it’s time y’all move on…

All this sounds just great, doesn’t it? I’m sure some of you are cringing and maybe 3 of you are jealous. Honestly, I haven’t determined my feelings yet. I might really love small town, country life, but I also might demand to be taken within walking distance of civilisation at some point. Fortunately, with another adventure just around the corner, I don’t have too much time to stop and smell Smyrna’s roses. My “home” will soon convert into a little village in central France called St. Cyr en Val come January 1st.