Happy Anniversary, Nashville

Technically, if you add up all of the days I’ve slept in the city, they definitely don’t equal a years time, but, November 15th marked the one year anniversary of us making the Nashville area our new home.  And I’m very happy to report that so far we are loving it here. The area is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and we regularly take advantage of the landscape and awesome weather by hiking, running, biking, rollerblading, etc.  So, in addition to that, here’s what we’ve been up to…

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Our 1st weekend in Nashville

Back in August, I joined a running group at my local YMCA and have rekindled my love of the sport. I’m running longer and faster than I ever have thanks to the encouragement of the group. Consisting mostly of housewives, these women give me hope that one day I will be able to maintain my active lifestyle with kids. Don’t get me wrong, these housewives are pretty hard-core. Many of them are training for marathons and other endurance events that I don’t have the stomach for anymore, while raising kids and managing life at home. Seriously, they are amazing and probably the main reason I am enjoying the Smyrna community so much. The coach of the running group also talked me into weekly Boot Camp at a park. The first week, I was so sore I couldn’t sit down or get up without assistance.

The YMCA Running Club after one of the sweaty summer runs.

The YMCA Running Club after one of the sweaty summer runs.

As for my french, I’m hanging in there and trying my best to not forget.  When I returned home we were really good about talking in french all the time, but I have to admit that we’ve both gotten a bit lazy.  However, in July I found out that I did pass the DELF exam (yay!) and I almost cried tears of joy considering where I started from back in January. I have been continuing classes at the Alliance Française and will also have the opportunity to use my skills at my new job (I’ll get to that later).

smyrna-plant

What started out as a big room has turned into a pretty cool assembly line

Fabien is also enjoying life in Tennessee. He’s busier than ever at work after the plant started production in January. And he has been fortunate enough to be playing soccer three times a week – much to my dismay. In the Summer, his team won the Nashville Championship. Then in the fall, the team that he captains, made the comeback of the season after losing their first 2 games. They made it to the finals where Fabien lead the team to victory by scoring both goals in the 2-0 game. He was so excited and I was so excited to have a huge trophy which took up residency on the living room coffee table .

Winning the Smyrna World Cup is pretty exciting.

Winning the Smyrna World Cup is pretty exciting.

And last, but not least, since August, I have been looking for a job and am happy to report that as of last week, I have accepted an offer. The company, Schneider Electric, is french owned and I’ll be working on a team of 8 as the Marketing Communications Coordinator for their Nashville office.  Schneider is huge energy company with over 130,000 employees in 100 countries, so the new industry will give me a nice challenge.  In addition to communications and other marketing projects, I will be using my french abilities to liaise with the french expats in the office. The position really couldn’t have worked out better in terms of company, job responsibilities and future opportunities.  I’m excited to begin work on January 7th!

But of course, I am missing Michigan and France. Between the two of us, we were fortunate to travel to Michigan over 6 times this year (phew) and to France 3 times. So, because it will be a while before I do anymore major traveling, we’ve decided to spend Christmas in the warmth of the Bahamas and take a little road trip through the south. To make it even more great, 4 other friends will be joining us. And, I’ve just renewed the website for another year, so even though I will soon have a normal life, it will be my normal, which means making the best of each day and exploring as many inches of the world as possible. So, here’s to another year of kinda living in Nashville.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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“Home”: St. Cyr en Val

Downtown St. Cyr en Val

When we made our recent move to Smyrna, Tennessee, I wrote a post about my new city. So, its only fair that I tell you a little bit about the place where I’m living now.  This is St. Cyr en Val.  It’s a typical french village 20 minutes south of Orléans, which is a city most famous for it’s Cathedral and being the hometown of Joan of Arc. St. Cyr en Val has 3,170 inhabitants (census 2009) who call themselves St. Cyriennes.

There are a few bakeries, a post office, church, convenience store, car dealership, pharmacy and two restaurants, both of which I have never seen open (welcome to France). Yes, it’s pretty small. However, while out for a run one afternoon, I discovered the village (like our home in Smyrna) also has a picturesque little river.

The adorable little river

The Church of St. Cyr en Val

The car dealership of St. Cyr en Val (LOL)

The church shown is where Fabien and I will get married (again) this July. Nearly every hour during the day, I can hear the church bells play from my bedroom. On Christmas Eve, they played my favorite Christmas song ‘Carole of the Bells’. Even though it was freezing, I opened the bedroom windows and shrieked with excitement. This is also the church where Fabien’s mother had her baptism, communion, confirmation and wedding. Now, it’s Fabien’s turn to complete the quadfectra.

Rue René Godin

In addition, the village is full of family history. His Grandparents, Jean-Claude & Raymonde Godin, are very well-known and loved throughout St. Cyr. The first time I came to France, Jean-Claude told me stories of when he was young and saw the American soldiers come into Orléans during World War II. Jean Claude’s father, René Godin, even has a street named after him.  When René Godin died, he gifted land to his family, which they used to build houses. So, the Chevrier’s live directly behind Corinne’s sister, Valerie, right next door to her brother, Gilles and down the street from her parents who live next door to her other brother, Eric who lives next door to Corinne’s other sister, Veronique. Got all that? Most of you will remember Veronique as the crazy Aunt at from our wedding who ran around taking pictures and speaking french to everyone who only spoke English. Well, can you imagine what it’s like to live in a whole village of crazy French people like her? FUN is the answer! But in all honesty, it’s quite amazing how many family members are in close proximity and how know one is in each others business. They each have their own lives and reserve the weekend for little visits.

I really can’t thank the people in St. Cyr en Val enough for how friendly and patient they have been. Often, I butcher their language while asking for items at the convenience store, but they just give me a gracious smile and hand me what I was asking for where as in a bigger city, I might be considered a nuisance. Overall, the family and residents of the village are the reason I am loving small town life in France.

Oh, and St. Cyr en Val is one quick ride away from this little vacation cottage of Francois the 1st that I visited last weekend (for more pics, click here):

Just a little vacation home...

The Worst Tourist in Paris

First things first – this post is going to disappoint you. Fabien & I went to Paris last week for a few days and I may have been the worst tourist in the city. We went to see the Eiffel Tower the first night but it was so foggy, you could only see to the 1st level. We never went back. I’m a loser. Do as I say and not as I do – Paris is not a city to say, “been there, done that.”

The perfectly decorated Galeries Lafayette - 2011

But, honestly, after visiting the city a 2nd time, under different circumstances than before (ie. our luggage getting jacked from the car on the first day), I fell in love with Paris. Thank God Fabien is in Tennessee otherwise, it might be really difficult to return to Smyrna after being in this city. There’s just something so beautiful about this place. Just like Owen Wilson in the film Midnight in Paris, I love the way the city looks, at night, after it has rained.  It’s little stone streets. It’s Haussmann buildings. The way everything is so perfectly decorated for the holidays. How the cafés are littered with Parisians sitting outside because they would rather smoke than be warm. I don’t even mind the gritty metro which has a certain smell all its own. I love how things are done for beauty and not because someone wants to build something as cheap as possible. I see why it’s called the City of Lights and known as the worlds most romantic town. However, this visit was not about running around the city like a manic making sure I see every amazing and beautiful site. It was about visiting friends and spending quality time with my husband who would be leaving me soon to return to the States.

Sacré Coeur from Buttes Chaumont

We did manage to pass by a few of my favorites – Montmartre, Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees.  Also, I added a few new favorites to the list. Visiting the Galeries Lafayette (see above) and Printemps to see their amazing Christmas displays. Canal Saint Martin where I can invision Amelie throwing stones.  And the best new discovery, the park, Butte Chaumont. I am no expert on Paris, but I am telling you, if you want a beautiful view, go to this park. From the highest point, on a clear day, the view of Sacré Coeur is so stunning it looks as though it’s not even real. In another spot you can see the Eiffel Tower. So, if you only follow one piece of advice I ever give you – go to this park. Don’t waste your time and money going up the Eiffel Tower. I mean, you can’t see the Tower from the Tower.

The China Crew

Our goal was met though. We caught up with old friends from US and China who were gracious enough to let us stay in their adorable, little Parisian apartments.

The Detroit Crew

Aside from seeing our friends, spending time with Fabien and discovering some new favorites in the city, the highlight of my trip was the last night when I got to ride in the driver cabin of the Metro. One of our friends manages a line and asked the driver if he wouldn’t mind giving us a lift. I felt totally special and thought it was super cool to see the veins of one of the oldest subway tunnels (established in 1900) in the world with a panoramic view.

I didn’t even take many pictures. So, not to totally disappoint, I included photos from this year and the last time I visited the city. View them here.