Monday, January 11, 2010

Day Nine: “This is strange…”

Dec. 31, 2009

Bonsoir! (because it’s currently 6:15pm here.)

We’re going back quite a while now, because we’re finally reaching the END OF DECEMBER.

So, the first thing we did on (errr… *has to check what day of the week that was*…) THURSDAY! was go to Carrefour to shop for school supplies.

Since we hadn’t actually gone to a grocery store (I use this term loosely, since Carrefour is really a supermarché) in France before to actually BUY things, we were all “well, this is strange…”

“This is strange…”

  1. Pillows- So, you know how pillows are usually rectangular? I’m talking about the pillow that you sleep on every night; I’m willing to bet that it’s rectangular, right? Well, not here! Europeans have SQUARE pillows. They’re a bit bigger than our pillows, I guess, but they’re square, which just seems incredibly strange. I mean, in a world of small spaces (cars, apartments, etc.), there are these huge square pillows. (Insert “this is strange…”)
  2. Shopping Carts- The first thing you do when you enter a store to go grocery shopping is take a cart.You leave it to the workers to haul the shopping carts from the pens into the store, and you expect that there will always be shopping carts or baskets right inside the door for your convenience. In France, this is not the case (as we discovered after we got inside and realized we would like a cart). The carts are in pens outside the door, but they’re all chained together. The locks holding the carts together have slots on them to put money in; once you pay, you can take the cart. (We found out later that it’s a token-type thing and not actual money, though I suppose you have to pay for the token? Not sure how that works.) When you return the cart, you lock it back into the other carts and you get your money/token/thingy back.
  3. Fruit- In American grocery stores, fruit is nicely labeled how much for a pound (or a bag, or whatever… since I only ever buy fattie club foods, I’m not exactly certain xD). At the cash register, the cashier weighs your fruit, and you pay for it. Here, you  weigh your own fruit… actually, there’s this guy who has a little stand in the fruit section. He just stands there, really… until somebody comes up with their bag of fruit, which they place on the scales (there’s four). He prints off a sticker that says how much your bag of fruit costs, and sticks it on the bag; after, you are free to continue your shopping. [I wonder what it says in his job description… must be good with stickers; VERY STRENUOUS work environment? xD  I think I would’ve enjoyed that job, once upon a time.]
  4. Grocery Bags- Personally, I think this is good, and we should have expected it; especially with our philosophy on plastic bags. In France, they don’t HAVE plastic (or paper) grocery bags at supermarkets. You can’t just go to the checkout and shove all your purchases in a conveniently-located bag to take it home in. You have to bring your own bag (which is some variety of cloth), and you load it yourself, and you’d better be quick about it, too! (We learned this the hard way, when I had to shove everything into my purse and Dad had to carry a stack of things that were too big for my purse out to the car.)

While we were at Carrefour (not the supermarket, but the centre commercial that is attached), we decided we needed lunch (before we actually bought anything); seeing a sign outside a small “sandwicherie” (everything seems to be  [word]-erie here, but that’s just a gross generalization) advertising “THE AMERICAN”, we decided to try it.

“The American” was supposed to be a sandwich with cheese and some sort of “American” sauce… being Barbeque sauce. We thought it would be, y’know… barbeque, like pulled pork or chicken or something.

When it arrived it looked something like this:

IMG_0466 (There were more “frites” on there, though.)

So “The American” sandwich, as perceived by the French:

Onions (underneath the cheese), “Hamburger Cheese” because they refuse to call it American cheese (I discovered this later), hamburger patties (cut in half so that they fit on the baguette), a little bit of lettuce, fries, ketchup, and barbeque sauce… all on a baguette. Although we are Americans, we ate the fries first. Maybe the French people could eat the American like it (apparently) should be, frites and all. Because seriously, I’m fairly certain I’ve never laughed that much at a sandwich before.

ANYWAY, after our shopping adventure, we headed over to Fréjus-Centre to explore more, since the last time we explored downtown, we only saw the Cathedral.

This time we saw the Roman Arena and wandered around downtown; even though stores near the beach are closed, centreville was still fascinating.

Unfortunately, the arena is being restored or renovated or something of the sort so we couldn’t actually go inside. :(

[Uhh, there would be pictures here but I can’t seem to find them on my computer. Help me out here, Dad!]

(Conclusion: more trips to Fréjus will be necessary in the future. Or to France. As if I didn’t think that would be necessary before.)

I love how modern businesses operate under ancient roofs (fine, the roofs probably aren’t ancient, but the buildings are! ESPECIALLY in comparison to the US!). You can walk down these tiny cobblestone streets that probably haven’t changed much since they were laid, but you can see cars and people in modern clothing walking around as though they don’t know they’re walking on FREAKING history! :O

*nerd moment*

Seriously, though. Walking on history.

(Uhh, I forgot to mention; there seems to be “gangs of girls” here. There are these girls here that walk around in what look like gangs; all scowling, wearing look-alike outfits in all black, and just generally looking intimidating. I think Dad was frightened by them; then again, I was a bit scared intimidated, too!)

Andddd that concludes Day Nine, because I think I’ll shove dinner that night with the Roquis into Day Ten, even though it technically wasn’t. Sorry for the picture-less post! I’ll add pictures once I find ‘em! :)

Hope you’re having a great Monday!

-Aly