Join us on our new journey to Monaco and Europe! We are so excited, and want to share with you all of our exciting adventures...and maybe some, not so exciting! Thanks for joining us...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

J'ai appris a parler francais!!!

On the 5th of January, I started one of my most memorable experiences here in France...I attened the Institute de Francais...in Villefranche, France. For SIX weeks, I travelled back and forth to Villefranche, five days per week, with lessons from 9 AM until 4:45 PM, and was totally immersed IN the language!
My first two weeks, I studied until I could not keep my eyes open, trying to learn as much as I possibly could...and what a job it was!
I am STILL at it...my confidence to speak is amazing, I am now conversing with folks I have never been able to speak with, because THEY DON'T speak English!
Life here in Monaco and France had been quite limited...I never felt like I was a "part" of the culture here, couldn't order a drink in French, nor so much as French Fries! Pomme frites!
Maintenant, je peux parler francais, et, j'apprenais francais pour quelque fois! J'adore le langue, et je suis tres contente a comprendre le langue! Je marche dans les rues et de sentir que je suis maintenant un participant, non plus un "etranger" ... c'est tres bon! (Now, I can speak French, and, I will learn French for some time! I adore the language, and I am very content to understand the language. I walk down the road and feel that I am a now a participant, no longer an outsider! It is GREAT!)
So, enjoy a few photos of this wonderful institute...it's been here for 30 years...my teacher, Magali, is amazing...and I was lucky to have her for SIX FULL weeks, and am continuing to have lessons with her each week!
For me, this IS the total experience!!!
http://www.institutdefrancais.com/index.html
This is the site for the school...do check it out!

OK, Now for the good part!!! Camden!


Dustin, Camden & Crystal...



These are a few of my FAVORITE shots of Camden...from Christmas til now!

Yummy Yummy, Ice cream!


Camden with his cousin, Skylar!!!
Camden & Crystal at the Atlanta Aquarium

If you miss your connection at Christmas, Paris isn't a bad place to BE!!!



We were headed HOME for Christmas, on the 20th of December...and without going into details, we missed our connection to Atlanta in Paris...UGH!!! Air France put us up in a not so great hotel, with a not so great dinner, but, in an AWESOME CITY!!! So, we found where we'd spend the night, got back on the bus, and headed into Paris on the train....and WOW!!!! We were so amazed by the "city of lights"...especially at Christmas. We didn't have much time, but our short walk was just amazing!!! Enjoy this short picture show....of PARIS!!!
video

The Lights of Christmas...In Monaco

It's a new year, so new Christmas Decorations in Monaco...it's like when you plug in the lights to decorate your tree, and they don't work, so...off to the store for new ones...Well here, even if they don't work, they're new!

From Casino Square, with the lavish decorations and lights....



To the Hermitage adorning the most modern of decorations!

And onto the Port, where the live Provence Village is set up...with a crepery, thick Italian Hot cocoa, a daring Ferris Wheel, and Again, Pere Noel ( Father Christmas)...

If it's Christmas in France, the Creche's are abundant!!!




On another, blue skied Sunday in France, early in December, Art and I took a ride to a town that is famous for it's 400 plus creches. Every year since 1998, this medieval village, north of Nice, perched high on a cliff, celebrates the birth of our Lord with almost every villager displaying a creche, in virtually every nook and cranny, along their ancient stone lined steps, up, down, through and around their village!!! You could not blink for fear you would MISS a special creche! The sizes ranged from a creche made in a walnut shell, to a life size creche at the entrance of the village.

On this special day, we were lucky to have a visit by "Pere Noel" along with his donkey, angel children, the farmer, and the maiden...what luck we had this special Sunday, at Christmas time.

Blue Skies, Lots of Snow, LET'S GO, TO LIMONE, Italy!!!





First Saturday in December, the skies were clear, and we knew it had just snowed...so, OFF we went, with Peter and Rosy Dunn, to Limone, Italy, for the day! This town is just an hour and a half drive from Monaco, into Italy to our East and then North...towards Cuneo!


The drive was wonderful, and we never hit snow til we went through the tunnel that leads into Limone. And on the other side, WHAT SNOW THERE WAS!!! Oh My Goodness...almost a meter. The village was quite clear of the snow, but the rooftops were full! We found Limone to be quite charming.

As to keep the tradition of most European Villages, there was a beautiful church in the center of the town, lots of restaurants, and quite a few "ski" shops. Our first order of business was to decide WHERE to have our lunch...or at least, book our table! All the businesses, except the cafe's, close down at 12:30, and open again three hours later! So, it was strictly window shopping for us...

Our lunch was scrumptious, and always includes a charming bottle of wine...Afterwards we took another walk, to work off just a touch of the pasta we consumed!!!


On our way home, the sky was just right for a photo opportunity of Monaco from "above"...

Snow in the mountains!




The last weekend of November, our good friend, Peter Dunn, called and said, let's go find some snow! He has a Range Rover, four wheel drive, with WINTER tires...
Off we went...towards La Foux d'Allos...

As we climbed into the Alps, the snow got heavier and heavier, and the roads were not in the best of conditions. The views were spectacular, and we had to turn back before we got to the pass that would lead us to this mountain village, but, it still gave us a bit of the gorgeous views of the mountain villages. You might recognize, this is our Xmas card photo, taken by Peter...in the Alps...

Heading BACK towards home, we searched for the perfect spot for our "French Lunch" and we came into a sleepy little village, Annot. The slushy streets kept folks from wandering around, but we entered a darling little hotel, with a charming, wood paneled dining room, and a BLARING fire! Just what we were looking for. Luck was on our side when we were able to sit directly in front of this fire, and enjoy the plat du jour. Warm, hot food, une piche' du vin, and voila! A perfect afternoon!

This is a place to remember, not far from home, yet half way to our mountain FIX!!!

We REALLY CAN see Corsica!!!


Another lovely morning, at first light, we were able to see the island of Corsica! This island is about 60 Km from the coast of France. Ferries run several times a day from many coastal towns. The island is part of France. We are told, this is just a reflection, and it is only visible when the conditions are just right. It sure makes for a pretty sunrise!

Grotto di Toriano, Italy


The beginning of November, our dear friends, Valentina and Claudio, residents of Monaco, but Italians by birth, took us for a wonderful day into Italy. Claudio just bought a NEW Jeep Grand Cherokee, and wanted to show it off to us Americans....what a great ride we had.
First we went to a darling seaside village on the ligurian coast of Italy, not more than an hours ride from Monaco...Alessio!!! Here we took a very quiet walk, along the seaside as well as through the quaint village.

There were charming shops, and of course, the most tantalizing patisseries...with mounds of sweets in their windows.

Along with the aroma of fresh baked breads...in the boulangeries. WOW, what a morning...our mouths were watering. We dined outside of a small cafe', and we ordered spaghetti al mare and gnocchi!!! Yes, it was as good as it sounds. A bottle of chianti, some fresh bread, and of course, a bottle of sparkling water, and we were set!

We were in need of a walk, but got back in the jeep, and headed north to the Grotto di Toriano...well worth the trip! We took a tour, and of course, the guide spoke only Italian. We were able to follow along....knowing one type grows up, one grows down!

Sunrise in Monaco, Late Autumn!!


In the early mornings the colors of Monaco are most vibrant. The entire city is cast with a terracotta glow. I love first light, and this morning, the sky was filled with the most gorgeous sunrise! I must share. This is from our terrace, obviously, looking to the EAST....

Arne Ellis William's 2nd Birthday, in France



On the 10th of November, Art's business partner's son, turned two. They had a very lovely birthday party for him at their chateau in Roquefort les Pins, in the Var, just west of Monaco, in France. Their home is a renovated 300 year old farm house with charm and elegance. But, their pool and pool house, is just gorgeous! There was a succulent pig roasting, loads of gorgeous food and drink, and of course, a cake in the shape of a Container Ship!!! How Cool! Babies, children, and grownups all had a wonderful time!




There was swimming galore by the children...and of course, a fire in the pool house to warm up by!




The crowd was very international, with English, American, Norwegian, Sweedish, Italian, French, Philippine, Irish, and I'm sure a few nationalities I've missed!!! Arne may not remember this fine day, but the rest of us will not!!!

I'm BACK at it...



OK, I'm guilty...of not posting to my blog in a very very very long time! Not because I haven't been doing anything here, but just because time has gotten away from me.

So, let's start with a day, last October, when Art and I went down to the Go Cart Races in Monaco....PROFESSIONAL GO CART RACING!!! The track was set up in the port...and as we approached the port, we could hear the high pitched whining of the engines...squealing tires, and the announcer's chants....It was the 12th Monaco Kart Cup!!! And was it cool! They had pits set up, with tents and lots of spare parts...and a track, with hair pin turns...up and down hills, straight aways and all! Way cool! The only problem is, we weren't driving them!!!

We have absolutely NO clue who won each class...girls races, guys races, mixed races, kids races...about everything you could think of. Big carts, little carts...just amazing the money spent. I'm sure there was some good prize money, but I am sure there were a lot more cars than prize money!!!

I'm even posting a video for you to see the SPEED they went! Monaco...this country never ceases to amaze me!!! video