Lauren Gane

    Lauren Gane is in France with the British Council. She is linked with Borestone Primary in Stirling.

    Entries for December 2014

    Joyeux Noel! Merry Christmas!

    Just two weeks left until the Christmas holidays and it’s definitely feeling like winter over here! There hasn’t been any snow yet (apparently there wasn’t any last year) but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    Last weekend I visited Nantes again to see Alastair and Alex who is also a language assistant here in France and studies at the University of Glasgow. Friday night included dinner in an Indian restaurant (not very French I know!) and then we went to a café called Le Nid which in English means ‘The Nest’. The café is on the 32nd floor at the top of the Tour Bretagne or ‘Brittany Tower’ in Nantes. The theme of a nest runs right through the bar as the tables and chairs are the shape of eggs and there is even a very long seat that is shaped like a bird’s neck.  Although somewhat ambiguous, I think it was either a heron or a goose, but I don’t think anyone really knows! The theme even continues outside, there is a great view of the city of Nantes from the outside terrace on the 32nd floor of ‘the nest’, especially lit up at night. The walls were also decorated with pictures of places around the city, as what better way to plan your excursions around the city for the next few days. It makes a change to a regular tourist office. Finally, we headed back to Alastair’s flat to listen to Christmas songs.

    The next day we headed to the shops which were bustling with Christmas shoppers. A ten minute walk led us to the ‘Museum of the Machines of the Isle of Nantes’ or Les Machines de l’île (I think I mentioned it in a previous blog post) to see the famous mechanical elephant of Nantes. Inspired by Leonardo di Vinci and Jules Verne, the museum is full of fanatical machines such as a huge merry-go-round and the huge elephant. Unfortunately we didn’t get to ride the 12m high elephant that moves at around 1.5mph and can even spray water at passers-by with its trunk, but it was great to be able to get up close to it without risk of getting soaked.  After, we visited the beautiful Botanical Gardens called ‘Jardin des Plantes’ and there was even a pen with some goats. An encounter with an overzealous goat was followed by a wander round the park. There were also some runners in the park who were raising money for the Telethon that was taking place that weekend. This is much like Children in Need in Britain as the Telethon goes on for 30 hours with events taking place all over France such as falling dominos, sponsored sports and bake sales, in order to raise funds for charities.

    On Sunday, I had my first shift at the local little cinema ‘Le Grand Ecran’. With only one screen it shows one or two films a day but is very popular here in Les Herbiers. Almost all the 60-odd people that work there are volunteers, so I am certainly not alone! With 3 other people looking after one showing I had plenty of help to get to grips with my duties and most importantly a French till. My duties include checking the screen is tidy, welcoming customers and tearing tickets, handing out and collecting glasses if the film is 3D, helping with the confectionery stand, thanking customers, cashing up and making sure that everything is shut down and closed correctly. However, I think that the till will take a bit more practice as even some of the locals find it a bit tricky! Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and helped me through my first day. Unfortunately I will still be in Scotland when the cinema has their annual Christmas night out as I would have loved the opportunity to get to know everyone a bit more, but I’m sure there will be plenty more chances. I have done a few more shifts since my daunting first and am really enjoying it as there is always some time to sit down and have a chat and get to know the locals and practice my French a bit more. I even helped decorate the cinema for Christmas which was great fun.

    As for my time at the schools, I am really enjoying working with all the pupils and getting to know them a little better. I love doing Christmas activities as the pupils seem to enjoy it, especially Christmas songs and they already know a lot of British ones. Working with them also helps me learn a little more about Christmas traditions in France which I can then share with you at Borestone.

    I am definitely trying to continue to follow the advice and golden rule of “say yes to everything”. (Now not predominantly because I don’t understand what people say to me!)

    Now, I’m very much looking forward for a few relaxing weeks at home with family and catching up with friends before my return. In the meantime, I hope that you all have a great Christmas and Happy New Year!

    A bientot!

    Related Images
    Joyeux Noel! Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Merry Christmas!

    Tout va bien! All is well!

    So I’m just about to hit the 9th week of my French adventure. It’s not quite the 12th; I’ve heard that that is the magic week number where things star...