Bonjour à tous!
WE’RE ON HOLIDAY AND I’M SO HAPPY.
Goodbye for a week, Paul Valéry. I’m so delighted to finally have some time and energy for actual Erasmus things like going on day trips, seeing friends, sleeping, cooking and speaking French, of which there has been less and less over the past few weeks. Now is the perfect time to ignore our imminent deadlines for coursework, year abroad projects and exams and get back to the tough daily grind that is Erasmus, beginning with a day trip to Sète. It’s tough, but someone has to do it.
Sète is a really gorgeous port town, and as long as you don’t go there expecting to do lots of things, you’ll be as pleased as we were. We caught a bus that took us there in about an hour; when we arrived it was about lunchtime, so we bought a picnic from the supermarket and some baguettes fresh out of the oven (literally, we couldn’t hold them in one hand for too long because they were so hot). Then we made our way down to a beautiful little beach where we ate and played games. It was about 27 degrees and sunny but given that the weather can’t seem to make up its mind at the moment, most of us had dressed for much colder weather and hadn’t worn our swimming stuff, so we were mostly confined to the shade to avoid dying in the heat. That didn’t detract from the enjoyment though.
After lunch and some lazing around, we climbed up the huge hill that nearly killed us but was worth it for the amazing view over Sète and the sea.
After the descent, it was time for a well-earned mini Monaco and cakes before getting back on the bus to Montpellier.
After we got home, we all headed back to Ruth’s house where Huy made us his famous Pho soup (which we still can’t pronounce properly), we drank a lot of wine and we had a practise run of my 21st birthday with a cake Celia had made during the day :)
Quick everyone, pretend to be helping
21st birthday: the run-through
The next day, I did something I’ve been dying to do for ages: French cinema! As we were feeling particularly brave, we decided to go and see an unsubtitled French film called Saint Laurent, which was about, you guessed it, Yves Saint Laurent. Going to the cinema was quite an experience. We decided to go to the cinema called Diagonal just off the Comédie because we get a discount on films there with our culture passes. We arranged to meet at the cinema ten minutes before the film started, because ten minutes is more than enough time to buy a ticket and find a seat, right? Wrong. Of course I was running 10 minutes late anyway so we didn’t actually get to the cinema until the time when the film was supposed to start, but not a problem, we’ll just miss some adverts… or so we thought.
This is what greeted us.
The photo doesn’t really do it justice. Hundreds of French people crammed into a tiny foyer, all waving money and cards and shouting at the one poor man behind the desk who was having to deal with everyone and blatantly ignoring his pleas that everyone please form one line. I’d forgotten just how much the French love cinema; also, being a Sunday, there was very little else for them to do. Eventually, just when I was thinking we might as well go home as we were going to miss so much of the film, a woman climbed up onto the counter and bellowed that all the people who wanted to see Saint Laurent would be seen first as the film was starting. So we pushed through the crowd amidst the irritated whispers of angry French pensioners that we were ‘opportunists’, bought our tickets and finally found a seat in the cinema just before the film started.
I really enjoyed the film itself, partly because it was the kind of thing I’m into, partly because the actor playing Saint Laurent (Gaspard Ulliel) was serious eye candy (in a 70s kind of way) and partly because I understood the French without subtitles, which pleased me no end. To be fair though, there wasn’t an awful lot of talking – in a two and a half hour film there was probably about an hour of dialogue, while the other hour and a half consisted of dramatic glances, smoking, sighs, and drug or sex scenes. Classic French cinema.
The dramatic glances of Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent
The classic dramatic glance
Dramatic glance this way
Dramatic glance that way
Dramatic glance featuring a glass
Dramatic glance featuring his gal pals
Dramatic glance featuring purple
Dramatic glance featuring snakes
Dramatic glance with a hint of sassy
Dramatic glance at himself
Dramatic glance from behind a wall
And finally, the dramatic glance while naked
As it’s almost Halloween, we did a tour of the shops of Montpellier (the nice ones and the not so nice ones) as we scoured the town centre for costumes for Friday’s party. Halloween isn’t really a thing in France, but since it’s pretty much our only chance to dress up while we’re here, we’re getting into the spirit. As are some other members of the French population apparently; the Northampton clown from last year appears to have crossed the Channel with me and has been attacking people in different towns across the South of France.
A lot of Erasmus students have used their week of freedom to go home and visit their friends and family. I’m very lucky because my family are flying out to see me tomorrow, and Matt is coming to visit for a week on Saturday and I’m so excited to see them all. To be honest, though, I’m not really homesick, even though I was expecting to be. I was expecting the crippling kind of homesickness that makes you constantly sad and never feel like doing anything, but it just hasn’t happened. Maybe it’s because I brought some PG tips with me from home. I do miss London, my friends, my family and Northampton (loljk, I don’t miss Northampton in the slightest); I got a little twinge of homesickness when I saw an old man at the tram stop who looked like my granddad, and when I saw a clock in a bar that’s the same as the one that we have in our kitchen at home, but other than that I’m fine. I’m not ready to go home just yet.
One last thing before I go, because it just wouldn’t be a blog post if I didn’t complain about anything. Not so very long ago, I was expecting to get a nice hefty sum of Erasmus grant money before I left for France, which I was really looking forward to because, well, free money. Then we were told that it wasn’t going to be as much as in previous years, but you know, any free money is good free money, right? Then we were told it might arrive a little later than expected, but to hang in there. Now, I am over halfway through my time in France and I’m so far into my overdrafts on not one but two bank accounts that I don’t know if I’ll ever find my way out of them because I’ve been expecting the grant and still the European Commission fail to give us any information about when our grant will appear or how much it will be. That being said, they still insist on hundreds of forms being filled in, signed and stamped by sixteen different official people and returned to their office on time. Well excuse me if my forms are a little late, European Commission, it’s just that I’m running a little low on energy at the moment because thanks to you I haven’t been able to afford to eat for the past week. Only joking, but things are getting a bit tight and I’d like the money I’ve been expecting soon please, EC.
Crossed off the bucket list this week:
- Go to see a French film at the cinema
- Watch an unsubtitled French film and understand almost all of it
- Visit Sète
Thanks for reading, fans.