The Past Week(s?)

It’s almost vacation! No kidding, it really is. In fact there are several French regions that are already on vacation, which means they only had six weeks of class between Christmas and February vacation.

Here’s something I’ve come to understand about the “winter” (February) and “spring” (April) school vacations in France: it’s ALL about keeping the ski resorts in business. When you’re wondering why Toussaint vacation isn’t staggered and the rest are, it’s because October isn’t ski season. My forays into skiing have been brief and relatively disastrous, so this “winter” vacation I will be staying home (and grading).

In other news, over Christmastime, we finally received the shipment of our first self-financed CD with my band. So if anyone’s interested in that, just holla (it’s €8) (thanks to Shannon for that euro symbol!). You can also check us out for free on our bandcamp page.

Here’s some fun stuff from the Internets from the past week and a half ish:

45 Country Wedding Songs Even Your Hipster Friends Will Love (Lonestar brought me WAY back to high school dances in Texas)

From La Vie en C-Rose: How to Live and Work in France.

Establishing a Peace Accord between Parents and Their Childless Friends

17 Fois où Monoprix est allé beaucoup trop loin

And I am intrigued by bullet journaling. I’m not sure if I could keep it up, but I am wondering if it could be a good tool for work.

The Past Week(s?)

Not a whole lot has been going on lately because I’ve had my butt on the couch most of the time since knee surgery.

J and I did get out to see Anaïs at our village hall last Sunday. No kidding, the local music association got Anaïs to come (well, they paid her obviously) to come to our little suburban village, in the hall where we got married. Anaïs’s last album didn’t take off, but she gave a great show and you could tell she is really talented.

Yesterday morning J left with the regional youth climbing team to this place and I am a bit jealous though okay with not having to take care of any teenagers 24/7 for the moment. That time will come for me, when I go to Slovenia (yay!) with my students in the spring.

We came across a French television series the other night that we actually liked: Dix pour cent. But I still don’t understand why French TV channels think it’s worth it showing two episodes per week on the same night.

Finally, that professor at my alma mater won the Booker Prize.

So, that’s all, I’ll just go back to sitting on the couch now.

Squamish Valley Music Festival

After the wedding, J and I headed up to Squamish, in British Columbia, the so-called “outdoor recreation capital of the world.” We spent one evening at the Squamish Valley Music Festival, seeing Atmosphere and Eminem in concert.

We actually ended up much closer to the stage than this.

We actually ended up much closer to the stage than this for Atmosphere.

A crummy picture but the only one of the general ambiance.

A crummy picture but the only one of the general ambiance.



The festival takes place in the middle of the mountains, so everywhere you look there’s some beautiful view. It’s a big and growing festival, with about 30,000 people per day. We arrived at 7 pm on Sunday, what with the time it took to get our wristbands at Will Call (bad idea, btw… should have had them delivered to sister-in-law’s house)—but we were just in time for the beginning of Atmosphere’s show, which was, to be honest, the reason I went to the festival.

Once I saw them, I felt like I could probably have gone home, but I would have been wrong. Eminem, whose music I don’t really follow so I just know the hits, was epic. It was the closing show of the festival so there were 30,000 people in the audience. He closed with Lose Yourself. Then we spent three hours driving back to North Vancouver to our hotel (normally a 45-minute drive!).

Here’s an official video about the third day (very short).

Squamish Valley Music Festival – Day 3 Recap! from Squamish Festival on Vimeo.

Music This Year

Last year I was lamenting that one of the downsides of living in France is that the musicians I love don’t really tour. Imagine if I’d stayed in Austin, for example, a city with a true wealth of live music and everyone you’d ever want to hear.


In a combination of taking action and getting lucky, things have been rectified this year pretty well. Here’s the schedule of planned and just passed events:

  • July 10th, 2013: Band of Horses, La Rochelle
  • October 10th: Tété, Poitiers
  • October 28th: Josh Ritter, Manchester
  • February 13th: Les Têtes Raides, Poitiers
  • March 21st: Stromae, Angoulême
  • March 27th: Jeanne Cherhal, Poitiers
  • April 10th: Les Ogres de Barback, Poitiers

A lot of this is thanks to the Blaiserie in Poitiers. We saw Tété last night and it was pretty great. And while I’ll probably not see Ryan Adams, Andrew Bird, or Brandi Carlile anytime soon, I may be able to live with that if I keep getting to see shows like these.

Tété at the CSC Blaiserie, Poitiers, October 10th

Tété at the CSC Blaiserie, Poitiers, October 10th, playing a song in the middle of the audience (no zoom on this picture!)

Road Trip

Okay, well, mini road trip. Very mini. Even mini-er than the trip we took up to Evry last weekend for a friend’s housewarming party.

Yesterday evening, after J got off work, we headed to La Rochelle to see one of my favorite bands, Band of Horses. I’d been lamenting how living in France means not seeing my favorite musicians live, since they tend to only come to Paris and only in the middle of the work week (ahem, Tegan & Sarah).

La Rochelle is only an hour and a half drive from here, so we left yesterday around 6:30.

As we got close to La Rochelle, we managed to find a Subway to sit down and eat. At some point, the following conversation took place (in French):

Me: What do you usually eat when you come to Subway?
J: I’ve never been to a Subway before.

At which point I proceeded to share all my childhood Subway memories with him. (Well, a couple anyway.)

In spite of the heat (the venue wasn’t air conditioned) and a half hour delay for the supporting act to start, Band of Horses put on as usual* an excellent, beautiful show.

Afterward, I thought J would want to get home as soon as possible since he of course had work this morning, but he wanted to go into the town center to go to Ernest’s ice cream, the best ice cream in the region, so well-loved, in fact, that there was no question of it being closed at midnight. La Rochelle mid-summer is certainly a more happening place than Poitiers!

Nothing else exciting is planned till I leave for San Francisco on July 25th (train to Paris July 24th, Formule 1 hotel room 25 euros!), to see my brother and to go to Laurel’s wedding (hurray!). I should really be working on my lesson plans every afternoon but I haven’t gotten much done yet.

*I say as usual but I’ve only seen them one other time, at Austin City Limits Music Festival, in 2008.

Facebook is bleeding pictures of us.

The band I play with has done a number of concerts lately and not-so-lately, and we have a bunch coming up. The internet appears to be hemorrhaging pictures of us right now.

I don’t know how many of these links will really work since there are facebook privacy settings involved, but here goes:

Louise Petits Pois at Trouver Sonnette à son Pied

Festi On Air

Festi On Air, different photographer

My Favorite French Music

When I arrived in France as an assistant in 2006, I knew almost nothing about French music, and the French, alternatively, knew nothing about the music I listened to. It was hard to find the kind of French singers I would like when no one knew what I was talking about when I said “The Shins” or “Tegan and Sarah” or “Ryan Adams” when they asked who my favorite artists were.

Since those days, I’ve made some progress. Back in 2006 one of my teachers recommended Bénabar to me, and though musically he isn’t the most interesting of French artists to me, he is a great performer and his lyrics are worth listening to.

(Instead of waiting for the videos to load, you can just listen to the songs on the Spotify playlist up above, though some of the songs don’t show up.)

My second year I got really into Renan Luce as his album had just come out and he was doing a tour (though I never got to see him).

This one is a favorite of mine, though my very favorite song from him is “I was here,” since at that time in my life I had moved three times in three years. (It doesn’t have an official video.)

I also got into Pauline Croze that year. One of her most interesting songs is her cover of “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease, but it doesn’t seem to have a video either. I actually got to see Pauline Croze live when she came to Reims that year.

Since meeting Ju, I’ve been made to listen to (I mean that in the best of ways) a lot of other French music. One of Ju’s favorites is Camille. This is her song about Paris (called incidentally “Paris”).

Ju is also a big fan of Axelle Red and has been known to sing her “Laisse-moi rester femme” energetically in the car. One of my favorites is this one.

Then of course there is Francis Cabrel, who has lots of beautiful songs, but one of my favorites is “L’encre de tes yeux.”

I’m still sometimes late onto the bandwagon, though. This last week I ordered Josh Ritter’s newest album, and it was 8 cents short of free shipping, so I tacked on Raphaël’s break-out album from 2006, Caravane. I’d been wanting it for a while and now it’s in my car CD player and I can’t get enough of it. The whole album is obviously wonderful, but I’ll just put one up here.

That’s it for now… maybe I’ll write a part two of his post seven years from now!