Chapitre 25: Modern Art Found in a Castle in Lacoste, France

When I first heard that I would be headed to Lacoste as part of a université trip, I assumed that I would also learn about the origins of the famous clothing mark of the same name. Boy, was I wrong! Lacoste is a small village in the “Lubéron” nestled in the Vaucluse department in the south of France.


Despite its Médiévale vibe, Lacoste is open to modernity in the form of art – specifically at the Château du Marquis du Sade.

Arbre de la vie de Ettore Greco

“Arbre de la vie” by Ettore Grec

5 Raisons to step foot in Lacoste:

  • The Château du Marquis du Sade aka Le Château de Lacoste. Château du Marquis de SadeThis Château offers visitors something unique – a rarity – not found in most other castles: Art moderne. Art moderne can be found all throughout the château‘s grounds.
    Château du Marquis de SadeThis display of art moderne is a project by the Savannah School of Art, which is situated just steps from the château. Savannah Art College
  • Plenty of pique-nique space with a view.  LacosteThere’s no better way to enjoy lunch in Lacoste than relaxing on the gravel grounds of the Château du Marquis du Sade and enjoying the view!
  • A step back in time. LacosteWith it’s cobblestone streets and stone steps; it’s wash-house and windmill, Lacoste boasts “cute Médiévale village“. Lacoste
  • Le Forêt des Cèdres. This communal forêt is composed of 94 ha of flora and fauna – not to forget the cèdres trees imported from North Africa. It’s an excellent way to discover that Lacoste is not only the centre-ville! So, lace up your hiking boots or get your bike ready because this national forêt is not to be missed! It’s about a 4 km balade.
  • Le marché de Lacoste. The Lacoste marché takes place every Tuesday from MaiSeptembre.

Lacoste is the lover you never knew existed: With its Médiévale aspects combined with hints of modern artwork and a national forêt, Lacoste will fill any touriste’s dreams in one day. ♦

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.



Chapitre 24: An Adventure Afoot in Lourmarin, France

On the official Lourmarin website, the village boasts that it is “one of the best villages in France.” I wonder how many villages in France actually lay claim to this?


Lourmarin is part of the the “Lubéron région located in the Vaucluse département in the région de Provence – in the south of France.


Lourmarin is an adorable little village nestled in a hillside at the base of the Lubéron massif.


In 2012, my université had a day trip to visite three villages in the gion: Lourmarin, LaCoste, and Roussillon. It was an experience NOT to be missed and one to REPEAT!


I spent most of the morning experiencing the village by foot.


5 raisons to experience Lourmarin on foot:

  • There’s a Renaissance château. The Lourmarin ChâteauThe village boasts a lovely château with quite an histoire! Château de Lourmarin Fortress The château was constructed in three periods: The fortress was built during the XII and XIII centuries, the Vieux Château was created during the XV century, and the Château Neuf was added during the XVI century. Château de Lourmarin 2To save the château from a proposed demolition during the 1920s, historian and industrialist, Robert Laurent Vibert purchased it. With his death, he left the château (and all of its furnishings/art) in the hands of Aix-en-Provence. Every year, the château hosts artists and writers as well as musicians and various cultural events. Be sure to time it right in order to avoid crowds or be one with the crowd.


    A fountain at Château de Lourmarin.

  • There’s a cemetery filled with graves and mausoleums from famous artists and writers among other non-famous people. Lourmarin CemeteryFamous author, Albert Camus’ grave is located in the Lourmarin Cemetery. Albert Camus' graveThere’s nothing better than strolling around a beautiful cemetery after a visit to the Lourmarin château.

    Lourmarin Cemetery

    Watering cans at the cemetery.

  • There’s the infamous Lourmarin marché. The village hosts an open market every Friday from 8:30-13:00 in the centre-ville. It’s a great way to experience the city-center!
  • There’s the Lourmarin wine! One great way to experience Lourmarin is drinking un verre de vin de Lourmarin on a terrasse in Lourmarin. Lourmarin wine is made in the Lubéron région and can be purchased at Les Caves du Château (at the base of the Lourmarin Château), La Cave à Lourmarin in the centre-ville, and many other wine caves that dot its winding streets.
  • There’s the Lourmarin architecture. LourmarinOk so Lourmarin architecture ressembles the typical Mediterranean architecture – the différence being in the colors used. For exemple, Lourmarin is famous for its blue shutters while other villages in southern France boast sea green or lavande shutters. There’s no better way to view such gorgeous blues than to embrace the cobblestone streets of the village on foot. Of course, not all the shutters are blue. 1

While one might need some form of transport to get to this beau village, once arrivé, the village can be completely experienced on foot.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.


The “Right” Way to Raise a Bilingual Baby

Ever since my bébé was born, I’ve been bombarded by advice from innocents people. Some of it is great advice, while others are just not for my bébé nor my parenting style (do I even have a style or am I making this up as I go…?).

Honnêtement, there’s hardly a “right” or “wrong” way of raising a bébé bilingue – you just stick to speaking your langue maternelle and your partner continues to speak his, right?

Wrong. Woah, wait…what?!

Raising a bébé is not all about you speaking the langue to your little pitchoune -it includes exposure to the culture, too. Food, littérature, mannerisms/gestes, sounds, expressions, toys, songs/chants… are all a part of encouraging your bébé to be bilingue.

But, that’s not all. What else goes into raising a bébé bilingue? Well, let’s not forget EVERYTHING that goes into raising a bébé monolingue!

This post is going to focus on one important fact that often gets pushed to the curb: Raising a bébé bilingue is not That much différent than raising a bébé monolingue. The IMPORTANT thing is to stick to your langue EVERY SINGLE TIME (even in public).

Here’s my (incomplète) Liste on How to Raise a Bilingual Baby:


  • Give bébé spices and…rice-cakes. When it comes to spices and lack there of, let your bébé try everything! From Wasabi (it’s too bad I did’t take a photo of that one!) to rice cakes (use caution of course (as with everything!) as rice cakes may not be the best choix for daily consumption), your bébé has the right to taste everything, so, give her the chance! After all, a bébé bilingue need not only be bilingue in the language sense.
  • Give bébé dark chocolat. When it comes to dark chocolat and ice-cream*, say, “Oui!” First of all, your bébé isn’t going to eat a whole bar of chocolat, nor an entire ice-cream cone. Secondly, dark chocolat has a range of benefits: It contains omega 3 fatty acids, flavanoids, antioxydants, all of which are parfait for healthy brain development and in prévention of Cardiovascular Disease. Bien-sûr, fruits and vegetables are a better option, but there’s no need to always be négatif about chocolat. Giving your bébé some chocolat fondu or a spoon of ice-cream is parfaitement healthy.

Nap Time:

  • Let bébé relax where she is. If your bébé falls asleep in her highchair, let her stay there for a little bit. Even if she’s got food in her hands… …or if you’re in the middle of feeding her…Bébé‘s comfortable, so, why move her right away? Bien-sûr, remove the food (and make sure there aren’t any hidden in her mouth – we don’t want bébé to choke)! There’s too much stigma around being the “parfaite maman” (“oh you can’t do that or this or that…”) but all bébé really needs is to be loved and to be left to do bébé things. I suggest waiting until bébé is sound asleep and then move her/him to a crib.


  • Let bébé ring the bell. Your bébé is exploring the world for the first time, so let her participer! Whether you’re at home with wind chimes or at a learning ferme with a blacksmith bell, encourage your bébé to make noise! After all, some sounds aren’t the same in every langue (e.g. animal sounds).
  • Let bébé enjoy a ride at an amusement park! Exploring doesn’t stop at the mouth and hands: Let your bébé explore the world through her/his eyes and ears, too. There’s usually an attraction at most amusement parcs that even a healthy bébé can safely enjoy!
  • Give bébé a raison to laugh. Despite what some recherche suggests, don’t be afraid to make your bébé laugh by throwing her/him into the air.After all, this recherche was discovered as a résultat of parental abuse of this game. To avoid problems, just remember to be safe, careful, use your best judgment, and to not let go.  Or if you do let go, be sure to catch her/him. Or you can jump with bébbé, thus making it fun for both of you!
  • Expose bébé to other bébés. Whether it’s bébés who are also acquiring your langue or not, letting bébé interact with other bébés will help développer bébé‘s social skills.  Bébés learn not only from mom and dad but also from their peers. This article by Reuters briefly explains the study completed by the U.S. National Institutes of Child Health and Development. The article highlights the fact that “children with high-quality childcare scored slightly higher on measures of academic and cognitive achievement years later as teenagers.” The basis of the study was to discover whether or not parents should work during the early years of development; however, it also shows that bébé to bébé interaction helps promote cognitive development. This article by Melinda Wenner adds both a working-mother and journalist’s input to the subject matter: Enrolling bébé in high quality daycare promotes both cognitive and language development but it’s not the only way to help bébé‘s development. That is to say that bébé to bébé interaction does not necessarily mean daycare – it can be playdates, bébégym, or even a baby swimmers classe. So, whether you choose to enroll bébé in childcare or have playdates several times a week, give your bébé that first-hand expérience.
  • Limite screen time, but get bébé in front of it. Screen time can be anything from music (vidéos or just listening to music) to short épisodes of kids shows in the target langue. There’s a lot of négativité on screen time; however, within limits, screen time can be a good thing – especially as support for bilingual bébés. For one, it can expand and reinforce your child’s vocabulary – especially in the target language. For exemple, in many épisodes of Peppa Pig, she plays with a ball, a bike, at the parc, etc…, so, playtime vocabulary such as “catch”, “play”, “ball”, “park”, “slide”, “bike” are learned/reinforced in context. In addition, politeness is also learned and reinforced: “please”, “thank you”, “may I help”…Seeing a child (even if it is a pig) using these words and expressions enables children’s brains to make associations with the word, which then helps reinforce the words.


  • Let bébé brush her “teeth”. Once your bébé begins teething, it’s time to whip out the bébé toothbrush and the non-toxic toothpaste! After all, it’s never too early to start good teeth-brushing habits.
  • Let bébé splash in the bath! Bébé is just learning about water and all its properties, so, let her make a mess! After all, it’s only water (if you fear the wrath of the Splash, then try this splash guard). Also, as bébé grows into her toddler years, don’t be afraid to sit in the tub with her. It’s always more fun to splash together!

This liste is definitely incomplete and I could go on for days! The point is that in a time when moms are often judged and criticized for everything we do and don’t do with our children, we often forget that the person these judges/critiques should really be thinking about is the bébé! This liste is meant to show parents that there’s not really a HUGE différence in raising a bébé bilingue or a bébé monolingue.  Just go with bébé‘s flow and enjoy it before she grows up! Offrir love, plenty of activités, and target langue exposure – the rest just works itself out.

I must be doing something right since my bébé is always happy! ♦

*Letting your bébé try these foods may come with a risque – if he/she is allergique, don’t take the risque! Follow your pediatrician’s or GP’s orders!

TAPIF: The story of…renewals

In 2014, I found the courage to leave nearly everything (inlcuding my job) and everyone behind to move to France. Having a chéri waiting for me at the aéroport certainly helped calme my fears!


I also had a job lined up: I was accepted to work as an an assistant de langue in 3 écoles primaires in Marseille. Finding a job in France is tough enough for actuel Français, so it was nice to know that I had a job for at least 7 mois.

First day on the job: Job Training!

I had such an amazing aventure that in Janvier 2015, I filled out the form to renew the program. This was also the “easiest” way to have a somewhat secured job in France (as noted above: jobs are hard to come by). It was also nice to know that Américains (without a carte de séjour) can renew a second time through the CIEP. The process through the CIEP is less complexe than the process through TAPIF in the USA.

In Juin 2015, I was accepted to work a second year; however, I was placed in a lycée (high school) and a collège (Middle School). This expérience was complètement différente from the first year – and this différence had nothing to do with how hard it was to work with a newborn around.

After a year of job searching while working as an assistante de langue, I decided to renew again for the 2016-2017 school year. In Août 2016, I was accepted again as an assistant, though this time I went directly through the Rectorat as an Assistante Locale. With a carte de séjour vie privée et familiale travailleur, I was able to aply for the assistantship through the Rectorat. I worked at a différent (same city) lycée and a collège – both much more organized than the previous year. I also found a second job (thanks to Pôle Emploi) with the agency O2 Kid Aix as an Enlighs speaking nanny; but it was only part time. So, I decided to do both since the assistant-gig would still be my main job source. This was “easy” for me because I’m vehicle equipped. So, I could get from one job to the other in a more timely manner than if I had to go by transportation public.

I also decided that this would be my last year as an assistant and was even more determined than before to find something more full time and closer to me. This means that I worked as an assistante de langue during the 2014-2015 school year, the 2015-2016 school year, and the 2016-2017 school year. Each experience differing from the last (as I was in différent schools all 3 years). Thus showing that even in the same city, school organisation differs completely – leaving me wondering how “égalité” fit into this situation.

If you’re having trouble deciding on primaire ou secondaire, then let the liste below be a guide on what to expect. It’s important to note that not all expériences are equal. 

Some of the main différences between assisting in primaire and in secondaire:

  • Assisting in primaire
    • I make my own leçons (on basic English concepts).
    • I teach the classe entière (25-30 kids) while the teacher is présent (the teacher only intervenes for disciplinary raisons) or while the teacher is out on a quick smoke/coffee break or making copies.
    • I have very little online accès at the school and no copy machine code (except in those schools where a code is not nécessaire).
    • I have none or very little technologie to use in the classroom. If I want to play a song (such as The Days of the Week), then I must bring my own computer/mp3 player and speakers.
    • I work every planned day (except holidays). If a teacher is absent, I stay at the school either in the “teacher’s lounge” or in the computer lab (if the shcool has one) doing nothing during the 30 minutes or hour of that teacher’s classe
  • Assisting in secondaire
    • Sometimes I make my own leçons (more advanced or BAC focused or BTS focused), while most most days I help the teacher. Some days, I knew the teachers’ leçons in advance and could therefore prépare something; other days, I was informed minutes before the start of classe
    • Either I help the teacher (usually, this consists of walking around and intervening while the students work in groupes) or take half the classe to a separate room for the whole time or for half the time (half the time: 2 groupes of 15 students in a 45 minute period). 
    • Normalement, an internet accès code, a copy machine code, and room keys are provided; however, during the 2015-2016 school year, I ended up having to use the computer code from last year’s assistant and was never given a key, which made taking half the classe to a room (often miles away from the original teacher’s room) quite difficile. During the 2016-2017 school year, I learned that the school is required to give assistants a key – so, remember Rule #1: Don’t hesitate to harcèle the secrétaire, the directeur/ice, and the Rectorat for keys and the codes for computer/internet and copy machine accès.
    • I have accès to computers, speakers, Epson and the internet, so I can show Prezi powerpoints and vidéo clips in the target language. 
    •  I can leave the school when the teacher is absent or for any other raison for classe annulation (this means that I can go home if I have no other classes that day or if I live nearby the school and can return for any later classes). This happens frequently especially during the end of the year with the Bac and the Brevet examens. 

Each TAPIF experience is différent but it’s always good to know a little bit about what is expected of you in the classroom and what is expected of the schools. Remember: In secondiare, you get keys to your own classroom! The person in charge of the assistants in each académie at the rectorat will fight for you on this one as you can’t be of good use if you can’t get into your classroom! ♦

Chapitre 23: Peddle Boating in Les Gorges du Verdon, France


No words can describe this beauté that is uniquely carved between two départementsAlpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Var.


The rivière in the canyon spans over 33 km


and the sommets of the montagnes can be as high as 2,819 m.


Les Gorges du Verdon is considered the largest canyon in Europe


It is also listed as part of a UNESCO world geopark.


5 Raisons to Experience Les Gorges du Verdon by Peddle Boat:

  • It’s a Gorge.3What more is there to say, really?
  • It offers bold, green water. 4There’s no better way to experience this belle water than to peddle boat in it! 3
  • It’s relaxing. 4The Gorges du Verdon has a way of removing the stresses of daily life and then transporting touristes to paradis! Peddle boating only adds to this relaxation in paradis ideal as it offers touristes a way to vue the canyon from the water in a more relaxing way than in a kayak, for exemple.Sure, peddling may seem tough, but it’s actually quite calming when surrounded by 33 km of incredible limestone rock and sediment. 1
  • It’s got caves! 6It wouldn’t be a true gorges without at least 1 cave….5Many are too small for humains to enter, but they sure do photographe well from the peddle boat!
  • The Gorges is easy to photographe from the peddle boat. 2 There’s no need to fret if your camera is not water-proof because peddle boating is a relaxing ride on the water!


It may have been a rainy day during my first trip to the Gorges du Verdon, but that didn’t stop the beauté of the gorges from beaming down on us (and even blinding us at times). ♦

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Finalement, My Dreams Came True

Novembre 2015:

The morning sun offre a burning heat, which made the frigid, Mistral wind bearable. While my body was happily warmed by this bright orange ball of gaz, sadly, my toes were kept in the shadows. “Why didn’t I wear my boots?” I thought.

In Aix, the Mistral is especially fierce during the winter months (yes, the end of Novembre counts as Winter) as it whimsically brings down the “gift” of cold air des montagnes. The sun always has been (and always will be) a close friend to Aix; however, the sun can’t be everywhere at once. So, as you stroll down Rue de la Verrerie in late Novembre, be sure to bundle up (it’s a shadow-y filled rue).

The Mistral likes to hide in the shadows and with the boom of moderne buildings…

…in conjunction with the anciennes églises 


Église de Saint Jean de Malte

et cathédrale Sainte-Sauveur,

the Mistral is ready to surprise even the most bundled up southerner.

It’s touriste saison

But, this morning, I was on a mission and I was close to achieving it. So, I opened the centuries-old wooden door and escaped the Mistral (*the Sous Préfecture de Bouches du Rhône recently changed locations: It is now located on 455 Avenue Pierre Brossolette*).

I took a number and then found a spot to sit. There were 8 people ahead of me but the queue passed with the vitesse of a jet plane.

When my numéro was called, I nervously approché the counter. I was worried that I’d be directed to Marseille! I was greeted with an enthousiasme contagieux. I explained my situation and handed over my récépissé.

The Préfecture took my récépissé; however, I made black & white copies of it when I first received it (you just never know). So, here’s a look at mine.

I never did snap a pic of my récépissé (before the Préfecture took it), so, here’s an exemple of what one (in couleur) really looks like.

Aujourd’hui was my lucky day! I left the counter with the excitement of a 4-year-old who just met Santa. Closing the wooden door behind me, I thought, “I. CAN’T. BELIEVE. IT.”

I decided to embrace my luck and take the Cours back home. It was warm and sunny the ENTIRE time! As I took in the sights of the marché de Noël and the scents of mulled wine and fried churros, I smiled to myself.

Finalement: I have my TITRE DE SÉJOUR (aka: my residency card).

Afficher l'image d'origine

This is a helpful copy of a Titre de Séjour that I found here. The cartes also have a chip.

Janvier 2017:

Who would’ve thought that with the coming of 2017, I would still be in France…on a second Titre de Séjour?! ♦

The Tale of a Teething Baby

“She awoke; it was after 4:00 am. It was my fault…kind of.

It wasn’t really my fault, I swear!

I was in the middle of drinking warm milk with Peppa and Goldie and Papa Pig, when all of a sudden, a thousand knives began to pierce my gums (my parents use this word All of the time these days)! Don’t say you wouldn’t have shot up in bed with thousands of warm tears trickling down your face. I needed a hug, another baba and Something to dull the ache! Thankfully, mama was there. After all, I’m just a bébé, I can’t reach anything. What’s happening to me?!?”

The worst word a new parent will hear is Teething.

But, we all know this is inevitable, so, what can we do about it? After all, we hate seeing our petit(e) prince(sse) suffer.

Here are 3 popular products that can help ease bébé‘s gum pain (in France, of course):

  • Camilia – a sirop homéopathique* that you massage onto your bébé‘s gums.Afficher l'image d'origine Camilia comes in little sachets and it can be found at most pharmacies. You can put it on your finger and massage it on bébé‘s gums, put it on a teether, or you can pour it directly onto your bebe‘s gums (massaging at the same time).
  • Sirop delabarre – a sirop homéopathique* that you massage onto your bébé‘s gums. Afficher l'image d'origineNormalement, Sirop Delabarre comes in a small jar – just be careful when putting it on your finger or on a teether as it tends to come out fast! This is considered more natural than Camilia. It can also be found at most pharmacies. There is also a gel version.
  • Dolodent – a gel in pump form that you massage onto your bébé‘s gums. is usually recommended for use when Camilia and Sirop Delabarre are not strong enough.

These products may help ease bébé‘s pain (especially when bébé wants nothing to do with the teether), but they don’t always work. Sometimes, bébé won’t even let you touch her gums long enough for the sirop or gel to work; however, when they work, it gives parents some added minutes of sleep. When they don’t work, parents are left feeling helpless, exhausted, stressed, and sad (after all, no one wants to see their bébé suffer).

Here are 3 tips to help relax parents living with a teething bébé:

  • Get a massage…Better yet, get a shiatsu massage. The benefits of massages are endless. Whether it’s a couple’s massage (thank you, baby-sitter!) or a massage from your partner, you’re bound to be relaxed for at least the duration of the massage.
  • Join a Baby Yoga classe. This will not only relax you, but may help relax bébé – even a teething bébé! Plus it’s a great way to bond with bébé. Here are some yoga opportunités in the PACA (Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur) région.
  • Join a parent/bébé groupe – Or in my case, a parent/bébé English classe. Hanging out with other parents a few times a week relieves that “I’m all alone” stress as you see that you are, in fact, not alone.


It’s important to take some time out of your day-week-month for just you, just your partner, and for you and your partner. This alone time away from bébé will help keep the two of you sain during moments of crisis (teething isn’t the only fear). Don’t let your teething bébé bring you down: It’s just a phase that does not last forever, thankfully! ♦

*Homéopathie in the USA is really frowned upon (a story for a separate blog post); however, many “homéopathie” products on the marché in the USA are forbidden in France due to régulations set in place on medicine (even homeopathy). These régulations are différent in both countries. Hylands Baby Teething Tablets, which have been speculated to have caused the death of 10 babies in the USA, is not sold in France as it does not meet France’s régulations (it contains a “toxic” (depending on the dilution) plant, belladone, which is not diluted enough to pass French laws).

This is part of a series on raising a bilingual child in France. You can follow my parenting adventure and gain helpful insight on what raising a bilingual child is like in France by reading these blogs:

For more insight on pregnancy in France, check out the following posts: