Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bonjour from France

I got called over to Grenoble, France on short notice for a work trip. Well, I wouldn't exactly call it "work" compared to what Deanna has to do back home, but it has been an interesting adventure so far.

I arrived to a rather anemic looking little car; a Renault "Twingo":

This little car has gotten me around just fine- though I'm glad I requested a GPS navigation system. That's been very handy.

My "French Culture and Etiquette" handbook taught me that meal-time is very important in France. I like food too, so I've enjoyed meal-time in France. Every meal is an event to be savored- even lunch in the company cafeteria. There's beer and wine available, and every day brings a new gourmet dish to sample. And the bread- delicious! And plentiful. French people eat bread with every meal- throughout the meal. If someone were to run out of bread I'm sure they'd stop eating altogether until they found more bread. Here's the appetizer course of the first lunch I had in France. Look at the presentation!

Mealtime doesn't end with merely the lunch. It's followed by espresso, and then at least a half an hour of chit-chat. The first day I arrived I didn't start doing actualy work until almost 4:00PM! I was going nuts. I was like "Alright already, let's get to work!"

Thanks to the tips I picked up from my French phrase and culture books, I made fast friends with my colleagues and customers over here. Tips like, "The historical reason for the handshake was to prove you weren't holding a dagger," proved invaluable. I was invited to a jazz concert and also to a co-workers home for drinks. Check out this fabulous view from his patio:

He recommended an itinerary for some weekend sightseeing. First, a scenic drive through the mountains. The area is very "French Alps"- big mountains all around.

I stopped in a few charming villages, and then to the "Grottes de Choranches"- very cool caverns. Kind of touristy, but hey- I'm a tourist!

It's been a very interesting and enjoyable trip, though of course I do miss my family back home. Sam has just recently begun to show awareness of whether I'm home or away, and that makes it a bit harder on everyone. Every time I go away like this I return to a massive progression in language development from him.

Deanna has been remarkably strong in my absence. Having her mom and grandma stop in for a visit sure helped. It's so nice to call home and hear her happy voice.

I'll be here a few more days. I'm not sure whether I have the energy to visit Mont Blanc tomorrow. We'll see. If so, I'll post some pictures of that for sure. If not, I'll post pictures of my record breaking 8th meal in a row at the Novotel Hotel. :)
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