Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Off to the Archives...together

Today, I went with Chris to one of the archives here in Marseille to help him with his work. It was my first time at an archive, and I have to say, it was quite interesting.

Chris and I walked into the archives, he helped me get a temporary pass card into the archives, and then we headed to the stinky locker room to put our bags away. We were not allowed to take bags into the main room.

The main room where we worked was a lot more impressive than the rest of the archives I walked through. There were long sturdy wooden tables, wooden rafters above us, and lots of light from the windows. It was very hot in there, but we got use to it after a while.

Chris went up to the desk and "ordered up" some books. Chris takes digital pictures of the pages in the books and then goes back through and translates the information. Some of the pages are in Latin, some in French, and a few are even in Provencal...which he can't read. The books are registers of council meetings from the 1300's. The handwriting on some were elaborate and beautiful, and others, it was just as bad as Chris' signature. :) Some of the pages have been destroyed due to water or other things, so that makes Chris' job much more difficult. There are pages made out of paper and some made out animal hide.

Looking through these old documents was quite fascinating! It was almost like a treasure hunt....looking for interesting things about piracy. Of course, Chris had to look and I just admired the writing and found the doodles to the sides hilarious. You could tell how boring some of those meetings were based on the kinds of doodles to the side.

I helped take pictures or hold the pages flat while Chris snapped photos. We spent the afternoon doing that and got quite a bit accomplished.

Once we get the pictures uploaded...I will have to post a few of them so you know what I'm referring to and you can see what kinds of things Chris works with.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Chris is off in Paris today, doing a talk at a conference. He had a rough time getting up there, because his train got stuck about 30 min outside of Marseille this morning. They somehow got things back on track (pardon the pun) and he should be doing his talk later today.

We have been making a lot of plans for when we return to the states this July. We will be flying out of France on July 1st, staying the night in Newark, and flying out early on July 2nd to Cincinnati. Why Cincinnati you might ask? Because we were not going to pay $500 for a one way flight to Indy or Louisville.

We will be living at the Beck's for the month of July. In August we will be moving to....drum roll please....Bloomington, IN!

That's right! We have decided to move to Bloomington and start a family! Chris will be funded for another year to write his dissertation, so we have a year to live anywhere we want before he goes on the job market. We thought long and hard about moving back to NYC, or even to NH. In the end, we chose Bloomington. We want to be closer to family when we add to our family and we like the atmosphere that Bloomington provides.

Tomorrow, Chris' parents are going apartment shopping for us. We sent them a list of places to check out. It's weird having other people do that for us, but we feel confident they will do the job well. :)

Chris and I plan to return to NYC off and on for work and visiting. We will have to go there sometime this summer to get our things out of storage.

Just wanted to share our plans with you! We are very excited about the adventures that will follow our time here in France.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Yesterday, Chris and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful, sunny day and go for a hike out at Luminy. Chris wanted to hike down the Calanque to the little port town of Morgiou.

The trail down was steep, but not too bad. There were a few times when the gravel under our feet made it tricky, but we just took our time and I only fell on my butt once coming down. Maybe we should invest in some hiking poles?

It took less than 20 min from the top to the bottom of the Calanque, and the rest of the way to the little town was alongside a single lane road. Lots of cars were parked to the side of the road, but it was mostly tourists and hikers parking at the trail heads.

As we walked through Morgiou, we really felt like we were in Europe. We wondered at the prices of the little sea shantys, and imagined the people who lived in the quaint litte port. The only people around were tourists taking pictures, one fisherman, and a couple of other people who seemed to be locals. We only found one Cafe/Bar that had a good amount of people stopping for a drink and a snack.

While walking along the port, we saw the strangest thing. t first it looked like a snake the way it was moving across the pavement, but on closer inspection, it was a family of caterpillars! We had never seen anything like it before!

We saw a trail heading up the Calanque in the other direction, but it was bit rocky for us to do in the same day, plus we were on a time schedule to get back and for dinner and to watch Lost with Jaclyn. A trail for another time.

Chris wanted to head up the Calanque another way, back to the Rouge 6 trail where we had encountered the rock wall and chain last time. He wanted to face his fears and climb up the chain and head back to the bus from that direction.

He made it almost to the top of the wall, before having to come back down and take a breath. The panic and fear really got to him. However, after stopping for a few minutes, a little hypnosis pep-talk from me, he turned around and made it to the top! He conquered his fear of heights and was so happy he did. I was very proud of him!

We made it back to the bus and headed home to pick up a few groceries for dinner.

You can see our pictures of the day here

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Market Shopping

The weather today is quite gloomy and it feels like rain is on its way. The change in weather lately has been messing with our sinuses, and for me, that is odd because I haven't experienced sinus issues in a long time.

We wanted to go hiking today, but due to the weather, we decided not to. We had also wanted to get up early and go to the oranic market at the Cours Julien, but I didn't sleep well last night so couldn't get out of bed in time this morning.

Since we missed the organic market, after breakfast, we walked down to Castellane to the market there, and bought some fresh fish...salmon and shrimp. The shrimp are so fresh, they still have their heads on them! We also bought a huge baguette from a man who practically stuck it in our noses saying "Very good!" in English.

After we finished at the market, we stopped in at a gourmet Provencal deli that we have been meaning to check out. Chris has been wanting to try rabbit, so he bought enough for lunch. I refuse to eat rabbit, so I bought some supion (cuttlefish) in a tomato sauce.

Then it was off to the Patisserie! We have found a new one on Blvd. Baille near us that has a wonderful assortment of chocolates and baked goods. The woman who owns it makes everything in shop, and is super sweet and knows a tiny bit of English. We picked out some small chocolates and filled easter eggs.

Our last grocery stop was at the green grocer to buy some Provencal strawberries, salad items, and bananas.

It may seem like a lot of work going so many places to make two to three meals, but it's really quite fun exploring different places and having so many choices in food items. It's so different than simply walking into a super grocery store and getting everything at once. So much of the stuff we buy is also locally grown, which is the way we should do it in the US. The food is so fresh and delicious!

The only problem with all this food, is the dirty dishes that accompany it. :) I do miss our dishwashing machine.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Savim

Today we had plans to go to Savim, the wine tasting festival here in Marseille, with Nell and Dylan, but Chris wasn't feeling well this morning so we decided to stay home. We relaxed some, and after a while, he started feeling like he could eat something. So we fixed a couple of sandwiches, and decided that since it was SO nice outside, we should have a picnic on the balcony. I put a blanket out there, and we sat outside and enjoyed our lunch in the sun. Oreo wasn't too happy, since we wouldn't let him join us.

Here are pics of our lunch...

After lunch, Chris was feeling much better, so we decided to head out and go to Savim after all. We tried hooking up with Nell & Dylan, but they had left early since Nell wasn't feeling well either.

Chris & I enjoyed four hours of waundering around stand after stand, tasting wines, champagnes, cheeses, honey, desserts, and sausage. We really enjoyed chatting with the vendors and learning about the creation processes of the different food items.

The honey vendor was from the UK, and told us the whole story, in English, of how they take their bees around France at different times of the year to get different flavored honey. So part of the year they are in Provence for the lavender, then they go to the low mountains, then high mountains, to the forests, and all around and they have a honey for each region they visit with their bees. He let us taste each of the honeys, and they were SO good! Each one with a unique, complex flavor.

We stopped at one vendor that Nell had recommended to taste the wine, and a couple of older ladies asked us if we were just married (she saw my wedding ring), because they thought we were here on our honeymoon. We told them that we had been together for a very long time and Chris explained about his studies. They were very friendly and we enjoyed talking with them.

There was one woman vendor who made fruit confit. She explained to us that she had to cook the fruits 14 times in sugar to get the right flavor and consistency. We bought some cherries from her.

Another vendor from Roquefort region was selling Roquefort cheese. He let us taste 3 different one's of various ages, and we liked the oldest one best. We talked to him about the ridculous tax the US has put on Roquefort cheese because the French won't buy US chicken. We told him that it was stupid, because the two have nothing to do with each other. The French don't want US chicken because it is pumped with hormones (something they don't commonly do here) and the taste doesn't even compare to French chicken.

We bought some organic gruyere from a different vendor, and apparently, this is the ONLY organic gruyere in France. He was very passionate about his cheese and told us about how it's unpasteurized here and that it is better for the cheese to be made that way. We agree! The cheese here is so different than cheese we have purchased in the US. Fannie was telling us that the EU wants all cheese makers to swtich to pasteurizing their cheese, but I don't think it's going to work here.

We chatted with a wine vendor that sold wines to benefit the French foreign legion. They were very nice and we bought a bottle of Rouge to support their cause.

We bought olive oil from our favorite vendor from Arles. The guy gave us an extra large bottle for the same price as the smaller bottle.

We used our golden rule of when someone asks where you are from, always say New York City. You get better things that way! We got so much free food.

The wonderful thing about Savim, is that you can taste food and wine from many different regions in France in one location. It's like traveling around France with your taste buds in the course of an afternoon. We really enjoyed it.

We brought our loot home and had a wonderful spread for dinner.

Here are some pics of our loot

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lunch at our French friend's apartment

Today we went over to Fannie & Nico's apartment for lunch and an afternoon of relaxation (ie knitting for the girls, listening/chatting about music for the guys).

This was our first time having a meal in a French household, and we were in for a treat. The first thing we had was bread with terrine of deer. I really liked the terrine, even though I haven't enjoyed it in the past. It is similar to pate, only more moist. Our main dish was chicken curry and rice, which wasn't a traditional meal, but very delicious!

After we finished that, Fannie asked us if we wanted some cheese. Chris started laughing, and he explained that in the US, we don't eat cheese after a meal (unless you are in a very expensive restaurant and you get the offer of either a cheese plate or a dessert). Fannie said it's common to eat some cheese after you eat your main course, and before dessert. The assortment of cheeses were wonderful...chevre, tomme (my favorite), parmesan, and another one that I can't remember at the moment.

For dessert, Chris and I had bought a Gateau de Basque cake from Piccard and some Fruit Rouge Coulis (red fruit sauce). The Gateau de Basque is a almond flavored cake that is crispy on the outside, and so creamy inside.

After we finished eating, Fannie made us some tea and we spent the afternoon chatting about politics, the differences between the US and France, the best places to get groceries in the neighborhood, etc.

Their son, Gael, who just turned 3, is amazing. He kept asking us how to say things in English (since he understands that we speak English and not French). So he would ask, in French, how to say momma, baby, and Gael in English. He laughed when he realized that the words were about the same. It was so cute! He also had a Dr. Seuss book that he brought to us to show that he had a book in English. We are always fascinated by his grasp of vocabulary at his age and how advanced he is.

Fannie helped me sew the knitted pieces of my sweater together, since sewing is my least favorite thing to do. So I can't wait to wear my sweater this week!

It was a lovely afternoon with our friends! We are already planning our next day with them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Time is passing quickly...

Another beautiful view of the sunset outside of our windows.
Oreo crawled onto my back and decided it was time for a nap.

It's hard to believe that we will be leaving France 3 months from today! Where has the time went?? I'm not quite ready to go back to the states, and Chris feels the same. Yes, there are things we miss there, but there are SO many things we will miss here too.

Chris & I sat down the other day and made a list of things we want to do and see before we leave France. Our list is quite long, and I know we won't be able to fit it all in, but we are going to do our best.

We are both looking forward to Chris' parents and Aunt coming to visit in a few weeks. We are thinking of things we want to show them here in Provence. Then we will all be flying to Germany for a few days and hanging out with our friend, Sebastian and his girl, Sina. Then on to Northern France to see Normandy.

My Mom will be taking her first trip outside the states in May to come visit. I'm so excited to show her around Provence! She's going to love it.

Nate is rejoining us at the end of May for a couple of weeks. He has more research to do, and we want to show him some areas outside of Marseille this time.

Why do I feel like our 3 months is going to fly by quickly? Hmmm.....I wonder. :)

Chris has been making a lot of progress on his research. He's feeling a bit of a time crunch, but he's doing fine. He'll be heading up to Paris in a couple of weeks to give a talk at a conference. I wish I could go too, but decided to stay home with Oreo this time and save money for our anniversary trip in June.

The weather here has started warming up, although today was cool and very rainy. April showers are going to bring plenty of May flowers to Marseille!

We have a fun weekend ahead of us. Saturday, we will be heading to Frioul with our French friends, Fannie, Nico and their 2 yr old Gael. Sunday, we will be going to Savim with Nell & Dylan. Savim is the wine festival (we went to one last year and LOVED it) here in Marseille. We are planning which wines we want to hunt for and foods we want to purchase. Chris has froi gras on the brain, while I'm looking forward to yummy local walnuts and cheese!

Spring at the Calanque.

Spring is here in Provence, and that means blooming trees, flowers, rain, and warmer weather. Last week we were not able to get out and enjoy the sunshine, since Chris was recovering from a cold. So when the sun was shining yesterday and weatherbug was saying it was at least 60 degrees outside, we took the opportunity to get out and go to Luminy for a hike around 4pm.

We usually don't head out for a hike that late in the day, but it was actually pretty nice considering most people were leaving Luminy as we arrived. We decided on a trail called "Rouge 6" which wrapped around the Calanque overlooking Morgiou, the very small fishing port we have seen from the overlook.

The trail started off fairly easy and flat. Lots of wild rosemary growing along it, and other wild herbs and flowers. The Calanques are starting to be more colorful now that Spring is here.

It started getting a little more rugged as we wrapped around with Morgiou down below. The only other people out there were two rock climbers on the side of the Calanque. We continued on the trail, not really knowing how far it would go, until we reached an impasse. Well, not an impasse for me, but for it was a rock wall with a chain attached leading downward. Chris decided that since it was getting late, we better turn around. I admit, holding on to the chain and looking down, it was a bit of decent to the trail again, but I was willing to do it. I'm not a fan of rock climbing, but the chain was comforting.

We turned around and headed back to the bus. It started sprinkling on our way back, and by the time we had reached the bus, it was raining. It was nice walking through the woods, listening to the rain.

Our decision to do so ended up being a wise one, after we got home and looked at the map. Apparently, Rouge 6 continues on around the Calanque and hooks up to one of the trains we have done before at Sugiton. If we had continued on, we would have had a very rough hike up the Calanque back to the bus, taking probably at least an hour. We would have been worn out! So, we know what to expect next time we want to do this trail.

On our way home, we picked up some desserts at a bakery a few blocks away. The ladies inside were very nice, and even spoke a little English to me. The French just take one look at us, and know we are not French.

We also picked up some of the most AMAZING strawberries we have ever had. I had heard from others that Provence had the best strawberries, but didn't quite believe it until I tasted them. WOW!!! They are truly delicious and something to experience.

Pictures from our day can be found at