December 9, 2009

Homeless in France

Posted in la vie bordelaise, planning tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:52 am by Fat Girl Dancing

It’s been a busy month so far.  I’ve been settling into my temporary home here with another assistant, trying to maintain a balance between living out of my suitcases and unpacking everything when I know I’ll just have to repack it again.  Fortunately I’m able to stay here until at least the beginning of February, so I’ve got some time.  I’ve been keeping up with the apartment search, but it’s so much more difficult here than it is in the States!

I’m primarily searching for roommates, and everyone I apply to has dozens of applicants, so they’re free to pick whom they choose…and it’s not me.  If I were to try for a small studio, I’d most likely find it not furnished — not even with a fridge or a stove! — and I’d need a guarantor, someone here in France willing to put up their last three months paystubs and credit to vouch for me.

I went to change my address, because I still haven’t received my very important CARTE VITALE, and found it was 34 euro just to change my address with the post!  That is one area where the USA definitely wins.  So much for socialism!

France is hard.  I’m not going to lie, in the last few weeks, there were times when I thought about how much easier it would be to give up and just go home.  Yesterday I bought a ticket to see Christophe Maé in concert in June 2010 in La Rochelle, and I’ve got a ticket to see the Mozart musical in April.  I can’t leave, I have concert tickets!

Christophe and Mozart!

Last week I visited the Christmas Market in downtown Bordeaux with a few assistants.  We went Tuesday and Wednesday night.  It’s a beautiful village marketplace set up on the town square with lights and craft shops and HOT SPICED WINE.  It was wonderful the first night, but it started pouring the second night and kind of put and end to the whole evening.  I still haven’t properly shopped through the whole market, since we really just took a fast browse through each store.

Vin chaud

Last Friday I went out to dinner with some French people to the Quebec Music Cafe.  It was way down in Pessac, so I got a ride with someone, which was very nice.  It’s so cool seeing Bordeaux from a car, I see parts of the city I never notice because I’m always on pedestrian or tram streets.  You must go look at their menu, I loved it.  I wanted to eat everything.  I ended up with the “Menu Bistro” which gave me a burger, a poutine, a beer, and a crumble dessert.  I had the three-cheese cheeseburger, the classic poutine, maple syrup beer, and the chocolate-pear crumble.  It was all SOOO GOOD.

Quebec Cafe


One of the guys sitting next to me was excited to try and practice his English, and kept speaking English to me, and then speaking English to the other French people around him.  Eventually one of the women said to him, “She’s here to improve her French, so speak French!”  I didn’t mind him speaking a little English, but I thought it was weird that he would speak English to everyone else.

It’s been quite warm here the last few days — in the low 60s and upper 50s, but we’re about due for a cold snap, in the 40s!  Oh no! 😦

Holidays in Bordeaux

Holidays in Bordeaux



  1. Emily said,

    This is really great. It reminds me of my fall semester abroad spent in Dijon, France at l’University de Bourgogne… I, too, did some teaching, as an English tutor for some of the French students. Wonderful memories, especially during those chilly, holiday nights! How do I follow your blog? I also have one here, called “Bouquet of Sharpened Pencils”. Feel free to browse; I’m new to blogging, but am learning the ropes…

    A bientot, E

  2. Tasha said,

    Reading your blog brought back a lot of memories from when I was an assistant in Chambery. Apartment searching was the worst but I ended up finding an apartment w/ roommates already in place. Hang in there it will all work itself out when you least expect it to. Once you find a place you can settle in to then your biggest stress will be where you’ll be jumping on a train to on the weekends and holidays. I miss Christmas Market so much, please enjoy it for me and have a cup of vin chaud (yummy). Also if you like tea you’ll definitely want to get some Christmas tea. Good luck girl and have a great time because it will go by so fast and then you’ll be like me, missing it all.


    • jesuislaprof said,

      Oh, I’ve already had two cups of vin chaud!!

      Thanks…I’m still pretty stressed about finding a place. I’ve been here since September and all was great until my host family went crazy. So I’m coming to the apartment search late in the game.

  3. Good luck in france. As long as you have friends and family, you’ll be ok. You’ll find a place to stay somewhere soon.

    • jesuislaprof said,

      Thanks for the support!

  4. ibtisamhs said,

    Hi! As a foreign student, found myself reading your words and thinking about mine… Such an advanture! Good luck

    • jesuislaprof said,

      Thank you!

  5. blackwatertown said,

    Hang in there. Minimize your contact with bureaucracy. There are often informal work arounds. If anyone local offers short cuts – take them. That’ll leave you more time to enjoy all the good stuff about being in France – the being, the immersing yourself, the food, the drink, the stylish craic (I know to many Irish people in Paris).
    And if you’re in Bordeaux, you’re not far from Toulouse, or the startling delicious cassoulet round Carcassonne, or some of the world’s best bars in Euskadi (Bilbao for bar snacks).
    In short – go everywhere, do everything.

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