Yoda French and the Two Isabelle’s

“Ready are you? What know you of ready? This one a long time have I watched. Hmm?.”–Yoda

This, I am certain, is how I sound when I speak French, which is supposed to be lyrical and melodic. My French sounds like a two-year old playing piano. Fortunately, I have two Isabelle’s in my French life. Isabelle, who cleans our apartment each Wednesday and Isabelle, with whom we spent the past weekend. Both Isabelle’s have been my very best French teachers ever because they allow me to speak Yoda French to them and with a significant effort on their part, sometimes they understand me.

The first Isabelle, our housekeeper, still believes Joan to be profoundly deaf. She waves wildly to her when she is leaving and yells, “GOODBYE!” She asked me last week if I was sick. Why, yes. I have been sick since I arrived in Paris or so it seems. No worries, said she. Everyone who comes to Paris is sick for the first 6 months. But I only have 3 months here!  “Well…you will return home with a souvenir from Paris!”

Isabelle showing us the gifts we brought her from Colette.
Isabelle showing us the gifts we brought her from Colette.

Joan and I were thrust upon Isabelle #2–who speaks little English– because our mom’s French friend in the U.S., Colette, insisted that while we were staying in Paris, we must make a journey to the town of Nantes (2 hours by rapid train from Paris ) to meet Isabelle and to stay in her home. There were at least six degrees of separation between us and Isabelle but she happily allowed us to invade her quiet French life for 48 hours.

We arrived Friday night and Isabelle took us to her home where she cooked us a gluten free meal. Then her friend, Marie-Laurence arrived and we were whisked away to St. Nazaire to attend a conference on “Hypnosis and Its Use in Surgery without Anesthesia”. Turns out, Marie-Laurence had just had her wisdom teeth pulled using no anesthesia, only hypnosis. And Isabelle is studying to become a certified hypnotist. They were the guest speakers at the conference!

Isabelle speaking at a conference on medical hypnosis.
Isabelle speaking at a conference on medical hypnosis.
 Built in St. Nazaire by the same company that built the QEII. It was ready to set sail the following week for its maiden voyage.
Built in St. Nazaire by the same company that built the QEII. It was ready to set sail the following week for its maiden voyage.

We returned to St. Nazaire the following afternoon to meet Colette’s older sister, Claudine, who lives there. Claudine gave us a tour of her town then we returned to her house where we had a nice visit talking about the differences between gluten-free and Celiac’s disease, the French versus American health systems, warts, American TV, the wars, and a variety of other things, all in French. We left Claudine’s, each receiving four cheek kisses, and then laughed on the ride home about the French kiss system. Isabelle found four kisses entirely too many but had to go with it since it was Claudine’s preference.

Claudine and Isabelle at St Lazaire. The bronze statue in the sea is a tribute to the alliance between France and America during the two World Wars.
Claudine and Isabelle at St Lazaire. The bronze statue in the sea is a tribute to the alliance between France and America during the two World Wars.
These kinds of structures were all over St Nazaire. An old building refusing to give way to a new.
These kinds of structures were all over St Nazaire. An old building refusing to give way to a new.
Seaside in St Nazaire
Seaside in St Naziare
They call these beaches "sauvage"-- savage or untamed. They were cliffed with no beachside.
They call these beaches “sauvage”– savage or untamed. They were cliffed with no beachside.
At Claudine's home in St Lazaire. She had baked us a cake that was typical of this region in France.
At Claudine’s home in St Lazaire. She had baked us a cake that was typical of this region in France.
Alison, Claudine and Joan at St Nazaire.
Alison, Claudine and Joan at St Nazaire.

I went to bed Saturday night with my familiar friend, a dry cough. I awoke Sunday morning with no voice. We decided that if only Colette could have been with us we would have the deaf (Joan), the dumb (me), and the blind (Colette–who has glaucoma and is legally blind). Isabelle was a wonderful tour guide. We saw a church, a castle, a giant mechanical elephant, Jules Verne’s former home, the best farmers market ever, and strolled through the skinniest street in town. The highlight for me was the lunch that Isabelle prepared using cheese, bread and lettuce purchased that morning at the market. We ate it with charcuterie from Corsica and toasted to Colette who had brought us together.

Isabelle prepared us a wonderful lunch. We had five or six different cheeses which she had selected for us. And... Red wine.
Isabelle prepared us a wonderful lunch. We had five or six different cheeses which she had selected for us. And… Red wine.
This was on the top floor of the tallest building in Nantes. The gooses neck stretches around the perimeter of the floor and his body is a bar!
This was on the top floor of the tallest building in Nantes. The gooses neck stretches around the perimeter of the floor and his body is a bar!

We enjoyed a great day in Nantes and at the train station Sunday night, Isabelle kissed us each two times on the cheek and we bid farewell to our new French friend.

These egg chairs were part of the art installation in Nantes.
These egg chairs were part of the art installation in Nantes.
View of Nantes from the tower. The river seen is the Loire.
View of Nantes from the tower. The river seen is the Loire.
The elephant is powered by man and machine and you can ride him. It was amazing. It was made in Mantes in a former ship making building.
The elephant is powered by man and machine and you can ride him. It was amazing. It was made in Mantes in a former ship making building.
This castle, in Nantes, is now a history museum.
This castle, in Nantes, is now a history museum.

3 Comments

  1. Good to know that you really do need to stay a year in Paris since you are sick the first 6. So how did Marsha and Barb fare?

    Like

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