The most irritating part of my day is when the Mediterranean sun wakes me up every morning a full hour and a half before my alarm goes up.
If you are the attentive reader, you should now be gagging quietly and swearing off all future readings of this blog because I just did the backhanded complaint to highlight that a) I am soaking up some Mediterranean sun in southern France b) I sleep in to a shameful hour and c) somehow these two things combine to bring about the only really negative moment of my day.
In other words, life as maman poule in Montpellier is not too shabby. As the French would say in their understated way, it is pas mal. Which is to say, awesome. The only thing missing from my fun as mother hen to 12 of the best French students there ever were, is obviously this awesome sweatshirt declaring my proud status to the world. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure you are only allowed to wear that if you are a hip mommy blogger who aspires to growing all their own food and having capsule wardrobes in perfect neutrals for each of your trendily-named flock. Also… it’s summer and hot. But still! I love my task of coordinating culture experiences and conversation opportunities for my brood here in France.
My days, while starting late and ending in a decadent sea of me eating baguettes slathered generously in salted butter, are nevertheless full. I spend a lot of time camped out at the tourist bureau, planning outings and pestering the tourism officials with my endless questions. I leave with my greedy fists crammed full of sleek brochures and glossy maps. Yes, the Internet exists, but it does not excite me like a stack of pamphlets. I have unending love for attractive brochures. They prompt me to do things like BOOK HORSEBACK RIDES ON THE BEACH for my troop, or DECIDE TO TAKE A BUS TO THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE because of a glossy three-page fold out spread.
After my brochure fangirling, I make predictable stops to the train ticket-seller, the language institute receptionist (where my students are actually taking classes during the morning), and then devote myself to my other all-encompassing occupation: finding places that can happily and easily facilitate a pack of 13 for a meal/snack. Not easy. Yet it does mean that I wander narrow streets and read so many menus that I finally collapse into a pile of excitement and pastries. Not bad. Plus, I get a special thrill out of reading menus. All those options! In the afternoons, my maman poule duties include picnic administration, sunscreen reminders, bus ticket distribution, and taking pictures of my pack with true momish enthusiasm. Oh, and French correction… as that is kind of the point.
What’s that? The bile is rising and now you just want photos? Ok. Over and out. /Y’all, that water is BLUE. And cold. But it hasn’t rained yet, and isn’t predicted to rain our whole visit, so we are soaking up the sun and sand on as many free afternoons as we can snag./ /And then I plunged into that teal water OF ICY DEATH and made the world’s most terrifying face when I emerged. I spared you that one. But imagine the Loch Ness monster rising from the water in a blaze of fury, and you will have succeeded in imaging what maman poule looked like surging forth from the waters./ /”Frolic students! Frolic HIGHER! FROLIC FOR THE PHOTO!” This group needs very little convincing to frolic. / /A wine tasting lesson! I swirl and sniff with the best of them… but truly I have no clue what I’m doing. Gelato tasting? Maybe more of my thing./ /Last weekend we went and toured the Roquefort caves, home of the beloved stinky cheese. The students did lots of noble tasting and slightly less noble gagging… but this maman poule snuck through the sample line… more times than should be reported./ /Millau Viaduc, or “Very high and long bridge that seemed out of place, as my American brain doesn’t expect to come across modern marvels in Always-Old France.”/ /See? My picnic skills are on fleek. And yes, I am aware that this is probably not the correct usage of fleek. Maman poule does not care./
If you are really starved for glimpses of southern France, hop on over to my instagram, @hannahkatherinew . Blog posts are a little sparse these days, as I’m using most of my internet time for either work or reading The Bachelorette recaps. #priorities But there are far more pictures than you ever needed/wanted over on the grams!
PPS: What are the best books available on KindleUnlimited? I devoured The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, and you all had so many other recommendations, but I am especially interested on any you know of for freesies… any top pics?