Premières impressions

Gergö reminded me, that I said I’d post more pictures today and also pointed out, that blogs which promise more news the next day and then don’t deliver are doomed. Doomed!

So here it goes:

Gergö’s former colleague lives in Palaiseau with his family, and since they were leaving for their annual holiday the very next day, they came over for dinner on Tuesday. Gergö and I had collected a couple of questions for the locals and found out a few interesting things:

  • yes, like the landlady said and the bins suggested: paper, plastic bottles and metal all go into one single recycling bin. Only glass is separate but here they don’t make a distinction between green/brown/white. no biomüll!
  • the water is potable but tastes awful (chlorine) but filters help
  • the bus line 14 could be interesting for us, but it only runs every 30 minutes and it’s usually 7 or 8 minutes early (!)
    I had a discussion similar to this one with a colleague before and I’m amazed that anybody would think a bus is 8 minutes early rather than 22 minutes late. I guess this tells you all about my glass half full / half empty approach to life ;-)

I forgot to ask if it is frowned upon to hang washing on the balcony. It wouldn’t occur to me, but my sister told me it’s not okay in Spain. Since I’m not in a holiday frame of mind I also forgot to ask about tipping.

I read two books about Iceland before spending two weeks there and zero books about France, where I plan to spend 18 months. But our trusted local friends already recommended the Médiatheque George Sands for possible french courses and video on demand.

We went for three walks in Palaiseau in the last couple of days: twice into town looking for supermarkets and general exploring of the area and once along the Yvette. A lot of restaurants and shops are closed for the annual congé (holidays) for up to a month, so the town was even quieter than it usually is, or so I’ve been told.

On our last walk I also saw magpies (pie) and we were told that there are flocks of parrots that live in the parks close to us. So far I’ve attributed the honking noise to the geese, maybe it was actually the wild parrots of Palaiseau. I hope to spot them sometime.

As is probably typical when your grasp of a language isn’ great, I can form short, simple sentences in French, but then panic if I get an answer or question back, like when I order something or the salesperson asks for small change. So far I’ve been weary about striking up conversations in French, which is weird, because our very first interaction with a French person went really well. We arrived in Palaiseau train station and called our landlady, who said she’d pick us up in a few minutes. She said she only had a small car. So when an elderly lady in a tiny car showed up at the train station, we approached her, greeted her and were really surprised that she wasn’t our landlady after all. She was there to pick up friends and we made a little small talk of the tourist kind (first time here, how long will you stay etc). When we grasped for words she even suggested we switch to English instead. So far everyone was friendly and helpful.

Weirdly but possibly with a practical application, Gergö and I seem to understand different bits of the French communication we encounter. He said he understands 1/3, I understand 1/3 and together we probably get about half of what we are told.  Not a bad start.

Tomorrow it’s market day in Palaiseau. I hear good things about the cheese stall!

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