Friday, May 31, 2013

It's the end of May - Where is Spring? Weather forecasting in Southwestern France.

What's the Weather going to be today?

My husbands favorite question this month is "How warm is it going to be today?"  I'm chuckling as the weather has seemed to be the main conversation for this whole month.  I'm sitting here laughing as I can't believe I'm actually writing a post about the weather!  After all, France has so many interesting things to offer - but this topic has just intruded on so many conversations this month - I just felt the need to document it.  Normally, talking about the weather constantly is reserved for those who love following meteorology or it's the conversation one has when you are not quite sure what else to say.  But wow, this month has been full of weather conversations - for the mere fact it's been a just plain awful Spring here, in Bordeaux (& I dare say for most of France!).  Yes, the photos you will see in this post are from last year - a more typical Spring look!

Sentences heard from others or even said by myself recently:

Wow, Spring break was like Fall break - cool, crisp and rainy. 

When is it going to stop raining?  

Where's the sun?  Heck, Where's the warm weather?

This weather is really affecting our moods.

It rains one minute, then the sun comes out, then it rains again, then the sun is out again. repeat.

The other day I wore my sunglasses while holding my umbrella over my head...knowing in 2 minutes the sun would be back out...(if only for 5 minutes..before another shower moved through)

Still waiting for it to warm up. (Temps have only been around 15 degrees Celsius/around 60 degrees Fahrenheit - much cooler than normal for here.) 

So hard to dry laundry outside as it keeps getting wet. & My living room looks like a laundry mat as I have all my drying racks lined up in front of my living room window.

My lawn is so tall, every time I have time to mow, it's either wet from the rain or it's raining out.

Bordeaux is suppose to be one of the most sunniest cities averaging about 315 days/year of sun - NOT THIS YEAR!

Where's the beach?- by this time last year we had been to the beach a handful of times.  This year - can't seem to find it!

Parents praying for dry weather for outdoor Spring/summer birthday parties - (Note, dry weather - sunshine is a bonus & warmer temps - double bonus!)

The weather is definitely beginning to wear on people.  I think that's why it has become so much a part of daily conversation here.  We all keep hoping it's going to change - sunshine, warmer days and sunnier dispositions!  As I said in the beginning of the post - I'm chuckling, as I can't remember the last time I have heard so many people talk about the weather on a DAILY basis!

So here's hoping that there is a shift - a shift back to a normal seasonal climate here - Sunshine and warmth!  (I have had a peak at next weeks forecast - we are suppose to see the SUN! - But if there is one thing I have learned here - the French also have a hard time predicting the weather - so SEEING is BELIEVING!)  We will keep hoping and believing that it's just got to turn around.  In the mean time,  I'm including some lovely Spring photos in this post to help us focus on blowing the clouds and rain right out of here!

The other day I saw a full rainbow - now that's a good sign, right?  I believe it is - at least it's a beautiful sign of good things hopefully to come!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bonne Fete des Meres!! - May 26, 2013

It's Mother's Day in France

It's also Mother's Day in some other countries too (Sweden, Morocco, Tunisia, just to name a few.)
- So for all of you who are celebrating - 
Enjoy your special day and time spent with family & friends

Today we will go to church, then my husband has told me we are going out to brunch/lunch to celebrate Mother's Day. The afternoon will be spent taking a walk in a park together and just relaxing.  I hope everyone who is celebrating gets a relaxing and special day, however you choose to enjoy it!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Featured Today - on - Interview with American Mom in Bordeaux

Expats Blog - Interview

Hello everyone!

Today is a pretty special day.  I was interviewed by the lovely people at Expatsblog.  We are the featured expat today over on their site.  It was a lot of fun doing the interview - always nice to share our experience.  I hope you find it interesting to read. 

Go check it out - and please feel free to comment - always nice to hear from readers.

You can find the the interview  - by clicking

here- Interview with Jennifer - American Mom in Bordeaux - Expats

The weather here has still been cloudy and cool - so here are some photos of Spring and sunshine from last year - here's hoping for a change in this weather pattern! It always brightens my day to see such fun colors and imagine warmer weather. I'm off to scout out some ideas for the girls and my husband for Mother's Day - in France it is celebrated this Sunday.  

The second post about our trip to Lourdes will post in a couple of days.  Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lourdes - History & Spirituality in the Pyrenees-Part I

The town & Lourdes Castle

This past weekend we had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Lourdes.  My husband was attending a conference there and we decided to take the family along for a mini-holiday.  This was my first trip to this beautiful spiritual mecca.  I am actually writing 2 posts about this weekend as there were a couple different themes to this trip - the first being the typical tours of a quaint beautiful town nestled in the Midi-Pyrenees and the second the religious significance and pilgrimages that our made to this spiritual spot.  This post will focus more on the town itself and it's beauty.

We arrived there on a Thursday evening and after settling into our hotel, we wandered out into the town to find some dinner.  One of the first things that struck me was the number of tourist and buses that were around town - this is definitely a big stop for many tours and it's amazing as the town itself only has 17,000 inhabitants.  One can see from the following photo that bus drivers have to really know how to maneuver their buses...there is just not a lot of space anywhere and the roads in this town are narrow!
One way street with tiny sidewalk & parking on one side of road...and believe or not, this bus was trying to back up!
This is a view from our hotel room, overlooking the river and the mountains after dark.

Same view in the morning- love the lighting on the mountains!

The next day the girls and I headed out to wonder around the town...first stop was to find the tourism office. I was struck by how colorful many of the building were.  

The town square with the office of Tourism

More of downtown Lourdes - very picturesque

Our first stop was the Lourdes Castle or Chateau fort de Lourdes.  This amazing fortress sits in the middle of the city high up on a hill.  It's very impressive in size.  This is a view taken from the pool terrace of our hotel.  

One has the choice of taking an elevator to the top of the fortress or walking up the stairs - knowing we had a full day ahead of us, and I have a 5 year old - we opted for the elevator.  This amazing fortress dates back to the 9th century, when it was used as a place from which to control the frontier and defend the area.  As the centuries progressed this castle was passed  from the regional lords, to the cathars,then to the English who controlled it and the direct lands around it from around 1300 until 1407.  From 1425 until 1607 it belonged to the house of Foix, a regional seat.  It finally became crown property in 1607 when this region became part of France.  It also served as a prison during the Napoleonic period.  It definitely has a rich history and gives a stunning view of the region.

My youngest called this little turret, her princess tower.

Part of exploring this fortress was taking a path down the back side that lead to an old cemetery   It was fascinating to see the dates of some of these headstones.

Having walked down the back side to explore the cemetery - the only way back out of the castle was back up....(good thing we took the elevator originally!)

Another fascinating part of this tour, was the kid's puzzle they gave the girls - as you wondered around, you had to fill in various words and terms of the fortress.
There was a beautiful little chapel on the property - I loved the old stain glass window.

The keep, the tallest part of the fortress was used as a prison during the Napoleonic period.
Of course the view from this Chateau was stunning no matter which direction you looked.  The following is looking toward the Basilica on the other side of the river.

Looking in the opposite direction were the outskirts of the city and foothills.

Of course the mountain views on the outskirts of the city were stunning!  It's May and there is still snow in the high peaks!

The Tourist train is a great mode of transportation around the city of Lourdes.  Not only does it drive around the whole city and describe many interesting sites, but it also allows you to get on and off at various points to tour museums & even take the funicular up the mountain on the outskirts of town. 

The girls enjoyed the train and a break from walking.  Of course, we got off at the Pic Du Jer site and waited to take the finacular up the mountain.

The car runs on tracks and cables up the mountain and through 2 tunnels - it's been in existence for over 50 years.

The views from the top were breathtaking!  Everywhere you looked it was stunning.  Unfortunately, we had to deal with a bit of rain - but the clouds did break up a little for some sunshine at least part of the time we were at the top.
View of the city of Lourdes

Cloudy view from the top

Snow covered peaks - breathtaking!
A little rain didn't hurt either.
We also enjoyed attending the daily market, one morning, and walking through the park near the mayor's office with it's beautiful fountains.  As I said in the beginning of the post, there is the whole spiritual side to Lourdes and why it's a center of pilgrimages for many people.  I will be talking about that aspect of Lourdes in Part 2.  For now - scroll back and take in the views - they certainly were beautiful and stunning. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Vacation Beach Time - an afternoon in Lacanau

La Lacanau

Our Spring school vacation is coming to a close today.  Two weeks off in early May - a great concept in theory - should be warmer weather, sunnier days & a great taste of the summer months which are arriving all too quickly. This is the last hurrah, before our final stretch of school.  School ends here in early July, so this little break give the kids a refresher before the final push to the end of the year.   However, this vacation proved to be cooler and cloudier than most - a lot of my French friends compared the weather to how the break is in the Fall.  We really shouldn't be too surprised this whole winter has been wet, cold and gray.  But there is always hope, hope that the sun will shine more, hope that the rain stays away, hope that we break this weather pattern of the past few months.

Our vacation was broken up into day trips and a weekend away to the Dordogne to visit the grandparents.  Pretty relaxing overall & a nice change of pace for everyone.  The one place the girls really wanted to go was to the beach - They were hoping for a warm sunny day to spend the afternoon at the ocean- go and frolic in the waves.  So last week, we kept watching the weather, waiting for that perfect afternoon.  Unfortunately, each day was forecasted to be cloudy & rainy so we didn't go, but by the middle of each afternoon, the sun was peaking out of the clouds and it always was nicer than was forecasted.  By Thursday night, I decided we had to go anyway, head up to Lacanau, spend the afternoon.  I figured we could always walk along the beach and just enjoy the salt air.  There are many beaches and beach towns along the Atlantic coast,just West of Bordeaux, but we decided we wanted to try Lacanau, as some place different.

The good news, we found sunny skies and nice enough weather to spend a lovely afternoon on the beach.

We were not the only ones who decided to enjoy the beach, there were a lot of people doing the same thing as us!

Surfing schools were even giving lessons.  Yes, most surfers donned on wetsuits, but they were still others who were in bathing suits!
The water seemed to call out to many people daring them to jump the waves, catch the waves or just get a little wet.  Yes, the two girls in the picture below are my oldest daughters.  I swear they are like Polar bears!

My youngest was happiest just playing in the sand near the water - making friends and keeping dry!

 It was breezy, cool, but also sunny.  I love the range of clothing on all the beach goers....swimsuits, shorts, pants, sweaters and even winter coats & scarves.  We saw it all that day!  The tide came in quickly and caught a few sunbathers off guard, leaving people to grab their things quickly and scramble up the rocks.

As we ran out of beach and it was getting later, we decided to walk into town to find some ice cream.  Lacanau-Ocean is a fun little beach community.

Have to say the ice cream was delicious.  We all had a tough time choosing our flavors!   

 It was an excellent afternoon and a wonderful way to end our Spring break.  We are home this weekend getting organized and set for school tomorrow. Today is Mother's Day in the United States & in some other countries too!  Happy Mother's Day to everyone out there celebrating.  (We celebrate it here in France on the last Sunday of this month ).

You may have noticed, I'm playing around with the formatting of the blog - expect a few more changes - but trying for a cleaner, crisper look.  Love to know what readers think.

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