Posts Tagged ‘Martigues’

When I arrived in the South of France in late September, people repeatedly told me I was coming in the worst time of the year: that despite the olive trees and Mediterranean Sea being right there, it was going to get cold. I…did not believe them. I thought that I, who have lived through winters in New York and Maryland and Cleveland for heaven’s sake, could handle whatever Mediterranean “winter” they could throw at me.

Well, allow me to be the first to admit that I’m freezing. This is entirely my fault. I neglected to consider the 20-minute walk I have to do to get to and from school, so that even though it’s a balmy 30-40ish degrees Fahrenheit, I spend much more time outdoors than I do at similar times in New York. I also neglected to take into account the indisputable fact that my current “winter wardrobe” is woefully insufficient for anything remotely resembling actual below-freezing temperatures, and as hard as it is to find warm vegan boots in the States…well…you know the rest.

The evident upside of the cold snap is that it reminds me inevitably of Christmas. In New York, the first dip below 30 degrees heralds the end of fall and the beginning of the frost-bitten, well-illuminated, clothing-layering, tourist-avoiding, spiked-hot-chocolate-drinking, ice-skating, window-shopping holiday season. Cue music. Preferably “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” but the Chipmunk song will also do. (more…)


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You normally have to be wary of places that call themselves the [Major City] of [Entirely Different Place]; “The Paris of the Midwest,” “The Tokyo of the Middle East”….it’s generally not only misleading but a complete affront to the original city.

My front porch

In the case of Martigues, the Official Tourism Website of which features, in huge font, the words “La Venise Provençale,” the claim to be a French iteration of the northern Italian lagoon/city does, I find, a rather large disservice to both cities. (more…)

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August 2010

8/15: After having sent a frantic email out to all the language assistants, I find two or three who are willing to room with me in Martigues. One of them says “I’m not racist but…” and one lives far away and wants to live in her town. The third is Austrian Christina. We agree to look for a place to live together.

September 2010

9/22: I arrive in France, and immediately begin looking for an apartment in Martigues. They are all old, unfurnished and overpriced.

9/23: I see a few more apartments, but not very many, because everyone is on strike.

9/24: I meet up with Austrian Christina, we walk around aimlessly looking for low-cost housing options. Everyone tells us we should go to the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs for an inexpensive option. We go, they are closed.

9/27: I go back to the Foyer, and they agree to rent me a room. I take a tour, and it is kind of crappy, but I’m okay with it, and agree to move in on Oct 1. I take the rest of the week off. (more…)

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On my way back from the supermarket yesterday, I stopped in a park on the lake.

The weather was gorgeous, so I thought I’d sit down and read a bit. Since I got my Kindle a few weeks ago (despite feelings and accusations that such a device would be – for a bibliophile such as myself – totally selling out), I can nowvery easily take advantage when the urge strikes to read, no matter where I am. And now that professors are no longer forcing me to read 300 pages a night, I remember that it’s something that I actually like to do. Go figure.

I took a seat on a park bench right next to the water, and powered up to Oliver Twist, which I’ve been reading since the plane ride over. I find his crappy predicaments help to put the state of my apartment hunting into perspective.

After only a few moments, I came to the realization that with the screaming kids at the playground to my right and the high school kids, just out of school, taking up a familiar loitering stance to my left, I probably wouldn’t be able to get much reading done. Still, I paged on, both because it was so nice and because I am deeply stubborn.

Just as Oliver was being forced through a window to rob a country home, I realized the high schoolers on the bench closest to me were staring at me. I looked up.

“Bonjour, Madame.” (more…)

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What appears to be every tractor trailer in France is driving in circles through my town, honking their horns non-stop. This has been going on for at least the last half hour. I AM SO CONFUSED.

Edit (9/27): According to Sylvie, there was a Trucker Festival (which is how I’m going to translate “Fête des camions” because it sounds just as ridiculous). Honestly, France.

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In the still-elusive search for an apartment, yesterday was, in an almost comical fashion, an unmitigated disaster. I won’t dwell on it for long, because not only do I have better things to talk about, but it also still makes me kind of angry to think about.

Having met up with my roommate, Christina, I set out on a cross-town trek to find affordable housing in Martigues. I had made a few calls to individuals renting apartments, but despite my pestering, none of them had called me back, so other options had to be exercised.


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