Un Bonheur

18 Jul

Everyday in France, for me, is another day to discover life abroad, and this past week was no exception.

We finally found our nest here in Lyon and our offer was accepted! Hopefully, we’ll be moving into our new place in October. It’s a cute three bedroom with a pretty big terrace (pic above). Nous sommes au comble du bonheur!

Speaking of un bonheur, since the weather was not so great last week I decided to go see a movie called “Un bonheur n’arrive jamais seul” (happiness doesn’t happen alone). It was my first time seeing an entirely French movie with no English subtitles and I have to say I was overjoyed when I was able to exit the movie having understood. That day, my bonheur did happen alone, but most of the time all of my wonderful moments are shared with my husband!

This past weekend we attended one of the most interesting weddings I’ve been to. It was a union between a French man and a Vietnamese woman, so needless to say it was a small meeting of the United Nations. The Vietnamese family has lived in France for some time, so they mostly speak French and the brother gave his speech in French, which I was also astonished to have understood. In any case, they respected many French traditions, one of them being the traditional French wedding cake (pic above) – a croquembouche (croque en bouche, meaning ‘crunch in the mouth) – it’s a form of choux pastry that is generally served as a high-piled cone of chocolate, cream-filled profiteroles all bound together with threads of caramel. It’s also decorated with sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons. Sometimes it may also be covered in macarons or ganache. At this wedding, it came out with sparklers!

The sparklers were fitting since the wedding was held on July 14, Bastille Day, the French national holiday which commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place in 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. It’s basically France’s July 4 and is celebrated similarly to Independence Day with parades, fireworks and time spent in parks and along the sea.

And then, sometimes not all things that are celebrated are events which bring un bonheur. I recently read a book called Sarah’s Key and a little piece of history was revealed to me that I wasn’t aware of, and which was commemorated this past Monday. The Val d’Hiv, which happened 70 years ago, was where French police in German-occupied Paris on the 16th and 17th of July 1942 rounded up 13,152 predominantly non-French Jewish emigrates and refugees and their French-born children and grandchildren who were then sent to their death in Auschwitz. The French don’t like to talk about this, and I don’t blame them, it was only in recent history where they erected a memorial and commemorate it each year. The book, which I highly recommend, also tells the story of how a farmer and his wife, and by extension a number of French country people, hid and protected Jews from Vichy France authorities, the Germans, and French collaborators, at great risk to their own lives. And it’s with that, that when my mother-in-law recently asked me during one of our French sessions who I most look up to I said all of those people who fought for our rights in our own countries and in others abroad.

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One Response to “Un Bonheur”

  1. Paulette Fennewald July 19, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    First all, congrats on the house, nowwe will have a place to stay when we come right?
    Second, can you have another wedding and lets do that “cake”, looks amazing and I bet it taste that way too.
    Third, I read that book recently and learned something I was totally unaware of. It was quite unsettling, but was glad to see the French are acknowledging and remembering.
    Miss you so much my dear one, love paulie

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