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Normandy

the big news from our family is that, as of earlier this month, we have moved from Paris to a small stone house near the town of Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët in La Manche, Basse-Normandie (department 50). The differences between our old lifestyle and our new lifestyle are staggering… while in Paris things were quite busy, with lots of cars and scooters and people, here in the countryside it is extremely quiet and we’re surrounded by cows. Here’s a picture of the place where we’re staying (click for larger):

Fields of Normandy

the property on which our house stands contains a river that serves as the border of the French regions of Normandy and Brittany, in the northwestern part of France. Our kids are enrolled in a Catholic private school in the nearby town, and so far they seem to be doing quite well there – their French has definitely improved since we arrived in Europe in January. It’s been great to have experienced Paris, with its trains and crowds and bustling lifestyle, and then to make the switch to this area, which is one of the most peaceful I’ve encountered. We really like it here so far.

last weekend we went to Le Mont Saint-Michel, an island off the coast of Normandy that features a walled town and an ancient abbey. We had a great visit there – it was certainly one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited! Afterward we went to a nearby beach, where the kids played and collected shells. Here are some pictures of the place (click for larger):

Le Mont Saint-Michel

The abbey at Le Mont Saint-Michel

our other big news is that we now have a Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) puppy named Lilou, who we bought from a reputable “éleveur” in the Franche-Comté region in the east of France. She is still quite young (now only three months) and full of energy, but already we’ve been teaching her tricks (sit, down, stay, and come) and she’s been catching on quickly. Shelties come in three colors: sable, blue merle, and tri-color; Lilou is of the tri-color variety. The kids have learned a lot from being “puppy owners” – they take her for walks, teach her tricks, and basically carry her around the house wherever they go. Here is a picture of her at eight weeks of age:

The abbey at Le Mont Saint-Michel

finally, this afternoon I took the kids to the nearby metropolis (relative to where we live, at least) of Avranches to buy some running shoes and fall jackets at the Décathlon. While we were there we visited a jardinerie (garden center) and found out that they stocked something the kids have been obsessing over lately through books and websites – carnivorous plants! We bought two different types of pitcher plant (Nepenthes) and a Venus Flytrap (Dionaea Muscipula). When they caught sight of the display in the store their faces lit up like light bulbs. Here are the kids in the back of the car with their new plants:

Carnivorous plants

I’ll admit that the pictures I’ve posted here on my blog I’ve stolen directly from my Twitpic page, which I’ve been sharing pictures through via my Twitter page. If you’re a Twitter user, follow me if you care to – I’ll be adding more pictures from France as soon as I take them!

4 Comments

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  1. Francesca Melis
    24. Sep, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Jeebus Brian, your life is like amazing.

  2. yvonne
    05. Oct, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    I love Callum’s face in that last picture. I’m sure he flipped out when he saw them!

  3. Chris Norkun
    11. Feb, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    I agree with Francesca Melis–
    I am envious of the lifestyle and the adventure. I’m inspired to keep stepping up to the ledge and jumping into the river. One just never knows what the plunge has in store.

    My wife and I were in Paris in August…we missed the Great Canadian Pub, unfortunately! Still had a blast though.

    Strong writing, my friend. Your newest avid reader- Chris.

    • Brian
      12. Feb, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

      thank you Chris (and Francesca – I neglected to thank you for your comment as well) – I appreciate the kind words. It is indeed an adventure to live here; we are having a great time, and the kids are certainly benefiting from being in a tremendous learning environment.

      next time you and your wife are in Paris, let me know – perhaps we could pay a visit to the Great Canadian Pub! Though if you were visiting from North America you would probably prefer something a little more French…

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