Hooray for André (picture credits: Zander). Well, for the past 4 years, our tradition on Father’s Day has been to go and pick strawberries and then make homemade jam. This was the weekend to go for it and our plan was to head out Saturday afternoon. In the morning we had a Kermasse (kind of like a funfest) at Callie and Griffin’s school to raise some money. It was fun. André helped out by running the wheelbarrow race. I made some winter fun cookies. They had lots of prizes for the kids and it was great to see all the parents and children of the school community.
Then we were off to find French fraises (strawberries). We were having a very hard time finding a place to pick but found 2 places online rumored to have picking. We ended up spending about 3 hours in the car figuring out that the first place hadn’t done picking for over 6 years (whoops!) and the second place didn’t seem to exist at all. What a bummer! Lesson from this – if you can’t get through on the phone, or confirm with a website, don’t try to go there. We comforted ourselves by visiting a nearby town called Belfort. It has another citadelle. Unfortunately it was raining, and we had no jackets and we got there close to closing but we never let little snags like that stop us, right? We were able to wander around for a bit and see the famous lion of Belfort. l enjoyed looking at the stone they used to build their fort – it looked like some kind of beautiful red sandstone.
Belfort is an interesting city in France. It has been part of Germany and a part of France at different points in history. The French that people speak in this region has a very different accent than how people sound in Besançon (of course, I couldn’t hear the difference, it’s all French to me, but André and Callie could). This fort was also designed by Vauban and the ramparts were flat on top, much like the Besançon Citadelle. The difference was that, in several strategic locations, there were these round towers plopped right in the middle of the rampart. They are called Demoiselles (Dames) and were built to discourage any invaders who happened to be lucky enough to scale the walls from freely running across the top of the wall. Just when they thought the going was good, they would run smack into a giant round tower in their path. Guess this showed them… ha, ha, my fort is impenetrable! (at least until bomb-laden planes came along…)
We stopped for some incredibly bad Mexican food (note to all travelers, do not, I repeat, do NOT, attempt Mexican cuisine if vacationing in France). On the way home, I got this sunset shot out of the window of the car – go me!
The next morning was Father’s Day. André went out for a very long run and came home to a special meal with us, plus presents! He showed us his run route. He often gets lost in the Grand Forêt and this day was no exception. Zander helped me make breakfast and mopped the floors as a gift to Daddy while Callie and Griffin made him lovely gifts from school, shown below). I made him winter fun cookies, and got him a book about all the coolest places on the planet (because, of course, we want to travel to all of them). We spent the rest of the day hanging out and starting to pack for America.
A quick note here about presents made in school. First off,they don’t seem to exist past pre-school age. Zander did not bring anything home for either André or I for Father’s or Mother’s Day. In the école maternelle, however, creative gifts are all the rage. Of course, as you can see, these gifts are not actually possibly created by the children. They do small parts (like painting it) and the adults do the rest. The results are quite nice, but I prefer the lopsided and imperfect art I used to receive from the BBY. Also, the BBY stuff was smaller in size (I love their art – but does it have to take up a poster board?). Plus, for some reason the French art always features my child’s head (for some reason an essential part of art here, especially in Griffin’s age group). You can see what I mean, below. The first shot is a close up of Griffin’s ‘circus’ gift to Daddie – it had 4 panels, each featuring a cut-out of his skull on a circus performer. The second is Callie’s picture for Daddie and the last two shots are my Mother’s Day gifts.