Monday, October 31, 2011


Halloween isn't really celebrated in France. I have seen a few stores with Halloween decorations in the windows but we haven't seen any pumpkins for sale and kids don't go trick or treating. This morning I mentioned to Fiacra and Ailbhe that it was Halloween. I said they could come trick or treating to Connell and I if they wanted. They felt that trick or treating to a single house wasn't enough, so they decided to temporarily move Connell to the beach tent in the courtyard. I offered to do a candy hunt for them. I felt a bit bad, trick or treating to their own house and a beach tent? Fiacra replied "Great, you set up a candy hunt, and Dad will just give out candy like a normal person." Right - that would be the normal person living in the beach tent in my courtyard.

They spent the morning decorating for Halloween, picking out their costumes, and deciding how to dress up Finian. They never complained about missing out on Halloween and seemed perfectly happy with their trick or treating. Sometimes they can be the easiest kids in the world.

Little ninja

 "Don't mess with me, I have been trained by a crazy person"

Bunny, little ninja, and viking (lovingly known as crazy person) 

Finian could not take his eyes off Ailbhe.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food of the Périgord Noir

The specialities of the Périgord Noir are walnuts, foie gras, and truffles. We were a little early for truffle season but the walnuts and foie gras were excellent. We bought some foie gras to bring back to Canada with us. I would love to bring a huge box of food back to Canada but we are facing the issue of fitting a household back into 8 bags so it's not really an option.

Walnut Trees

 Walnut peeking out. The walnuts are harvested from the ground. 

Foie gras waiting to happen

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Périgord Noir

We got home today after spending a week in the Périgord Noir area of the Dordogne. We stayed in a gite (holiday house) on what used to be a farm. Fiacra and Ailbhe loved having the freedom to run outside and explore. There were walnut trees just outside our door. It's amazing how long walnuts can amuse a 5 and 7 year old. The kids gathered a big bag of walnuts for us to bring home; they are delicious.

Our gite with walnut tree in the background

 The view from our patio

 Night view

 Apple picking on the farm

 Finian and Connell

 The farm cat spent pretty much the entire week with us. Finian loved it.

There is so much to do in the Périgord Noir. We did a lot but also spent time just hanging out at the farm. Fiacra, in particular, really enjoyed all the sites we visited. Here is his summary of what we did this week.

It was very fun. We went to a castle called Castelnaud, the most famous cave in the world Lascaux II, another cave Grotte de Rouffignac. Also we had a day doing a hike and staying home to play rugby. We went to a market in Sarlat and visited a church tower that was fun. 

La Roque Saint-Christophe had lots of models of what it might look like when people lived there. One model was about people fighting bears. Two other models were of the cliff town that was there. Three more were of machines that they used and one machine for pulling. 

When we were at home a day, we went for a hike and hollowed out a log. The hike lead us to a grassy field and through a forest. Then Connell and I had a match of rugby. I won 45-3. 

When we were at La Grotte de Rouffignac, we went down a train into a cave. There were cave paintings of woolly mammoths, plus horses, deers and bulls. Then we took the train out again. There were pictures of woolly mammoths on the way.

When we were at the town of Sarlat, we saw a market and bought fruit and wild boar sausages. We saw truffles in oil. Me and Mom and Dad tasted cheese with truffle in it. It was yummy. And we went to a single church tower with no church connected. There was a grassy area around it.

Fiacra has become a little obsessed with truffles, not to eat but to sell. In fact the purpose of one hike was to find an oak tree and dig for truffles, too early in the season unfortunately. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ailbhe's Art

Ailbhe's favourite thing to do, and definitely what she spends the most time at, is art. She is really creative. We have lots of art supplies for her. She gathers up what she needs, sets up a little table for herself or works on the floor and she is content for ages.

Here is some of her artwork from this weekend.

Ailbhe and John did this together

Ailbhe brings her backpack filled with notebooks, crayons, markers, etc. everywhere we go. Not sure where this little art girl came from, neither Connell nor I are artistic at all.

Uncle John Comes to Visit

My brother John came to visit for the weekend. Somehow the weekend turned into a rugby theme. Fiacra is now obsessed with all things rugby, Ailbhe is obsessed with all things John.

We had a busy weekend. Connell, John and Fiacra went to a rugby game on Friday night, Bordeaux-Begles against Racing Metro, which Bordeaux won. On Saturday, we went downtown and wandered around. We had lunch at our usual spot on the steps of Grand Theatre. Fiacra had a birthday party in the afternoon and Connell, John, and Ailbhe went for a swim in the outdoor pool. After making a quick dinner of french toast for Connell and the kids, John and I biked downtown for dinner. The kids were delighted with the dinner plans, Connell probably not so much. John and I had a lovely dinner, I love being downtown Bordeaux at night, it's always busy with a great vibe.

On Sunday, we went to the market by the river and had one last rugby game before John had to leave. The kids are very eager for John to visit us in Canada.

John and Fiacra playing rugby in the water mirror. It would have been a perfect day to take reflection photos if not for the road works.

John at Chez Edouard

John, Fiacra, and Ailbhe

When Fiacra got out of the shower on Sunday night, I noticed him grabbing fistfuls of his hair in a very agitated manner. I asked him what was wrong, and he said "I have just so much hair, way too much." I think he is considering a buzz cut. Maybe Ailbhe is not the only one John-obsessed. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Canada

Last week I was reading the Globe and Mail online and noticed some turkey recipes. It seemed a bit odd at first, turkey recipes in October? Oh right, Thanksgiving. I would have completely forgotten about it. I mentioned it later to Connell and the same thing had happened to him.

Well I got what I asked for - some cooler weather. We have had three cool days in a row, with highs 17º, 17º, and 20º. A big drop in temperature from last week. I could tell the cooler weather had arrived by the abundance of scarves around town. In Canada, when it cools down, people wear hats. In France, scarves are the accessory of choice. A return to hot weather again tomorrow though. I can now see why the outdoor pool at the swim complex stays open until the end of October.

We finally made a decision about the kids' upcoming school vacation, we're going to the Vézère Valley in the Dordogne. The Vézère Valley is famous for its cave paintings, particularly the Lascaux cave. The Lascaux cave is closed to the public but amazingly a reproduction cave, Lascaux II, has been built in an underground concrete bunker in the same hillside, with many of the paintings reproduced using the same techniques and materials as the original. For a virtual tour of Lascaux and its cave paintings click here. We  will definitely visit Lascaux II and at least one other cave.

My brother John is coming to visit us next weekend. We're excited!

Happy Thanksgiving from a little Canadian


Cacofolie (Au Backe !)

Our kids love playing games. We often play a game before bed. These are some of the games we have been playing recently. Most of them we have borrowed from the local Ludothéque, which has a great play area for kids and also an amazing toy library. They have 100's of board games. I don't think we'll get through them all, but we'll try.

Connell takes on Ailbhe at Quoridor and Fiacra at Quarto

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

The kids have a week off school at the end of October. We are planning on going away for the week and had decided on Paris. Now we're not so sure. We're also thinking of the Perigord Noir area of the Dordogne. Paris and the Dordogne will make for very different vacations, we just need to decide which we want for, most likely, our last vacation in France.

Our friends had a great time in Paris this summer. They used this book and found it fantastic. We have been flipping through and have found lots we're interested in.
Fodor's Around Paris with Kids, 4th Edition

I think Paris would be a much busier vacation, going here and there and seeing and doing. The Dordogne would be much more relaxed. Finian is at a tricky age right now. I'm not sure Paris would be the best for him, and if Finian is not enjoying himself, I'm probably not either. 

We're leaning towards the Dordogne for the family vacation with a weekend trip to Paris in November for Connell and Fiacra.