Forget Halloween! In France it’s all about La Toussaint: The first of November is All Saints’ Day. It’s a public holiday and a time when families visit cemeteries to remember and honour their deceased relatives. It’s traditional for families to put a pot of chrysanthemums on the graves of their family for la Fete de la Toussaint – Thegoodlifefrance.com (Chrysanthemums are indeed so closely linked to La Toussaint that the French never give them as a gift.). This holiday falls during the autumn (fall) school holidays which I mentioned in my last post and which just came to an end.
Actually I really did forget all about Halloween and so when we received one random visit from a small group of teenage ‘witches’ we had to send them on their way disappointed and empty-handed (no candy/lollies/sweets in this house!) And to be honest, as much as I enjoyed celebrating Halloween whilst living in California, I think that it is a tradition that can stay in America.
We took advantage of the school break to head south towards Toulouse and stay with the family of a very good friend of our son’s (who returned to France from Shanghai in June). The region is very picturesque and we took advantage of the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful towns with our hosts (Puycelsi, Cordes sur Ciel and Albi) and to eat the local cassoulet (a dish of pork and beans…which is a very simplistic explanation of this complex and yummy dish).
On the way back we stopped for a short while to visit the town of Bordeaux which had some great public spaces including it’s famous ‘water mirror’ which the kids loved running on/through/in?
Then we were fortunate to receive a week-end visit from my dear former boss John (from my time previous time in France in the city of Grenoble). We all enjoyed his company and I remembered just how much I missed our regular chats.
There were a few family birthday parties, play-dates and day-trips thrown in there too.
The last week of the vacation was even more eventful: my daughter had to have an urgent ultrasound to eliminate the suspicion of appendicitis – and which uncovered that she actually had Mesenteric adenitis – the second most common cause of right lower abdominal pain after appendicitis which occurs more often in children than in adults and does not require any treatment other than rest and pain relief.
And then on the very last day of the vacation a (slowly?) reversing car knocked my son over and rolled over his foot – where it stayed until the driver realized (after much frantic yelling and tapping on the car on my part) and moved forward. I was completely horrified especially as I was crouching down right beside my son at the time (which is presumably why the driver didn’t see us). I’m not entirely sure of the details as we were actually on a wheelchair route at the time and facing the other way.