Message for the Obama and Romney campaigns: I've done my due diligence and I have decided who I will vote for in November so you can stop trying to win my vote. (Though it's not as if either of them was really trying terribly hard.) Time to turn the attention to the important stuff. It's "La rentrée" in Versailles and this small city is hopping with stuff and events that have much more relevance to our lives than some wacky election a few thousand miles overseas. "All politics is local, "said Tip O'Neill. Damn right, says I.
La rentrée (back to school/work season) is a bittersweet time in France. Our apartment complex is starting to fill back up with familiar faces. So much for the sweet sweet solitude of the summer. I caught my neighbor petting our cat, Minouche, on the garden wall. He looked tan and happy. In fact, all the returnees look great: our banker (you know, the guy who is working on our house loan), the cashier at the supermarket, our lawyer, our real estate agent, the butcher, the mailman and the medical staff at my hospital. Vacation in France is an equal opportunity event and it's open to just about everyone - you don't have to be rich to head to the south of France to catch a few rays on the beach or up to Brittany to windsurf for three weeks.
My cell phone is filling up with messages as well from my fellow Americans coming home from trips to the U.S. In the previous paragraph I called the U.S. election wacky. I am not alone. The overwhelming consensus of my compatriots who are back from visiting family and friends in the homeland is that the entire nation fell off its collective rocker years ago and it doesn't look like they are getting up anytime soon. I'd pass them a cane but they get prickly when folks like me (the few, the proud, the expatriate) make the mild suggestion that rolling around on the floor and spitting at each other is not the best way to pull everyone up.
Back to "La rentrée." School starts next week. For the younger Frenchling it actually started weeks ago since she has been attending private math classes again at Acadomia in the center of Versailles. Two hours a day for two weeks. Hey, this is THE year she passes her Baccalaureate and this "cruel and unusual punishment" is, alas, necessary. She seems to be taking it with good cheer so my parental guilt is assuaged.
Sometime this weekend we will be sorting through last year's school supplies to see what can be re-used and braving the "grandes surfaces" (big chain stores like Carrefour or Auchan) to purchase what's missing. This is my least favorite Fall activity since it involves shopping at the local mall alongside large crowds of ill-tempered parents and children - all of us doing our disagreeable duty and shelling out good money for things that are required but never used (those ardoises, for example). Amazon France and Gibert Joseph Versailles will also be getting a lot of last minute orders from us as the younger Frenchling pulls out those summer reading lists and (surprise!) sees a few titles that she doesn't have and didn't read.
As for the city of Versailles, things have gone from sleepy and quiet to its more usual pleasant hum of activity. The days are shorter but the lines at the local shops are longer. Traffic is starting to be its usual nightmare. It's harder to find a place to park. The city itself has seen some significant changes over the summer. One of my favorite sites for local news, MonVersailles, has more details: Two New Bus Lines and The Remodel of the Collège Jean-Philippe Rameau (the Frenchlings' old school). This post, En vrac, La rentrée versaillaise, was a gold mine of information about things I knew (those new traffic radars on the avenue de Saint-Cloud) and things I didn't (the ex-President of Senegal lived here).
And, finally, on a personal note (and not of general interest I think to our fellow residents here in Versailles) the Flophouse will definitely be moving in December. We signed the Compromis de vente yesterday in front of the notaire, our real estate agent and a representative of the owners. That little house in Porchefontaine will, after the work is done, be the new physical location of the Franco-American Flophouse before the end of the year. In a surprise twist my mother-in-law informed me that our new house is not far from another house just on the other side of the Avenue de Paris where my French spouse lived for a couple of years as a child. Ah, the advantages of having married a French Army brat. :-)