Throughout 2006-08 I travelled randomly throughout Europe. My primary aims were to learn to speak French and to photograph anything and everything that I discovered along the way. I managed, in a roundabout kind of way, to do both.
So now on this trip things have developed and I’m almost entirely focused on my photography. I’m photographing people wherever I can, and also the places that I’m visiting. It’s been amazing and awesome, I’m loving it.
I decided that seeing as I’ve come all this way, gosh, golly, I may as well make a stop in France – for the focus to be more on the language development than on the photos. Just for a bit. Well, can you blame me?
Here’s what a standard day for me is looking like at the moment:
I pick things
I eat things
I eat more things
And take in the view ocassionally
I speak a little French…well OK it’s progressed past a little but I’m still somewhere in the middle – my best attempts happen in a conversation with just one or two other people, if it’s a large group then it gets a little foggy. The best depiction of language learning and cultural clash I ever came across was in ‘Almost French’ by Sarah Turnbull. I can vouch for the cultural experiences she also has (both negative and positive) – though with this particular place, no such trouble.
I’m staying with a French family that live in a little town called Monnetier-Mornex, it’s in what they call the Salève, a small mountain range in France, just outside of Geneva, in the Haute-Savoie. In the past my method of madness was to do WWOOFing– Willing Working On Organic Farms. During my last trip I stayed in many French homes all over the country, alas, the experience was not blogged. My very first placement, in a French home where there was absolutely no English and my French was virtually non-existent, involved carrying a dead sheep on my first night and eating the same food, day in, day out, including savagely bad homemade bread. That there was a crappy start that reduced me to tears after 10 days and not exactly the type of French experience I was looking for. The countryside was pretty though.
This placement, I have to say, was in my top 3 out of the 9 that I took in France. In fact this is the third time that I’ve stayed here. Work wise, it’s all about ‘le jardin’ – the garden, where 45 different types of plants and flowers are grown, weeded, cultivated, harvested, dried and packaged into various types of herbal teas. You name it, you’ll find it here. What brings me back to this place is the balance between work and play, the food is absolutely wonderful, on a good day you can see the Mont-Blanc, and best of all, my host Francoise and her family are simply delightful!
Merci beaucoup Francoise et la famille – Bernard, Ulysse, Jérémie, Alexandre, Lucie, Marianne, et l’autre wwoofer, Perrine. C’est vraiment sympa ici…