French Sabbatical

My family's year in France…

Day 112 (20 October 2010) – Crêpe Kindness

On Monday Ella came home with four lemon-sugar crêpes, a gift from her primary teacher (who also happens to be her English teacher). It was a stunning act of kindness, given that Ella had casually mentioned that she likes crêpes. Add in that her teacher has two young children at home and the fact that she took the time to do this kindness for not just Ella but our entire family is even more moving. This is exactly the kind of treatment we are getting everywhere we go in France. People are being so, so nice to us. As difficult as aspects of being in a French school have been Ella, there is no denying how thoughtful and accommodating her teachers are being.

On a separate subject but one that is quite pronounced here, the demonstrations about the Pension Act have increased throughout the country and in Nantes. Chloe reports that parts of the university have been shut down and that tomorrow and Friday may be especially interesting. Her teacher told all the foreign exchange students how to access their part of the school tomorrow through a side door. They may be the only students engaged in classes. Also, access to and from the Nantes airport was blocked for several hours today and places throughout the tram lines were cut. I did appreciate the creativity of a demonstration staged by a couple of hundred students in the center of town this morning. Apparently they wanted to conduct their protest inside the Fnac store (a cross between Circuit City and Barnes & Noble) but were denied access. Instead, they all lay down outside. Learn more at this link, a Google English translation of the area’s newspaper story.

October 20, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized |


  1. I hope you all are safe – we are getting the stories here of the protests in France, and it seems most of the violence is in Paris. Interesting that they are protesting the raise of the retirement age from 60 to 62 — we’ve been there for a long time and it hasn’t been a problem for us. But I guess if you’re used to retiring at 60, two more years seems like a long time. Also interesting is the fact that it’s mostly the young people that are protesting – not the older ones who will have to add 2 more years to their employment! Stay safe – I really enjoy your blogs Andy – they’re delightful!!

    Comment by clarissa | October 20, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Clarissa! So nice to hear from you. Nothing we’ve encountered has caused us to fear for our safety. Truthfully, everything we’ve seen is orderly and, dare I say, polite. There are some people, typically young (not to stereotype…), like those who threw apples at our tram last week, that just seem to want to have an excuse to complain about something. But they’re the minority. I don’t feel qualified to comment on the politics behind the situation, having not grown up here. Thanks for the kind words, –Andy

      Comment by Andy Smallman | October 20, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] A year ago today I wrote about the crêpes that Ella’s homeroom teacher made for her to bring home to the rest of us. It was such a profound act of kindness that I let it supplant what I first intended to write about that day, the fact that Melinda made homemade coq au vin (I did tell about that two days later). Today’s photo is from exactly a year ago. As you can see, it’s of Melinda in our kitchen in Nantes making said coq au vin. […]

    Pingback by Thinking About Food « Back in Seattle | October 20, 2011 | Reply

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