Despite the longer hours in French schools-- school here is only four times a week-- they have three recesses, and lunch is 90 minutes long. Those that stay and eat at the cantine get treated to a four- course meal made from mostly fresh ingredients. Others go home for lunch.
Esther and Isla stay at the cantine two days per week, and come home two days. Did I mention there is a four day school week in France?
As much as I enjoy the two full days without them, and knowing their palates are being stimulated like only the French can stimulate a palate-- I'm not talking about French kissing, here--I like that they come home for lunch.
The walk to and from school is pleasant, and sociable. There are often swans to watch. We get to reconnect and they get to decompress. They both often do artwork and Essie even did some knitting Friday after lunch. I love that she has the chance, and the desire, to do that. She needs the alone time. The quiet time.
Wednesday, the day off, is activity day. Isla has ballet and Esther has riding in the morning and a two-hour art class in the afternoon. But even without these scheduled activities, the mind-expanding opportunities are all around us.
Life in Europe is a history, geography, geology, anthropology and sociology text book all in one. It is impossible to go anywhere in France, or Europe for that matter, and not bang head first into something educational, enlightening and historically significant.
Even it it's just the men we see, without fail, peeing in public each and every time we leave the house. That and the people driving with a dash board filled with baguettes, or riding their bikes with the baguette under their arm. Either way, the baguette is present. As present as the copious dog poop.
Just being here, breathing the air, drinking-- or not daring to drink-- the water, riding up, and skiing down the formidable alps, looking into, or licking, Patisserie windows, Boulangerie windows,butcher windows, boutique windows, watching Luthiers (violin makers) at work, driving down mountain passes, through deep tunnels, over borders and through passport checkpoints. Or driving past clifftop castles. And visiting lakeside castles.
Like the Chateau de Chillon, on the edge of the Lake of Geneva, where we lurked about in the dungeon, listening to the waves lap against the sides of the castle and watching the sunlight, reflected off the water, dance on the stone pillars. Pillars to which prisoners were once shackled.
Oh to have unlimited funds and a heart even wilder, and more daring than my own.
I'm tempted, sometimes, to just throw caution to the wind, start a new blog, called "Debt be damned" or something like that, grab my Visa card, the girls, and a few changes of clothing, buy a Eurail ticket, and pass Go on a European art, history and culture tour.
Could you imagine?
First stop would be Florence to see Esther's favorite all time painting, The Birth of Venus, by Boticelli.
Then, perhaps, we could go up to Amsterdam to the Rembrandt and Van Gogh museums. Then to Berlin to the Holocaust museum, then to Monet's Gardens in Giverny--we've done the Louvre-- and Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern.
The Lindt chocolate factory outside Zurich.... Yum, then over to Kitzbuhel to schuss down the Hahnenkamm...
The options are dizzying. It's good to dream.
It's good to dream.