OK, two years are up (technically more like 20 months) and our time in France is at an end. You can learn a lot by living in a place for so long, more than you can with, say, a long weekend in Paris, which had been my prior experience in France, waaay back in 1997. So, as a sort of wrap-up, I'd like to make a somewhat asinine, mostly unanalytical list for you all to chew on. Maybe the sum of the parts will reveal something more profound about my experience, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Sometimes I just like to make lists.
Things I liked about France:
La Famille Roquain, who adopted us in year 1.
La Famille Beltran-Lopez, who adopted us in year 2.
Trips to Nantes with Alex.
The cheese (morbier).
The wine (haut-medoc).
Madame Fortin's Boulangerie.
The food in general. Really there is no rival.
Le Vieux Mans, Le Mans' medieval section.
Free health care for all.
The stones at Carnac.
They hate Bush.
Weekly French lessons with Huu.
Our apartment in Le Mans.
Our second apartment in La Roche-sur-Yon.
Getting my hair cut by Roselyne.
Foie gras (I know, enough with the food already).
My 30th birthday in Paris.
Alex's 30th birthday in Bordeaux.
Wine caves at Bordeaux.
Exploring France with Alex and Antonieta.
Finding a pearl in my oyster.
Teaching in Le Mans (usually).
Teaching in La Roche (occasionally).
Watching the World Cup in cafes.
Cognac (the city and the drink).
Learning to cook.
Many, many moustaches.
Having a lot of time for writing.
Small, independent businesses thriving.
Really, really old architecture.
Tiny, fuel efficient cars.
The Apocalypse Tapestries at Angers.
Great public transportation.
Things I could have done without:
Birthplace of mayonnaise.
Weird Sarkozy/Le Pen attitude toward (Arab) foreigners.
Our landlords from hell, Mr. and Mme. Besson.
Apartment at 7 rue Broussais.
Our neighbors at 7 rue Broussais.
All the smoking.
The bad beer.
Tourist trap restaurants in Paris.
Showers that point at your stomach. Perfect for people less than 3 feet tall.
Yelling at my La Roche students.
The occasional rancid smelling man (OK, it's a stereotype, but there's some truth to it...).
French music (sorry).
Six 70 lb. suitcases on the way home.
This list is neither complete nor fair nor reasonable.