Category: france

French Family Crests

Wednesday 05.23.12

One of those truly unusual finds from the Vanves flea market in Paris. These are wax seals depicting heraldic crests from some of the oldest families in France. I have my friend Nancy to thank for spotting these. We were approaching the final few hundred feet of the market and I heard a sharp intake of breath. I turned and followed Nancy’s gaze to a gentleman who had about 20 or so of these small 12″X14″ boards arrayed on the pavement at his feet. It seemed unthinkable that they were for sale and not in a museum. Who knows, as I write this it occurs to me that maybe they were stolen.

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Camp

Tuesday 05.22.12

I’m not sure whose idea it was to send us to hiking camp in the mountainous Haute Savoie region of France, but one August, there we were. Two little American kids among forty or so French-speaking 8 to 12 year olds. For an entire month. The camp was sponsored by SNCF, the French National Railway. We went two years in a row. The first summer was fantastic: Hiking in the high peaks, eating amazing cheese and foraging for hazelnuts and wild blueberries on our endless treks. It was there that I discovered the joys of eating a baguette stuffed with giant hunks of Swiss chocolate. On our longer hikes, and at higher altitudes, we would sometimes stay overnight at a farm. We would all pile into the stalls in the sheep or the goat barn. With the animals. Yep. The second year was decidedly less fun. I had sprained my ankle quite badly right before camp was to start. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how that played out in a place where one was expected to be ambulatory and more. I mostly sat around reading, drawing and — inexplicably — making yarn pom poms that the bratty French girls then promptly pulled apart. The other day I found this picture of my brother (kneeling with his arms around the goat) with some of the other campers and it all came back to me in a rush.

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