Monday, April 29, 2013

I have a dream... lucky Moi!

When do people stop dreaming? When did I?

Somewhere along the way, life happens, and we start confusing short- or mid-term plans with dreams. Worse, we adopt other people's dreams as our own, convincing ourselves that if they are good enough for someone we love, they are good enough for us. Somewhere along the way, we forget who we are. 

Les renoncements. We settle.

Dreams are harder to achieve than plans. Dreams require a good dose of imagination. Enthusiasm. Some craziness. Ambition. Patience. And a little bit of selfishness too. But folks, making a dream come true is the ultimate reward, one that will be appreciated only if it took a lot of hard work and sacrifices to get there. 

I just turned a big birthday this spring, and as I looked back at the person I used to be, in my 20s or 30s, I realized somewhere along the way, I stopped dreaming. 

This year has been a challenging one for our family. In more ways than one. Curve balls have been thrown at us, as life has a tendency to do, and in our attempts to catch them, there has been no time to dream - or even to think about dreaming. 

No matter. This ends now. Oh, I know there will be more rough months ahead, more trials; and I will look at them squarely in the face. But this does not mean life has to stop just now. 

I want to keep on dreaming. I want to feel inspired, and excited, once again.

This week, the funniest thing happened. And all because of a little car I met at a local museum. If you are French, or even European, you will know why I had to have my photo taken in front of that particular car... It was not the fastest, the most beautiful, the most famous car there... but it is the only one I remember from my visit.

Le May American Car Museum, Tacoma, WA
Two French girls meet...

La Deux-Chevaux. La Deuche, or, as it is known in the United States, the 2CV.

If you want to understand why this little car occupies such as an important place in the French psyche, you may want to pause and read the story I wrote about it last year. Then come back here and find out how this French Girl started dreaming again...

When I posted this innocent photo on the Facebook page for the French Girl in Seattle blog, a funny thing happened. A French man named Sylvain, another blogger and expat, enjoyed my 2CV story so much, he immediately shared it with the readers of his popular blog, My French Neighbor (merci Sylvain!) Within two hours, the numbers of subscribers to my page had increased by 75%, and visitors left enthusiastic comments about the 2CV, and the page in general. This tickled me pink (no, I will not attempt a translation here.) 

It was clear La Deuche still has many fans around the world, and if my story was good enough for Sylvain and other French people (a notorious tough crowd,) then I had reasons to be happy and proud.

La Deux Chevaux: More French than la baguette or le béret!
Still a beloved sight in the French countryside...

An iconic French car on an iconic French road

Just looking at la Deuche makes me smile. That is the truth. I see one go by in France (not a very common occurrence anymore,) and I smile. I can't help it. 

As I was researching old photos and stories about the 2CV online, I found a company offering sightseeing tours of Paris in refurbished 2CVs, Quatre Roues sous un Parapluie (Four wheels under an umbrella, one of the 2CV's old nicknames...) 

I immediately decided to book a short tour for Junior (the car enthusiast) and me, while we visit relatives in Paris this summer. A 30-mn ride along les Champs-Elysées and around l'Arc de Triomphe in crazy Parisian trafic is a [good] start.. This was a plan, not quite a dream yet... but a fun plan all the same!

Then I looked at the website some more, and I found information about a rally, organized every spring by Quatre Roues sous un Parapluie and the Most Beautiful French Villages of France Association. Imagine that: Seven days. From Paris to Cannes (French Riviera.) Driving your own 2CV with your crew; experiencing some of my homeland's most scenic roads and villages, surrounded by other 2CV and France enthusiasts; all the while competing in a rally; sleeping in comfortable country hotels  and interacting with locals every evening; discovering why La Deuche always was so much more than a car... a true lifestyle...

"I like the good life..."

Lucky buggers. I like them all already...

I had found it. My dream. A dream that would take some time to finalize (and a lot of saving up...) but that would be so satisfying, so fun, so... perfect. 

Of course, I will have to start working on it soon. First I will need a dedicated crew. Three people max. 2CV enthusiasts and francophiles need apply. What do you say? Are you interested? 

What car will we get? We don't need to own one. Quatre Roues sous un Parapluie will find one for us for the duration of the rally...

A rugged Sahara model?

A convertible Charleston model (my favorite?!)

Never mind.  This ain't the Pacific Northwest!

Finally. Some sun on the horizon. Something to look forward to. 

Ahhhh... The freedom to dream. It can be mine. It can be yours, once again.

Life can be good, people, for the Dreamers, the Motivated, the Brave! 

What about you? Do you have a dream?

A bientôt.

  • Interested in the 2 CV Rally? More info here.
  • Interested in the incredible story of La Deuche? Read more here

  • More Deux Chevaux (2CV) photos, just because... These are a bit of a private joke for French readers. Do you get it? :-) 

Merci, chère Deuche, for reminding me of the intoxicating power of dreams...

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Frenchies do "the Market" (Part 2)

No Seattle visit is complete without a trip to Pike Place Market; "the Market," as locals refer to it. 

To Europeans, the Market neighborhood feels familiar, yet remains uniquely American.

Born in August 1907 and aiming to connect farmers directly to consumers, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continually operated public farmer's markets in the United States. Complete with over 200 year-round businesses, craftspeople and street performers, the Market welcomes over 10 million visitors a year. Only the Space Needle can compete as a major local landmark!

It seemed natural for the Frenchies to return this week, between two downpours. Four years had gone by since their last visit, yet nothing much had changed...

Downtown Seattle is still a hodgepodge of architectural styles... "To each his own" seems to be the city's motto as far as city planning is concerned...

Looking up Pike street from the Market

The original Starbucks store is still there, a tourist attraction in its own right. French Dad was even talked into walking around while holding his coffee in a paper cup! Revolution!

Bizarre... but when in Seattle, do as the Seattleites do...

Rachel the Pig still welcomes visitors to the Market...

Under the Market, miles of corridors, known as "DownUnder," offer a quirky and often fascinating collection of antiques, collectibles, and strange finds...

In the "belly" of the Market...

The Gum Wall was a surprise to the Frenchies... "Beurk!" (Yuck!) commented French Mom, a street art fan...

Sometimes, one is just very grateful for the Lumix LX5's awesome zoom!

After our morning stroll, we enjoyed a tasty and affordable lunch at the Athenian Inn, a Market institution. The unbeatable Puget Sound views rival the terraces of the most exclusive local restaurants... Unfortunately, Tom Hanks (who once visited the Athenian Inn in an iconic Sleepless in Seattle scene,) was nowhere to be found... 

A window with a [Seattle] view:
Puget Sound. WA state ferry. Ferris wheel.

Sleepless in Seattle, 1993 (yikes!)
Tom Hanks (Sam Baldwin) and Rob Reiner (his friend)
head down to the Market for lunch

One can't visit the Market without perusing the wares and investing in fresh local produce. The Frenchies lucked out: It is tulip season, and the market stalls overflowed with colorful flowers from the neighboring Skagit Valley. This is as close to Holland (a.k.a. tulip country) as Seattleites will ever get!

Seattle is a city where fish actually flies!

When it was time to leave, the Frenchies and their Americanized daughter and grandson enjoyed glorious Puget Sound views one last time from the iconic Victor Steinbrueck park...

Local teenager doing what teenagers do best: texting...

We returned to our side of the bridge, but all that sightseeing had made us very thirsty. We dropped off Junior and headed to a favorite local winery (and outdoor summer concert venue,) le Château Ste Michelle, where some of us indulged in a wine-tasting session before heading home...


A bientôt...

All photos by French Girl in Seattle
Do not copy, reprint or Pin without permission.
Thank you.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Frenchies have landed... (Part 1)


The Frenchies have landed, and they are taking the Pacific Northwest by storm...

Leaving behind the [French] concept of moderation and embracing local delicacies with wild abandon...

French grandparents inquired:
"Do you approach this sucker with a fork and knife?!"

Enjoying the many perks of the glorious Pacific Northwest spring weather...

It's cold, but not too cold for a grandfather and grandson
to partake in animated conversation...

French Popsicles and their American dog...

Meeting friendly locals... however strange they may be...

Des nains de jardins... (garden gnomes)

D'étranges créatures... (strange creatures) 

Un bouquet d'oiseaux? (a bunch of birds)
Un hippopotame déraciné (an uprooted hippo) 

Experiencing the Wild Wild West...


Enjoying themselves and making new [American] friends along the way...

French Grandpa and Mademoiselle Bisou...

To be continued...

A bientôt.

All photos by French Girl in Seattle.
Please do not use, copy, or Pin without permission.