Everything about migrating to France


Sunday, March 29th

The first day of spring

The North Aveyron is unknown to many people. That is understandable. The temperatures are on average somewhat lower than in the south of southern France and there are really no spectacular attractions. If I had known beforehand I would have avoided this area. But ignorance has its advantages, and just because of this I live here and nowhere else.

Some of those days that are like a beautiful dream. You wake up, the sun shines, the birds sing, you feel happy. When we still lived in Rotterdam, on days like that, I went with my kids to Rotterdam Zoo. First I had to bike for fortyfive minutes through the city and try to keep up the feeling of happiness with all the grim and growling people around me. But when we arrived at the zoo , I could believe all day that the world was beautiful. My kids frolicked around me like two elated birds and wanted to know everything about those strange beasts in cages, the giraffes, hippos, the tarantulas, the frogs, fish, turtles, piranhas. At an end of the afternoon we went to the playground and we ate 'n ice cream. And when it was warm we took off our shoes and churned with our bare feet 't cool sand. To me that was as paradise and so it should always be.

Today we live in the Aveyron and Rotterdam Zoo is far away, but there are many quiet places where I can be happy with my kids, even the return trip to Rodez are a joy, at least if you do not count the hit and run animals dead in the shoulder. Funfairs can't be found here. However, there are many small zoo's where one cqn see thqt the animals are lovingly cared for.

Do you want to experience the happiness of the first spring or summer day to the fullest, you can go to ‘Le jardin des bêtes’ in Gagess. Yes, yes, I know that you do not just hop over from the Netherlands on a sunday, but then again if you're here in the neighbourhood ... and otherwise come over in the summer. There is no sweeter place to be. A camel at the entrance which blows his vile breath in your face, two pot-bellied pigs that want your popcorn, like all other animals, goats, llamas, donkeys, guinea pigs, desert foxes, parrots, geese in all shapes and sizes, they all love the popcorn. And so did we.

The playground is small but original and there is a maze (French: Labyrinthe) where you can easely pretend you're lost. Just before the exit you will find a darkened room where you get to see a 20 minutes performance of animated puppets with in the background the voice of a grandfather who tells his grandson how beautiful life was in the Aveyron.

And before you leave you can have a real cup of French coffee. The 'le jardin des bêtes' is also especially nice for small children with parents or grandparents.

Who wants to celebrate the feeling of the first day of spring in a big city, can easily drive to Toulouse, capital of the Midi-Pyrenees, university city (120,000 students) and fourth largest city in France. The French call her 'la ville rose' because the houses are made of red brick ('la brique').

Toulouse resambles the center of Amsterdam but bigger and with the peace and modesty of a friendly French village.

That is hard to believe when you know that five days after our visit one of the most grim and violent demonstrations of any demonstrations on that day (March 19th) in France, was held against Sarkozy's crisis policy. Where "shops were looted and several people were severely wounded. But behind this headline is a hidden story. The demonstrators - a few hundred students - had the blocked the entrance of to 'get' for the poorest. After which the police came into action with all force, which developped into total chaos. The massive commitment by the students of Toulouse (and indeed many more cities in France) to make a gesture to the weakest touches me. Does any such thing exist in the Netherlands?

De andere kant n het park des plantens (klik voor een vergrotinig)

Maar hoe dan ook, toen wij er waren was ’t er rustig. Wandel op ´n zaterdagmiddag na een uitgebreid bezoek aan de Jardin des plantes (die me qua sfeer enorm doet denken aan het Vondelpark), of een van de andere publieke tuinen richting centrum. Naarmate je dichter bij het stadshart komt wordt het drukker. Het geroezemoes zwelt aan maar nergens hoor je geschreeuw. Er is ontzettend veel jeugd die gemoedelijk bij elkaar ligt, zit, staat, skate, speelt en hangt en daar tussendoor veel leeftijdloos publiek. Biologisch gezien mag Parijs dan het kloppend hart van Frankrijk zijn, maar Toulouse heeft iets waar geen enkele grote stad die ik ken zich mee kan meten. Vreedzaamheid.

Anyway, when we were there it was quiet. Walk on 'n Saturday after an extensive visit to the Jardin des plantes (in terms of ambiance that reminds me of the Vondelpark in Amsterdam), or any other public gardens towards the center. As you get closer to the city center, it becomes busier. The buzz swells but nowhere do you hear screaming. There is a lot of youth that is friendly to each other, sitting, standing, skating, playing and hanging and in between many public of all ages. Biologically speaking, should Paris than the heart of France, but Toulouse has something no major city I know can measure itself by. Peacefulness.

Toulouse Jarden des plabtes (klik voor een grote afbeelding)

POLL : Where would you rather be on the first day of spring?
on my way to somewhere  11% 5
in a shoppingmall  0% 0
in my shed  4% 2
in an animal garden / zoo  42% 19
with my boyfriend - girlfriend  4% 2
i'll have a terrace in the sun  38% 17
45 votes total

ever wondered why i got these short legs? from amm this walking!

posted by Maartje Heymans at 12:00  |  send a comment

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