Marry a Frenchman and you can get a Visa in 5 days.
At least that was my good fortune (marrying the Frenchman and getting the Visa quickly). After worrying for a year, and really anxious in the last two months after getting married via a French civil ceremony, I showed up at the French Consulate in Washington, D.C., handed over my documents, and received my Visa via the mail in 5 days.
Waiting to approach the Frenchman at the window in the Consulate, I was very nervous. Everyone seemed to have some complications–waited too long to apply for an upcoming trip; forgot documents; didn’t meet financial requirements; had over-stayed passport, etc. But I had everything in order, and as the spouse of a French national, the man took one look at my documents, had another lady review them, and told me he would get my back to France and my husband in short order.
Sigh. It’s over. And they stamped my application to get my carte de séjour. I’ll soon be a permanent resident with healthcare and the privilege to work!
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In April, I had the opportunity to be at a soirée for the start of the wine season at Domain de Bel Air, the home, vineyard, and winery of Didier and Isabelle Michel. The winery opened for the season with an all-day affair, attracting locals and tourists to taste the first wines of the harvest. Continue reading
Some random facts about food in the South of France, or at least here in Provence:
Framage (cheese) comes at the end of every meal. And there is an abundance and variety of cheese in France.
There is also a variety of grapes, and so I have no idea what type of grape jelly I am eating on my peanut butter sandwiches.
They have peanut butter here, but it’s hard to find. I’ve found only Skippy (chunky) in a small jar.
The order of the meal is very important.
An aperitif comes first; and an aperitif does not only refer to the beverage. It refers to what we Americans call an appetizer. Usually some kind of pork and bread. Always salty, not sweet.
The entree is next. And this is not the main meal as we refer to it in the States. It’s usually a salad or vegetable.
Next, The Plate (here’s what we call the entree).
Duck and other wild game and sea food, fresh, is plentiful here. Duck is as common as beef.
We eat Sea Salt (from the Mediterranean, I assume), and naturally, it is manufactured (or processed) locally.
Dessert is after The Plate; and cheese comes last, AFTER dessert.
They eat way to much bread here and drink way too much wine. I don’t know how they stay thin. I think I’m going to gain 20 pounds and stay drunk all day.
Jean Claude Portal is a modern day artist with a passion for ancient art. Bach and Michel Ange (Michelangelo) are his muses. And like all true blue-blooded Frenchman, the corrida (bullfighting) is “art” in the arena.
In his studio in Nimes, France, Jean Claude earns a living as an artist, creating old world themes for new homes and renovations. From table tops to counter tops; lavs to entryways; ornamental decor, sculptures, carvings, etchings in marble and stone; Jean Claude’s art is tastefully, modernly, old.
Last weekend, at my request, he gave me and some friends a tour of his studio and presented his work. It was like stepping back in time and a rare opportunity to visit the work space of a baroque sculptor.
I knew Jean Claude as a musician with a passion for Bach and an infatuation with Gypsy rhythms. He and my Frenchman play gypsy guitar together a few times every week, entertaining in restaurants, and local soirees. But during a casual conversation I learned that he earns his living as an artist, like his mother before him. I asked to see his studio. He said yes; and so Saturday, before we all gathered in a local pub to hear he and my frenchman strum and thump out some more gypsy music, we stopped by JC Portal Marbrier.
His work, all with an old world feel, varies from astrological and unusual etchings in marble to elaborate and traditional carvings in granite. A deeply religious man, his passion for the Christ is evident in many of his personal works, which include scenes from the Crucifixion and Virgin Mother and Christ Child.
Among the tools, marble, granite and works in progress, his two other passions are subtly represented: in his office, a guitar, and hanging from the wall in a back room, the head of a fighting bull.
Kate, I told him about you, my art professor friend; I asked if I could present him and his work to you when you visit. He said, bien sur, of course.