France #10: Birthday Weekend

Daphne ’25, recounts a weekend with great friends and a new found family.

I’d like to call this weekend “birthday weekend”, because these two days have been the long awaited “French girl birthday” of Elizabeth and me! Our birthdays are only one day apart, and it is why we have been dreaming of this weekend ever since November.

On the morning of Saturday, I asked my maman d’accueil if I could accompany her once again to the Saturday marché. The bustling stalls remind me much of Taiwan, my home country, and allow me to feel closer with my family, especially because this is my first summer in a different country. Arles, a small village, really does have the same type of community as what we find in a boarding school. We bumped into Sandrine and Gerard, friends of my maman d’accueil, and grabbing a verre together has become part of our vie quotidienne. I ordered a Pac à l’eau, a classic Southern French delicacy consisting of Pac, a lemon syrup, and l’eau, water. It tastes like lemonade with a milder citron flavor.

During the night, since my père and frères d’accueils were busy enjoying the Finale de League de Champion de foot, my maman d’accueil and I went for a girls night out. At the venue, I saw Elizabeth, Gracie, Emilie, and June. Wanting a cold treat, we walked in the streets as dusk settled with ice creams in our hands, admiring the ubiquitous golden hour of Arles. The warm sunlight washed over the picture-perfect Place de Forum and Les Arènes as a light breeze billowed our hair. We sang our hearts out on the streets to Dancing Queens, in honor of Elizabeth and my upcoming birthday.

On Sunday, Elizabeth and my family met up in Pont du Gard, the most visited Roman monument in France, after my daily pain au chocolat for breakfast. The pont was more beautiful than I imagined from seeing it regularly in my past French textbooks. There, I took my first picture with my famille d’accueil! (Zac, mon frère d’accueil, did not come along since he wanted to prepare for his spectacle de danse that night.) Along with the little kids in both our families, we picnicked by the riverside and cooled down in the water. Elizabeth and I especially recounted the difference between French and American displays of affection. For example, in the United States, we hug when we feel close to someone, but in France, they prefer fewer hugs and more bisous!

When we returned back to Arles, my family found Svetlana’s family in the théâtre antique, the Roman monument still used today for performances, to see Zac dance. However, a storm was arriving, so they decided to postpone the showcase to Thursday, since it would have been too dangerous. We returned à pied to the house, and like always, we chatted with friends on the route all the way back home.