These past few days have been an absolute blur of bureaucratic activity. In between sleeping and hurriedly stuffing food in my face, I’ve had appointments at two different banks and opened a bank account, organised the papers to apply for rent assistance, filled out those same papers, read and signed my lease agreement, taken out an insurance policy on my apartment (mandatory), been inducted at my school – I got a key and a meal card and everything – and a dozen other little things. I’ve been as busy as a queen bee. I hope that all this activity means that later on I can be idle as an unmated drone (mated drones are dead drones).
Bees, you say? Well yes, I have learnt some things about bees in the last couple of days. In the period of idleness that I’m trying to craft for myself, I want to at least do something constructive. For that reason that I signed myself up for a course on Bees and Honey at the Université Populaire. The first lesson was on Saturday, and we were lucky enough to be able to visit some beehives and help extract the honey – of which I got to keep a small pot. I love bees and the honey they make – this day out was a real treat for me.
The gentleman who runs the course was also kind enough to loan me a bike, which was very friendly.
I spent most of the next day out and about in town enjoying the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine, a sort of Europe-wide festival where all of the monuments and museums throw open their doors, divest themselves of their ticket prices and invite you to come and profit from the cultural heritage of this great continent of theirs.
In Moulins, quite a lot was going on – I was invited by one of the professors from my school to join her and her partner for the day, and we first went and visited La Mal Coiffée – this is a former palace, castle and residence of the dukes of the region. It also has the more sinister distinction of having been used as a prison during World War II, wherein Jews and Resistance members were imprisoned, tortured and sometimes executed or deported to concentration camps. It’s very grim, but definitely worth seeing. There’s also a truly breathtaking view over the city from the top of the tower
We also visited a beautifully restored chapel – La Chapelle de la Visitation – which contains the tomb of Henri II. It was extremely quiet inside, so I elected not to take any photos, and I also wanted to listen to the guide, who was very knowledgeable. I really enjoy guided visits – I feel like there’s so much more to be learnt that way.
Come Tuesday, it was finally time to do a little work – sort of. I was invited to the lycée where I’ll be working as a teaching assistant and asked to introduce myself to a couple of classes. I admit – I was nervous as hell about doing that. Kids can be savage sometimes and High School was… well, let’s say I was glad to get out of there.
So, how did it go? Well, my expectation was that the students would be so disgusted by my presence before them that I would be swept out of the room on a torrent of vomit and curses, my broken body ending up interred somewhere on the grounds with a small plaque which read “Hated by all”. Fortunately, my eternal optimism was rewarded – meeting the classes went pretty well – they asked questions, everyone smiled awkwardly, some people laughed. It was actually quite heartening.
After all those doings, I passed this afternoon by taking a leisurely walk through the town – Moulins is really very beautiful, and I was overcome with the feeling of being happy to be here, and to have this opportunity. I miss my family and friends very much – never more than at night before bed, when they’re all asleep and I’m all alone – but I really think I could feel at home here – and that makes me happy.
To see a gallery of photos relevant to this post, click here. If you’re too hungry to do that, you might prefer to watch this video by Gordon Ramsey, which shows how to cook pasta – I’m told that’s edible.
À plus tard!