Fête de la Musique

This past Thursday, on the longest day of the year, all across France people took to the streets all night music and performances.  Even here in Versailles we witnessed the largest crowds of people ever seen on the streets (at least since we’ve been here).

As Heather put to me later: “Everyone and their sister’s garage band must be out tonight!”  Honestly, it sure seemed that way.  The demographic here in Versailles, however, was noticeably lacking in variety.  Almost entirely families with young kids, or droves of high school kids drinking and smoking.  

The quality in music also varied greatly, from college age rock bands with smoke generators and light shows, to middle-aged dads reliving their younger years by trying, unsuccessfully, to scream out like Mick Jagger after several decades of heavy smoking.  No, really, I’ve never heard Sympathy for the Devil played so slowly and so quietly before…

Then there was the group above who fancied themselves a Reggae group.  It was fun, and Heather and I danced for a bit, but there’s something about French/forty-something/white that just doesn’t work with Bob Marley.  

Then there was this guy.

Face split in a toothy grin from ear to ear, he was on cloud nine for a good 20-30 minutes before the drums finally stopped.  A genuine joy to watch.  

By the time we made our way back to the apartment it was nearly 11pm and still light out.  It’s tough to go to sleep when you think its still six in the evening.  The late night light is good for sunset shots of the Chateau.

-Baroquebloke-

What the #$&@

Just when I start feeling like I’ve gotten my head wrapped around this whole “living in another country” thing down pat, I wind up running into a proverbial brick wall.

What you’re looking at is my most recent electric bill.  Does anything seem a little odd to you?  No? Perhaps it would if I said the last two bills have only been 45 euros each, every two months.  

Hmmm….

Looking a little closer to the back page I noticed they are charging me for usage since this last December.  But wait just one cotton-pickin second!  I’ve been paying them since last October!?!  Whats the deal here?! 

Turns out all  those previous months payments were “estimated” monthly usage charges.  The French don’t send people out to look at your meter more than once every six months, at which point they recalculate your “real” usage, factor in what you’ve already paid for your estimated charges, and bill you the difference.  Or, reimburse you, depending on how much or little you’ve used.  Afterwards, they recalculate a new “estimated” monthly charge for the next six months.  Rinse, spit, repeat.  

Something nice is that this was for the coldest months of the year, and our actual monthly cost for electricity for the past six months works out to be only 30.50 (not including tax) so that’s not so bad. Which means, in another six months, we should be getting some money back from them.  It just sucks something fierce that they want it all in one lump sum.  

Oh well.  That’s life.  

-Baroquebloke-

Race Against Rain

Tuesday morning means it’s time for the Versailles market.  Usual routine: wake up, coffee, food, nap another 20 minutes, get dressed and head out into warm sun and a light breeze. 

This morning will be a mad dash to get to the market and back before being doused in cold rain.  The weather here in France seems to either be great or lousy, never in between, and never in short spurts.  If its rainy, its rainy all day. 

Time to drizzle: ~ 1.5 hours.  Time to get a move on!

-baroquebloke-