Eu and Dieppe
Normally, Eu isn’t a city that folks are dying to visit on vacation – or for any other purpose. The town with the shortest place name in France (a piece of information relayed to me by one Axelle Buriez) does boast a lovely château and… I’m not sure what else.
However, I have good memories of the place and there were people I wanted to see in Eu, where I spent seven months as an assistant English teacher from October 2006 to April 2007. I mainly wanted to see Christine (whom I first met at the town’s Christmas market in 2006) and her son Charly. I figured there were some other familiar faces I would run into in Eu.
And sure enough, I ran into one of them before my arrival. While I was at the train station in Rouen before catching a train to Dieppe (a transit point en route to Eu), I thought I saw a familiar face and vice versa. Sure enough, it was Bertrand – the bartender at the now closed, but never forgotten Bar du Collège in Eu. I lived there on Friday and Saturday nights and I although I had left the town when it closed, I was still very sad about the news (I never asked Bertrand why the Bar du Co closed).
Anyway, Bertrand spends half his time in Rouen (where his kids live) and half in Eu, where he still works as a bartender at a bar called Le Bragance. After arriving in Eu (the journey there was pleasant, by the way), we relaxed in a cafe in the city centre named Le Victoria’s, where I ran into a dude named Thierry, whose name I had forgotten – but not his face (as well as his dart-throwing motion at the Bar du Co). Also, there was someone in Le Victoria’s named Lucie, who said she recognized me from the Bar du Co. I didn’t remember her face at all but… I guess that’s one good thing about being so “different” in a place like Eu.
Unfortunately, one way Eu is not like Rouen is that there are a lot fewer ways of killing time. But fortunately, Bertrand invited me to Le Bragance to watch him do his thing – or rather, prepare for the opening of Le Bragance (located just across from the château). Bertrand’s new place certainly seems bigger than the Bar du Co and has a greater selection of drinks. And it still has “my” beloved dictionary of English & French slang terms that sat in the Bar du Co. I’m not sure how often the French slang appearing in the dictionary is used by folks, but it is fun to look at.
The thing I was looking forward to mostly on Thursday was dinner with Gwendoline (a former student of mine at Lycée Michel Anguier) and her fiancé Jessy. They picked me up in the town centre and drove me to their so close to the beach apartment in Mers-les-Bains, a pretty town adjacent to Eu. Pretty awesome – when it’s warm 🙂
And even more awesome was that their friendly dog, Philou (I think that’s the correct spelling) greeted me. I forgot what breed he is, but he is quite cute. What was even more memorable was that I did some boxing – or tried to in their apartment. Jessy has boxed a bit and still has some boxing gloves. I put them on and… promptly went on to remind no one of Floyd Mayweather. But it was fun to get some tips from Jessy.
After watching some TV and eating a delicious dinner cooked by Gwendoline (I requested vegetarian chili and she delivered 🙂 ), they drove me to Christine’s apartment (Christine called me and I put her on the phone with Gwendoline, to whom she gave directions). I would love to return to their apartment in the summer – if nothing else, it’s so close to the beach.
The big highlight of the next day was visiting my new, old Lycée Michel Anguier. “New, old” because while the name of the school hasn’t changed, the location has. During my previous visit to Eu, I could see the new building being constructed from the inside of Christine’s old house. The new Lycée Michel Anguier is a lot bigger but very grey on the outside.
I wanted to visit the school to see my old colleagues, but I couldn’t expect to show up unannounced. So Charly told me he would greet me outside of the school and escort me to the teachers’ room. Interestingly enough, the first teacher at Lycée Michel Anguier I ran into wasn’t at the school during my time as an assistant but I knew him: a dude named Jerome Champel. He was a part of my running club (COB Athletisme) in Eu and even invited me to spend a Christmas with his family. I knew he had taught English but his name didn’t ring a bell when Charly said “Monsieur Champel” was his English teacher. It was nice to see him although he didn’t seem super genki when I saw him.
Anyway, I was thrilled to see several of my old colleagues (I don’t have any pictures from my visit in the teacher’s room) – in particular, Margarita Billiard. She is an institution at Lycée Michel Anguier (I loved working with her) and was quite interested in hearing about my 日本 experiences. Margarita and Monique Petiton seem to be the only English teachers I worked with who are still around, but I saw several other former colleagues.
After my surprise visit to Lycée Michel Anguier, I did some shopping at the weekly market in Eu and I met up with Christine, her friend Frederic, and eventually Charly at an Italian restaurant. Frederic works as a nurse and often in people’s houses. Christine told me that Frederic spoke English – well, maybe Christine should’ve said that Frederic “tries to speak English.” Anyway, I ate some delicious crêpes and… I’m not sure what else.
Next up was meeting up with Mariah in Dieppe. I had met her roughly five years ago when Melissa (a former student of mine at Lycée Michel Anguier) hosted a small gathering in her apartment. I’ve kept in touch with her enough and I figured we had time to meet up. And we did 🙂 The weird thing was I spent roughly two hours in buses to/from Dieppe and only about 35-40 minutes with her and her man Alexi (I had to worry about catching the last bus to Eu), but I’m glad we had the time to meet up. I do wish Alexi could have been a bit more talkative, though. Anyway, he and Mariah are musicians, of sorts. He’s a drummer in a band and Mariah has done some singing in the past, although she mainly works with young kids now. They would have liked to invited me to their place but I didn’t have the time, so we were just content to relax in a cafe.
When I got back to Eu, Charly and I munched on pizza and watched some handball on TV. He absolutely loves the sport and plays on a team in Eu. France was playing Serbia in the European Championships – France is actually quite good in the sport (They won gold in the London Olympics). Handball seems to be a sport I would absolutely love watching on TV – I just wish it were televised more often in the US. Anyway, it was fun watching France win 🙂