Sunday, July 01, 2007

More genealogy

After a quick search on the Internet, I found an interesting site that sheads more light on the "de Longueval" family (that of Anne Convent, the wife of Philippe Amiot who came to Quebec in 1635).

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Last few days in Picardy

I will be leaving this beautiful place soon, on Monday, filled with memories even greater than last year. Not only was my fieldwork successful, but I also had the opportunity to meet welcoming people who allowed me to experience local activities. I really hope that my budget will be sufficient for me to enrich the data I already collected here in preparation of my dissertation, and to strenghten the personal ties I now have with some of my new Picard friends. I will be heading to Paris on Monday morning, and back to the US on Wednesday. More details to follow soon, hopefully.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Genealogy on Tuesday

I'm writing this short note from my phone (I may not have Internet access until I'm in Paris), but I wanted to let you guys know that I went to Laon to search for information about my Villeneuve/Amiot ancestry on Tuesday. Spent the day there and although I didn't discover a great family treasure, I had a fruitful day and found interesting leads to explore concerning the towns of Estrees, Berzy-le-Sec and Longueval in the Aisne department.

More information:

More details to come on the blog soon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More fun times

Given that I can't tell you guys all about my work (confidentiality), here's an idea of how I spent my free time in the lest few days.

Last Friday, in a town called Valines, I attended a play written in the local Picard variety. I had lots of fun, and could understand almost everything... except some of the funny inside jokes and play on words.

Then, after rainy weather almost every day, we were lucky enough to enjoy a sunny day on Monday! So I spent the evening on the beach in Cayeux with two friends. We had a nice chat, ate dinner at their "cabine", and then watched the sunset.

What I like about this place is that people are convivial and genuine, and that nature always has something to offer to all five senses. Nice landscape, sounds of birds, cows and sheep, great food, and much more. I wish you guys could enjoy this with me...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Funny look at rural Picardy

Here is a video by Kamini that two teenage girls from Vimeu told me about. It's quite funny, and it will give you an idea of how some people perceive rural Picardy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fieldwork (part 2)

My work is going well. I'm meeting lots of friendly people in the Vimeu area, and I'm collecting a good amount of data. I don't have much time to work on transcriptions at night, given that I often have full days. I'm a bit tired, but I'm having a great time. I will be at the the Universite de Picardie in in Amiens on Thursday and Friday, attending a conference, and then back to the Baie de Somme for more interviews.

Last night, I went to Eu (in Normandy, just South of Vimeu) with Edwige. Her middle school students were performing at the theatre located by the Château d'Eu. The show was good (although a bit short), but the evening allowed me to see the inside of the theatre, which is only open to the public for performances.

Thanks to those who sent me little notes on my cell phone at; it's a much more convenient and cheap (free!) way to stay in touch. I hope you are all having a great summer too!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wonderful Thursday

What a great day! I woke up early this morning to get to Onival for shrimp fishing with Philippe. We met on the shore, under the rain, and after putting on the "boot suit"; (very stylish!), we went in the water. We gathered about 200 grams of shrimp in almost two hours. Got back home cold and soaked, but I had a blast!

After cleaning up, I took the afternoon off and walked along the shore in St-Valery. The sun had decided to make an appearance, and I was determined to take advantage of it. I stopped by the bakery, picked up quiche and bread, walked along the shore for a bit, and ended my adventure in the lovely tea bar by my place (Le Samovar) for a late afternoon tea. I asked for something interesting; the owner treated me with his selection, black tea with hints of vanilla, berries, and white chocolate. I can't wait to go back!

What a beautiful day!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Fun times

I enjoyed the last few days I met a lovely couple from Buigny last Thursday, who invited me to a tea dance on Sunday, given that I had not taken any appointments because of Mother's Day. So on Sunday, I went dancing to Michel Pruvot's accordion music with a bunch of energetic retired people. It was fun to interact in a relaxed setting and to try a few dance steps!

On Monday, I went to Amiens to meet with professor Jean-Michel Eloy. Given that my afternoon appointment canceled that morning, I found myself with a free afternoon, and decided to drive away to where ever the road would lead me. On the way, I encountered this sign, that reminded me that maybe I should have lunch too! (Where's the road to "Baguette"?!?).

I eventually ended up on the road to Péronne, where a War Memorial is dedicated to WW I. I also visited the Australian Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, where fallen Canadian soldiers were also burried. Because few French-Canadians -- who were vehemently opposed to WW I -- participated in that war, French-Canadian names are rare in these memorials. Still, I took some time to reflect and wonder how so many lives can be lost in political conflicts...

I ended my visit to Amiens in St-Gratien with Laurent and his friend, Cécile. They showed me the totem unveiled sholtly after my visit to Picardy last summer, and once again, Laurent played along for my silly play on words in Contay. ("Contay" is pronounced like the French verb "conter", which means telling tales; Laurent is a story-teller. Okay, maybe it's not that funny after all... I guess you had to be there!)

Yesterday afternoon was "club picard" day at a local middle school in Feuquières. The kids' energy re,inded me of my good old days teaching in Montreal. I was quite impressed by the spontaneity with which they read a text in Picard and translated it into French. Thanks for the great welcome!

Write to me !!

Is anyone is reading this? (I can almost hear my own echo...oh...oh...)

I was finally able to get a cell phone that allows me to receive and send unlimited emails. You can write to me at (1000 characters or fewer, no attachments).

I can't wait to hear from you guys!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Where do we come from?

It's always fascinating to discover one’s origins, and for me, this desire has translated into a passion for genealogy. After discovering that Philippe Amiot, my father’s paternal ancestors came with his family from around Soissons in the Aisne department (Picardy), I decided to contact the archives to see if more information could be found about them. Neither the Soissons municipal archives nor the church could provide anything before the French Revolution of 1789. I was referred to the “Cercle généalogique de l’Aisne” in Soissons, the “Société d’histoire et d’archéologie de Soissons” and the departmental archives in Laon for more help. I haven’t been able to reach the first two groups, but I am planning a road trip to Laon in late June, after the re-open from their annual vacation on June 18. I’ll keep you guys posted on what I found, or didn’t find…


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fieldwork (Part 1)

I am pleased to announce that my first week in Baie de Somme was rather productive. After Brett took the train back to Paris last Wednesday, I stayed in Abbeville to try to figure out cell phone issues that would allow me to to access my email more regularly. The most affordable Internet-enabled phone was back ordered last week; I have yet to hear back from the store.

After catching up on sleep Thursday morning, I met my first informants, a friendly family from Rambures, located in the southwest portion of Vimeu. Because I got lost in the small village (No co-pilot… Any volunteers?), I discovered a beautiful castle which dates back to the 15th century. Hopefully I will have time to visit it during my stay. Work first though (sigh…). A fortuitous encounter with a Belgian artist from Mons that morning led to a nice conversation over coffee upon my return to St-Valery.

I spent Friday afternoon at Jean-Luc and Delphine’s place and finally met little Florian. He is the friendliest, cutest, most adorable baby who, I'm sure, will be babbling in Picard very soon! Then, I spent the evening over dinner with Anne’s family in St-Valery. I completed three more interviews over this long weekend of “Pentecôte”, along with a very pleasant dinner in Bouillancourt on Sunday and great conversation at Jean-Michel’s – whose humor certainly keeps my brain on its toes (uhm interesting image here !?!) – on Monday morning. I also visited our dear Picard elder on Monday, after learning of his hospitalization last week. Nothing too serious; I was relieved when I saw him…

That's it for now. Hopefully, you guys won't get to bored with my work. Unfortunately, for reasons of confidentiality, the most interesting details cannot be posted here but trust me, I'm having a great time and a fruitful visit. More to come when technology cooperates and is available…

P.S. This is a little wink found in the church of Bouillancourt. The architect placed this sculpture of himself pulling faces (perhaps for the priest!) at the top of the church, facing the alter. For years, church-goers assumed the piece stiking out was his beard… I thought this piece of humor would give you an idea of the local spirit.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Picardy with Brett

I arrived safely in France on Monday, May 21. The flight was rather uneventful; that's usually a good thing. My friend Brett met me at the airport and we drove up to Saint-Valery-sur-Somme after picking up my little grey Nissan Micra. After having a bite at the local Saint-Val, we met Anne, who gave me the key to where I'll be staying for the next five weeks. It's a the cozy two-level studio, located right downtown. From my bedroom, I see the Bay and from a distance, I can hear the sheep roaming in the Bay.

We stopped by Laurence and Antoine's to say hi, and after buying a few groceries at the InterMarché (where we met a lively local woman and her teenage son), we had a cozy evening at home.

It feels great to reconnect with French pâté, jambon sec (similar to prosciutto) and baguette. I've also missed my favorite lemon-flavored water for the last year (let's start a petition to bring "Volvic citron" to America)! We took a long walk along the Bay and in the streets of St-Valery after dinner. Needless to say, I fell asleep like a rock.

On Tuesday, Brett and I headed up to Cayeux-sur-Mer to see the beach, after having a quick coffee at La Civette in Sy-Valery. It felt good to breathe the ocean and see that the "cabines" are almost ready for the beginning of the summer season on June 1st. Then, we drove to Ault, so that he could see the magestic cliffs. It was low tides, so we were able to walk around and see a few (life-filled) shells. We spent the rest of the afternoon in Abbeville, where we had pizza, pasteries and a warm beverage downtown.

Brett's visit to Picardy was short, but I think it was a nice change of pace after his year in Paris. We had good seafood at the Drakkar (rue de la Ferté) in St-Valery before taking another nightly walk in the medieval part of town. On Wednesday morning, we were back in Abbeville. Brett took the train back to Paris to spend his last twn days in France.

P.S. I hope you made it home safely, Brett. How about posting a few of our pictures to show our readers how talented we are at taking autoportaits? :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Phone number of Anne-Jose in France

Here is my cell phone number in France; until July 4: (0)
From USA and Canada, dial (don't forget 6 hour time difference from East Coast, 7 hours from Central!). Will write more soon.

Read you soon,


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Two week notice

It's May 7. I am still in (fabulous) Bloomington, Indiana.

With only two weeks to go, I'm trying to get ready for my second visit to Picardie this summer. As many of you already know, I'll be heading to France on May 20 to conduct more sociolinguistic research until early July.

I will arrive in Paris on May 21, and (if he is still in?) I'll take my friend Brett up to Baie de Somme to show him this wonderful "coin de pays". Then, work, work, work... until early July, when I'll repeat last year's concluding note in Paris. Shopping, more good food, and fun.

I hope you guys enjoy following me on my European journey this summer. I look forward to reading you all too!

BTW, if you're in Northern France between May 21 and July 4, let me know; maybe we can meet up for coffee too!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Greetings from Paris

Hi Anne-José,

Paris does not seem all that down about the Sarkozy win, although there was a heavy police presence on the streets of the 7th last night and a few despaired wails in the air. Not sure how often I'll be able to check your blog because we' ve yet to figure out the Internet connection at our apartment. But I have a few places to go to check so at least once or twice a week I'll be able to check in.

When do you arrive in France?


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Return home

Good things usually have to come to an end. Today is the day of my flight back home. After a month of productive fieldwork, fruitful social interactions, good eating and sightseeing, and shopping, I am looking forward to going back to my loved one and my dogs. I know it's going to be a long day of traveling, but I know that the upcoming hugs and kisses are well worth it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Monday at the Louvre

The first time I came to Paris, I was 17 years old, touring France with a group of high school senior girls. Back then, the trip was intended as a cultural historical and spiritual trip, which took us to places like Tours, Lourdes, Lisieux, Thésée, and other religious or historical sites related to the foundation of Montreal in 1642. By the time we got back to Paris, I was rather fed up with highly cultural activities. So when we were given the choice between an afternoon at the Louvre or shopping at Les Galeries Lafayette, I chose the latter. Needless to say that I had lots of fun shopping with the girls, but today, more than 14 years later, I figure that it would be a sin to be in Paris a second time without seeing the Louvre. So I woke up early yesterday morning to be at the entrance at the opening (9am). I went in by one of the alternate entrances to avoid waiting in line -- the main entrance at the Pyramid is always way too crowded -- and spend the morning at the museum. This was a very pleasant way to spend time alone in Paris yesterday. Seeing so many masterpieces gathered in one single place was quite impressive and inspiring. Then, when I left the museum around 1pm, I walked down the rue de Rivoli to Le Marais (gay area) and the Place de la Bastille. In case anyone is wondering, I did do some shopping, after visiting the Louvre this time...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Rough morning...

Rough morning this morning. France was defeated in the World Cup; the mood is down. Italy won the World Cup; the night was noisy, sleepless. I'm heading out to the Louvre and more sightseeing early this morning...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fun times in Paris

I got to Paris yesterday afternoon, and hooked up with Claire, her cousins and two of her friends from Bloomington -- Alexa and Ira -- to go to a movie near the Opera Garnier. We saw a comedy, "Nos jours heureux" and it felt really good to laugh out loud and unwind from the last few weeks of fieldwork and academic conferences. After the evening, we decided to meet again today to walk through Montmartre. I met Alexa and Ira in the 5e arrondissement this morning and they showed me around the neighborhood a bit. We had mint tea and pastries on a terrace right by the Mosquée de Paris, walked around and took the Métro to join the others by Montmartre.

The city is filled up with excitement in preparation for tonight's final game of the soccer tournament in Germany. People are wearing the #10 t-shirt for Zidane, cars are drving by honking and cheering "allez les Bleus!", there are signs everywhere. It's crazy! I decided to stay in tonight to avoid fire crackers and drunk crowds; I'll watch the whole thing on TV and will undoubtedly stay up first because of the game, then because of the noise outside. Today was a great day: Allez les Bleus!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Conferences in Belgium

I attended two conferences in Belgium this week. I got to Mons on Tuesday afternoon for the first one, "la Journée de la Nasalité", which was quite technical, but very interesting. It focused mostly on acoustic issues related to nasality. When I first got my hotel (Hotel Etna), I realized that I should have asked around before booking my room right by the train station... It felt like a dump where people go to get some, if you know what I mean. My view: a shut-down sex show viewing place. No wonder they had me pay for the room upon arrival. I will spare you the details (noise, shower, phone, service problems) but I will say that it was less than an ideal place to spend the night before a conference, especially on the night that the Italian soccer teams won their semi-final game against Germany. After Mons, I went to Louvain-la-Neuve for a second conference on prosodic aspects to sociolinguistic variation in French. It was great! I learned quite a bit about the sociophonetics, and about various research projects related to prosody and the perception of phonological fearures that are tied to social or geographic differenes. Although I got to Louvain-la-Neuve quite late on Wednesday night (long story!), I was able to walk around this brand-new university town in the following days. Everything there was designed to cater to the university, which was founded in 1425 in Louvain (Leuven) and got kicked out from Flemish territory in the late 60s, hence the creation of Louvain-la-Neuve. The town didn't feel like Europe at all. In fact, it felt like an unban laboratory where we live under the supervision of some crazy scientist, à la 1984. You should check it out sometime. (website of the city of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve) (website of the Université catholique de Louvain)

A sign by my room door in Louvain-la-Neuve. It reads "Walen go hom", which was displayed at a demonstration for the departure of Walloons (Walloon students and their university) from Leuven, in the mid-60s.

Train ride to Belgium

The train ride to Mons (Belgium) -- my first train ride ever, except for the commuter train in Chicago -- was great. When I got to the train station in Amiens, with all my stuff, I asked a man for information, making sure to look helpless enough that he would offer to help me with my heavy suitcase, which he did. Turns out he was the train operator, and after noticing my Canadian accent and finding out this was my first ride ever, offered me to ride in the driver's cabin to Lille. It was AWESOME!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Goodbye Picardy

My time in Picardy is almost over. I met plenty of great people who welcomed me with open arms, and I hope that I can come back next year for more firldwork. I am leaving for Belgium tomorrow for 5 days of conferences -- I'm not presenting, just attending!-- and then a few days of tourism in Paris before heading back home to Milwaukee. The weather is finally warm, pretty hot in fact. I hope I can write more when I get to the city. :)