Au printemps

Spring has been taking its sweet time in making an appearance. Normally the signs are visible by mid-March but this year Easter came and went with nary a blossom. It’s not surprising that the longed-for season of renewal is dragging its feet – winter came in with a bang far later than usual. But this week, enfin! The unmistakable signs of le printemps are here at last.

The birds are the first ones to announce that something is up. Even before we sprang forward by an hour, I could hear them twittering away in the predawn dark. Now there is a flurry of activity going on in the eaves and in the branches at all hours.


Hello yellow

Le jaune de forsythia

Forsythia is the first floral sign of spring. Hello yellow! I love it for its brief, joyful burst that heralds so much to come. Its intense yellow hurrah will only last a few weeks at best. It’s joined by bright daffodils and a softer yellow wild flower that grows around the base of trees. Wish I knew its name.

Next: the rain. It has been pouring on and off for the past couple of weeks. We had an actual thunderstorm yesterday. I could feel winter’s cold breath blowing madly against the warmer spring air. It’s colder again this morning so winter may have won the battle but spring will win the war.

Around town, all the signs are there too: the year’s first ‘braderie’ or rummage sale is coming up this weekend and – joy! – the local restaurant by the lake is open again. It closes from October to March as it specializes in local lake fish. Can’t wait to have the season’s first plate of filets de perche, the tiny fish that are cooked ‘à la meunière’ and served simply with a butter and lemon sauce.

Restaurant du Port

But first, there is the obligatory post-winter régime to rid ourselves of excess blubber. Signs have sprouted in the shops promoting ‘cure d’amincissement’, ‘détox’ and ‘minceur’. As for me, I find that it helps to eat less. So I’ve cut out my sweet and salty treats for now and am upping the ante with a bit more exercise.

Another sign of spring is the sudden onset of wardrobe renovation. I went down to the charity shop in the village and splurged on several second-hand finds. Someone who is just my size and has excellent taste must live around here. Then, given that I’d only spent a few euros, I splashed out on a brand new pair of summer sandals online. Oops. Can’t wait to take these babies for a trot.

Les sandales

Now the schoolkids are on holiday for another two weeks. Easter vacation is their last official break before the summer. There has been talk about reducing the (in my opinion, ridiculous) amount of vacation time between the Toussaint, Christmas, Winter and Spring breaks (each of which last two weeks). The mere mention of such a change in the sacrosanct French school calendar has various unions gearing up for action.

Speaking of which: across France, strike season is gaining momentum as the SNCF continues it movement, or lack of. More on that later.

What’s your favourite sign of spring?


  1. francetaste · April 5, 2018

    It’s pretty much six weeks of school and then two weeks off. And then you hit May, where there’s a holiday every week. That leaves June (isn’t there a holiday in there, too?) and the first week of July–total torture. And sometimes, as early as mid-May, it’s so hot and the classrooms don’t have air conditioning, so nothing gets learned. On the one hand, I see that regular breaks are good for kids, and there’s the whole summer vacation effect where the knowledge drains away with the long break. On the other hand, math on a hot afternoon is a non-starter.

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      I think a shorter day and only one week of break each time would make more sense from a learning point of view. But I can’t help but wonder whether the educational calendar isn’t also designed to ensure plenty of business in the resorts during the breaks? Math in any temperature is torture enough. In the heat it would be lost on me! 😉

      • francetaste · April 5, 2018

        True about the tourism industry. Though if you think about it from the families’ point of view, most families take a couple of vacations, and during a break they might go away for one week or a long weekend. By having two weeks, with three regions overlapping and not the whole country at once, you have a little flexibility for planning a getaway. Otherwise peak season prices would be even more atrocious.

  2. Garfield Hug · April 5, 2018

    That is a comfy awesome pair of sandals! I am glad you can finally welcome Spring as Winter has been dominant!

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      Thanks! I must admit I fell for the colours even though I fear the white souls will soon be scuffed.

      • Garfield Hug · April 5, 2018

        True about white soles but white certainly makes it look chique!!

  3. Mél@nie · April 5, 2018

    tes sandales sont super-chic!!! 🙂

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      Merci! J’ai l’impression que je vais marcher sur des dents de requin… 😉

  4. midihideaways · April 5, 2018

    My favourite sign of spring would have the be flowering of the almond trees – there’s so much promise in that!!

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      Almond trees? I don’t think they’re native to the Haute Savoie somehow. Do they smell heavenly? A reason to come south, I think!

      • midihideaways · April 6, 2018

        I don’t think the flowers have a scent, but they are wonderful against the deep blue sky. And they usually flower very early!!

  5. davidprosser · April 5, 2018

    I love all the colour renewal of Spring that brings the hope of warmer weather/. We’re still confused as to whether it’s a mild Winter or a slow Spring.The snow of Sunday has all gone now, washed away if the rain. The flowers are coming through,,,,, Spring.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      It’s a funny year, weather-wise. We had almost no snow at all, yet it has fallen in all the most unlikely places and times. Glad to hear the flowers are coming through. There is hope!

  6. acflory · April 5, 2018

    So yellow! Over here we’re waiting for rain again. Will be so happy when all of summer’s brown is gone.

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      Oh, I can just imagine! The dry brown of burned out summer foliage is depressing in its own way. Hope you enjoy a sufficiently wet fall to replenish your sources.

      • acflory · April 6, 2018

        Thanks. And I hope your Spring decides to stay for good now. 🙂

  7. suzlearnsfrench · April 5, 2018

    It’s been a long winter here and there. Love the yellow flowers. Not sure I see those here in the spring. I’ll have to look.

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      They are pretty common all over France. My kind of flowering bush: very bright blooms that require no maintenance!

      • suzlearnsfrench · April 5, 2018

        Is it Mirmosa ?

      • MELewis · April 5, 2018

        Forsythia, I think. I’ve just found out the ones in the grass are wild primrose.

  8. Liz · April 5, 2018

    Oh boy…. my favourite sign of Spring??
    I can’t remember! This morning in Toronto its -4C at 8am and it feels like -11C with the wind chill. Our high today will be 2C.
    There is snow in the forecast for tomorrow. 😩
    I’ll get back to you in May!

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      That’s weird as I was just looking at the weather in Toronto and it said 11 C. You must be having a real roller coaster ride. Hopefully it will be nice and warm by June! 🙂

  9. Suzanne et Pierre · April 5, 2018

    Lucky you…In Montreal, spring is a concept of the mind. It is -9C this morning with very strong wind so it feels like -21C. So no real sign of spring for us yet. I do like the start of blooming season bringing colours in otherwise brown environment. (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      Oooh, that sounds very cold even for Montreal. Although I realize you often get snow in April, so real surprise there. Hopefully you have recharged your solar batteries with the time in Morocco!

      • Suzanne et Pierre · April 5, 2018

        We certainly did. Our hope was to avoid the very painful end of winter by behind away for 3 weeks in March. Unfortunately, winter has decided to stick around a bit longer than we had hoped for…Hopefully, it will get better soon.

  10. Kat · April 5, 2018

    Spring! FINALLY!

    Could the soft yellow flowers you were mentioning be wild primrose (Primula vulgaris)? That’s definitely one of the first flowers to show themselves in the spring (at least over here in Suisse romande) and I just love it!

    • MELewis · April 5, 2018

      Oh, yes! Those are the ones! Thanks so much for enlightening me (although I’m so bad at names of things like that I may forget by next year). Wild primrose sounds very pretty though. 😉

  11. Colin Bisset · April 5, 2018

    Beautifully evocative – I can feel your smile! And makes me hanker for a place where the seasons are really noticeable, instead of our half-arsed slide into cooler from hot’n’humid and back again.

    • MELewis · April 6, 2018

      Thank you, Colin! I remember feeling a bit like that when summer would arrive with such a bang in Toronto — sometimes it seemed we skipped the entire spring season and headed straight into hot and humid! Still, I think it’s nothing compared to your weather in Sydney. I suppose even beautiful is boring if you get too much of it. The change of seasons is something I treasure, even though the lines are blurring lately.

  12. Heide · April 6, 2018

    Currently, my favorite sign of spring is THIS BLOG POST of yours. 🙂 I loved your description of the thunderstorm as a battle between winter and spring. The gorgeous flowers. And I *love* your new sandals! Also your advice (“eat less”) for a post-winter minceur régime. Let me know how it goes, please, as I have no intention of eating less until I’ve mowed my way through the hoard of French cookies I brought back from Paris. Seriously, though … thank you for this beautiful glimpse into your world. I can practically feel the sunshine — which is very welcome here in Minnesota, where it’s still snowing.

    • MELewis · April 6, 2018

      Lol. I know how you feel about those favourite treats. Enjoy your stash while it lasts — hopefully just long enough to see you out of winter coats and into sandals! Chuffed that you enjoyed the post.:-)

      • Heide · April 6, 2018

        All of my sandals now seem dowdy and inadequate compared to yours, but it will still feel marvelous when I’m finally able to liberate my toes from their merino-wool cocoons. 🙂

    • Kiki · April 9, 2018

      Poor Heide; I thought of you when I read Mel’s post….. you in your heavy winter gear, she (and I some days) in light, toe-freed-footwear.
      I sadly won’t heed Mel’s advice to eat less, as I never eat much anyway – I just have to show myself a plate filled with something nice I cooked and woooops, I’ve another 2 pounds on my hips…. The little beasts living in my wardrobe, I think they’re called calories, also work every night for hours as when I want to put something on in the morning, they have altered it to be a size smaller than it was yesterday 😉

      • Heide · April 9, 2018

        I didn’t realize there was a colony of tiny seamstresses living inside my wardrobe. That explains *everything*! I didn’t think it was possible the pains au chocolat had anything to do with my too-tight jeans. 🙂

      • MELewis · April 9, 2018

        Tes, sadly they are in cahoots…😢

      • Kiki · April 9, 2018

        Of course not!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. memoirsofahusk · April 6, 2018

    Mmm – I wish we had your restaurant nearby – sounds and looks lovely. I see you found you had primroses – I was going to wonder about celandines. Forsythia has been out a couple of weeks here, daffodils are blooming, apple and cherry recently out – the Gulf Stream supposedly keeps it mild here but it doesn’t feel that way today as the east wind blows, yet again, in this topsy turvy weather game.
    I too find eating less works – but also taking off one of the layers of warm clothes!

    • MELewis · April 6, 2018

      It is a treasure — although it can be tough to get a table and the owners are very French. Don’t dare to drop by without a reservation! 😉 Take great pride in offering a limited menu which is pricey — but their fish is the freshest and everything ‘fait maison’. Plus you are literally right by the water as the sun sets. Very grateful to have it nearby indeed. Hope the wind quietens down and you get a bit of warmer weather for the weekend.

  14. Lisa @ cheergerm · April 8, 2018

    What a lovely description of your burgeoning Spring Mel. Got to love some wonderful charity/op shop finds as well and the sandals look tres chic as well as comfortable. (A tricky thing to find sometimes…)

    • MELewis · April 9, 2018

      Thanks, Lisa! I guess you guys are heading into autumn about now, and probably looking forward to it, as I would be after a long hot summer. The change is important, I think, although with time spring gets to mean more to me each year. That sudden surge of new life, renewal and all — it’s trite but true –really does a body (and soul) good. Yes, the sandals should be comfortable although I must confess I fell for those orange insteps first! 😉

  15. Kiki · April 9, 2018

    Hm, that’s a difficult question…. I like so many things about every season – if you’d asked me what do I like LEAST I could say: The beginning of strikes – I’m totally and utterly appalled by this so French privilege. It should be forbidden and in the end it’s always the citizen with no power but tons of obligations who’s paying the costs. I had to buy two tickets because my train fell on a strike day. But even with a second ticket it will be a terrible affair as every place will undoubtedly be triple ‘booked’, people are standing, baggage is piled up anywhere and anyhow – I will have to leave the house hours earlier than normal because who knows, it just might be (and always is!) that ‘my’ trains into Paris are also heavily ‘supprimés’. Heck, I don’t want to get more angry – my whole programme is topsy turvy!
    Oh, maybe my best liked spring sign is the birds’ chorus starting again very, very early and in all voices – plus the very first time I can hang my washing outside to dry, and certainly to take it back in with that beautiful fresh smell of air-dried fabrics….
    When I’ll get my ‘summer gear’ up it means business. I have huge bags full of tons of sandals, mocassins, light, easy shoes and also light silk shawls, sun hats – aaah the joy of it! And having all those salads with whatever is available on the market, with FRESH herbs, asparagus, blooms from my garden sprinkled over it, the vases and vases and jars and tins and…. filled with flowers!!!

    • MELewis · April 9, 2018

      I would probably maintain the right to strike, but only after negotiations break down (the way it is in Germany, if I understand correctly). In France, they strike as part of the negotiation process, which I find ridiculous. I am especially sorry for all the visitors who are shamefully inconvenienced when it is no fault or business of theirs. La honte! I like your image of fresh air-dried laundry. I’m far too lazy to hang out most of my stuff, but agree the smell is heavenly!

  16. Kiki · April 9, 2018

    Oh, and I do envy you your charity shop. This was one of the very best things, living in Devon UK…. We don’t have a single second hand shop here, neither close by nor far away. Must be a pretty well-to-do place where I live! Which is maybe just as well as everybody apart from me is so svelte, chic, well-dressed, well-coiffed, well-everything!
    It took me YEARS to get used to the prices of new clothes after having lived in Devon for more than eight years! LOL 🙂

    • MELewis · April 9, 2018

      Yes, we are really lucky to have it! I don’t understand why there isn’t such a shop in every village. It’s good to recycle clothing, jewellery and accessories, too! There should be a law that for every new thing you buy, you must give away something old. The mairies could add it to their area of jurisdiction. And recycle the boxes from all of the online delivery companies.(Think I’ll run for city council I have so many fab ideas, ha ha…) Sorry to hear you have nothing to fill in the gap of your shop in Devon. 😦

  17. Luanne · April 9, 2018

    We don’t really get a sign of spring in Arizona. Winter is a little chillier and duller and then suddenly it’s summer.

    • MELewis · April 9, 2018

      Oh dear! I would really miss the spring. But I guess your summers are long and hot so that’s some compensation. 🙂

      • Luanne · April 9, 2018

        June to August is too hot for me and other living creatures, but now is a glorious summer called spring. Fall, too. Glorious.

  18. roughwighting · April 11, 2018

    I love those sandals! Hope you can use them sooner rather than later. Our New England weather has been so similar to yours – horrific snowy March, cold rainy April. I love everything about Spring except it comes too late here! But usually around the first of May, the first buds open up. I’m in heaven.

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