Today is the last day of February already!  Spring is in the air!  Today was warm and very windy with visible clouds of pollen blowing out of the cypress trees and causing a great deal of agony with the allergy sufferers.

Last Sunday I went to Monaco with my Bulgarian friend and walked all over the city of Monte Carlo.  The border of the principality and the city itself are about the same.  Taxes are not collected here and one must be very rich to qualify for residency.  It is a gorgeous city.  The oldest area is perched on a rocky outcropping of land and enclosed in a curving stone wall.  This was a fortified city in its day but has an ancient history, dating back to around 300,000 BC. See this link for the full story

I had a delicious pizza, based on a crust about as thick as a crepe and just as light.  Went to the cathedral where Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier were married and are buried.  Their tombs are inside the building and we saw the covers of them, covered in flowers and candles. 

Gardens are popular in Monaco and we toured the one at the tip of the old city as well as an amazing Japanese garden below the casino.  Huge exotic cacti and succulents do well here.  It’s  amazing to be only about a 1 hour drive away from this rather exotic location.

On other fronts, I have learned a bit about extortion over the past few days from a neighbour woman who saw me as a bit of an opportunity (all’s well that ends well) and I will move into my bare little flat tomorrow.  My yoga mat will be my bed for the time being, (speaking of flat!), along with the quilt I told you about.  Getting furniture into the city will involve typical French bureaucracy.  Applications need to be made to lift the gate to my street because this technically is a traffic-free zone.  (although cars squeeze past the barrier at night regularily)  There is a special department who deals just with this particular event.  I hope it doesn’t take the usual 2-3 weeks of wait time to be approved!  We’ll see.

We are off to Nice tomorrow to get our residency permits- Carte de sejours- another possible red tape nightmare- but that’s why we are going together.  Strength in numbers. 

Life in North America is much more simple, that’s for sure!  Perhaps the culture here is so old it has begun to implode itself through complexity.  Makes for an interesting if not surreal adventure.

ciao 🙂

Week two…dreaming in scent

hyacinth budsHello everyone,  No I haven’t disappeared, I’m simply very tired and this being called jessica is feeling a bit saturated.   Today is Monday, the beginning of our second week in school and with it came 10 more synthetic aromas to add to the 31 that we have already covered.  (plus the 20 or so naturals)  There will be ten more tomorrow. I had a very restless sleep last night, tossing and turning because I was dreaming about trying desperately to identify a scent and couldn’t.  This went on all night and the church bells at 7 came way too early.  By the way, someone asked what I mean by smelling in colour and quite simply my mind attaches a colour to a scent when I smell it.  (ie cinnamyl acetate smells steel grey to me and when I smell indole, the colour of dark translucent carnelian comes to mind)

The Nice waterfrontOn Saturday I spent the day exploring Nice, about 1.5hrs away by bus.  It is a beautiful city, with a huge old centre.  The waterfront is gorgeous and the sea itself (being the Mediterranean ) is a milky blue topaz colour.  The temperatures there are about 10 degrees warmer than in Grasse, so that felt good.  We found the huge market, including the flower market, and I purchased 2 bunches of hyacinths and my first plant; a baby palm.                          my first French baby…               

In Nice I  finally found a jacket to give me an alternative to the rain coat style one that I brought with me.  In the morning hiking to school, this feels like I’m wearing a plastic bag!  I found a lovely little 98% wool mini-suit-jacket style with a belt.  Much more comfortable as the Spring slowly creeps in.  There are Magnolias blooming now as well as Rosemary and some Jasmine.  (these are all found in the boulevard gardens as I walk to school.)

Anyway, we didn’t get home from Nice until after 11pm because we missed the last direct bus to Grasse and so had to go via Cannes and from there the train to Grasse.  A bit of an adventure!

Place des Artistes on a Friday eveningOther than that, the only other thing I wanted to share was that I went to the little art show in my square on Friday evening and with a glass of champagne and cassis in hand, bought my first piece of  French art.  Actually, I bought a print because the paintings were about 2500E, but really beautiful, whimsical and fun.  The one I bought is called Chat Virant au Vert- the Cat Turning Green.  Kind of strange, but I have to admit when I saw it, I had the funny thought of ‘hey maybe that’s my future husband’… I’ll keep you posted on that one.Chat Virant au Vert

I am going to look at an apartment one street over tomorrow evening.  It is not furnished which is a bit of a problem, but I am hoping I can figure that out.  It would be great to only move about 50 feet.  Besides that, the school has found 2 possibilities that we will go to see on Wednesday afternoon.  Also on Wednesday, we are going to a Mimosa production facility to see the extraction process.  (it is Mimosa season now)

A bit later: I just got back from Brazil’s house where we had dinner with her, Australia and Japan 1. Her apartment is soooo beautiful and classy compared to mine.  Made me realize the options and that perhaps I may want to set the bar a little higher for what I am looking for. It’s so nice to be making some friends, and with people who are living and breathing the same stuff as me.  We spent a lot of time talking about what our intentions for the future are and what sort of internships we see ourselves pursuing.  We are all so happy to be here having this experience.  Plus we really rely on each other to learn the raw materials.  We spend hours each afternoon testing each other with the blotter strips so we can remember everything.

 Now I am off to bed to hopefully have a peaceful night without any dreams! 

It is crazy windy tonight- it must be Spring.  

Much love to you all…