We celebrated New Year's Eve in a natural cottage with a beautiful starry view of France!

We celebrated New Year’s Eve in a natural cottage with a beautiful starry view of France!

I woke up in the morning and had coffee first thing. Jelena’s uncle Dominic was up first, and he always goes to walk his dog at 8:00 AM. So he made me coffee. Being an Italian family, they drink coffee frequently. And they drink black coffee and espresso. It tasted wonderful. After that, I was a little tired, though I was fine, because there were no ghosts or scary things last night, of course. So I took a shower and had an espresso. I wondered what the plan was for today. Dominic, Jelena, and Jelena’s mom were getting ready, so I kind of put on my jacket and got in the car. I heard that we were going to Sarra-La-Caneda today. What a surprise, it’s a normal small town with lots of Christmas markets and shopping streets.
Omg, I didn’t know that and now, I realized in the car that I forgot my wallet. I blew it, ugh.



I had a blast in the car and when I opened my eyes again, there was an enthralling view!

So I was really worried about how to tell Jelena about it. From then on, I slept all the time. I guess I really wanted to sleep, but I slept all the way in the car. So Jelena tapped me on the shoulder and when I woke up, the view was amazing. The architecture was really like medieval Europe, and the buildings were really beautiful. We followed it, surrounded by houses made with very nice architecture, and arrived at the parking lot.

It was a really peaceful town, but all the architecture was so beautiful and European. When I got out of the parking lot, I was covered in mud! And I was like, “Oh my God!
Then I casually said to Jelena, “I hope we can use credit card at the mall, because I forgot my wallet.”



Then I was told that the store would probably require Euro bills, and I thought, “Seriously?” And I felt really bad about making her pay, so I thought I would pay later, but I couldn’t really say that, so I decided not to shop at the shopping street. I figured that the only place with a internal store would probably accept the card on my iPhone, so I went in. There, I tried to buy postcards as well, but they also had Vogue magazine, and it was really cheap. It was only 500 yen.

But it was really expensive to send it to Japan, and it would be very expensive to buy it in Japan. We were talking about that. Then I went to the checkout and tried to buy the postcard, but to my surprise, my cell phone card was not compatible with that machine, so of course I couldn’t use it. So I apologetically asked Jelena to pay for it. It was so tacky and embarrassing. My mentality became very weak. I was really sorry. And when I said, “I’ll pay you back later, thank you” and she said, “No, no, it’s okay.” So that made my mentality even weaker. I was so afraid that I was being treated as if I were weak. Of course, she don’t think so, but I felt so myself, maybe because my past traumatized experience and I felt my independent mind is too big. When I receive something from someone, if it is a gift, I am very happy, but if it is money, I don’t like it very much. But I don’t mind paying for something or giving a gift.



The city is lined with tourist attractions and Christmas markets

I want to buy it myself, somehow, and be independent. But I couldn’t use it because I forgot my wallet. That was frustrating.

But since I couldn’t move forward if I kept worrying about such things forever, I decided to split my mind and not worry about it.
So we walked around a lot more places. There was something to climb, so we went there, and then to the top of the stairs and down. I told her I wanted to jump from there, and she said, “Why don’t you jump?” and joked that “I would have to call an ambulance and you would break your own bones” with serious face lol. Is it french styles?
And so on so on we went exploring.



She said we would come back to this place after lunch and wanted to skate, but ice skating link only open in the afternoon, so we decided to come back later. Christmas Market was in the center of town, and it was an Irish Christmas market.



Apparently, this place is famous for foie gras.


There were so many souvenirs for sale there. The one that caught my eye was a chicken. Apparently, this town is famous for foie gras, and there is even a stone statue of a chicken there. So I decided to buy an ornament of the chicken as a souvenir.



I went to the Christmas market and her mom and Dominique were there, eating hot wine and roasted chestnuts. So Dominique bought my hot wine and we drank it. And the roasted chestnuts were so good. I was really grateful.



I am so grateful to him for buying something for me. Whenever I receive a favor or a purchase, I feel gratitude and the principle of return, and I think about what I can do to help. However, if I am constantly receiving gifts, I feel stressed. So, I thought to myself, “I want to do something to return them back something what I can do as soon as possible.



Strolling through a Christmas market together! Eating various foods and buying souvenirs

Well, that aside, while sipping a glass of hot wine, I was strolling through the Christmas market. As I was browsing the stores alone, Jelena came to my side and browsed with me.

She had bought a wooden notebook for herself with “Jelena” written on it. I had bought two chickens, one for Jelena’s mother and one for me. But now I don’t have the bills, so she bought to me. I wrote it down on my iphone note to know how much I borrow from her, and next I bought a ring. The ring had a herb or some kind of plant in it, and it was very beautiful.




Seeing escargot with my own eyes for the first time in my life

So, I found Jelena, and “Jelena! Look at this! Isn’t it so beautiful? Can I buy it?” So I bought a lot of souvenir. Of course, I would return it later. So I just smiled at the French shopkeeper while she paied money, because I don’t speak French. So Jelena bought me a ring that I liked. Then there was a place in the Christmas market where you could eat food, and it was concentrated with food. There were about two places that sold escargot.

I had never had escargot before, so I wanted to try it just for the experience to see what it really tasted like. Now that I think about it, my dislike for escargot and Jelena’s dislike for it are almost the same. Blue cheese, escargot, foie gras….
Well, they sold escargots by the dozen, but I wanted to eat only one, so Jelena asked shopkeeper if it was possible to buy it by one. But the first place sold out of escargots right before we got there, and the second place refused, I know… lol



I’ve never seen such a huge cheese before


Jelena seemed to like pretzels, so she bought some and ate them. She shared some with me. They are delicious. But I had an image of pretzels being much harder, but they weren’t. They were very soft. So I was surprised.



After that we headed to a nearby skating rink anyway. But it was open in the afternoon, so we decided to go there in the afternoon. So Jelena called her mother to see where she was. Then we took a walk out of the shopping district and went into a regular, very cosy atmosphere.

She seemed to like L’OCCITANE and bought some of its hand cream. I decided to buy a lip balm with a nice smell of L’OCCITANE. Of course, Jelena bought it first. The price was 1,300 yen.

But it smells really good and I like it, so I decided to buy it. I also made my decision quickly.




We back home once for lunch

So we went to various stores and looked at the shopping street, and then we arrived there because her mom and Dominique were at a cafe. Then we decided to go home at once. I opened all the windows, stuck my face out and looked out the whole way like a dog, enjoying the view.

On the way to the supermarket, Jelena and I spent the whole time talking about “the French” and “independence and individualism”. She wanted to know what I meant by “not caring about the other person” and I wanted to know what she meant by “not caring about the other person”.

Dominique also asked me about my image of France, so I started by saying that “they are very individualistic and they don’t get into the other person’s life. If they want to do it, they can do whatever they want, but they make it clear that they agree or disagree with it. But that doesn’t mean that they do suit you or they don’t suit you. So it’s mutual respect. And the food is great. And there is no “guess what” culture.” That’s what I said.



Shopping at the supermarket is fun! I am astonished at the large amount of escargot!

So I was talking to Jelena about it all the time, all the way in the supermarket. Every once in a while, we would find some escargot and she would tell me that this was not escargot, but escargot in the sea, but I thought “Isn’t escargot usually in the sea?” Or I would wonder.



So I told her that I like ths style like a french people that “They don’t go into people’s lives, they separate the issues and say, “If that’s the way you think, that’s fine. But I don’t agree with you. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like you.””

I told her that in Japan, if someone expresses a different opinion or does something different from some group, there are many people who say they won’t be friends with that person or cut ties with that person. Also, in schools and companies, if you do something different from others, that person becomes a target and is thought to be strange. I really dislike the Japanese culture of “everyone is equal, and they have to be a same”. Really, especially the “everyone is equal” part makes me wonder if this country is really capitalism. It’s like communism.

But France is individualism, and each person is free because each person has his/her own life. But if someone don’t agree with somebody’s idea, they say “I don’t agree with it”. But they will not hate them because of just the difference of opinion. I thought how wonderful such a culture is.



Arriving home, everyone eats lunch together!

So we went to the supermarket, bought what we needed, and returned home. I wondered what I was going to have for lunch, and it was baguettes. All I have is baguettes lol. Since I came to France, I have been eating less and less. Originally, Jelena’s mother and Jelena ate little, and Jelena doesn’t really eat, so naturally my quantity of food is also small and it’s good things to be not fat.

So I would eat cheese on a baguette. I ate Camembert. But that Camembert smelled really strong. Because they hadn’t chilled the cheese, so maybe it was fermenting a little bit. I thought it was amazing that everyone was fine with the cheese not being chilled.

And when I asked for water, Dominique handed me tap water, which made me think, “What?” But apparently you can drink tap water in France, Germany, and Spain. Then, for the first time in my life, I ate one of the blue cheeses, Roquefort.



It tasted very much like cheese and was sloppy. I had always imagined blue cheese to be in a harder cheese, but it wasn’t, and it really made me sick even when I was eating it. So I started to dislike “real” blue cheese.

Once I ate it, I thought I was done with it. So, after we all finished lunch, we decided to go to Sarla-La-Caneda with Dominic’s wife too. I got very sleepy, so I went back to sleep. This time, his wife was with us, so it was me, Jelena’s mom, and Jelena in the back seat, and it was very tight, but I felt some one scene of movie and it really felt fun actually. “I, Japanese, adding to her french family and going to small town sitting on the back seat with Jelena and her mother” hehehe. It’s interesting.
So I got really sleepy and slept all the way by myself. Jelena was also sleeping on the way. Also , the nice things of packed place is that we can lean on our sholder each other so it’s comfortable to sleep lol.



We went back to the town. This time, do some shopping again lol

When I arrived in Salla-La-Caneda, this time I had my wallet with me, so I tried to withdraw it at the ATM, but that didn’t work. I have no idea why. But then I thought about it, it was January 1, 0:15 Japan time. That is, 15 minutes after the new year. I realized that I would not be able to withdraw the money. I could only hope that it probably wasn’t a bad magnetism or something like that. But I decided to call my mom and ask her just in case.
So I couldn’t withdraw any euros with that for now.

Me and Jelena walked to the Christmas market. On the way there, I saw a kid about 10 years old playing the trumpet, and I was really impressed with how amazing he was.

But even then, I was trying to figure out why the error had occurred, and how I could withdraw money at a lower rate than the exchange rate at the French bank, which was too high. So what I found out was to choose to withdraw in EURO without converting to JPN. If I withdrew without doing this, it would withdraw at its own rate, which would have been very disastrous. The current rate is 140 yen, but if you exchange your money and withdraw it, it will be converted to 150 yen. It was very expensive, so of course I rejected it. I mean, I couldn’t withdraw it in the first place.



So we went to Christmas Market again. There, they were selling churros, so we both gave them a try. I had only had churros in USJ, so I was very happy to be able to try them for the first time in a while. So I got Jelena some churros, and she had a churros with apples. She ate half of it and was full, so I ate the rest. I couldn’t believe how small her stomach is lol.

Then, a Peruvian man was selling sheep figurines, and each small one was 1 euro, so Jelena bought one. I bought a big sheep for 2 euros. It was really cute.



The sheep’s name was Ziburon, as I remember? I don’t remember clearly, but I think its name was something like zebra. At least, I think the name of the dinosaur she bought at the museum was Vigor. That’s pretty clear. Besides, she liked black, so she picked a black one. Other than that, it was a manon, and she was planning to give it to another friend. I really thought it was very warm, friend-oriented or people-oriented. She also left the rest of the pretzels for her mother. I told her that if it were me, I would have eaten all of them and pretended that nothing had eaten when I meet my mother lol.

And so we left the Christmas market. I was thirsty, so we decided to go to a café or something for a drink, and asked Jelena to take frequent photos of the cityscape, and ended up arriving one church. I think this was probably my first visit to a Christian church. I had been to Russian Orthodox and Muslim churches before, but I had never been to a Christian church. So it was a new experience for me. There were stained glass windows of St. Mary’s, lots of seats, and it was really a sacred place.

It was a really nice place. But for some reason, I had an eerie feeling, like something was following me, so I just looked at it and walked out, dressed like I was strong, because if I did that, no one would follow me. And I wanted to be strong, or rather, dry. I didn’t want to be gentle in that place. By the way, the church was very beautiful.



We go to a trendy cafe, but it’s packed and no one comes to wait on you

After that, we finally go to one of the cafes after we ran through a very beautiful town, and there was a square like a center, with restaurants, cafes, and bars surrounding it. It was French style and had a terrace, so we sat down anyway. I wanted to order a coffee, but it was very expensive. But I didn’t care, I just wanted something to drink.



But the waiter didn’t come easily, so she went to call for me instead. The waiter came, but when I asked her if I could have a wiener coffee, she said that they were out of it and went away. So I decided to ask Jelena to take a picture of me there instead of ordering a coffee.

Then I asked her about her “goals for 2023” and “looking back on 2022”. She said that her goals for 2023 are to be able to go on to a good master uni and to find an internship.

And then, in “Looking Back on 2022,” she had a exam, couldn’t do an internship this summer, worked at a supermarket for a bit, and then went to Cyprus to study….

For me, this year has been a real challenge. I finished college and then I thought, what am I going to do? I had graduated from college, but I hadn’t looked for a job, so I had no place to work, and I had no money.

So I started learning web production and studied hard for 10 hours a day. That was 5 months. It was really tough, but now I am finally able to spend New Year’s Eve in France.

I told her that I had never thought that the joke I had told her about “wanting to eat her mother’s genovese” would actually come true, and that I was really surprised about that. So we talked cheerfully there, too, and we moved on.



There was a very beautiful spot, so we took a couple of shots there.
Then we walked to the car, as Jelena’s mother and Dominique were already in the car, and even the definition of ice skating was gone.




I got in her car and drove home with a gentle breeze

On the way home, Jelena was playing with the sheep she had bought. To see how many of them she could get on top in a row. So when she got them all on top, yay! lol. So cute.

When we got home, the sunset was incredibly beautiful. A vast expanse of land spread out all around us, and we savored it luxuriously. As the sun was setting, orange lines and blue tips blended with the reflections of it. It was a truly beautiful moment.



I, of course, took a picture.

Then I lounged near the fireplace.



I was thinking of naming the sheep I bought too. Jelena had already chosen a name, Zibron. I chose Kevin. Did you make a wish? she said, so I told her “No, I haven’t done so yet, but I have decided on a name. I chose Kevin because there is a bird named Kevin who appears in “Up!” and I love it”.

Late at night, we decided to watch a movie together. At first we were watching a movie that Dominic recommended, but I had no idea what he was talking about and wasn’t interested, so halfway through we switched to my favorite movie called “Taxi”. So me and Jelena were watching Taxi. She seemed to like Taxi, and she laughed a lot during the movie, which made me happy. When I think of French movies, I think of Taxi, and I really like it. It’s the funniest.

After that, we went to L’apero before dinner, where we had Italian salami, some kind of Italian salad, and a Spanish Lambrusco.



Dominic opened the wine and we toasted together. The Italian salami and lambrusco were absolutely delicious. It was so good that I got drunk really quickly and I drank it all in one gulp. I was so thirsty that I chugged it down in one gulp, and he gestured to me like, “Don’t chug!”.
Anyway, he is always so energetic, so I really respect him in a way hahaha.

Still, it was really good food, so I drank a lot. Two glasses of rosé wine alone.



Finally, we went to dinner for the last night in 2022!

Then, the main dish, which was the last meal before New Year’s Eve. There were many dishes: an egg cut in two with mayonnaise and tuna on it, a plate of seafood including shrimp, crabs, escargot and also salad, baguette, foie gras…. I had the foie gras, and to be honest, I thought one foie gras was enough.



I was thinking that it’s hard to eat too many of them, too. One foie gras is just right, and really too much of it would be annoying. And I ate shrimp, even though I’m not big fun of shrimp. But actually it was nice opportunity to get over this things. Then, finally, the escargot! I, of course, don’t like shells, really don’t like them, but I still wanted to eat them as an experience. So I decided to eat the escargot.



I decided to eat it with mayonnaise. So I was able to eat it without incident, even having the video of it taken. But I held my breath in the middle of it. Really, if I had breathed in it, I might have thrown up. It was that bad. But Dominic’s wife ate it without a care in the world, so I thought, “Oh no”.

Then white wine was served, and Dominique poured me a glass of white wine. I also wanted a glass of red wine, so he poured me a glass of red wine as well. Everything was really delicious. I was so happy to finally eat escargot in France. Of course, it was not good though lol.



Then we ate cake and candies. Jelena had doodled on oranges for a friend she met in Cyprus and sent it on Instagram.



I felt like she was always so friendly and has really warm heart inside.



I saw the most beautiful night sky in my life. I can’t help but be impressed

We went out and looked at the stars. It was really, really beautiful and I didn’t expect to see so many stars, so it was great. The night sky was in full bloom and there were so many stars, so clear that you could tell what they were. Me and Jelena were taking a walk and talking about what star this was. Then, since we were there, I took pictures with Jelena in the starry sky.

I told her that she should pay me because I took a nice picture of the starry sky, and she said that I should pay her because I modeled for me, and we both joked about it.



I was glad because it was so beautiful. I was very drunk, but the stars were so beautiful that I was really impressed. She can see the stars from Jelena’s house, and in the summer, they go outside to the garden and look at the stars from there. What a nice lifestyle.



So, this is not really surprising for her, but I usually can’t see the starry sky very well from my house because of the light. So it was really beautiful, maybe the most beautiful starry sky I have ever seen. I also took a couple of shots with Jelena. I was really surprised at how easy it was to take pictures of the starry sky, perhaps because the quality of my iPhone 14 is so high. I also took pictures with a film camera.



Her next dream in life is to be bed

It’s getting cold outside, so it’s time to go inside. But it is hard to believe that this is December 31. It really is warmer than Japan, about 12 degrees Celsius. I also thought that France is a warm country. Jelena has fallen asleep with Vigor the dinosaur.

She likes sleeping so much that she says she wants to be a bed in her next life. She even said “My favorite things are writing and sleeping on a bed” in Japanese when she introduced herself at the first Hello Talk. So you can really understand that, you know lol. By the way, I felt that Jelena who is sleeping with Jelena’s dinosaur Vigor in her arms is really cute and very innocent.



After that, we all went inside the house and watched an old French war comedy film together.



I wasn’t interested at all, so I would sit near the fireplace and think about different things. Dominique suggested that we play a board game, so we decided to play a board game!



The board game is played by rolling a dice and when the dice rolls a 6, you can start the game, but not before. You can’t start until the dice rolls a 6. Jelena was very fast and was the first one to reach the goal. Then there was her mother. Then Dominique and I. Dominique and I were having a hard time scoring goals, and we kicked each other twice to get back to square one. It was really close. But in the end Dominique won by a really small margin and I was like ahhhhhhh!!!! IBut it was great fun.

Jelena patted me on the shoulder and comforted me, but I was still frustrated.

And so it was 30 minutes before New Year’s Eve. After finishing the game, we prepared champagne. We open the champagne for we are going to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Jelena had already prepared and was ready to open the champagne. Five minutes before New Year’s Eve, I started taking videos and Jelena and Dominic were talking the whole time.

Dominic’s voice is so loud and he is always so energetic, which I think is really great.
So, finally the countdown, to 2023!

For 30 seconds, everyone counts down in French, and the moment it’s 2023, Jelena pops open the champagne! Bonne annee!!!!!!!!!!!!!