Roanne is a pleasant little town, and we feel quite at home here. It is not Paris, where we originally wanted to spend our winters, but it is just big enough to offer some of the same leisure activities. Everything is on a smaller scale than in Paris, of course, but in some ways that just means it's more congenial.
Here in Roanne we can go to a famous restaurant or an interesting museum. We have an ancient church and good people watching cafés. It is easier to decide where to go for dinner or what to do for entertainment, because we don't have l'embarras du choix that are available in Paris.
We also have charming pedestrian streets where everyone window shops on Saturday afternoons, and an elegant opera house where even little girls can feel like prima ballerinas.
The opera house has a regular saison théâtrale, but they also host some smaller local events like the dancing school recital that we recently attended.
One of our little neighbors at the port was dancing in the show, and we went along with her family. The excited dancers said goodbye to their parents at the stage door; parents and friends found their seats and prepared their cameras for the action.
This recital was intended to show the school's teaching methods and to demonstrate to the parents how their children were progressing after taking lessons for several months. Later in the year there will be a more traditional dance recital complete with fancy costumes.
The program began with the little ones. Guided by their teacher, the students were put through their paces. They did their best, but occasionally they became distracted by trying to wave to their moms and dads in the audience and they lost track of what they should do next.
The little girls at the ballet bar were admonished by name if they were not performing correctly, and during their exercises quite a few names were called out, sometimes more than once. We were amused by this cultural difference, where the teachers were not worried about destroying their students self esteem, and it was evident when the older girls danced that strict teachers produce good dancers.
Our little neighbor's debut as a ballerina was a great success. She performed beautifully. Her family gave her roses and kisses, and we decided that it would not be long before her skills caught up with her obvious love of dancing. Someday we may have to make a special trip to Paris to see her on the stage at the Opéra Garnier.