Family enjoys six months in sister city Aspen |

Family enjoys six months in sister city Aspen

Michael Appelgate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Contributed photoThe Mas family - father Marc-Andre, 6-month-old Juliette and mother Manon - share dinner at the J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome. The family from Aspen's sister city of Chamonix, France, left Thursday after six months in Aspen.

ASPEN – The biggest difference between France and the U.S., Marc-Andre Mas said, was the supermarket – not the language, currency or even the weather.

“A supermarket was a big transition for me,” Mas said. “I was lost in the supermarket. Nothing here was similar to what it is like in France.”

Mas, 32, and his wife, Manon, 25, left Aspen on Thursday morning after living downtown since November. The Sister Cities program gave the couple from Chamonix, along with their 6-month-old daughter, Juliette, the opportunity to come to Aspen.

Marc-Andre, a ski patroller in Chamonix, worked in the same capacity on Aspen Mountain, while Manon took care of their daughter.

“It was pretty strange for me when I got here because my daughter was 2 weeks old,” Marc said Wednesday. “Manon came one month later in December after spending some more time in France. Everybody was so kind to me, even my co-workers on Aspen Mountain.”

Marc-Andre said his fellow patrollers instantly welcomed him. When Manon finally came to Aspen, his co-workers invited them to dinners.

“American hospitality is very nice,” Manon said. “In France, during Christmas, you are just with your family. Here, we had four or five invitations. When we get back to France, we will invite the next American visitors over for the holidays.”

For Manon, a nurse, raising a newborn baby in Aspen was sometimes easier than if she were in France.

“In France, we get six months off for maternity leave,” Manon said. “So this was like a big vacation. When we would walk around town with a stroller, the sidewalks were clean. You could not do that in Chamonix.”

During their walks, another difference between Chamonix and Aspen, which Manon noted, was the speed at which cars drive. In France, Manon said vehicles speed past without regard for pedestrians. In Aspen, she said it was reassuring to see cars slow down to a stop when the family would cross a street.

Another initial difference that Marc-Andre noticed, besides the supermarket, was the difference in skiing.

“In Chamonix, the mountain is right in your face,” Marc-Andre said. “Here, there are more hills. It’s lighter and more fun. Aspen’s mountains are bigger, and there is more room for everybody.”

The young family was able to see much of Aspen and hike in other places in Colorado and even some in Utah.

Although the family’s stay in Aspen is over, they might return one day.

“Now we have American friends,” Manon said. “Maybe in a few years, our little daughter can come here.”

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