Open house

Open the window in the village of Limeuil

“Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash” are words that we generally associate with a Christmas poem so this may seem an odd time of the year to mention them. They describe, however, exactly what we’ve been doing at the house all summer long. Sunrise is around 6:00 AM and by then we have indeed “torn open the shutters” and opened all of the windows plus even the doors that give access to the courtyard. While we are both fans of the light that has famously drawn artists to the south of France for centuries, in this case we are seeking something else: cool morning air. We can let in this genuine breath of fresh air and thanks to thick masonry and stone walls, capture it to keep us comfortable for the rest of the day. Free air conditioning! Read the rest of this entry

A not-so emergency room visit

The bench with one less splinter

One of the reasons we created this blog was to make sure that Americans who were planning a permanent move to France could find details that didn’t appear to be readily available five years ago when we started the investigative process. There seemed to have been ample information for our English-speaking cousins, the British, but some of that didn’t apply because they were part of the European Union so it resembled in some ways moving from one US state to another. Because of Brexit, the dealings with the government that have always been a requirement for us including visas, residence cards, applying for national health insurance, and getting a French driver’s license are now equally important to Her Majesty’s subjects. Today’s health topic, that unexpectedly follows the medical discussion from our most recent blog post could be of use to anyone wondering about our experience with urgent medical care. Read the rest of this entry

Can you see me now?

Doc on the box from the Doctolib website

Doctors Kildare, Ben Casey, Martin, Marcus Welby, “Bones”, House, and McDreamy. All names that conjure up images of physicians who have appeared on our TVs over the years. Although we aren’t currently watching any medical programs, a doctor did indeed appear recently on our screen—well computer anyway—and we were on his at the same time in his office about a mile (1.6 km) from here. Walking there wouldn’t have been a problem but avoiding one more potential exposure to the coronavirus, especially in a compact waiting room, made the decision to try this extreme version of “social distancing” an easy one. We had each received an email from the French health authority encouraging us to schedule a checkup that we might have delayed because of the lockdown, which was certainly true in our case, and that was the extra push we needed to schedule an appointment. Read the rest of this entry

Half off

Shopping at 50% off

To get things rolling again after the 2-month lockdown because of the coronavirus, the city of Carcassonne is in the midst of implementing a 7-point plan that covers much of the activity in town. Schools reopened last month although parents initially had the option of keeping their children at home and using a multitude of online resources to continue their education. That’s an important consideration since those same parents who are able to work from home are encouraged to do so. City Hall is again welcoming guests and all other public services should be back in place by the end of June. Associations, that already play a vital role in the daily lives of citizens and were especially helpful during the pandemic, will receive additional support. One initiative that caught our eye is aimed at getting people back into the small shops that line the streets both up in the walled Cité and down in the main town where we live. All this past week (and into next) it’s been possible to use half-price vouchers in all of those stores. Read the rest of this entry

Colorful Carcassonne

Art deco former city hall

Although the summer tourist season may have been delayed this year, it’s now in full swing. In a symbolic gesture yesterday the city “opened” the main pedestrian shopping street by opening hundreds of colorful umbrellas and unfurling equally bright sails above the main driving  thoroughfare. Half of the millions of visitors that come here annually to marvel at Europe’s largest walled fortress live in Spain. While France will fully reopen its borders to international tourists tomorrow, our neighbor just to the south will probably wait until the end of the month. That will give restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops just enough time to get used to masks, distancing, and other procedures put in place to keep everyone healthy. In the meantime, here’s a preview of what will be awaiting them. Read the rest of this entry

Plan that trip

Canal-du-Midi from Office de Tourisme Grand Carcassonne

In the old days, when our annual trips to Europe required a transatlantic flight, our planning began more than 11 months in advance because that was how far ahead we could book the airline tickets. We then had almost a year to do all of the fine tuning and to picture how we wanted our holiday to turn out. Once we moved here and started traveling almost exclusively by train, where tickets are generally available only 3 months in advance, we had to change our strategy. No longer did we have months of anticipation but only weeks and according to an article I read last month it’s that period of looking forward to your break that makes you feel better about life in general and specifically about your health, economics, and social situation. With the article titled, “Waiting for Merlot”, I just had to read it.  Read the rest of this entry

Read my lips

Bill models one of the masks he made for us

And we were doing so well. Long before we had any plans of living in France we were watching French movies with the English subtitles turned on so that we could understand what was being said. That was a compromise since the real reason we were renting these films was for the scenery, be it the Eiffel Tower, Medieval castles, or fields of lavender in full bloom; all were really just inspiration for our next vacation. It’s a challenge, however, to read the dialog and try to take in all of the beautiful landscapes sharing the same screen. Then we moved here with access to 100 TV channels broadcast in French with only a few offering some programs subtitled in English but all having the option of displaying the spoken text on the screen for the deaf or hard of hearing. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em so that became our next step in comprehending what was going on. At least we could match up the words we were hearing with those across the bottom of the screen. Read the rest of this entry