Money drop

We love the game shows on the French TV stations. They happen to be broadcast during our happy hour(s) every evening. We watch with the subtitles on in French so we can comprehend some of the words that are spoken so quickly. Money Drop is a great show where money is placed on trap doors of the answers and the losing answers drop the money away back to the vault.

Plane over rooftops

Another load of tourists arriving

We think of this show every day as the planes line up to land at the local airport and they have to pass by the Cité and over the Bastide St. Louis. Yes there might be a bit of noise as they fly directly overhead but the planes are filled with tourists coming to the area to spend their vacation (and Euros) in the region. Each and every tourist dropping out of the sky helps our local economy and in turn helps keep the taxes lower for those of us living here on a permanent basis. As the region is known for the wine production and the two UNESCO world heritage sites there are not many large businesses as a tax base, although this is the world’s largest wine producing region and we are doing our part to keep the vintners in production. Read the rest of this entry

Real vs. authentic

Real and authentic wood worm holes

Real and authentic woodworm holes

In Atlanta we built a British pub in the basement of our home. We tried to make it as authentic as possible including a pressed copper ceiling, faux tobacco-stained walls, memorabilia from the UK, and a letter from the Queen acknowledging our desire to bring a bit of British culture to America. The furnishings all had a dark Old World feel to them including the Windsor armchairs that even came with roughed up seats and tiny holes in the ribs to simulate years of munching by woodworms. Let me tell you, looking authentic doesn’t come cheap. Read the rest of this entry

Open house

European Heritage Days poster from the city's website

European Heritage Days poster from the city’s website

For over 30 years, European countries have banded together to celebrate  their heritage on the third weekend of September. In Paris this year, for example, it was possible to visit the Presidential palace of Elysée, tour the city in vintage buses last seen on the streets in 1935, peruse the outstanding art collections at the Musée d’Orsay, gaze down upon the streets below from atop the Arc de Triomphe or explore dozens of other attractions all for free. Since these “Days of European Heritage” were based on an original creation of the French Ministry of Culture, it was only fitting that Carcassonne should fully participate. Read the rest of this entry

Wall art

Harlequin mosaic

Harlequin mosaic

Since we don’t have a car and use the sidewalks in town extensively, we’re always peering into shop windows to see what’s new. Last month it was pretty easy to tell when the semi-annual country-wide sales were finished since the big and splashy SALE! signs were replaced with merchandise promoting fall fashions and back to school supplies. Ugh, I still get a pit in my stomach at this time of year when that threat of the end of summer vacation and the beginning of a new school year looms in the air. The other day when I averted my eyes from one more display of pencil boxes and backpacks, something got my attention. Read the rest of this entry

The king’s touch

Gentle curve of the Canal-du-Midi

Gentle curve of the Canal-du-Midi

Louis XIV, the Sun King, always comes to mind when someone mentions Versailles. We’ve been to that magnificent palace just outside of Paris a few times and we always come away impressed with its size, grandeur, and this shear feat of 17th century construction. Although we’re 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the capital city, the king’s influence is equally prominent here as a result of his royal decree in 1666 that created the Canal-du-Midi.

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Oh it’s wineing time again

This week's wine advertisements

This week’s wine advertisements

Twice a week our mailbox is filled with flyers from lots of businesses; both national chains and local businesses vying for our euros. These are called pubs, short for publicités that you and I might recognize with the English word “advertisements” that we could easily stop, but why spoil all the fun, especially at this time of year. It’s grape harvest time so every catalog that we receive is featuring wine.  In the photo you’ll see just a few of the pubs that arrived today. Looks like we need to go shopping! Read the rest of this entry

If they only knew

The picnicking wall...or so it seems

The picnicking wall…or so it seems

On Sunday Bill and I were walking through the park that runs along the Aude river here in Carcassonne. It’s very popular on weekends for all kinds of sports activities and is a great place to watch the fireworks over the castle on the 14th of July. Since the weather was nice, lots of people were picnicking including the group you see here sitting along a wall behind which runs a mill stream. The two of us had a bit of a chuckle wondering if these outdoor diners realized the original purpose of the wall upon which they were sitting. Read the rest of this entry


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