Monthly Archives: March 2016

Parking lot to paradise

The post office has its own garden

The post office has its own garden

It was with trepidation that we went to the post office in Carcassonne for the first time. We had to go there because we needed to mail an initial contact letter into the immigration office in Montpelier so that they could schedule us for a physical exam and an interview. I know, sounds like fun in France, doesn’t it? There seems to be a universal dislike of post office practices worldwide and when you couple that with the insurmountable bureaucracy we’d read existed here, you can understand our dread. But then as we approached the building with the familiar blue and yellow La Poste logo, right in front we saw something else: a garden, a flower garden with benches and a water feature all newly installed. In fact, this haven of greenery replaced a parking lot. What post office does that? Read the rest of this entry

Local for the locals

Market poster from the Carcassonne.org website

Market poster from the Carcassonne.org website

Carcassonne has no lack of farms surrounding the city nor markets to showcase their produce. Three days a week there’s an open air market on the main town square with Saturday attracting at least 50 vendors and thousands of customers who, like us, come on foot while lots of others drive in from the suburbs. Just in the last week or so you might have read the posts about rubbing elbows with the Mayor at an evening local producers market or last Saturday’s wine fair at the local agricultural high school. This week we were up deep inside the castle’s double walls for yet another festival highlighting locally made food and drink. Read the rest of this entry

Falling in

St. Gimer church from 1854 below the castle

St. Gimer church from 1854 below the castle

Yesterday was Easter and as you might expect most places were closed. In fact, almost everything is closed around here on Sundays: shops, restaurants, even the buses don’t run. Having moved from being within a 5-minute drive of several supermarkets and a supercenter that literally never close we thought it might take a long time to adjust. It didn’t. Read the rest of this entry

Night and day difference

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Our courtyard’s French blue shutters

My first long term relationship was with someone who lived in New York City. The first time I went to Manhattan it was truly overwhelming; skyscrapers, people, endless avenues of shopping, bumper to bumper traffic, Broadway, Times Square, and noise. In the daytime it was exciting but at night it was too noisy to sleep. After a week there I kind of got used to the crowds but nighttime sirens, garbage trucks with clanging cans, and screaming drunks validated the nickname The City That Never Sleeps. Read the rest of this entry

In the balance

Bathroom scale in kilograms

Bathroom scale in kilograms

We bought a bathroom scale today, or as the French call it a balance. I only know that’s the name because of something that happened in the supermarket. Fruits and vegetables are displayed much as they are in the US on large angled tables where each shopper is free to choose the produce that she or he wants. The big difference comes next and that’s where the balance comes into play. Read the rest of this entry

From horseless carriage to carless pairage

Pont Vieux, the 14th century foot bridge to town

Pont Vieux, the 14th century foot bridge to town

We had a rental car for the first couple of weeks that we were in France figuring that it would be handy to pick up our initial supply of groceries, a couple of small portable tables, and to stock the liquor cabinet (for guests, of course!) with all of those heavy bottles that we would not want to hand carry on the bus or by walking. Now that we don’t have a car for the first time in 28 years or so we are solely (pun intended) on foot. Read the rest of this entry

La trek tou-louse

Capitol building in Toulouse

Capitol building in Toulouse

For those of you who missed my lame attempt at clever wordplay with this post’s title, recently we went to the city of Toulouse, about an hour away. Actually, the artist Toulouse Lautrec is more associated with the town of Albi, where we’ve already visited the wonderful museum of his works, but his namesake city of 500,000 people has megashopping. Ah, there’s the real reason we went. Read the rest of this entry

Renestance

French Retirement Dream

A year in Périgord

Tales of a Brit who stopped in Lille on his way to Périgord – and stayed

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

wcs

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

Chez Loulou

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for meaning...in between leg shavings

Post-Industrial Eating

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An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures