Monthly Archives: December 2016

Christmas bonus

The bouquet on our table

The bouquet on our table

Last Saturday we were invited for dinner at the home of one of our neighbors on our “old” street; that is, where the rental house is located vs. the “new” street where we’ve bought a house. Of course those terms are both relative when you live someplace where the castle has been defending the land for about 1000 years or so. The first gathering we had attended like this was just two weeks after we moved to France and those invitations with the resulting fun evenings haven’t stopped. But this was going to be different since it was Christmas Eve and we’d read about the Réveillon, a feast often served after midnight mass. We were going to need some extra sleep! Read the rest of this entry

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Close to home

Onions by the 5 kilogram sack

Onions by the 5 kilogram sack

Although I grew up in a city in Virginia with twice the population of Carcassonne, we still weren’t that far from the farms that produced a lot of the food we ate. Leisurely Sunday afternoon drives would take us out into the country where our parents could buy vegetables that had been picked that morning and we could have them for dinner that night. I remember as a child being overwhelmed by the huge burlap sacks holding 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of peanuts, standing taller than I did at the time. Recently, although our backpacks weren’t quite that heavy (but felt that way), we did bring back from the market a woven bag of 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of onions. At a cost of only 1.49 euros for that entire sack, it was hard to pass up. Read the rest of this entry

I’m dreaming of a chocolate Christmas

Les chocolats

Les 13 chocolats

For 30 years Bill and I have celebrated Christmas pretty much the same way: morning coffee sitting around the fireplace, reading. Depending upon where we lived it might have started with the Chicago Trib, the LA Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, or the Atlanta Journal/Constitution. It would then be time for a champagne toast prior to a sumptuous, leisurely lunch that always had to finish by 3:00 PM, the hour when the Queen gives her annual Christmas message. That timing was vital for the holiday vacations we spent in England and not so important in the US with the Internet where we could watch the broadcast at will, but tradition is tradition. Read the rest of this entry

Window hopping

Florist shop window

Florist shop window

One of my earliest trips to New York City nearly 40 years ago was at the end of November that happened to coincide with a huge Thanksgiving parade orchestrated by an even bigger department store chain. While those helium filled cartoon character balloons are impressive, I was more in awe of the thousands of store employees, who walked the two and a half mile parade route in below freezing temperatures, yet managed to keep the balloons under control. Another highlight of that trip was viewing the department store windows that had been dressed up especially for Christmas. Although we now live 4000 miles (6400 km) from New York, walking past the festive window displays in Carcassonne was just as much fun. Read the rest of this entry

A matter of taste

Texmex, pizza, and beer

Texmex, pizza, and beer

Across the street from where we often catch the city bus is a restaurant that advertises “Tex Mex” in two large signs on the front of their building. We haven’t eaten there yet but we are intrigued to see how one of our favorite meals is translated 8000 kilometers (5000 miles) from Dallas. Much closer than a transatlantic flight, as in a short walk that we take every week or so, is a grocery store that sent us a catalog entitled Taste of America featuring products that they associated with the country where we grew up. This was going to make for interesting reading to see how an international supermarket chain, based in Germany, was going to label and promote to a French audience what they considered representative of the USA. Read the rest of this entry

The magic of Christmas

Entrance to Père Noel park

Entrance to Père Noel park

The city of Carcassonne never seems to do anything halfway. After all, with Europe’s largest medieval fortress as your imposing background, it’s hard to do anything less than big.That thought is carried over into this year’s month-long celebration entitled “La Magie de Noёl” and there is definitely lots of magic in Christmas here. Last week’s post about the torchlight march was just the beginning of a very colorful time in the city. Read the rest of this entry

Do you know the way to San…James?

The blue and yellow symbol point the way

The blue and yellow symbol point the way

It’s 1000 kilometers (600 miles) from Carcassonne to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Bill and I walk a lot but that distance is way more than we would want to cover on foot yet lots of people come here to do exactly that. Known by a range of names including the Way (or the Path or the Trail) of St. James, the Route (or the Road) to Santiago or the one we hear the most often, Camino de Santiago or just The Camino, it’s a pilgrimage pathway to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Believers go to the shrine there seeking the final resting place of the apostle St. James. Read the rest of this entry

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