Monthly Archives: March 2017

Wine high school, our sophomore year

A lycée (high school) devoted to agriculture, including wine making

About this time a year ago, we had lived in France for only three weeks when an announcement on the city’s website regarding an event for that weekend caught our eye—Wine Fair! We knew that we had moved to the world’s largest grape-growing area but we didn’t realize that there was a high school devoted to the craft just a few minutes’ walk from the house. With the promise of 30 wines, 6 beers, and 2 ciders, we just had to go…for a taste, of course. Read the rest of this entry

Follow the light

Decoration inspiration

Decoration inspiration

Right before we moved from the US, a television commercial that we often saw featured a woman in the office of her architect. She held in her hand a kitchen faucet that she slammed down on the architect’s desk and commanded “Design a house around this!” We’re about 100 years late in needing someone to build this house for us, but we still found ourselves in a similar situation to that woman with the faucet. Long before we had signed the sales papers on the house we bought a dining room chandelier and at that point our mission became “Decorate our home around this!” Read the rest of this entry

The second time around

The Préfecture (federal building) front entrance

The Préfecture (federal building) front entrance

We’re back for round two. If you are a US citizen living in France, you must first obtain a visa that you then convert to a one-year residency card upon arrival in your new home country. For each of those next several years that you live here, you have to apply for an annual renewal of the card. After five continuous years here you can request a 10-year card or citizenship, neither of which requires you to give up American citizenship, for which, by the way, Uncle Sam would want to collect 2,350 dollars. But that’s years down the road. Today’s news is that this week we picked up our renewed carte de séjour (residence permit) valid for the next 12 months. Read the rest of this entry

Universal language

Free tickets to the concert

When you move to another country where the language is something other than the one you grew up with, communication takes center stage. We’ve lived here for a year and we are far from fluent in French despite continued classes, studying, audio files, reading, and daily contact with everyone who speaks it without effort…that is, everyone except each other. If we lived in a true total immersion situation, by now we’d be fully understanding news reports on the radio, TV sitcoms with all of their slang expressions, films with rapid fire dialog, and those dreaded phone calls from utility companies, delivery services, and even telemarketers. Outside our house we’re in a French world so we do our best with the “language of Moliere” but safely back inside with the front door shut it’s more about Mark Twain, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and David Sedaris (!). Read the rest of this entry

Happy spring!

Early Hyacinths in full bloom

One good thing about living in a time zone that’s 6 hours ahead of the eastern US is that festive events like Christmas and birthdays seem to arrive that much sooner. Our day is well underway while friends back in Atlanta are still soundly sleeping. By the time we’ve had our second cup of coffee, the people we know in California may not have even turned off their lights for the night. Today is the first day of spring and I’m happy to share some photos from our courtyard of the flowers, some of which are just hinting at the colors to come, from the bulbs we picked up on a train trip last September to Amsterdam. April in Paris? Yes, but we’re starting with March in Carcassonne.

Flowers like a Blue Bell

Double daffodil

Lots of tulips to come

Hometown tourist

A glass of wine at an outdoor café

A glass of wine at an outdoor café

In 40+ years of working, I don’t remember ever being told “Take the day off”. Like most people, you fit your vacation days around those of others. Other than when someone calls in sick, there just aren’t any surprises or even the opportunity to simply stop what you’re doing and walk off the job, even for a day. That all changed when we moved to France for a couple of reasons: we’re both retired now and one of the requirements for obtaining a visa to live here was our promise that we wouldn’t work. Sounds like a permanent day off…until you buy a house. Read the rest of this entry

Who needs a treadmill?

Walking guide to Carcassonne

Walking guide to Carcassonne

Well, I do, but those details are for a bit later. When we decided to move to Carcassonne about a year and a half ago, we started reading everything we could find about living in the city. There were articles about the cost of living, housing, transportation, shopping, education, entertainment, taxes, history, sports teams, and recreation. As long term users of various types of cardio equipment, one line I read really caught my eye: “Get off of your treadmill and get outside”. The author was suggesting that instead of joining one of the gyms here in the city, you could use the many walking trails that take you along the river, beside the canal, and up through the 12th century fortress and castle above. Read the rest of this entry