Monthly Archives: June 2019

Let’s do lunch

Le Château de Pennautier

We don’t typically eat lunch in a castle but as part of celebrating our 33rd anniversary we wanted to do something special. By chance the Toqués D’Oc dining experience had a stop in Carcassonne last weekend and Bill got the tickets as soon as they went on sale. I had to brush up on French cooking terminology to understand what we would be eating and even to translate the name of the event. I thought chefs wore hats but here they are called toqués and I knew for sure that D’Oc was short for “of Occitanie” meaning that it was all about our region that stretches from the Mediterranian Sea almost to the Atlantic Ocean. The impressive lineup of chefs included three names that we recognized including a local celebrity, pastry chef Rémi Touja, who was awarded Champion of France for his work just before settling in Carcassonne. Read the rest of this entry

Corsica, top to bottom

Dramatic cliffs and crystal blue water in Bonifacio

Before we moved to France, the only thing that I knew about Corsica was that it was an island in the Mediterranean Sea where Napoleon Bonaparte was born. Now that we live here it’s hard to turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing a beautiful image of crystal clear blue water, mountain cliffs above the sea, or lots of smiling faces enjoying afternoon drinks on a terrace looking out on all of those same marvelous views. Pair that with the universal reactions we got from everyone here when we mentioned that we’d be going to the island and you could wonder why their tourist office even bothers advertising. The place sells itself. English words like “beautiful, magnificent, fantastic” and their French equivalents rolled easily off the tongues of those around us. It was definitely time for Bill and me to visit this magical spot from which one person said, “you won’t want to come back.” Read the rest of this entry

Three-year-olds reading

All aboard! Train trip

We’re both avid readers from morning until bedtime and much of it is in French. Carcassonne has 3 newspapers so we can start the day with the electronic versions of those. It’s not as if we read every word but enough to find out what has happened in our region overnight. Links from those take you to national and worldwide news so we don’t miss out on that either. We check the city’s website regularly where they disseminate all of the information that a resident would need on a daily basis plus a page about educational, cultural, and sporting events to attend over the next few weeks. Their Facebook page gives even more details and they also have a video presence there if you want to watch and listen to some of the local news instead of reading it. Area merchants use social media to keep us informed of promotions they are offering and the YouTube channels we follow for language learning all post lots of written content on FB and on their own websites. But what about books? All in English…until recently. Read the rest of this entry

Seeing a dermatologist

A selection of skin creams called lait corps

About 8 years ago, when we were still living in the US, I went to a dermatologist to have 3 spots on my face looked at. The doctor said that she could easily remove them with a dab of liquid nitrogen but that they would eventually return requiring a repeat of the procedure. True to her word, the spots quickly disappeared and also as she advised they did come back so it was time to see a specialist here in France. We’d already been to the dentist and to our general practitioner and we knew that we’d have to see him again to get a referral since you need that other than for a gynecologist, pediatrician, ophthalmologist, or dentist. Armed with the doctor’s letter we walked two blocks to the next group of medical offices to get an appointment. Read the rest of this entry

Holiday? Let’s have a fête!

The covered market parking lot filled with people, food, and drink

Rumor has it that the French have a whole lot more time off from work than Americans do. It is true that many full time employees here receive 5 weeks of vacation each year while we know folks back in the “old country” who struggle to ration out their 2 weeks, combining them with weekends or other holidays to stretch the break a little longer. With annual trips to Europe, often to France, Bill and I were lucky to have had employers with much more liberal leave policies. But what about nationwide holidays known as public or bank holidays or in the US, federal holidays? In America there are 10 with an 11th day added every 4 years for Inauguration Day. In France it’s 11 and if any of those fall on a weekend, too bad, it’s not moved to the closest Friday or Monday so employees don’t get the day off. Last Thursday we celebrated one of those jours fériés that wasn’t on a weekend with 2 festivals; one in the lower town where we live and the other in the upper Medieval walled city that overlooks us. Read the rest of this entry

Cherry festival

Life can be a bowl of cherries, thanks Sally!

It’s said that even without a calendar you can tell what month it is in France just by visiting the market. If all of the stalls are full of heads of cauliflower as big as basketballs, it’s probably March. In April the asparagus and artichokes compete for space. May brings flats of strawberries the size of golf balls and spilling from then into June, bright red cherries entice you to bite them. Just as some cheeses are known by the area they come from like Roquefort or Camembert, for example as are wines such as Champagne and Cognac, fruits and vegetables can be just as well known. Just say “Charentais” and everyone’s mouth begins to water when they think of sweet and juicy melons. The same goes for Mirabelle plums from Lorraine and Bill’s favorite, les cerises de Cerét, cherries and we went to the festival. Read the rest of this entry

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