Monthly Archives: December 2019

Our not-so daily bread

Just out of our oven and still warm

When we first moved to Carcassonne we ate at least one baguette, sometimes two, fresh from the bakery every day. It just seemed the right thing to do. After all, we could be out in the neighborhood, morning, noon, or night and see someone carrying a baguette home, often with the end bitten off since it’s hard to resist that delicious crispy crust right out of the oven. So, how many calories are in a baguette? On average, 700. That’s a significant portion of the 2500 calories we’re supposed to eat every day but our dog Heather made sure that they didn’t stick around for long since she took us on some very long walks twice a day. Sadly she was only with us for the first two months we lived here, so we had to find a substitute for those extended outings. I got a treadmill and Bill got a bicycle and although we continued to travel by foot, we had to take more drastic measures: no more daily baguettes.  Read the rest of this entry

A Carcassonne Christmas

Joyeux fêtes!

Just the other night we were walking home from dinner with friends at a ski resort and realized just how lucky we are. Something about that sentence doesn’t sound right. Walking home, yes. Dinner with friends, certainly. Lucky, definitely. Ski resort, not exactly. As you’ll be able to see in the photos below, Carcassonne is decked out in its finest for the holiday season. There are four major centers of lights and attractions around town plus plenty of side streets and shop windows that echo the excitement. The city has constructed a giant scaffolding structure at Place du Géneral de Gaulle, on top of which is a chalet-style restaurant and stationary ski lift cable cars with dining tables inside that would fit right in on a mountainside in the Alps, hundreds of kilometers from here, but we had a view of the medieval walled Cité with Père Noël pointing the way. The best news for us? Everything starts about a 10-minute walk away from our front door. Read the rest of this entry

Country sounds

Goats do roam in Carcassonne

We recently had to replace our house exhaust fan and I was astonished at the sound level rating for this new device on its normal setting: 15 decibels. For comparison purposes, a pin dropping rates 10 decibels while a whisper is 30; so it’s pretty quiet. A second surprise was that although there’s an exhaust outlet in both bathrooms and in the kitchen, there’s only one motor mounted in the attic and connected to each room by duct work. In every house in the US in which we lived each room had its own independent fan/motor, all of which we replaced anytime that we moved because they were always so loud. By chance, the same morning we were preparing to do the work in our attic, I saw in the newspaper that noise levels were being addressed elsewhere in the country, but with a twist.  Read the rest of this entry

The lights of Lyon

Lyon Cathedral 2019

“You know, it’s dangerous for us to watch TV,” is what Bill said to me last month when he asked me what I wanted to do one evening. That response was prompted by my suggesting that we view one of the two programs we sometimes record: Ëchappées Belles (Beautiful Escapes) and Les 100 Lieux Qu’il Faut Voir (The 100 Places You Must See). They typically feature destinations in France and we even keep a rail map near the television just to see if can activate our motto, “if there’s a train station, we can go there”. Such was the case when the familiar sight of Lyon appeared on the screen. We’d been there in the spring of 2017 but the sparkling lights, decorated yule trees, and the small wooden chalets of the Christmas Market made it look different and inviting, as did the Grand Illuminations. Read the rest of this entry

Chocolate Thanksgiving

Bill went to buy a turkey

One of the many advantages of living in a neighborhood with shops is that we can buy almost everything that we need on a daily basis without having far to go and easily on foot. Our fruits and vegetables all come from the Saturday market, 15 minutes away, but in two minutes or less we can be at the fish shop, butcher shop, greengrocer’s, bakery, newsstand, wine store, or a small but well-stocked supermarket. It’s there that we can often find turkey breast or legs year round  but we have to go a bit further, and only at this time of year, to find the entire bird. That was Bill’s mission last week because one of the large supermarket chains, on the edge of town, was featuring fresh turkeys. So, one morning while I was in language class he hopped aboard a 1€ bus, rode for 15 minutes to a shopping complex, and came back with the 9 boxes of chocolates that you see in the photo. Read the rest of this entry