Author Archives: Bob

Preixan day trip

Circular Preixan from the town’s website

It’s been months since we’ve gone anywhere further than a 30-minute walk from our front door. In February we were in Florence just before Italy closed its borders and France started a 2-month lockdown when no one could be more than 1 kilometer (half-mile or so) from home. Once travel was again authorised it was initially limited to essential, nearby trips only until the summer vacation season arrived. With that as background we jumped at the chance to go out to lunch with friends Sally and Larry to a village about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Carcassonne. The drive down there may have only been 15 minutes but it was literally the change of scenery that we needed. Read the rest of this entry

Eat your vegetables

Market-fresh tomatoes and cucumbers

For several years we used to travel annually from the US to Europe with a group of friends, one of whom was vegetarian. Paula was always gracious at meal times, never wanting to inconvenience others, but we were all surprised at one Parisian waiter’s suggestion as “mashed potatoes” for her entire meal. Contrast that with our experience at a restaurant in the Dordogne where the Michelin-starred chef said that he “would be honored to prepare something for you” (not on the menu) and indeed created a work of art that was the envy of the rest of us at the table. A change in school lunches this year might just make it easier in the future for the next generation if they decide to avoid eating meat. Read the rest of this entry

Charlotte at the dentist

From Dr. Masquefa’s website

No, we did not just adopt a person or a dog and then have her teeth examined but we did learn a new word. As with most non-essential medical appointments during lockdown this spring, our annual visit to the dentist got postponed and it was only recently that we rescheduled it. Since we prefer to make our appointments in person, we walked the short distance down to his office where we found a notice on the door stating that only those patients who had already scheduled their rendez-vous by telephone could enter. Oh boy, that meant we’d have another lesson in communication without being able to see the other person’s face. In reality, since everyone is wearing a mask these days, that’s not unusual, but even body language at least gives you a clue that you are being understood. So we went home, made the call easily enough, and secured a time for 2 weeks later when we discovered that it wasn’t just the appointment process that had changed. Read the rest of this entry

Open house

Open the window in the village of Limeuil

“Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash” are words that we generally associate with a Christmas poem so this may seem an odd time of the year to mention them. They describe, however, exactly what we’ve been doing at the house all summer long. Sunrise is around 6:00 AM and by then we have indeed “torn open the shutters” and opened all of the windows plus even the doors that give access to the courtyard. While we are both fans of the light that has famously drawn artists to the south of France for centuries, in this case we are seeking something else: cool morning air. We can let in this genuine breath of fresh air and thanks to thick masonry and stone walls, capture it to keep us comfortable for the rest of the day. Free air conditioning! Read the rest of this entry

A not-so emergency room visit

The bench with one less splinter

One of the reasons we created this blog was to make sure that Americans who were planning a permanent move to France could find details that didn’t appear to be readily available five years ago when we started the investigative process. There seemed to have been ample information for our English-speaking cousins, the British, but some of that didn’t apply because they were part of the European Union so it resembled in some ways moving from one US state to another. Because of Brexit, the dealings with the government that have always been a requirement for us including visas, residence cards, applying for national health insurance, and getting a French driver’s license are now equally important to Her Majesty’s subjects. Today’s health topic, that unexpectedly follows the medical discussion from our most recent blog post could be of use to anyone wondering about our experience with urgent medical care. Read the rest of this entry

Can you see me now?

Doc on the box from the Doctolib website

Doctors Kildare, Ben Casey, Martin, Marcus Welby, “Bones”, House, and McDreamy. All names that conjure up images of physicians who have appeared on our TVs over the years. Although we aren’t currently watching any medical programs, a doctor did indeed appear recently on our screen—well computer anyway—and we were on his at the same time in his office about a mile (1.6 km) from here. Walking there wouldn’t have been a problem but avoiding one more potential exposure to the coronavirus, especially in a compact waiting room, made the decision to try this extreme version of “social distancing” an easy one. We had each received an email from the French health authority encouraging us to schedule a checkup that we might have delayed because of the lockdown, which was certainly true in our case, and that was the extra push we needed to schedule an appointment. Read the rest of this entry

Half off

Shopping at 50% off

To get things rolling again after the 2-month lockdown because of the coronavirus, the city of Carcassonne is in the midst of implementing a 7-point plan that covers much of the activity in town. Schools reopened last month although parents initially had the option of keeping their children at home and using a multitude of online resources to continue their education. That’s an important consideration since those same parents who are able to work from home are encouraged to do so. City Hall is again welcoming guests and all other public services should be back in place by the end of June. Associations, that already play a vital role in the daily lives of citizens and were especially helpful during the pandemic, will receive additional support. One initiative that caught our eye is aimed at getting people back into the small shops that line the streets both up in the walled Cité and down in the main town where we live. All this past week (and into next) it’s been possible to use half-price vouchers in all of those stores. Read the rest of this entry