Author Archives: Bob

Bill’s badge of bravery

Soprano’s sold out concert poster from the city’s website

What do a French rap singer, Bill, and a 10-year-old have in common? If that were a 10-year-old Scotch I would start to understand but in this case she’s our neighbor whom we’ll call El. She likes music of all kinds, and even plays the violin, but is passionate about one French rap artist named Soprano. Knowing this, her ever hopeful parents bought 2 tickets to last Wednesday’s concert months ago anticipating that they would have plenty of time to find an adult to accompany their daughter but time was running out. We were over at their house for a glass of wine and the topic of Carcassonne’s annual month-long international music festival came up with a note that Soprano would be there. I remember an American TV series with that name (sort of) but I didn’t see how it could be turned into a musical stage show. El quickly jumped in to explain who the singer was and how her parents were looking for a chaperone. I could not believe the next words that I heard in the room, “I’ll go”, and they didn’t come from me. Read the rest of this entry

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in 3 days

One of the remaining water wheels in town

There’s a TV show that we watch here called Affaire Conclue (roughly, Done Deal) that’s kind of like the program Antiques Roadshow, but with a twist. Members of the public bring objects from their home to the studio in Paris where an auctioneer provides a bit of history about the item and then sets a value that she/he thinks it would bring if put under the hammer. The bonus is that in the next room a panel of collectors, flea market stall holders, and decorators is waiting to bid on what has come in that day and with cash in hand hopefully take their bounty home. They filmed an extended 2-hour version of the show in a town in Provence nicknamed “Capital of antiques and flea markets” that’s only a train ride away for us, so we were off for a long weekend in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Read the rest of this entry

Colors of summer

Art Deco former city hall of Carcassonne

We are just into summer and the colors couldn’t be brighter in Carcassonne. Last year for this sunny season the city introduced a rainbow of umbrellas suspended over the pedestrian shopping street and those have returned. Not only does it provide a colorful splash but also some welcome shade from that beautiful and sometimes intense southern France sunshine. Joining these parapluies this year are sails, equally vivid, and hanging above the main driving thoroughfare in the lower city. The good news for those of us without a car is that many of the streets have become pedestrian-only for a portion of each day during this outdoor season so we can admire the artwork overhead without having to dodge vehicles. Read the rest of this entry

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

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