Author Archives: Bob

Before you go

Social Security website brochure

We’ve recently added some more information on our page called “Are You Serious?” that you can access from the tab above. That’s where we’ve assembled an outline of the basic steps we took in preparation for the move and then what we did upon arrival here. With at least a year’s worth of planning before we made the big move to France, we thought that we had everything covered. Actually we did, as far as taking care of our situation at the time but then some things changed and we had to adapt. Opening a bank account at the branch at the end of our street proved much easier than we anticipated compared with what we’d read about the experience of others. Getting money transferred into that new account from our US bank and Social Security benefits direct deposited there too, well, not so easy. Read the rest of this entry

Sun and ice

17th century ice house entrance

If asked to name a French king, the first one that comes to our minds is Louis XIV, the Sun King. After all, his association with the majestic Palace of Versailles certainly makes a memorable impression even 300 years later. He turned a hunting lodge in the middle of a forest, 13 miles (21 km.) from Paris into a massive administrative and entertainment complex for his own delight and that of the court in general and ambassadors from other European countries. A popular after dinner event of the time, and an additional way to demonstrate the king’s seemingly limitless power, was to serve fruit-flavored ices to his guests, even in the middle of the summer of the 1600s, at least a century before artificial refrigeration was in use elsewhere. To ensure a ready supply of ice wherever he traveled in France and to those wealthy enough to court his favor, the King authorized the construction of glacières (we would call them “ice houses”) in 1659 and there’s one about an hour’s drive from Carcassonne. Read the rest of this entry

Sign here

Post office mailboxes

Seldom do I sign petitions. I’ve never been much of a political activist and you never know what’s going to happen to that list you’ve just signed. In this digital age when nothing ever totally disappears once it’s been put online, something you’ve long forgotten about could come back to surprise you years later. Regularly I do an Internet search of my name just to see if there’s anything new and a link to a petition I joined almost 20 years ago is still right there. A few weeks ago our neighbor Marc came knocking at our door, paper in hand and talking a mile-a-minute, asking us if we’d seen it, did we use it, and did we want to get it back. All we had to do was figure out what “it” was. Read the rest of this entry

Where 20 = Wine

Wine aging in barrels in the cave

Ask any French person to name a famous American highway and you’re bound to hear “Route 66”. Hollywood has done a wonderful job of creating a mystique around this classic USA road trip that stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles. Bill spent part of his youth growing up along it and he always gets smiles, nods of approval, and an enthusiastic “Oui!” whenever that comes up in conversation. There are numerous websites, guidebooks, photo essays, and blog posts, all in French, dedicated to navigating this 2400 mile (3900 kilometer) pathway. If you reverse that original question and ask us to name a famous French highway, you will certainly hear “Route 20 Corbières”, the wine road. Read the rest of this entry

The dilemma

Somebody’s waiting for her dinner

You wouldn’t think that making a decision about having fish and chips would be so difficult. After all, when we’re in Great Britain, it’s one of our favorite meals. Nothing goes better with a pint of real ale, sitting in a cozy pub by the fire than a traditional beer-battered North Sea cod accompanied by crispy, hand-cut fries. And there’s the problem; that all takes place in the UK. This may sound stereotypical but when we’re in Germany we have sausages and beer; in Italy it’s pasta and pizza; in Ireland we enjoy potato stew and soda bread; in Spain there are cured meats and paella. Every country has its specialties and they know how to do them right. So here we are in a country where we cannot go without our daily ration of just-baked baguettes, a choice from hundreds of types of cheeses, and wines that are produced from the grapes that are grown a stone’s throw from our front door. So why the dilemma? Read the rest of this entry

Day trip to Narbonne

Canal de la Robine to the Mediterranean

Before we settled on Carcassonne as our new hometown, we made of list of other French cities that seemed to match our tally of criteria. We were looking for a market town that also had grocery stores we could visit when the market wasn’t open and a population of around 50,000 people. A train station was a must-have as was a river, canal or seaside to walk along. That initial list had 16 entries, a few of which had a check mark beside every requirement. One of those is just a 30-minute train ride east towards the Mediterranean Sea: Narbonne. Read the rest of this entry

Blanket of what ?

Bubbly bottles of blanquette

Sometimes I mishear things. It’s not that I’m going deaf; it’s more about concentrating on every single word that someone is saying in French which opens up multiple opportunities for misunderstandings. Last Saturday at the market we saw a friend who asked us what we were doing that evening because she was fixing a blanquette de veau (veal in cream sauce) and would love us to join her and several neighbors for dinner. We were definitely not going to turn down a wonderful chance like that especially when it meant we’d get to spend some time with people we hadn’t see in a while. On the walk home, Bill and I discussed what wines we should take and we settled on some bottles of Blanquette de Limoux. After all, if dinner was going to be a blanquette why not accompany it with a few glasses of blanquette? Read the rest of this entry

Renestance

French Retirement Dream

A year in Périgord

Tales of a Brit who stopped in Lille on his way to Périgord – and stayed

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

wcs

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

Chez Loulou

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for meaning...in between leg shavings

Post-Industrial Eating

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An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures