Author Archives: Bob

We’re ready

Sparkling wine, coffee and TP

Long before the coronavirus set off an initial round of panic buying, our house was already well-stocked with those things that we use on a daily basis. We both arrived from the US with a hurricane mentality that ensured a ready supply of consumables to last through an unknown amount of time without electricity or water. In Atlanta we had a car so it was easy enough to visit a giant warehouse store, fill the trunk with cases of whatever we needed, and drive that home. Here we’re on foot, bicycle, or city bus so we buy smaller amounts more often. A variety of shops, including a grocery store, are steps away from the house so even during lockdown when we couldn’t venture more than a kilometer (about half a mile) from home it wasn’t a hardship for us. Ironically an out-of-stock situation last year of a vital household product at our local grocery store prompted us to take action back then. Read the rest of this entry

Collioure in 4 days

Our balcony view in Collioure

Earlier this year during the 2-month lockdown, or perhaps even more descriptive in French, la confinement, our desire to travel never lost its appeal. After all, our vacation plans for both April and May fell victim to the virus but that simply gave us more resolve to try again as soon as it was reasonable to board the train for another adventure. Those two trips had each been several hours away, and we’ll reschedule them later, but one destination less than 100 km (60 miles) from Carcassonne, as the crow flies, really caught our attention for this first venture out closer to home. It didn’t take much convincing once Bill showed me the view from the apartment that you see above accompanied by those magic words: by the sea. Off we went to Collioure. Read the rest of this entry

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