Category Archives: Life in France

Need anything?

Exercise mats become carpet pads

We have some very kind readers of this blog. About once a month we’ll get an email from someone who has been following our adventures saying that they will be staying in or at least passing through Carcassonne and could we get together. Because it’s in the heart of town, we generally meet them at the 18th century fountain in the main square and then settle into one of the many surrounding sidewalk cafés for an espresso or a glass of local wine. It’s very rewarding to chat with someone who has sought out the information that we try to provide for Americans considering a move to France. One question that always pops up in advance of one of these get-togethers is “Can we bring you anything?” with the follow-up question in person over that coffee or wine being “Do you miss anything from the US?” After two years of living in France we can now say without hesitation, “No”. Read the rest of this entry

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The taxes are here

Tax forms in a plain blue wrapper

Since today, April 15, is traditionally Tax Day in the US, it probably sounds odd for us to say that we were happy to see our French income tax forms arrive last week, but that’s exactly how we feel. Last year was our first time to report our revenue and it turned out to be relatively simple as I wrote about in the blog post You can run, but…. We filled out the paper forms, following a guide in English that we purchased, and deposited them directly into the huge mailbox in front of the Center of Public Finance office just before the mid-May due date. According to the treaty between our 2 countries, generally speaking, you pay tax based on where you earn the money and since our income is all from US pensions, we anticipated that only Uncle Sam would be sending us a bill. Four months later we were pleased to discover that the French government agreed and sent us a letter to confirm that; however, one important piece of information was missing from that document. Read the rest of this entry

The games we play

Cable TV & Internet boxes

About a month before we left the US our Internet provider notified us that the price on our basic service was going to increase to $145 per month. This was the minimum bundle offered giving us high speed Internet access, 300 television channels, and 200 minutes of landline calls within the US. The first year that we lived in France we were in a house that included wi-fi and TV in the rent so that charge was not a concern. When we bought a house, however, Bill started investigating getting us hooked up to the outside world and we were both amazed. He found a package with the second largest provider in the country that gave us high speed Internet, 200 channels, and unlimited calls to most countries around the world, including the USA for a monthly fee of 17.99 euros. As the end of that 12-month contract approached, bringing with it a price increase, it was time to play that same game we were used to before: seeing if you can find a cheaper price. Read the rest of this entry

Wine, women, and song

A student pours wine for Sally and Shell

Earlier this month we began our third year of living in France. The most frequent comment we heard about that blog post revolved around how fast time goes and we agree completely. In Carcassonne that is especially true on weekends, even in the winter, when there are so many choices of activities that we must decide what not to do rather than searching for something to fill the days. During the summer vacation months of July and August, millions of tourists arrive to visit the massive fortress here, parts of which are still standing from the days that Romans picked grapes in the nearby vineyards 2000 years ago. While I would expect there to be plenty to do during the summer, it was a pleasant surprise to find out how much the city has to offer off-season and last weekend was no exception. Read the rest of this entry

Ugly potatoes

An ad for “ugly” potatoes & apples

Food is always a topic of conversation, especially in a country that is world famous for its cuisine. We can walk to the open air market on the main square in town 3 days a week and have our pick from fruits and vegetables grown locally or from Spain only 2 hours south. If we need something from further afield or perhaps an item that isn’t in season in this hemisphere, there are plenty of supermarkets that we can easily get to on foot or by a short bus ride that offer products from around the world. We get their weekly advertisements either through the mailbox or online so that we can see at a glance what’s being featured. It was one of those ads that caught my eye when I saw a word that I recognized “moche” but never expected to see mentioned along with food: ugly. Read the rest of this entry

Year 3 begins

The fortress in Carcassonne

Although we tend to use March 1 as the starting date for our new life in France, the government here considers February 20 the date since that’s when our initial visa began. Americans can enter the country for up to 90 days on their airline ticket alone, but for those of us who didn’t buy a round-trip flight, you have to do a bit more work. During that initial grace period you must schedule a medical appointment with the immigration office who will then stamp your visa as valid for an additional 9 months. At the end of your first year you can trade in the visa for a residency card that must then be renewed annually using essentially the same documentation required to come here in the first place. Basically you must prove that you won’t be a burden to the taxpayers in that you have sufficient income, health insurance, housing, etc. to take care of yourself. This week we again succeeded in doing that so we have brand new residency cards. Read the rest of this entry

It’s Linky, it’s Linky ♫♬♫

Our Linky communicating electric meter

When I was growing up, a favorite toy was Slinky®—a long metal spring that could walk down stairs or slither from one hand to the other. The company also made a version in the shape of a dog and of a train that you could pull along the floor, always with the rear half hesitating and then suddenly springing forward to meet the front. Perhaps you remember the television commercial jingle that included “It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun for a girl or a boy”. Fast forward 60 years to another place and time where we received a similarly named product but with a totally different, but fun (?), function: the Linky communicating electric meter. Read the rest of this entry

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