Category Archives: Life in France

Everything old is new again

14th century bridge leading to Carcassonne

Songwriters Carole Bayer and Peter Allen released “Everything Old Is New Again” in 1974 that went on to be the showstopper when Hugh Jackman performed it 30 years later on Broadway as The Boy From Oz. According to the lyrics, “Don’t throw the past away, you might need it some rainy day.” That rainy day seems to have arrived in the form of Covid-19 in Carcassonne that is fighting the pandemic just like most of the rest of the world. And like everywhere else, this isn’t the first health crisis the area has faced; in fact, they’ve been occurring in Europe since at least the 2nd century with a similar response from the population. Social distancing and confinement to your home have been around for a long time. Read the rest of this entry

Where to retire in France

From Andernos-les-Bains tourism office

Bill and I have lived from one coast of the US to the other and several places in between. Each of these relocations was a work-related transfer with little leeway on the city of choice. Our final move within America, while still revolving around jobs—as in looking for them—gave us the opportunity to make our own decision about the place. We used an almanac that rated cities across the country on numerous factors such as cost of living, climate, housing, and employment. When it came time to retire in France we consulted a number of “Best of…” lists that covered the same criteria for this country and one of those rankings was published last month in the newspaper Le Figaro. For retirees, the five points they considered were the demographics and attractiveness of each of the 50 included cities, access to health care, the quality of life, housing, and services directed toward seniors. What was at the top of their list? Read the rest of this entry

Christmas is (not) canceled

In the heart of Carcassonne, Place Carnot

About six weeks ago Bill said to me, “Christmas has been canceled.” He had just read an article on the city’s website announcing that the annual festival “La Magie de Noël” (The Magic of Christmas) would not take place this year because of current health concerns. Normally in December we are treated to an entire month of daily festivals, markets, parades, concerts, shows, and displays, plus steaming cups of hot chocolate and spiced wine. While most of that isn’t possible this year, the lights in the trees, the squares, the parks, and the shop windows seemed extra bright in keeping with the Mayor’s message: “Bringing a little joy and lightness in this time of crisis is essential, so that children’s eyes continue to shine.” Wishing you a bright and Merry Christmas! Read the rest of this entry

When you’re in you’re out

English words on a carwash near us

Although the game of cricket isn’t especially popular in France, brushing up on your English certainly is. We both volunteer with neighbors and adult students who want to make conversation in that foreign language they first learned back in middle school but probably haven’t had much opportunity to practice with since then. The BBC is a source that I often consult for classroom ideas and on their Learning English Blog I found the funny and confusing “The Rules of Cricket as Explained to a Foreign Visitor”. It starts with, “Each man that’s in the side that’s in, goes out, and when he’s out, he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.” Read the rest of this entry

We voted

Bird sanctuary with a castle view

Every six years French municipal elections are held to choose the local counselors who form the government that then elects the city’s mayor. Any European Union citizen residing in that town can cast a ballot but to vote for the country’s president you need an upgrade to being a full-fledged French citizen. After now living in Carcassonne for almost five years we feel both European and French but we won’t qualify to take that step towards naturalization until we’ve completed that fifth year. In the meantime, we haven’t been totally excluded from voicing our opinion on local issues and just last week we saw the results of one of those votes and we even picked a winner—in fact, four winners! Read the rest of this entry

Whatever suits you

The mayor often wears a suit

When Bill and I were part of the working world in the US, we both had multiple suits that were appropriate for all sorts of business occasions. It didn’t matter if we were interacting with a customer, attending a board meeting, or dining with the president of the company, we could always be dressed appropriately. When we went for our interview at the French consulate in Miami to obtain our visa to live in this country, it was a simple decision of what to wear for a couple of reasons: 1.) To be respectful, we wanted to dress in a businesslike manner and 2.) In preparing for the move from full-time work to retirement overseas, we had already pared down our wardrobe dramatically to just one suit each. Little did we know that four years ago in Florida we were already following a trend that has been in motion in France for nearly 10 years—a 58% drop in the sale of men’s suits. Read the rest of this entry

Flu shot

Time for the flu shot

Whatever happened to administering medications on a sugar cube? Even Mary Poppins knew that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. Although I’m not a fan of needles, I’m even less enamored with getting sick so you do what you have to do. We each received an “anti-grippale” (la grippe is French for “flu”) vaccination letter from the national health service authorizing us to go to the pharmacy of our choice and to pick up the medication at no charge. We then had the option of taking the ready-filled syringe to our family doctor whose service would also be covered at 100% or to make an appointment with the pharmacist to have the injection done there. That’s what we did last year and her fee was 6 euros. Read the rest of this entry