Category Archives: Travel in France & beyond

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

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

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

Lisbon’s custard and beer tarts

What’s for breakfast?

If someone says, “Let’s go to Portugal!”, you probably think of Lisbon but our first stop was Porto since there’s a direct flight from Carcassonne that put us there in an hour and a half. It is truly what our next door neighbor here described as vibrante that we might call “lively” with a sense of excitement that we both felt when we arrived at the airport and especially once we were settled into our holiday rental apartment right in the middle of the tourist section. As much as we enjoyed our days there, we eventually had to move south to the nation’s capital, Lisbon, and then an hour and a half west to Evora, our true goal for this trip to visit the friends who had invited us there. Read the rest of this entry

Any port in Porto

Porto, Portugal

We’re both longtime fans of trains, having traveled extensively throughout Great Britain plus many western European countries, including France of course, using various unlimited passes to see as much of the countryside as we could. We find it so relaxing compared to flying and much less stressful than driving, especially when you can enjoy that afternoon wine and cheese while the landscape goes whizzing by the window. Naturally then, when friends suggested that we visit them in their new home in Portugal, I figured that we would just hop aboard a train and be there in no time. After all, they are just one country down and over a bit. Unfortunately that hop was going to take about 21 hours so we opted for a non-stop 2-hour flight from Carcassonne to the city of Porto, well-known for its port wine. Read the rest of this entry

Lots of thyme

Village of Aragon, France

When our neighbors suggested that they pick us up on Sunday to take a trip to Aragon, instantly visions of courtly love, chivalry, and Camelot sprang to mind. After all, it was Catherine of Aragon who was King Henry VIII’s first queen and in her eyes maintained that position despite the rise and fall of others after her. While our destination shared that Queen’s name, we were only traveling about 20 minutes north of Carcassonne instead of 2 hours south into Spain where the Kingdom of Aragon was located and to where Catherine could trace her family roots. Read the rest of this entry

Paris? Not exactly.

Is that the Eiffel Tower?

If you’ve only seen pictures of the capital of France, you might easily mistake some of the photos that go with this blog post as having been taken there since they appear to show familiar sites. Even if you’ve visited the City of Light, you still might wonder why the Eiffel Tower was now standing next to Sacre Coeur or since when was the Seine lined by all of those tall apartment buildings with terracotta roofs you typically find in the south of France. That’s because instead of being in Paris, we were recently in Lyon. 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