Category Archives: Travel in France & beyond

Castelnaudary day trip

Windmill moulin de Cugarel

Last November I wrote that although we no longer celebrate Thanksgiving, thanks to the generosity of our neighbors we don’t miss out on any of the warmth associated with that holiday. After reading that post about this area’s comfort food, cassoulet, friends Sally and Larry suggested making a trip to Castelnaudary to try the dish ourselves in one of the restaurants certified by the Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet as serving the authentic meal. Not wanting to miss out on a tasty lunch nor the chance to explore a neighboring town that was once a stop along the ancient Roman road between Narbonne and Toulouse, we readily accepted their invitation. Read the rest of this entry

A light look at Lourdes

The Gave de Pau river runnning through Lourdes

The French word for “heavy”, if you’re talking about feminine nouns is lourdes which is exactly the same spelling as the town in the Pyrenees that is a major pilgrimage site for Catholics. According to legend, Bernadette Soubirous saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary there in 1858 and believers soon started arriving at the cave (grotto) hoping for a cure. Although I have long wanted to visit the town for its historical significance, Bill said that it would “take a miracle” to convince him to go. Given that today’s blog post was supposed to be about our planned but now postponed side trip from Bordeaux to Cognac because the tasting rooms weren’t open during the holidays, I’d say that we achieved that lofty goal. Hop aboard the train with us for our next destination: Lourdes. Read the rest of this entry

Secret, lost, hidden, invisible Bordeaux

Bakery oven from 1765

On our first trip to Bordeaux last summer (Bordeaux in 4 days) we hit most of the highlights that make it to the “must-see” lists for this capital of wine. For our second visit I thought it might be fun to look for some more out-of-the-way places that don’t typically make it to a tourist’s itinerary but would still be interesting for us to see. The title of today’s post includes some of the search terms I used in compiling a lineup of sites, shops, restaurants, views, and other alluring locations for us to stop into or at least pass by. Thanks to a blog post about Invisible Bordeaux (website below) we found several links back across the Atlantic ocean. Read the rest of this entry

Trains for Christmas

TGV departs Carcassonne station for Toulouse

Fond Christmas memories are centered around trains, stretching from childhood right through 3 years ago when we sold our Atlanta house and all of its contents including the HO gauge model trains that Bill and I had collected over the years. The first engine I remember was a steam locomotive that even emitted puffs of white smoke for realism. That was followed by a bright yellow Union Pacific diesel. No smoke but the passenger cars came with interior lights that added one more touch of realism. When I got a job with British Rail, naturally we had to have our own version of the Flying Scotsman. It didn’t take long to add the Orient Express to our collection and once France became a yearly vacation destination we had a TGV. Who wouldn’t want a miniature version of a train capable in speed trials of going 574 km/hr (357 mph)? Every December we would set up the track around the base of the tree and then try to figure out how to fit all of those engines and cars into that little space. Now our hardest decision with life-size trains is where to go next. Read the rest of this entry

When you mix oil with wine

Olive oil tasting bar

Growing up, I wanted to be a microbiologist until I got to college and found out that in addition to biology you had to also be good at chemistry. Bill’s a wiz at that but I still can’t tell the difference between emulsify, liquefy, and puree—unless those are blender settings, of course. That explains why, when I only caught snippets of the conversation between him and our friend Sally regarding something about oil and wine, I didn’t pay close attention. It was only when I saw them get out their calendars to schedule a day trip that I understood that we would be visiting an olive grove and a winery. Naturally there would have to be time for lunch, so let’s go! Read the rest of this entry

Travel Tips and Observations From Bill

First class on an Italian train

First of all we had a wonderful trip using the trains which allowed us to relax while enjoying the view of the countryside and sea. We do take our meals and apero snacks along with us when we are on the train to make sure we are well fed and have enough to drink at the appropriate times. It is possible on most of the major train lines to buy food but it is not always convenient to wait for your meals to be delivered to your seat (if you are in first class) that you might have pre-ordered and the menu pictures do not usually correspond with the items served. You might be able to save enough to add a nice bottle of wine with your lunch, apero or dinner by buying a nice salad, sandwich, cheese and sausage platter from a grocery before entering the station. Coffee brewed yourself is always better than they have the ability to serve on the trains. A half liter thermos is just about right for each of us for breakfast and is easy to pack and manage. One more thing to consider is that all trains do not have food on board so if you bring your own you know it will be there when you are ready. Read the rest of this entry

Annecy, France in 2 days

Sailboats on Lake Annecy

We’ve been wanting to visit Annecy at least since we moved to France two and a half years ago and probably long before that given how many travel videos about this country we used to watch in the US. Since the train is our preferred mode of transportation and it generally takes 2 changes to get there from Carcassonne, we’ve put it off. When Bill was planning our trip in northern Italy he saw that on our return we could stop overnight in Annecy and then get one direct train from nearby Lyon to our station at home. If it really were that easy (true confession at the end of this post) then we were off to see this city in the Alps! Read the rest of this entry

A new life in Lille

Tales of a Brit who moved to northern France

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

Just another WordPress.com weblog

An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures