Long before we knew that one day we’d be living in France, we were regularly watching films made here. We had a home theater in our house in Atlanta and every week a new DVD would show up in our mailbox that we would save for the weekend. Often these took place in Paris but occasionally we were treated to countryside scenes with fields of sunflowers and lavender, quaint villages with stone houses beside babbling mill streams, or large family gatherings around dining tables piled high with food and drink. No matter the location, these films had something in common, at least in our house: they were all in French of course but we always turned on the subtitles in English. We’re not fans of dubbed films where the words you hear don’t match the lips of the actors who are supposed to be saying them, so subtitles were the only way to comprehend what was going on. So, after living in France for 3 and a half years, that’s all changed—right? Read the rest of this entry
Growing up, I remember the days when there would be a knock on the door at least once a week from someone trying to convince my mother to buy something, be it encyclopedias, cosmetics, household cleaners, burial plots, or brushes of all kinds. When I met Bill he had already purchased from one of these salesmen a powerful vacuum cleaner that a friend said would “suck the drapes right off the windows” if you got too close to the wall, and he was right! But then as we moved around the country the knocking stopped. The houses we lived in were all set well back from the street so it was going to take quite an effort just to get to our front door but not everyone was deterred. We could generally recognize members of religious organizations as they approached but a simple shake of the head through our partially-opened door would always send them away. In France, our street isn’t a lot wider than the cars that pass down it so our front door is easily accessible to everyone with a product to sell, a magazine to subscribe to, or a quick way to heaven. Read the rest of this entry
Hardly a weekend goes by when there isn’t a festival in town that features locally grown and/or produced food products. Local artisans are proud of the work they do and the Mediterranean climate generally cooperates to provide bumper crops as it has done in this area for over 2000 years. We don’t have to wait for a fête, however, since we can just walk to the Saturday market and find everything we want, either just picked or freshly prepared. Olives were cultivated by the Greeks and then the Romans when they settled here and since the trees can survive for centuries there is still an abundance of the oils, tapenades, and even beauty products made from this durable plant. Sometimes it’s fun to travel outside of the city to the source of everything we see on display at the market and that’s exactly what we did last week when Sally and Larry suggested that we all pile into their car for “Last Chance Wine Tasting of 2019”. Read the rest of this entry
American songwriter Johnny Mercer left behind many unfinished compositions when he died in 1976, one of which Barry Manilow turned into a hit 8 years later under the title of today’s blog post. It’s a rather sad tale of a childhood in the distant past and a lost love that’s always brought back to mind when the leaves fall and “the snow begins to fly”. Add in a melancholy melody and you can understand why part of the refrain goes, “I turn my head away to hide the helpless tears….” Luckily in Carcassonne when the calendar changes from Halloween to All Saints’ Day, everything is a bit brighter than in the song. Read the rest of this entry
Earlier this month when we were in Bruges we stopped into a lot of chocolate shops (there are at least 50) and Bill took photos of some of their window displays including the skulls and raven you see here. Although it’s not a well-celebrated holiday in France, one of our own chocolateries in Carcassonne got inspired as well. In that spirit, we wish you a “sweet” Halloween!
Luckily neither Bill nor I have any health issues so the few visits to medical personnel that we’ve had since moving to France have all been what here is often called a contrôl that we think of as a checkup. We’ve been to our family doctor, a clinic for blood work, the dentist, a dermatologist, and most recently the ophthalmologist. Visits like that in the US were always stressful for me so when you add in the challenge of conducting those encounters in another language, I can feel my blood pressure rising. Because we get many questions from blog readers about the French universal health care system, of which we are now members, we like to include our own experiences that might help those wondering what to expect. The highlighted links above will take you to the previous related posts and today I’ll talk about our latest rendez-vous. Read the rest of this entry
When you’re already in an architectural gem of a city in Belgium and the guidebook says, “Ghent is just like Bruges…except without the crowds,” then you have no choice but to go and see if that’s true. With a train departing several times each hour to make the 25-minute journey, it was an easy decision to make. If you read last Sunday’s post you’ll know that we spent a delightful week in Bruges so with the opportunity to see another destination included in articles entitled “11 Reasons to visit Ghent over Bruges” and “Ghent or Bruges: Which city is for you?” we wanted to make the comparison. Read the rest of this entry