Although probably not a bestseller, there is a publication from the Ministry of the Interior of France that anyone who is thinking of moving here will probably want on their electronic bookshelf. The price is certainly right—free—and it contains lots of practical information about preparing for the move and then what to do once you’ve arrived in your new country. Just as important, Living in France also addresses the key values represented in the Republic’s motto: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. This is followed by, “These are not simply abstract concepts: these values have concrete effects on day-to-day life by means of the rights and obligations of citizens and residents.” These benefits apply to the French themselves, to those of us living here, and even to visitors. Read the rest of this entry
If you’ve ever been in a need-to-know work situation you’ll understand that it’s always someone else who decides when you need to know something and how much they are going to tell you. It was especially frustrating to me when I was in a position that required disseminating information to the general public yet finding out those details from the person in charge was impossible. Luckily that’s all in the past and now it’s up to Bill and me to determine what information we need, how to get it, and will it be in French or English. The region that we live in, called Occitanie, publishes a review every 2 months to inform citizens about government spending, new and planned legislation, achievements in job creation, etc. I was astounded that each issue includes a section called “Political Groups Expression” where all parties, center, left, right, extreme, or moderate get to say their piece. Read the rest of this entry
When someone comes to dinner at our house, one of Bill’s favorite questions to them is “Do you like pepper?” as he stands nearby with the fresh pepper grinder in hand, ready to blacken their plate. We both like spicy foods (well, some slightly more than others) and back in Atlanta we frequently visited a Mexican restaurant that knew the true meaning of caliente. (Yes, Spanish speakers, I know that means hot temperature rather than spicy, but I’ll get there in a minute.) When we arrived in France and went to the market we were pleased to see an entire display devoted just to spices. After we loaded our backpacks with fresh fruits and vegetables, some grown as close as the farms that surround Carcassonne, others elsewhere in France or just to our south in Spain, we wandered over to this colorful array anticipating finding all of the exotic powders we were used to. Sure enough there was cinnamon, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, and at least 2 dozen more including of course, herbes de Provence. But what about chili powder, pepper flakes, serrano, chipotle, or anything marked “HOT!” ? Read the rest of this entry
We can easily get by train from our part of the south of France to the Normandy coast several times a day but the ferry from there to the Channel Islands only goes once a day outside of the summer season. Since we can choose when to travel, we leave July and August to the families who can only travel together when schools are on vacation. That meant arriving in the port city of St. Malo after the boat had departed for the day but it gave us an opportunity to overnight in a city we’d only seen for a few hours as a side excursion on one our our previous visits to Brittany. Read the rest of this entry
We had plenty of reasons to smile on our recent trip to Jersey in the Channel Islands: beautiful landscapes, rugged coastlines, great meals at bargain prices, wonderful friends, and then there were these….
As close as 14 miles (22 km) off the French coast of Normandy is Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. Every year in October and November they hold a 6-week long food festival called the Tennerfest where restaurants across the 2 big islands offer fixed-price menus starting at 10 Pounds Sterling. The celebration takes its title from the nickname of a 10 pound note, called a “tenner”, although other dining options up to £20 are also available. This allows even Michelin starred establishments to offer lunch or dinner to everyone at reasonable prices. With the coast only a train ride away where a ferry awaited to take us on that short sea crossing, we eagerly hopped aboard to sample Jersey Royal potatoes, Guernsey butter, and local crab and lobster. Read the rest of this entry
There’s a Vietnamese restaurant a short walk from our house. About a block from there is the family-run Saveur d’Asie, an Asian food market. Out of about 300 restaurants in Carcassonne, at least 6 of them are listed as vietnamiens in the phone directory where you can also find a Franco-Vietnamese cultural association and a travel agency that specializes in trips to Asia. Considering how many neighbors here have made that part of the world as one of their vacation destinations, that agency must be pretty busy. So what is this French Connection? Read the rest of this entry