Blog Archives

Seeing the eye doctor

City walls and gate view from the ophthalmologist’s office

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

Ghent in a day

Belfry and cloth maker’s guild house

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

Bruges in a week

Bonifacius bridge

It was 15 years ago when Bill and I went to Bruges, Belgium and that was for less than 24 hours. At the time we were staying in Paris which is only 2 ½ hours away by train and in those days we tried to pack in as much as possible to our annual two-week vacations. On that same trip we had already spent the week in a Loire Valley castle making driving excursions into the surrounding areas to see at least one other chateau every day, so why not visit another country too? All I can remember from back then is the chocolate, the beer, and the lace. On our recent return to the city we had the luxury of being there an entire week but we also had to sneak in a day trip to Ghent, only 30 minutes down the train tracks. Old habits die hard. Read the rest of this entry

Be prepared

Taking the direct route from Marseille to Carcassonne

It’s been a long time since either Bill or I were actively involved with anything to do with the Boy Scouts but their motto has stuck with both of us and it follows us, especially on our travels. On our most recent train trip coming home from Marseille, an online mapping program showed our route as going on/over/through the Mediterranean Sea rather than on the tracks that hug the shoreline going through Nimes, Montpellier, and other cities you can see on the screen shot here. Luckily we kept our heads above water by consulting the paper itinerary we had printed out earlier to confirm the stops and the times we would be at each one. I like to do the same for city maps that come to the rescue when the mapping app on the phone displays, “Can’t find a way there.” Read the rest of this entry

Banyuls-sur-mer in 4 days

Banyuls-sur-mer from the apartment terrace

Ah, by the sea. Even before we started looking outside of the US for a retirement spot, our spreadsheet of must-haves included being on/near/having a view of water. At the time, the beautiful Florida home of one of Bill’s sisters could have technically qualified on all three of those points. A similar house for sale right next door to her had a one million dollar price tag and while that would have been fun, we decided to expand our horizons across the Atlantic to France. In Carcassonne we’re a 5-minute walk from either the river or the canal, so we’re definitely near the water but you still can’t look out our windows and see the birds gliding across the surface or fish jumping out to catch insects. However, if one of those birds were to fly from our house directly to the Mediterranian Sea, that’s only 67 km (42 miles), where lots of vacation accommodations await with the promise of “les pieds dans l’eau” or “your feet in the water.” Read the rest of this entry

Something authentic

We wore these to greet our neighbors

The last time we had several of our neighbors over for dinner we wanted to serve something authentically American. Had we taken a survey of our guests in advance they probably would have expected hot dogs and hamburgers. A major European supermarket chain has an annual “Taste of America” promotion that would expand on those choices by including barbecued ribs and fried chicken. Even our 10-year-old friend across the street followed a recipe called “Les Vrai Cookies Américains” (Real American Cookies) that we enjoyed as chocolate chip cookies. While all of those could logically be included in a meal from across the Atlantic, we were looking for something different. A Thanksgiving spread wouldn’t work nor would a 4th of July picnic. Then we thought about one of our favorite types of foods that we had tasted only a couple of times since moving: Mexican. Now we’re talking genuine American! Read the rest of this entry

Two, two, two trips in one

Ax-les-Thermes in the Pyrenees

Bill will readily admit that he’s not an early riser unless, as our friend Pete says, there’s a treat at the end. When you combine our favorite form of transportation, the train, with bargain fares of one euro per person, and the chance to visit two cities along scenic rail routes, that’s one big treat. It was enough to coax him out of bed at 5 AM three weeks before we wanted to travel to snag those cheap tickets as soon as they went on sale. Where were we headed? It might seem strange that during a summer with record-breaking high temperatures we would visit a town known for its hot springs, but we wanted to see this area in the Pyrenees before its other attraction arrived: snow. 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

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An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures