Walk a mile (or 5)

It’s been over 50 years since a Japanese inventor released his health-craze-creating pedometer that shared its name with that of the company that produced it: 10,000 Steps.  A study back then addressed the importance of walking and another was recently released that confirms those initial results: if you want to live longer and healthier you need to literally “take the steps” to do so. Apparently neither the intensity nor over what period of time daily that you exercise affects the results but it is cumulative; that is, compared to 4000 steps, taking 8000 steps reduces mortality by 51% or 65% for 12,000 steps in a 24-hour period. Since we don’t have a car we’re used to walking and given the long-distance travel restrictions we’ve had over the last year, seeing our local area on foot has been our main outdoor recreation. With 2000 years of history on our doorstep and a guide published by the city to lead the way, we’ve had plenty to explore right here at home.

Continue reading “Walk a mile (or 5)”

A Carcassonne Christmas

Joyeux fêtes!

Just the other night we were walking home from dinner with friends at a ski resort and realized just how lucky we are. Something about that sentence doesn’t sound right. Walking home, yes. Dinner with friends, certainly. Lucky, definitely. Ski resort, not exactly. As you’ll be able to see in the photos below, Carcassonne is decked out in its finest for the holiday season. There are four major centers of lights and attractions around town plus plenty of side streets and shop windows that echo the excitement. The city has constructed a giant scaffolding structure at Place du Géneral de Gaulle, on top of which is a chalet-style restaurant and stationary ski lift cable cars with dining tables inside that would fit right in on a mountainside in the Alps, hundreds of kilometers from here, but we had a view of the medieval walled Cité with Père Noël pointing the way. The best news for us? Everything starts about a 10-minute walk away from our front door. Continue reading “A Carcassonne Christmas”

Liberté in Carcassonne

Memorial to the Resistance fighters

It was 75 years ago today that the Nazi troops who had been occupying Carcassonne for almost 2 years received their orders from Hitler to abandon the city. His wishes were carried out the next day by the departing soldiers who had one last despicable act to accomplish. In a compound outside of town where members of the French Resistance were being held prisoner, the Germans detonated all of their remaining munitions in one giant explosion that leveled the building and took everyone inside with it. Several streets in the center of town now bear the names of some of those killed in the blast. While that prison no longer exists, we searched for other buildings that are still standing with stories related to the resistance movement and while this compilation won’t be exhaustive, we did find it as a sign of hope in dreadful times. Continue reading “Liberté in Carcassonne”

Colors of summer

Art Deco former city hall of Carcassonne

We are just into summer and the colors couldn’t be brighter in Carcassonne. Last year for this sunny season the city introduced a rainbow of umbrellas suspended over the pedestrian shopping street and those have returned. Not only does it provide a colorful splash but also some welcome shade from that beautiful and sometimes intense southern France sunshine. Joining these parapluies this year are sails, equally vivid, and hanging above the main driving thoroughfare in the lower city. The good news for those of us without a car is that many of the streets have become pedestrian-only for a portion of each day during this outdoor season so we can admire the artwork overhead without having to dodge vehicles. Continue reading “Colors of summer”

It’s spring

Cherry blossoms in an abandoned orchard

Canadian friends are in town this week on a house hunting trip and we were delighted that nature has provided quite the floral welcome for them. That’s been helped by lots of sunshine and some pleasant temperatures that at the beginning of March were averaging around 17℃ (62℉) which is exactly the same as it was in that northern neighbor of the US except there was a minus sign in front of the 17 bringing it down to a chilly 1 degree F. Hopefully that’s just a memory now and they can enjoy some of these scenes from around Carcassonne. There’s an abandoned fruit orchard down by the river which still presents a sea of white and pink as first the cherries and then apples prepare for the season. Even if you’re reading this in the southern hemisphere and anticipating cooler days you can still enjoy the colors here just emerging. Happy spring! Continue reading “It’s spring”

Four-tunate

Inside the medieval city walls of Carcassonne

This month starts our fourth year of living in France and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to answer a question that we are often asked, “Why are you so happy all of the time?” A good starting point that might say it all is that we live in the south of France and we’ve just received our residency card renewal to remain here for another year. That alone makes us smile. The procedure was identical to last year (Year 3 begins) which reinforces our other experiences with government and business offices here: follow their rules, give them exactly the documents they want in the order requested and in return you will be treated in a respectful and friendly manner and receive precisely what you’ve been seeking. Who wouldn’t be happy with that? But wait, there’s so much more…. Continue reading “Four-tunate”

Christmas windows

A smiling penguin with his champagne

The theme for the holiday season this year in Carcassonne is La Magie de Noël (The Magic of Christmas) and last week I shared the city’s Facebook post about all of the activities on my own FB page. The comment from our friend Barb sums it up perfectly, “Nice, no holding back there!” and we certainly agree. The Mayor has long held that this should be a family event where everyone could meet up to “share moments of joy and laughter” as you can see on their website page devoted to at least 70 events going on this month: http://www.carcassonne.org/article-page/magie-de-noel-2018?liste  Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Bill and I went walking a few nights ago to join in on the celebrations and to see what we could discover.

 

Continue reading “Christmas windows”