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. Read the rest of this entry
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. Read the rest of this entry
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. Read the rest of this entry
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! Read the rest of this entry
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…. Read the rest of this entry
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.
There are over 500 clubs, interest groups, and other hobby alliances, all classed as Associations, registered with the mayor’s office in Carcassonne. That seemed like a lot for a town of 50,000 inhabitants until I started investigating why there might be so many. A law went into effect in 1901 to ensure that two or more persons were free to organize themselves without fear of persecution by the government. Additional benefits, at least where we live, include members being able to use city property for meetings, free publicity for their events, very modest monetary support, and the ability to hold a garage/yard sale annually. Individuals are prohibited from having what our British friends call a car-boot sale, as its considered unfair competition to a town or village’s small shopkeepers, so being able to raise money for an organization in this way can be vital. Read the rest of this entry