Blog Archives

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. Read the rest of this entry

Just a coffee for me, thanks

So many choices of coffee

When we took the ferry from Marseille to Corsica in June we arrived in the port city of Bastia at 6:00 AM so you had to be in the dining room at 5:15 AM if you wanted breakfast. We opted to sleep in a bit and Bill volunteered to get us coffee from the vending machine at the end of our cabin hallway. He was gone longer than I expected and explained that there were several people in front of him who had the same idea to get their morning started with a shot of caffeine. As we were leaving the ship and passed by the machine I understood even further why there was a delay. Although it was labeled simply enough, “Café”, anyone who deposited a 1 euro coin was then presented with a choice of 16 types of coffee, 4 hot chocolates, hot tea, and hot milk. Can you imagine the poor soul who must decide among café court, café long, café crème, café au lait, and a dozen other selections when the person waiting back in their room has simply asked for “a coffee”? Read the rest of this entry

Turn the other cheek

Ruby red lips in a shop window

When you move to another country there’s a whole lot more to learn that just the language. Under the general heading of “culture” you might find food and dining habits, daily routines, and social interactions, for example. In that latter category we discovered something that initially was totally foreign to us: a kiss on the cheek (more like an air kiss while touching cheeks in most cases ) when meeting up with friends. I still laugh when I remember a comment from French teacher Géraldine who said that the one way to scare the heck out of a French person is to hug them. Bill and I probably terrified a bunch of people here before we learned the fine art of the bisou and now there’s even a website to help.

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Bill’s badge of bravery

Soprano’s sold out concert poster from the city’s website

What do a French rap singer, Bill, and a 10-year-old have in common? If that were a 10-year-old Scotch I would start to understand but in this case she’s our neighbor whom we’ll call El. She likes music of all kinds, and even plays the violin, but is passionate about one French rap artist named Soprano. Knowing this, her ever hopeful parents bought 2 tickets to last Wednesday’s concert months ago anticipating that they would have plenty of time to find an adult to accompany their daughter but time was running out. We were over at their house for a glass of wine and the topic of Carcassonne’s annual month-long international music festival came up with a note that Soprano would be there. I remember an American TV series with that name (sort of) but I didn’t see how it could be turned into a musical stage show. El quickly jumped in to explain who the singer was and how her parents were looking for a chaperone. I could not believe the next words that I heard in the room, “I’ll go”, and they didn’t come from me. Read the rest of this entry

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. Read the rest of this entry

Let’s do lunch

Le Château de Pennautier

We don’t typically eat lunch in a castle but as part of celebrating our 33rd anniversary we wanted to do something special. By chance the Toqués D’Oc dining experience had a stop in Carcassonne last weekend and Bill got the tickets as soon as they went on sale. I had to brush up on French cooking terminology to understand what we would be eating and even to translate the name of the event. I thought chefs wore hats but here they are called toqués and I knew for sure that D’Oc was short for “of Occitanie” meaning that it was all about our region that stretches from the Mediterranian Sea almost to the Atlantic Ocean. The impressive lineup of chefs included three names that we recognized including a local celebrity, pastry chef Rémi Touja, who was awarded Champion of France for his work just before settling in Carcassonne. Read the rest of this entry

Three-year-olds reading

All aboard! Train trip

We’re both avid readers from morning until bedtime and much of it is in French. Carcassonne has 3 newspapers so we can start the day with the electronic versions of those. It’s not as if we read every word but enough to find out what has happened in our region overnight. Links from those take you to national and worldwide news so we don’t miss out on that either. We check the city’s website regularly where they disseminate all of the information that a resident would need on a daily basis plus a page about educational, cultural, and sporting events to attend over the next few weeks. Their Facebook page gives even more details and they also have a video presence there if you want to watch and listen to some of the local news instead of reading it. Area merchants use social media to keep us informed of promotions they are offering and the YouTube channels we follow for language learning all post lots of written content on FB and on their own websites. But what about books? All in English…until recently. 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