What’s the Point?

The magazine article headline that caught my eye was “A New Neighborhood is Being Built in Utah That Looks Like a European ‘One-Car Town’”. This told the story of developing a 600 acre (243 hectares) site in Draper, UT into a pedestrian-friendly town with favor given to bike lanes over cars. Author Andy Corbley said that this was like something he might see in the Netherlands. Realizing that potential residents could balk at going completely car-free, the developers are focused on making the use of an automobile unnecessary within the confines of the community. At least 45% of the city will be covered by greenery including sidewalks, bike paths, and roads that lead to the perimeter bus system with connections to Salt Lake City. Hikers and cyclists will have easy access to the river parkway and to the mountain trail system. In describing the target market, one of those developers said, “They want more urban features, they want to know their neighbors, they want to be part of a community.” Hmm, sounds like us. By the way, this new town is called The Point.

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Retirement runner-up

Coming in second out of 242 isn’t bad. That’s the position that Carcassonne achieved in a “where to live after retirement” study conducted by the newspaper Le Parisien. They compared cities of more than 20,000 inhabitants outside the capital region of Île-de-France, evaluating around 30 different factors that would be important to the 75,000 French retirees who move each year. The authors readily admit that they were unable to account for emotional factors such as returning to where you grew up, settling in an area that’s near your adult children or where you already have friends or where you’ve always enjoyed visiting. After 25 years of annual vacations in France, that last point rang true for us.

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Where do you shop?

When we lived in Atlanta, within a few minutes from home we could be shopping in what seemed like every big box store that exists in America. All were open 7 days a week and even some of those welcomed you 24 hours a day. No need to borrow that cup of sugar from a neighbor when you could easily go get a 5-pound bag, or even a 25-pound bag if you went to the warehouse store, essentially whenever you wanted. Of course when you have a car and a pickup truck to transport all of this back to your 4000 square foot (371 square meters) home it’s no big deal. Now our car is a city bus, the truck is a backpack, and we happily live in about one quarter of the space we had before so we’ve adapted our buying accordingly.

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I “shutter” to think

The house that I grew up in had shutters on the windows. To be precise, these were wooden slatted frames screwed into the wall beside the windows and served simply as decoration. In fact, every house that Bill and I have lived in, both in the US and in France, has had them as well but with one major difference: here the shutters open and close so you get window protection as well as ornamentation. And it doesn’t stop there since the hot summer sun is prevented from streaming into your home, meaning that in many situations there’s no need for air conditioning to be comfortable. For the two of us who came from Atlanta where it seemed that we were in cooled air buildings 24/7, that’s been a pleasant change.

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Narrow dog to Carcassonne

Walking along the canal in Carcassonne

A few years ago when we were playing the Who-What-Where-When-Why retirement game, I thought that there was only one of those Ws unanswered. After all, it was just us making the decisions and we already had a timeline so the one thing left to do was to finalize the location of our next house. By that point we were pretty sure that we wanted to live in Carcassonne so we started reading everything that we could find about this medieval city. There were travel guides, history books, bicycle routes, photo pictorials, and a best-selling historical thriller trilogy by Kate Mosse. Then at the library I saw the book Narrow Dog to Carcassonne by Terry Darlington with the tagline, “Two Foolish People, One Odd Dog, an English Canal Boat..and the Adventure of a Lifetime.” Hmm, that kind of fit our situation since we were two people and one dog about to move to another country 4000 miles away. All that we were missing was that canal boat so it was time to investigate what life onboard might be like.

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France’s favorite village

France 3 TV program

To be called a “village” in France the population must be less than 2000 people and the houses can’t be further than 200 meters apart. According to the Mayor’s Association, that describes 29,000 places around the country and even if you lower the number of inhabitants to 500 you are still left with 18,000 communities. Each year television channel France 3 runs a contest to whittle down those thousands to just 14: one village to represent each region in mainland France and one from overseas. Now that the shortlist has been announced the fun begins because everyone (as far as I can tell) gets to vote for their favorite village, link below. Continue reading “France’s favorite village”

Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly

From the government’s website on aging

One of our local newspapers had an article entitled, “How much does it cost to be old in France?” so I just had to read that. With homage to Ethel Merman’s character Annie Oakley on Broadway, aging just seemed to me to be a natural process with no admission charge. However, if you want to stay for the whole show you have to pay the price which depends on where you sit from the orchestra to the balcony. It also depends if you are like 85% of the French who say that they want to spend their retirement years at home rather than moving to group living arrangements or to a medical facility. A website that specializes in banking and insurance for seniors (Retraite.com) teamed with another site that helps people live and age well at home (Silver Alliance) to calculate the costs. Continue reading “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”