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Walk this way

The tour starts here

Ah, the sacrifices we make for our friends and family. First, we moved to the south of France just so that they would have an excuse to visit Europe. Once we got settled here in Carcassonne we had to check out all of the various things there are to see and do in our new hometown. Restaurants seemed like a natural starting point, so we’ve been visiting a new one every week with friends, Sally and Larry, so that we could make recommendations. After more than a year, we were only scratching the surface of activities so we’ve stepped up our efforts. We took a half-day walking tour of the lower part of town that still retains part of its walls from the 1200’s. We figured that hearing the history while looking at 17th century buildings would be interesting. Did I mention that we were drinking wine and eating chocolate while on this tour? Read the rest of this entry

Lots of thyme

Village of Aragon, France

When our neighbors suggested that they pick us up on Sunday to take a trip to Aragon, instantly visions of courtly love, chivalry, and Camelot sprang to mind. After all, it was Catherine of Aragon who was King Henry VIII’s first queen and in her eyes maintained that position despite the rise and fall of others after her. While our destination shared that Queen’s name, we were only traveling about 20 minutes north of Carcassonne instead of 2 hours south into Spain where the Kingdom of Aragon was located and to where Catherine could trace her family roots. Read the rest of this entry

A loaf of bread…a jug of wine

A baker hard at work

Who knew that freshly-baked bread and chilled, rosé wine went so well together? Persian poet Omar Khayyám apparently did 1000 years ago, at least according to my liberal interpretation of perhaps his most famous verse, and Bill and I know it from just one year ago. Carcassonne is seldom lacking in festivals to attend and this past weekend was no different. It was time for the annual Fête du Pain that we would call the “Bread Fest” that celebrates those beautiful baguettes, croissants, brioches, and other delicious treats baked daily at dozens of boulangeries all over town. Read the rest of this entry

Paris? Not exactly.

Is that the Eiffel Tower?

If you’ve only seen pictures of the capital of France, you might easily mistake some of the photos that go with this blog post as having been taken there since they appear to show familiar sites. Even if you’ve visited the City of Light, you still might wonder why the Eiffel Tower was now standing next to Sacre Coeur or since when was the Seine lined by all of those tall apartment buildings with terracotta roofs you typically find in the south of France. That’s because instead of being in Paris, we were recently in Lyon. Read the rest of this entry

Vitamin PP?

Vitamins in milk

Vitamins in milk

Here’s a photo of the back of the milk carton that’s sitting in our refrigerator. While I’d certainly heard of vitamin D and maybe B1 and B6, I’m not so sure about B9. If taking B5 makes you look like that, give me two helpings please. But vitamin PP? That’s definitely a new one for me. But then, living in another country means that almost every day you learn something new, so it’s fun to see by the time you go to bed each night what you now know that you didn’t when you got up this morning. Read the rest of this entry

Secret road trip

Sally helps owner Patrick tally up our wine purchases

We don’t have a car and I can honestly say that after having had a driver’s license for nearly 50 years, and an automobile to go with it for most of that time, I don’t miss it at all. That probably goes double for Bill who’s typically been the one behind the wheel. The costs alone including substantial monthly lease or purchase payments, license fees, insurance, fuel, and upkeep are enough to make us grateful that we no longer have to budget for any of that. Add in the hassles of navigating narrow Medieval streets laid out 800 years ago, trying to avoid solid stone buildings inches from you on one side of the street and rearview mirrors sticking out from parked cars on the other plus attempting to squeeze into a pocket-sized parking spot, should you be lucky enough to find that, and the advantage of being on foot becomes even more apparent. Having said all of that, the instant that a friend with wheels invites us on a day trip outside of the city, we’re on it! Read the rest of this entry

Chocolate bunnies, eggs, bells, and fish

Chocolate fest poster from the city’s website

Carcassonne has many shops that sell just one product: chocolate, and we’ve been to most of them. Naturally we’ve had to sample the goods at each location in the interest of being able to recommend to visitors where they should go. Since we’re still in that decision-making process, we returned to some of these boutiques for a second opinion. As you might expect at this time of year, the window displays all featured what we typically think of as treats at Easter: colorful eggs, long-eared bunnies, plus cute chicks and hens. But what about those bells and fish? Read the rest of this entry

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