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.Read the rest of this entry
Before we moved to France, the only thing that I knew about Corsica was that it was an island in the Mediterranean Sea where Napoleon Bonaparte was born. Now that we live here it’s hard to turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing a beautiful image of crystal clear blue water, mountain cliffs above the sea, or lots of smiling faces enjoying afternoon drinks on a terrace looking out on all of those same marvelous views. Pair that with the universal reactions we got from everyone here when we mentioned that we’d be going to the island and you could wonder why their tourist office even bothers advertising. The place sells itself. English words like “beautiful, magnificent, fantastic” and their French equivalents rolled easily off the tongues of those around us. It was definitely time for Bill and me to visit this magical spot from which one person said, “you won’t want to come back.” Read the rest of this entry
If you make a direct translation of the town name we recently visited, Aigues-Mortes, one of the options that you can come up with is the title of today’s blog post. Luckily for us it was anything but dead; for the 3 days we were in town there was plenty to do. In fact, we could have been entertained right from our accommodations, a canal boat named the African Queen because it was exactly this style of a 1927 steamboat that was used in the movie that won Humphrey Bogart his only Oscar. While relaxing on board or fishing from the deck did have its appeal, there was much to see in this once-Roman town with ties to our own Carcassonne. Read the rest of this entry
The walls of our bathroom are lined with marble slabs that we believe were part of the original house construction about 100 years ago. Of course the marble has been around a lot longer than that since it came from a quarry 20 kilometers (12 miles) from here where 2000 years ago the Romans were mining this beautiful rock formed perhaps 500 million years before then. What we recently discovered is that this same quarry supplied 80 percent of the red marble used to decorate the Palace of Versailles beginning in the middle 1600s and they’re not finished yet. Read the rest of this entry
We’ve been wanting to visit Annecy at least since we moved to France two and a half years ago and probably long before that given how many travel videos about this country we used to watch in the US. Since the train is our preferred mode of transportation and it generally takes 2 changes to get there from Carcassonne, we’ve put it off. When Bill was planning our trip in northern Italy he saw that on our return we could stop overnight in Annecy and then get one direct train from nearby Lyon to our station at home. If it really were that easy (true confession at the end of this post) then we were off to see this city in the Alps! Read the rest of this entry
If I say the words “champagne, cognac, and burgundy” do you think of place names or drinks? That’s a trick question because in France they are both; capitalize the first letter and you have a region or town designation whereas if you pour these into a glass they are something to enjoy with a meal or just on their own. That also works for bordeaux: with a capital B it’s alternatively known as the “second Paris” or as the “capital of wine” while a small b gives you the familiar big, bold red wines that might include grape varieties we know such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and malbec. We had just a few days to discover both the place and the wine. Read the rest of this entry
Last Sunday I talked about our trip up to Nancy, France. This is the conclusion of that adventure.
An advantage of buying a city’s museum pass is that it generally saves you money over individual tickets but it also entices you to visit places you might not have otherwise gone. Atlanta, where we used to live, has the world’s largest aquarium and it is truly spectacular so going to the one in Nancy wasn’t high on our list but it was part of the package, so we went. What a nice surprise in a couple of ways. It was well laid out as far as what sea creatures you were seeing and in what environment they generally lived. The bonus was seeing small groups of school children being escorted by teachers and aquarium staff explaining to the youngsters what they were seeing and why it was important to protect the animals and the planet. Read the rest of this entry