Blog Archives

Banyuls-sur-mer in 4 days

Banyuls-sur-mer from the apartment terrace

Ah, by the sea. Even before we started looking outside of the US for a retirement spot, our spreadsheet of must-haves included being on/near/having a view of water. At the time, the beautiful Florida home of one of Bill’s sisters could have technically qualified on all three of those points. A similar house for sale right next door to her had a one million dollar price tag and while that would have been fun, we decided to expand our horizons across the Atlantic to France. In Carcassonne we’re a 5-minute walk from either the river or the canal, so we’re definitely near the water but you still can’t look out our windows and see the birds gliding across the surface or fish jumping out to catch insects. However, if one of those birds were to fly from our house directly to the Mediterranian Sea, that’s only 67 km (42 miles), where lots of vacation accommodations await with the promise of “les pieds dans l’eau” or “your feet in the water.” Read the rest of this entry

Learning English in France

American English or British English

The school year starts here all over the country this week so I thought it might be a good time to talk about a subject that’s often on the minds of French students: learning to speak English. Generally, children around age 10 to 11 receive their first formal lessons of “the language of Shakespeare” as it’s called here, in that transition time between elementary and middle school. Our young neighbor and her classmates are also learning Spanish at the same time which seems wise since half of the 2.5 million visitors that Carcassonne hosts annually come from our neighbor south of the border. It continues to amaze us that seemingly anyone involved in the tourist industry here speaks a minimum of 2 languages, if not 3. On the flip side, we recently had a conversation with a taxi driver who was astonished that we were speaking to him in French despite being Americans since that was contrary to all of his experience with any of his passengers who had arrived from the US. 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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Corsica, top to bottom

Dramatic cliffs and crystal blue water in Bonifacio

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

Acutely dead

Anchored on the Canal du Rhône à Sète

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

King Louis XIV, your order is ready

Sidewalks paved with marble

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

Annecy, France in 2 days

Sailboats on Lake Annecy

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

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

Just another WordPress.com weblog

An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures